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What Are Approved Job Search Activities in Washington State for Unemployment?

Unemployment insurance in Washington state is provided through the state's Employment Security Department. It gives temporary weekly payments to those out of a job because of circumstances outside their control, such as a business closure or layoff or being ill-suited for the job. To remain eligible, the recipient must make three employer contacts every week that he claims benefits. However, one or more of these contacts can be replaced with in-person "job search activities" at your local unemployment office.

Eligibility Requirements

To qualify for unemployment insurance in Washington state, the applicant must have worked at least 680 hours for a covered employer during his "base year," four calendar quarters out of the last five. You also must have earned sufficient wages in Washington state. You also must be unemployed due to a layoff, business closure, being unfit for the position or other reasons beyond your control. Those fired for violating company policy or the law are ineligible.

How To Apply

Applicants apply for unemployment insurance in Washington state either by telephone at 800-318-6022 or online at the state's Employment Security Department website ( You need your Social Security number; names, contact information and employment dates of your last employers; estimated gross monthly pay received from each; and the name and local of your union (if that's how you usually get work). If you were a federal employee, you'll need your SF-8 and SF-50 forms. If you served in the military, you'll need your DD-214 form. If you are an immigrant, you'll need your Alien Registration Number.

Job Contacts and Job Search Activities

Maintaining eligibility for unemployment insurance requires performing either three job contacts, three in-person job search activities, or a combination of both, every week you claim benefits. Approved job search activities include workshops conducted at your local Employment Security Department office. Topics include job search strategies, resumes and cover letters, interview techniques, and re-entering the work force. Satisfactory progress through the computerized KeyTrain skills assessment system also counts as a job search activity.

Mandatory Orientation Workshop

Those judged most likely to exhaust all their unemployment insurance benefits must attend a mandatory orientation workshop in addition to other employer contacts or job search activities. This covers job search requirements and resources available to job seekers. The latter includes skill assessments, re-employment services summary, job referrals, labor market information and training program referrals. Failure to attend the workshop or similar mandatory services can result in denial of unemployment insurance benefits.


Brian Gawley has been a daily and weekly newspaper reporter since 1989, working for the "Whitman County Gazette," "Columbia Basin Herald," "Grand Coulee Star," "Peninsula Daily News" and "Sequim Gazette." Gawley is a Washington State University Honors Program graduate with a bachelor's degree in communications and a national research paper award winner.