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Iowa Unemployment Job Search Requirements

Iowa Unemployment Benefits

Iowa Unemployment Work Search Requirements

To collect Iowa unemployment benefits each week, you must meet ongoing eligibility requirements. In addition to being able, available, and willing to work full time, you must also be actively looking for a new job.

To make sure that Iowa benefits are awarded fairly, Iowa Workforce Development requires each claimant to perform and document their work search activities.

In Iowa, you must complete four (4) approved work search activities each week in order to receive your weekly UI benefit. Three of the activities must be job applications to new employers. The 4th activity can be something that helps your prospects, like updating your resume or attending a job fair. Let’s take a closer look at Iowa’s work search requirements for unemployment.

Approved Work Search Activities

In Iowa, staying eligible for unemployment benefits requires action on your part. You have to complete four reemployment activities each week to meet work search requirements. The state outlines specific rules to ensure you’re actively seeking new employment while receiving benefits.

What counts as a reemployment activity? Each week, you must fill out three job applications and complete a fourth activity that helps you toward getting a new job. These activities can range from attending a career planner session to participating in an employment service.

In addition to the job application requirements, there are 12 approved activities that count toward your weekly job search needs. You must do one of these activities each week, along with applying for three jobs.

You can do eight of these activities by yourself, but the other four need help from staff at an IowaWORKS Center.

Self-Guided Activities

(Activities you can complete on your own)

  • Sign up at your school or college’s job placement center
  • Go to a planned networking event hosted by IowaWORKS
  • If you’re a veteran, you can send your resume to Home Base Iowa
  • Go on a job interview, whether it’s online, face-to-face, or at a job fair
  • Sit for a civil service test
  • Go to a job fair that IowaWORKS or their partners are hosting
  • Submit a resume or fill out an application for a job you’re interested in
  • Participate in any workshop offered by IowaWORKS

Staff-Assisted Activities

(Activities must be completed with a staff member)

  • Practice a job interview at IowaWORKS
  • Meet with a main WIOA partner like Vocational Rehabilitation or Adult Basic Education
  • Make a plan for getting back to work (RESEA)
  • Schedule a meeting with an IowaWORKS Career Planner

Some people might get a pass on these requirements. For example, if you’re temporarily laid off but your old employer plans to bring you back within four weeks, you may not have to do the weekly activities. The same goes if you’re in school and have approval for Department Approved Training (DAT). Each time you file a claim, the work search requirement is looked at again, so you always know what you need to do.

What happens if you don’t meet the standards? If you fail to make a reasonable effort to find a new job, you could lose your unemployment benefits. The rules also state that you should be willing to accept a fair wage for the kind of work you’re looking for. Plus, you can’t keep applying for the same job with the same employer within a six-week period.

Documenting your work search activities

Keeping track of all this is important. Iowa Workforce Development may ask you for a log of your reemployment activities and job applications. You should keep these records for a full year after you stop claiming benefits. If you don’t, you could be at risk of losing your weekly benefit amount.

To record your job search activities, sign into IowaWORKS with your username and password. Once you’re in, scroll down your dashboard until you find the section called “Unemployment Services.” Then click on “Job Contact and Reemployment Activity Log” and follow the instructions.

Once you have recorded your reemployment activities, you are ready to certify your job contacts and work searches.

Scroll down and select “Certify Your Job Contacts and Reemployment Activities” to certify your eligibility and file a weekly claim.

What is suitable work?

To determine if a job’s pay is suitable for you, the state uses a specific formula based on your past earnings. They look at your highest-earning three-month period, known as the “high quarter,” in your base period.

To find your average weekly wage (AWW), they divide the total amount you earned in that high quarter by 13, which is the number of weeks in a quarter. This average weekly wage sets the benchmark for what is considered reasonable pay for future jobs.

Example: Let’s say your earnings in the high quarter are $6,000. To compute the AWW, divide $6,000 by 13.

$6,000 / 13 = $461

The AWW would be $461, which equals $11.5 per hour in a 40 hour work week.

A job offer may be considered suitable if wages are at or above the following percentages of the AWW:

  • 100% if work is offered in the first week of a claim
  • 90% if work is offered during the 2nd and 3rd week of a claim
  • 80% if work is offered during the 4th and 5th week of a claim
  • 70% if work is offered during the 6th through the 8th week of a claim
  • 60% if work is offered after the 8th week of a claim

As you can see, you can be picky about a new job when you first collect UI benefits, but as the weeks go by, you must lower your standards and accept a lower paying job if offered.

Using the example above, if you don’t have a job after 8 weeks of collecting unemployment, you’ll need to accept a job that pays 60% of $11.5 /hr. – which at that point is minimum wage. The minimum wage in Iowa is $7.25 per hour.

It is important to be honest about any job offers you receive to avoid committing Iowa unemployment fraud. It’s better to be denied benefits than face fines and possible criminal charges. If you do end up losing your UI benefits, you can file an appeal.


Iowa Unemployment Job Training

There are a variety of job training programs and opportunities in Iowa.

Note: If you are unemployed and participating in approved job training, you may qualify for extended unemployment benefits thorough the Training Extension Benefits (TEB) program.

Registered Apprenticeship

Registered Apprenticeships in Iowa offer a unique blend of hands-on training and classroom education, allowing you to earn a paycheck while learning the skills needed for your chosen career.

