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New York Unemployment Job Search Requirements

New York Unemployment Job Search Requirements

To meet the requirements for New York unemployment eligibility, a claimant must search for suitable work each week. Like other states, New York requires unemployed people claiming unemployment benefits to show that they are able to work, willing to work, and actively seeking a job.

New Yorkers who don’t perform three work search activities per week will lose their ability to collect NY unemployment insurance.

What are the New York unemployment work search requirements?

New York unemployment work search requirements detail the amount of work a job seeker must look for each week and how they can look for and document those searches.

New York unemployment insurance asks claimants to complete at least three work search activities per week. Each work search activity must be made on a different day of the week rather than on the same day.

A work search activity can include tasks like completing an interview for suitable work, visiting a New York unemployment career center to access unemployment resources, or taking skills assessments as part of an employer’s application process.

If you’re unsure if a work search activity meets the New York State Department of Labor’s work search requirements, you can call the NY unemployment phone number or visit your local New York unemployment office.

It’s necessary to document each work search activity you do so that you can provide proof to the New York State Department of Labor. You can do this by completing a written or online Work Search Record when you file your weekly claim.

What qualifies as a work search activity?

New York state is somewhat more stringent in its work search requirements than other states. While many states allow you to complete any mix of eligible work search activities to qualify for your weekly UI benefits, New York breaks down the three tasks you must complete into priority and secondary tasks.

Priority Activities

New Yorkers must have at least one priority activity completed each week to collect unemployment benefits. Priority activities are those that are often most productive in leading to new employment security, such as completing a job application in person, having an interview with a potential employer, and visiting a local career center for access to workforce services.

For a career center visit to qualify as an applicable job search activity, you must visit with a career advisor, complete a job skill assessment, participate in a career readiness workshop, or participate in another activity that can lead to employment or improve your skills.

Secondary Activities

Job seekers also need at least two secondary activities each week for the unemployment insurance program. These activities might include taking government exams for government employment, applying with an employer you have worked with previously, or setting an appointment for a job interview.

Note that the more active you are with your job search activities, the easier it will be to meet the New York unemployment work search requirements. You may also find employment quickly, allowing you to start earning money on your own.

Work Search Plan

Some claimants may have a Work Search Plan created for them by the New York State Department of Labor. These claimants will have strict requirements to meet each week that may include multiple primary job search activities. Keep a record of each activity, including the names and contact information of employers or recruiters you’ve spoken with, to include in your Work Search Record.

What is a Work Search Plan?

Some New York unemployment recipients will have a Work Search Plan outlining specific work search requirements targeting their skills, experience, and suitable types of work. The New York Department of Labor will let you know if you require a Work Search Plan. This may be required for people who have found themselves unemployed frequently or are having trouble finding suitable employment in their area through regular work search activities.

If you do have a Work Search Plan, your required work search activities may differ from the general requirements of completing at least one primary activity and at least two secondary activities per weekly benefit claim. For instance, your plan may require you to complete more than three activities each week or schedule at least two interviews per week for specific types of jobs. The plan is designed to transition you into suitable work as quickly as possible.

Failure to uphold this agreement could put your unemployment benefits at risk. It’s crucial for claimants with a Work Search plan to ensure that they meet their requirements each week and document every work search activity for verification by New York Department of Labor staff. If you find that your plan’s requirements are too challenging, you can speak with your unemployment insurance contact. However, your requirements are not guaranteed to change.

How to document your work search

To continue receiving unemployment insurance benefits, you must document your work search activity. The New York Department of Labor can verify your work searches at any time during any week that you’ve filed a claim to ensure that you meet the requirements for unemployment assistance. Your detailed records can help you pass these verifications.

The best way to document your activities is through an online job portal known as JobZone. Complete the online Work Search Record, which asks for information about the employer you contacted, the type of work you searched for, and when you completed each activity. When you complete the online version of the Work Search Record, your information remains stored in the system for easy access by you and New York unemployment benefits representatives. You can create a JobZone profile for free, and the link is available through your online portal when you file your weekly benefit claim.

New York also provides a printable Work Search Record form that includes spaces to fill out all the necessary information to verify your work search activity. You can download and print the form to maintain your records.

You may be exempt from work search requirements if…

Although many people receiving unemployment compensation in New York City or New York State must fulfill the state’s work search requirements, not all do. For example, the NYS Department of Labor does not ask people who have been temporarily laid off from their jobs to complete these requirements if they are expected to return to work within eight weeks. In some cases, employers can also ask for extensions if they expect the layoffs to continue, which will also waive typical job search requirements.

People who receive job offers starting in the near future may also be exempt from completing job searches, as are union members who are required to obtain jobs through their unions. People out of work due to jury duty may also be exempt. Additionally, New York does not require job search activities from unemployed people who participate in training programs, like a Shared Work Program or Self-Employed Assistance Program.

