District of Columbia Unemployment Job Search Requirements

District of Columbia Unemployment Job Search Requirements

To maintain eligibility for Washington DC unemployment, you must be willing, able, and actively searching for suitable work.

Once you apply for DC unemployment benefits and your claim is approved, you must continue to file a weekly claim to certify your eligibility before you can receive weekly unemployment compensation.

Failure to comply with DC work search requirements will affect your eligibility and result in a benefit denial.

DC Work Search Requirements

  • You must perform 2 work search activities every week
  • You must keep a comprehensive written record of your activities and the employers you contact each week, including:
    • The date of the job search
    • The correct contact name and phone number of the employer if you visited in person or contacted via telephone
    • The correct contact name and email address or fax number of the employer if you applied for a job via email or fax
    • The correct web address if you applied for a job online
    • A copy of your job application, if applicable
  • Provide your written work search records to DOES when requested
  • Register for work through your local American Job Center
  • Begin your work search the week following the week in which you filed your claim

For residents of the District of Columbia, eligibility requirements include performing 2 work search activities each week. Typically this means contacting at least two potential employers per week about job openings. You must keep a comprehensive written record of the employers contacted each week, which DOES can ask for at any time. If applying for a job online, be sure to include the web address and a copy of the job application.

Registration at a DC American Job Center

You must also register for work at the local DC American Job Center. In addition to helping meet the work search requirement for UI benefits, registration has several advantages.

By registering for an account, you can conveniently save your personal information, which makes it easier during future visits. The system can store your job searches, resumes, job contacts, and viewed occupations to help you save time.

The system helps unemployed workers access career assessment tools including skills matching, which matches your qualifications and abilities to specific occupations. The system also helps you to create resumes and cover letters. You can even set up automated job searches that deliver job opportunities to your email.

What is an approved work search activity?

Approved work search activities include the following:

  • Applying for jobs through various methods such as in person, by mail, phone, fax, online or email
  • Attending a job fair
  • Speaking with former co-workers or individuals in similar types of jobs to let them know about your availability to work or to obtain information about job openings
  • Contacting potential employers
  • Using an employment agency or placement service
  • Participating in a workforce program or activity offered through DOES

Claimants can submit a job application or resume to the employer, or follow the hiring procedure established by the employer. But you are not allowed to submit multiple applications for the same job.

Verifying your work search activities

DOES will verify your work search activities and can request evidence of your efforts at any time. You may be required to demonstrate your work search activities by providing documentation at an American Job Center periodically. It is your responsibility to maintain an accurate and detailed record of your weekly work search activities to avoid suspicion of DC unemployment fraud.

If requested, you can give your documentation to a job center staff member during a scheduled Reemployment Eligibility Assessment, or send to:

Department of Employment Services
4058 Minnesota Avenue NE Suite 2307
Washington, DC 20019
Phone: (202) 698-3524
Fax: (202) 546-8870

If you cannot provide evidence of your work search activities, or if an employer or contact disputes or cannot verify reported information, you must provide an acceptable explanation as to why the information is not available. Failure to comply with the work search requirements may result in ineligibility for unemployment insurance benefits. You can always file an appeal if you feel you’ve been disqualified in error.

DC Unemployment Job Training

Washington DC offers a wide variety of job training programs and opportunities to help you start a new career.

American Job Centers

The District of Columbia has four DC American Job Centers. These job centers help people find jobs and get the training they need to work in skilled careers. Services include unemployment benefit claim assistance, resume writing tips, career counseling, and access to an extensive job search directory. You can also use the resource room, which has computers, phone and fax machines, and a variety of workshops that can help you improve your occupational skills.

You must make an appointment to visit an American Job Center in person.

On The Job Training

The District of Columbia offers an On-the-Job training (OJT) program for employers to help train, mentor, and hire workers in a particular occupation. Candidates receive hands-on training to help increase their knowledge and skills while getting paid at the same time.

Employers who participate in the job training program can get reimbursed for the wages they pay to their trainees at a set rate, and they retain complete control over hiring decisions. The program is open to qualifying District residents and employers, and a DOES liaison is assigned to help with recruitment efforts.


Apprenticeships are available in Washington, DC to help District residents learn a highly skilled occupation. Sponsored by employers and labor groups, the apprenticeships combine on-the-job training with classroom instruction.

To apply for an apprenticeship program, you must be at least 16 years old and demonstrate the ability to master the basics and complete the required courses.

Apprenticeship DC

Apprenticeship DC is a program designed to help local businesses meet specific hiring and training needs. Apprenticeship DC also awards grants to organizations that offer apprenticeship opportunities in high-demand industries such as construction, information technology (IT), infrastructure, law enforcement, hospitality, and health care.

DC Infrastructure Academy

The DC Infrastructure Academy (DCIA) is an important part of the District’s plan to create more jobs in Washington, DC. The Department of Employment Services (DOES) runs the academy to train people for jobs in the infrastructure industry.

