I reapplied for unemployment on Friday afternoon, right after completing my last day of work.
On Sunday I logged in to see if I was in the system yet and if they'd let me start filing claims. Sure enough, I logged in successfully and it let me fill out information for the week -- even though it was last week, when I was still working. (Before I go any farther, let me make it perfectly clear that I reported all my income for last week and will not be receiving any money from unemployment for a week I was still working. All I did was go through the motions to make sure everything was working for next week.)
Everything worked much the same as a year and a half ago when I last did this, except that I was already in the system after two days (rather than having to wait a week like last time) and -- and here's the part this post is really about -- they've added a section where you have to log the contacts you've made over the past week in your job search.
Now, that in and of itself isn't a bad thing. I've been keeping every contact in a spreadsheet anyway. And I think it's perfectly reasonable to ask my to copy-paste that information into a text field and submit it every week -- hell, if I do get audited, that's going to save on paperwork.
The problem is that, thanks to a new federal requirement which I assume was a condition of the latest extension of unemployment benefits, they now require that you contact people at least four days in each week. To prove you're seriously looking for work.
This is one of those things that sounds like a good idea to government bureaucrats but is just fucking stupid out here in real life.
Yes, by all means there should be a standard for determining that someone is seriously looking for work and not just cashing unemployment checks and sitting around playing Xbox (provided he hasn't pawned it yet because he's unemployed). And "looking for work four days a week" is a pretty modest standard for that.
But when you actually make it a requirement? A quota? Now you're giving people a bare minimum. And when you give people a bare minimum, you're going to find that a whole lot of people only meet that bare minimum. Think "pieces of flair" in Office Space.
This sends the message that a person who looks for one job Monday, one job Tuesday, one job Wednesday, and one job Thursday is more serious in his job search than a person who looks for ten jobs Monday, ten jobs Tuesday, and ten jobs Wednesday but then spends Thursday and Friday doing other Responsible Adult Things like paying bills, going to the doctor, applying for warranty repair on his laptop, getting his tires rotated, and studying up for certifications that might help him in his job search.
Obviously this is designed to encourage people to Seriously Look for Work instead of just collecting unemployment while doing nothing. That's a laudable goal. But in practice, people who are out just to collect unemployment while doing nothing aren't going to expend any more effort than before this regulation passed -- in fact, they might actually expend less now that they know they only have to apply for four jobs a week.
Meanwhile, it's an inconvenience for people who are seriously looking for work, because now they actually have to game their way through and make sure they don't just apply for multiple jobs, they do it across four days.
I got a call from the agency this morning, and they scheduled an interview for Friday. Boom -- that's two different days; I was halfway done with my required job search for the week by 10:30 Monday morning.
If I was the kind of guy who was only interested in doing the bare minimum to collect unemployment, instead of actually getting a job, I would call it a day and then look for two more jobs later in the week.
But of course I'm not. I'm going to spit-shine the ol' resume, update my profile on a few different job sites, and go hunting for other positions that are available.
But I'll make sure I don't actually click the "Submit" button on any of them until tomorrow. And then save some for Wednesday, too.
Took me weeks, and multiple browsers, to figure out what was happening last year.