Anyone who believes that their employment situation qualifies them for a work search exemption for unemployment insurance should reach out to their local New York Department of Labor office to discuss their situation.

NY Work Search Form

NY Work Search Form

New York Unemployment Job Training Opportunities

Workforce training can help unemployed New Yorkers get back into the labor market. For some claimants, this might mean becoming a student and obtaining a new degree, or starting a training program to gain specific technical skills. For others, it might mean just meeting with someone who can help a claimant put a resume together. Take a look at some workforce development and job training programs for claimants of unemployment insurance.

599 Program

Claimants of unemployment insurance are required to engage in a work search. Although they are not required to report the details of this job search when they file their weekly claim, their efforts to find a new economic opportunity must be systematic and furnished on request from the New York Department of Labor. However, there are some exceptions to this rule, including those who are enrolled in a 599 Program.

Claimants enrolled in an approved education, job training, or vocational rehabilitation program can have this work search requirement waived, and collect an extra 26 weeks of extended benefits (in addition to the regular 26 weeks). Claimants must apply for the 599 Program within 13 weeks of their initial claim. Call 518-402-0189 to learn more information.

On the Job Training

OJT, or on the job training, is when a new employer provides skills training for new employees, while they are being paid for work. The New York State OJT Program can help employers be reimbursed for job training expenses for up to 50% of the associated cost. This can make a potential employee more appealing, and make it easier for a jobless claimant to get hired.

You can contact a New York State Career Center to get an approved list of employers who would be eligible for the OJT program. Remember that once you are hired and have a new job, even if you are waiting for your first paycheck you cannot file a weekly claim.

Trade Adjustment Assistance

If you lost your job because of foreign trade or outsourcing, you may be eligible for a federal program called Trade Adjustment Assistance, or TAA for short. You can obtain skills and credentials to transition careers, along with support and resources to make the move. There are substantial additional side benefits such as transportation assistance, subsistence payments, and even financial assistance with moving and relocation costs. Note that as of June 30, 2022, the TAA program is pending a Congressional decision for its continuance.

Online Learning With Coursera

Coursera is an online platform that has partnered with the State of New York to deliver 4,000 different free online courses to New York residents. Unemployed individuals can access educational material to learn more about skillsets like programming, data science, technology, and business. Many of these programs can provide pathways to professional certifications and accreditations. Some courses provide instruction on basic workplace behavior and interpersonal relationships, which can improve your marketability as a potential employee.


New York has one of the largest apprenticeship programs in the United States, with over 17,000 apprentices in 900 different programs. An apprenticeship may involve a combination of on-the-job training and classroom education, as apprentices get hands-on training in specific skills. Many apprenticeship programs relate to hands-on occupations such as electrician, plumber, construction worker, and mechanic. These fields can become well-paying career pathways for individuals who like active work.


The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) helps states create a financial partnership with the federal government to fund opportunities to return to the workforce for jobless individuals. By contacting one of the New York unemployment office locations, you can learn more about training programs, vocational rehabilitation, and workforce reintegration programs that can assist jobless claimants with once again finding economic security.

Shared Work Program

The Shared Work Program is meant to help employers retain their workforce during economic downturns. Employers can keep their employees at reduced hours, while the employees can collect unemployment benefits for up to 26 weeks. This program is meant to encourage employers to keep their employees, as the state can help them shoulder the economic burden of keeping them on the payroll.

Additionally, certain aspects of New York unemployment eligibility do not apply to these claimants, such as the work search requirement, since they already have a job and are essentially just getting a form of cash assistance from the New York State Department of Labor.

As you can see, there are a number of workforce development programs and training opportunities for those individuals seeking job placement. Sometimes these job training programs can also facilitate some new career exploration and facilitate a new type of employment claimants have not considered before, by providing continuing education or technical education.

While the workforce development board offers several additional resources online, sometimes it can be helpful to get some human services in person at an American Job Center or New York Career Center. This one-on-one coaching can provide some guidance around professional development, such as writing a resume, preparing for a job interview, and finding the right job for you. There may also be a nonprofit organization near you that specializes in the same workforce development assistance.

  1. If a person files for NYS unemployment benefits and is accepted, what will the NYS Labor Dept do as to future benefits if the person becomes incapacitated for medical reasons for two months?Will the NYS Dept of Labor suspend a person’s file or case , or close it out? Whether the NYS Dept of Labor suspends or closes their file on the person can the incapacitated or disabled person apply for NY Medicaid ?

    • Joseph,

      I suggest you call the Unemployment Office to find specific answers to your questions in your state.

  2. I am getting laid off, there r jobs in my field, do I have to take them if they r a distance away, and if they r a shift I don’t want to work?

    • The logic is that you will be required to apply for a suitable job offer that comes your way.

      Please call the Unemployment Office for further information.

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