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Illinois Unemployment Job Search Requirements

Illinois Unemployment Job Search Requirements

What is the Illinois UI work search requirement?

In order to collect Illinois unemployment benefits, claimants must be able and willing to work. Part of this eligibility requirement means you are conducting a job search. A work search means you are actively looking to become an employee at a new workplace and reaching out to a prospective employer a few times a week.

Illinois Job Search Requirements are:

  • You must actively look for work each week you certify for Unemployment Insurance (UI) benefits.
  • All claimants are required to document their work search activities.
  • In order to collect benefits, you must continually certify that you are able, available, and willing to accept suitable work.

In many states, there are eligibility requirements regarding how many contacts a claimant must make each time they request benefits. Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES) does not specify minimum requirements, only that you must search for work. The Work Search Record form provided by IDES allows up to 5 job searches per week.

What is the work registration requirement?

Claimants who wish to collect UI benefits must register with the Illinois Employment Service System as part of their Illinois unemployment application. They can do so by navigating to the Illinois Job Link website or by going to an IDES Office in person. Part of the registration process involves inputting details about your work history, experience, education, and skills. These details will be factored into recommendations about open jobs that may interest you as your next place to collect a paycheck. Job seekers can also visit IllinoisJobLink to find vocational rehabilitation and/or job training programs funded by state and federal governments.

There are some claimants who are exempt from having to register. If you are subject to a temporary layoff that will last no longer than ten weeks, you do not have to register. The same is true if you are a member of a certified labor union, or if you are collecting unemployment insurance because you are still employed but your hours were reduced. If you are a seasonal worker such as a landscaper, or an educational worker such as a teacher or school bus driver, you are also exempt from registration.

Understanding what “Able to and available for work” means

“Able to and available to work” means that each week you claim benefits you are willing, able, and ready to accept a suitable form of employment that is comparable to your previous employment in terms of job description and salary. Unlike other states, Illinois does not spell out specific percentages relating to how much a new potential salary compares to your old salary.

However,  a good benchmark provided in many other states is 90%. As time goes on and claimants get further into the 26 weeks during which they can collect unemployment insurance, 70% is an often suggested benchmark. Although the fact that IDES does not spell out specific requirements, suggests that a review of your choice to accept or not accept a certain type of employment is somewhat subjective, they do explicitly state that as time goes on, you may have to lower your standards in terms of compensation. However, you are never required to take a job that you are physically unable to perform or that compromises your morality.

How to search for work

Unemployed workers in search of suitable work should use the Work Search Record form provided by IDES. While reporting your work search activity is not a requirement for collecting your weekly benefit amount, the work search requirements put forth by IDES suggest retaining a record of your work search contacts for up to 53 weeks after each time you collect benefits.

In other words, you should save a record of your work search activity for one year after you finish collecting unemployment compensation, because workforce services may request a review of it. If you are in a situation where you have to make an Illinois unemployment appeal over previously collected unemployment assistance, this record of your job search activities may be indispensable.

The job search requirement is a baseline suggestion for finding your next economic opportunity among Illinois employers. Browsing jobs online, networking in person at a job fair or community event, connecting to others through an online professional network, going into work locations in person, and filling out an application there, are just a few of the recommended ways of searching for a new job. The more effort you put into it, the better. There are generally no extended or enhanced unemployment benefits in Illinois outside of programs like the now-discontinued Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC).

How to document your work search

When filing your Illinois UI biweekly claim, use the form provided by IDES, as mentioned above. This form lets you record the date of contact, name and address of the business, the person contacted, the method of contact, the type of work sought, and the results. You are not required to use this form specifically, but these are the important details to record for your Illinois unemployment work search requirements.

Unemployment Insurance (UI) provides temporary financial assistance to qualified individuals who have lost their jobs and continue to meet eligibility requirements. These benefits are provided to help an unemployed person survive until he finds a new job. Job search requirements are in place to ensure that an unemployed individual is focusing on getting back to work and not living off unemployment compensation.

Possible conflicts such as attending school during work hours, travel, or limitations with child care or transportation could limit your work availability and cause an eligibility issue. Remember to report such issues on your claim and / or certification forms.

Many UI claimants do not have an effective plan for searching for work. The Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES) offers resources to help maximize your job search. Take advantage of these no-cost resources and work with IDES to develop an effective work search plan that suits your needs.

IDES helps you return to work through job referrals, job fairs, resume building, apprenticeships, Veteran programs and re-employment services.

Illinois Job Training Programs

Jobless individuals collecting unemployment benefits in Illinois are required to engage in a work search. But a job search does not always have to be about looking for the same type of work as you did before. Sometimes there is a silver lining to that cloud: The opportunity to enter some vocational rehabilitation or job training, and find a new, better paying career path.