DCIA programs and events include:

  • Job Fairs
  • Job Referrals
  • Energy, Construction and Utility Program
  • CDL Training
  • Automotive
  • PEPCO Utility Training Program
  • Level Up Remediation Services
  • Solar Works
  • DC Flagger
  • IT Helpdesk Training

Infrastructure is a fast-growing industry that needs skilled workers. DCIA helps people learn the skills they need for infrastructure jobs by coordinating, training, screening, and recruiting residents of Washington, DC. The academy also works with companies in the infrastructure industry to help graduates find good jobs.

Job Training for DC Veterans

The DC Department of Employment Services (DOES) gives veterans Priority of Service, which means veterans and their spouses who meet the requirements get help first.

Services for veterans at the American Job Centers include training, help finding a job, and other things that are paid for by the US government. There are also special services available to eligible veterans, such as the Vocational Rehabilitation & Employment program. If you want to know more about these services, you can call the Veterans Program Coordinator at 202-698-5247.

These are some things that a job center can help you with when you’re looking for a job:

  • Staff can find out your interests and skills, then help you find a job that fits
  • Staff can work with you one-on-one to help you stay on track with your job search
  • Medical services or counseling are available if you need it
  • If you’re a veteran, they will make sure you get help with finding a job quickly

DC Career Connections

DC Career Connections helps unemployed young adults who are not in school to gain work experience, skills training, and get help finding a job. The program focuses on engaging young people in specific areas of the city called Police Service Areas.

DC Career Connections works with businesses, community leaders, and service providers to provide young adults between the ages of 20 and 24 with the opportunity to learn and earn money. Participants can stay for up to nine months, during which time they can work up to 40 hours per week and earn a training wage of $12.50 per hour.

Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA)

The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) helps people receive job training through the form of a voucher. Eligible participants can use a voucher called an individual training account (ITA) to help pay for their training. In DC, the program is managed by the Workforce Investment Council (WIC).

If you’re looking for job training, you can go to one of the American Job Centers (AJCs) in DC and talk to a specialist about what kind of training opportunities are available.


RESEA is a program that helps UI benefit recipients to find new work and receive job training. If you are selected for the program, you will need to attend a one-day workshop at an American Job Center. This is required to continue receiving your unemployment benefits. The workshop helps verify that you are still eligible for the benefits, and gives you access to a reemployment specialist who can help you create a plan to find a job.

You’ll also get information on the job market and tools to help with your job search. If you can’t attend the workshop, you must call to reschedule. If you don’t reschedule, your benefits will be suspended until you complete the workshop.

Career Coach DC

The Career Coach DC program is available to Washington DC residents 18 years old or older that meet the eligibility criteria. The program offers free career coaching services to help individuals achieve employment and education success.

Individuals can work with a Career Coach to create a customized plan based on their personal goals. The Coach can help job seekers with a consistent employment history to find new or better jobs, prepare for promotions, and make their job search efforts more effective.

For individuals interested in pursuing training for a new career, the Career Coach can help identify educational and training opportunities that fit their needs and assist with registration or enrollment. If an individual is unsure about how to achieve a change in their career, the Career Coach can help provide direction and clarity in their career planning, job search, and educational pursuits.

The Career Coach can also empower individuals who are experiencing significant challenges that make it difficult to work or go to school. They can help identify and overcome barriers and challenges, as well as provide tools and strategies for an effective job search. Coaching services can be received virtually, in person, or a mixture of both.

To be eligible for Career Coach DC, individuals must be residents of the District of Columbia, aged 18 or older, and not have a 4-year college degree. Individuals with a 4-year college degree can also qualify based on their income.

Project Empowerment

The Project Empowerment program is instrumental in decreasing economic inequality in the District by helping thousands of individuals who are having trouble finding employment. The program’s work readiness approach provides eligible unemployed District residents with access to education, training, and subsidized employment placements.

Project Empowerment works alongside government entities, non-profit organizations, and private businesses in the DMV region to recruit, train, match, and mentor candidates.

Eligibility Requirements:

To be eligible for Project Empowerment, the applicant must satisfy the following prerequisites:

  • Must be between 22 to 54 years of age
  • Must be a District resident
  • Currently unemployed
  • Drug-free – willing to undergo urinalysis drug testing throughout the program

Participants must also meet at least three (3) of the following criteria:

  • Basic skills deficiency
  • A history of not maintaining steady employment
  • A felony conviction or prior incarceration
  • Lack of a secondary education credential (No high school diploma or GED)
  • A documented history of substance abuse
  • Homelessness

Note: Prospective participants receiving DC unemployment benefits are required to discontinue unemployment compensation before enrolling in Project Empowerment. Failure to do so will render them ineligible for Project Empowerment. Individuals currently participating in a TANF work readiness program are not qualified to enroll in Project Empowerment. Participants receiving government benefits such as TANF, Social Security Income, and SNAP (Food Stamps) must disclose their program earnings.

Interested in how much DC unemployment you’ll receive? Try the DC unemployment calculator.

Are your UI benefits exhausted? Learn about DC unemployment extended benefits.

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