Apprenticeships are managed by Iowa Workforce Development in partnership with employers across various industries. Fields can range from healthcare and information technology to construction and advanced manufacturing. The programs usually last from one to six years, depending on the occupation.

As an apprentice, you’ll start with an entry-level wage that increases as you gain more skills and complete educational benchmarks. Upon completion, you not only gain a nationally recognized credential but also have the practical experience employers value.

Registered Apprenticeships can be a win-win: you secure long-term employment and career growth, while employers get a trained, reliable worker. For anyone looking to enter or reenter the workforce, this can be an excellent path to consider.

For example, you could become an electrician, where you’d learn how to install and maintain electrical systems. If you’re interested in healthcare, you could opt for a nursing apprenticeship to gain both clinical and theoretical knowledge.

Those handy with technology might consider an apprenticeship in software development or cybersecurity, where you’ll learn to code and protect digital assets. For those interested in the trades, options like plumbing, carpentry, and advanced manufacturing provide the opportunity to master hands-on skills. From culinary arts to renewable energy, apprenticeships offer a versatile range of career choices. Learn more.

Adult Workers Program

The Adult Workers Program helps Iowa residents who are unemployed by offering a mix of job help, training, and extra support. If you qualify, you can get help in several ways:

There are also various types of training available. This can be specific job skills training or even learning how to start your own business.

You can join if you are:

  • At least 18 years old
  • A U.S. citizen, permanent resident, or legally in the U.S.
  • If you’re a male born after December 31, 1959, you also need to be registered with the Selective Service.
  • Veterans, their spouses, and people who don’t earn much, have limited skills, or face other job barriers get special consideration.

You can get help writing your resume, planning your career, and finding out what skills you have and what jobs they are good for. There are even services like financial advice and basic education.

On the Job Training

On-the-job training in Iowa offers a practical way to learn new skills while earning a paycheck. These programs are often partnerships between employers and local job agencies like IowaWORKS.

By participating, you get hands-on experience in a specific job role, directly applying what you learn to real-world tasks. It’s a win-win situation for both you and the employer: you gain valuable work skills and the employer can train you according to their specific needs.

Many programs offer a chance for permanent employment at the end of the training period. This approach is ideal for those transitioning between careers, entering the workforce for the first time, or looking to climb the career ladder. Funding may be available to cover training costs, and some programs prioritize veterans, low-income individuals, and those facing employment challenges.

Federal Bond Program

If you’re a job seeker having trouble finding a job, the Federal Bonding Program could be a great resource for you. The program offers a special kind of insurance to employers at no cost, which can make them more willing to hire people who might not usually get the job. The insurance starts the day you begin work and lasts for six months.

The program opens up job opportunities you might otherwise miss. The bond can make employers more confident in hiring you, giving you a chance to show your skills and be a productive worker. This coverage is free for you and can apply to almost any kind of job, as long as you’re not self-employed.

To be eligible, you need a job offer with a start date, must be of legal working age, and the job has to be one where federal taxes are automatically deducted from your paycheck. Self-employed people and franchise owners aren’t eligible for this program.


IowaWORKS is a valuable resource for job seekers in Iowa, offering training services and programs designed to help you land a job and build a career. Whether you’re starting out or looking to change fields, you’ll find valuable guidance and support.

IowaWORKS Centers offer job-search workshops where you can sharpen your resume-writing and interviewing skills. For those seeking more specialized training, IowaWORKS partners with educational institutions for vocational and technical courses.

If you’re a veteran or have specific employment barriers, specialized services are also offered to help you transition into the workforce. The platform even offers career planning services to help you set and achieve your long-term employment goals. With its focus on individualized assistance, IowaWORKS equips you with the skills, knowledge, and confidence you need to succeed in today’s labor market.

Home Base Iowa

Home Base Iowa is a program for military veterans and their families that provides employment opportunities. It connects veterans, employers, educational institutions, and communities across the state.

The program provides various resources to veterans, including help with job searches, connections to educational programs, and even incentives like housing or educational grants to move to specific communities.

Home Base Iowa makes the transition from military service to civilian life smoother for veterans while helping to address workforce needs in the state.

If you are a veteran, in the process of leaving the military, or married to someone in the service, this portal gives you access to Iowa’s biggest list of job openings. It also offers training and workshops to help you get better at finding a job.



PROMISE JOBS is a program in Iowa that helps people who receive cash assistance become self-reliant. When you join the program, you’ll create a personalized Employment Plan that outlines activities to get you work-ready and less reliant on welfare.

As Iowa’s TANF Employment & Training program, PROMISE JOBS offers a wide range of activities, such as skill assessments, life skills workshops, and job-search training. Participants learn everything from how to manage money to how to write a good resume.

The program offers opportunities for apprenticeships and other forms of training. Additional support like transportation, childcare, and educational costs may also be covered for those who qualify.

  1. I filled out forms for benifits ,I’m attending dmacc workforce development job training academy , cdl program , it only alows work on weekends and nobody hire me after they ask what going school for and realize in 7 weeks start to finish I be getting into the field, I never heard anything at all I took all nessecary paper work to army post work force, I’m doing really well in program but if I dont find help soon I won’t be able to continue, is there any grants or funding available, I got 4 weeks left and not sure what to do, I never heard anything back after filling out forms .

    • John,

      There are thousands on the same boat! All I can ask you to do is follow up regularly until payments normalize.

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