The Illinois Department of Economic Security (IDES) has several job training programs to help claimants out.


Everyone collecting unemployment insurance (with some exceptions) is required to register on the IllinoisJobLink website. This website is a great resource for building a resume out of your previous work experience and finding employment opportunities. But it’s also a path to finding job training or vocational rehab. Look for the unemployment office location nearest you, so you can meet one on one with a mentor and get some guidance around job training programs that may even be state and/or federally funded.

Illinois workNet

Illinois workNet is a workforce portal that can help job seekers find virtual job fairs, browse jobs, and register to receive alerts about potential job matches that line up with their skills and interests. But it’s also a great starting point to find training and services near you. Apprenticeship programs allow workers to get into fields like construction, manufacturing, IT, transportation, healthcare, and other high demand industries around Illinois. The 48 Community Colleges around the state can help jobless individuals get back on track with an Associate’s Degree or a BA. And there are links to other training programs, some of which are private and others that are part of WIOA.

Career Information System

Since 1977 the Illinois Career Information System has partnered with the  U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Employment & Training Administration. This partnership has enabled them to provide Illinois residents with the most up to date labor market statistics and information for adults and even high school students.

The CIS Job Seeker website in particular is a one-stop-shop for jobless individuals or those coming out of retirement to find job training programs, educational opportunities, and vocational rehab. It is free to register, free to use, and available 24/7 online. There is also an office that can be visited in person:

Career Information System
607 E Adams Street 8th Floor
Springfield, IL 62701-1634

Job Training and Economic Development (JTED) Grant Program

The JTED grant program assists low-wage/low-skill workers to advance in their careers and helps unemployed or disadvantaged people learn skills necessary to secure employment.

The program provides grants to not-for-profit community-based organizations (CBOs) that work with small local businesses (employing fewer than 250 workers) in order to develop curricula, train eligible workers, and provide ongoing support. CBOs can establish a partnership with a local business to provide training to its low-wage workers, thereby expanding workers’ skills and advancing their career opportunities.

Currently, there are two categories of training available:

Category 1 – Industry Linked Training for Low Wage/Low Skilled Workers
Category 2 – Industry Linked Training for Disadvantaged Persons

Additional Job Training Programs in Illinois

There are private and public training programs throughout Illinois. Note that private training programs may not be publicly funded and often charge a fee.

A few examples of places to find training programs are:

  • Community colleges
  • Private colleges and universities and their online branches
  • Technical and vocational schools
  • Trade schools
  • Art and design schools
  • Adult education clinics

Sometimes, employers will also offer on-the-job training or vocational training as part of an apprenticeship program. Often these employer-sponsored apprenticeship programs are also free because they are subsidized by the state. There are also websites like Udemy, Coursera, and BrainCert, where you can find classes on a range of topics from learning how to do graphic design to interpersonal workplace social skills.

Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act?(WIOA) Training Programs

WIOA Training Programs have received funding to bolster the workforce by providing individuals with the opportunity to get into a high-demand skill. Individuals who need assistance with basic job skills and who are also low income, veterans, and/or recipients of public assistance may qualify for WIOA adult programs. Unemployed residents who do not fall into these categories and need some job search assistance and possible training for new job opportunities can benefit from Dislocated Worker Programs.

There are also youth programs that offer skills training for both individuals out of school and in school, who may be low come individuals and have other potential barriers to employment. Then there are certain Incumbent Worker Training (IWT) programs associated with specific industries for unemployed workers looking to enter a new career pathway who may need some customized training to do so.

  1. I have a weird health condition. I can’t work outside home anymore and my workplace will terminate me at the end of my medical leave. Can I get unemployment?

    • Hi, there – in Illinois, if you must leave your job because a medical condition was aggravated by the job, you may be eligible for unemployment benefits. However, you must be able to show that your employer did not have any other work that you could have performed within the limits of your disability. These cases can be quite complex; you may want to reach out to a qualified and knowledgeable disability attorney, who can advise on the strength of your claim.

  2. I get Social security. I work part and have been laid off because of the virus. Can I collect unemployment

    • Terry,

      We understand this might be a difficult time for you. We’re anticipating a shortage of staff across unemployment offices due to the massive surge in UI applications considering the pandemic. We advise against calling or visiting the office, as you may not get a response instantly.

      Your state may have activated “Extended Benefits (EB)” authorized by the federal government. We recommend you apply for UI benefits online. For more information, please visit your state’s official Unemployment website.

  3. My unemployment ran out after 6 months and now it’s been 11 months and a have not been able to find a job. Is there any kind of extension I can receive?

    • The E.U.C(Emergency Unemployment Compensation) remains expired. There is no extension available. Please inquire further with the labor authorities in your state by calling them.

    • We are not a govt. organisation.Please provide more details surrounding your question.

      May be we can help!

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