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Mo. unemployed workers COVID exemption for work search ends

Published: Jul. 6, 2020 at 6:17 PM CDT
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So just what is a "work search activity"?

That's any attempt you make to obtain employment.

Starting this week you will need to do three of those work search activities per week in order to keep your unemployment benefits, a requirement that had been waived by the state during the coronavirus crisis.

But now it's back.

So here are some work search activities you can do through the Missouri Job Center.

-- Assessing and job searching on jobs.mo.gov

-- Participating in a Reemployment Services and Eligibility Assessment appointment through the job center

--Responding to a job center work referral

-- Submitting a paper or online application for employment

--Creating a resume or reemployment plan

-- Creating a user profile on a web-based networking or job posting site

--Attending a job interview in person or virtually

--Attending a job fair

-- Follow up with an employer about a job opening

For instance, searching online for a job, filling out an online resume and interviewing for a job would count as three separate searches, fulfilling your weekly requirement.

T.J. Panique, a Workforce Development Specialist for the Missouri Job Center in Springfield, gave us some important tips for using the center's website effectively.

He started out by pointing to the "Quick Menu" running vertically down the left side of the page. In that menu is "Job Search" and "Resume Builder".

"That is where you're going to spend about 98 percent of your time," Panique said.

The job search allows you to pick the counties and the type of job you're looking for and once there, you'll find all kinds of details about that job.

"You'll want to remember the jobs you're interested in by writing down the Job ID so that when you want to come back you can simply type in the ID number and it will go right back to that single job posting," Panique explained.

But the most important thing to remember is while you don't have to actually apply for the job, you do need to click on "How to Apply" in a job posting and access the employer's contact information.

The reason that's important?

"It's at this point when you can see that employer's contact information that the unemployment office can make sure that you're job searching," Panique said.

If you don't access all the way to the employer's contact information, you won't be recognized for doing a work search activity. Once again, you don't have to apply, just get to the point where you would be applying.

Creating your own resume online is also important in that it not only fulfills one of your three requirements, but you can also take the keywords from the job description and use them in writing your qualifications.

Panique read from one of the job qualifications.

"Add, subtract, multiply and divide. Interpret reports. Analyze. These are all keywords that you need to put into your resume," he said.

Panique explained those keywords are important because most resumes these days are first reviewed by a computer, and if those keywords aren't in your work experience qualifications, you're eliminated early on in the process.

As for continuing to receive your unemployment benefits, there's another thing that qualifies as a job search people may not know about.

"Working part time can also qualify as a job search activity," said Katherine Trombetta, Springfield's Job Center Communications Coordinator. "If you work three days a week just put in the days you work and those will qualify for your job search requirement."

The state department of workforce development will be hosting two virtual hiring events on July 27 and August 5. They will also count towards job search activity.

Trombetta said that since Springfield's job center reopened from the pandemic on May 28 there have been a steady flow of job seekers but not a rush.

The feeling was many people who lost jobs because of the pandemic wanted to wait until their unemployment benefits stopped before they started actively searching again for employment.

"We feel that now that the job search requirement has been put back in place, things will pick up," she said. "Another requirement that's been put back is the one week wait. When you file for unemployment there is now a mandatory one week wait period to receive your unemployment benefits."

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