Author Topic: Question for those who took unemployment (or tried)  (Read 3409 times)

redrocker

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Question for those who took unemployment (or tried)
« on: September 30, 2015, 09:12:12 AM »
In a previous post I shared some detail about my situation.
Here: http://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/ask-a-mustachian/question-for-the-retirees-i'm-on-the-cusp-do-i-retire-now/msg759644/#msg759644
In summary, I've been laid off a few years short of my target retirement goals. I might get another job, I might try to float on rental income and side work.

On my last day, while signing papers with HR I asked about unemployment and the response was "the company has decided not to challenge any claims so go for it if you want to."

Looking into it a little further -  and I don't know how different Louisiana is from other states - you have to file a new claim each week and with each claim you have to provide detail about three different contacts that were made with potential new employers. Additionally, one of the questions you have to check yes/no on is whether you turned down any job offers.

So I have a few questions for anyone who went through this process:
1. Is there a minimum standard of what qualifies for contacting a potential employer? (ie do they have to be with 3 different companies and does leaving a voicemail count?)
2. How did you go about locating phone numbers for potential employers and were these straight up cold-calls? (ugh, awkward)
3. If you have a minimum salary or particular job discipline in mind and you turn down something because it's simply not worth your time, are benefits withheld?

I want to be picky about a potential new job because the last one burned me out and because I can afford to. It seems the unemployment claims process makes that mindset difficult though and that you're somewhat pushed to take the first big-box store greeter job that comes your way. It also seems that this process is likely to take enough time each week that the unemployment benefit (~$260/wk) might not even be worth it, especially if a contact by phone leads to a series of interviews that go nowhere (which unfortunately is reputed to be common in this area).

Thoughts from any veterans of this process? Things you would have done differently?

olivia

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Re: Question for those who took unemployment (or tried)
« Reply #1 on: September 30, 2015, 09:22:45 AM »
My husband got UE and it was really simple.  Different state, but everything was online, and he just had to claim it online every other week and also provide proof that he was actively job searching.  I believe he just listed places that he applied to online.  You're certainly not required to take the first gig that comes along, and at least in our state you could even work part time and still get the difference in UE.  (That's what he did until he found a FT job.)

HazelStone

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Re: Question for those who took unemployment (or tried)
« Reply #2 on: September 30, 2015, 10:48:58 AM »
I've taken it twice, in different states. If you sign up for unemployment, they will make you sit through an "orientation" seminar outlining what documentation is expected of you, how to use their website, they go over how to make a resume, job search basics, interviewing basics, resources for training/retraining for a different career. You would be surprised how many people have NO IDEA how to do the basics.

If you cold call potential employers, it's a contact. If you send a resume/cover letter, applying to a job posting, it's a contact. If you go on an interview, it's a contact. They'll ask you to document the contacts- keep a log of all contacts because they will audit. Saved emails acknowledging your applications and rejections...

How you get treated by the unemployment office depends a lot on your caseworker. Do/supply all documentation, answer their questions in short words, and don't expect any reasonable judgment or initiative on their part. These guys are Vogons. They don't THINK, they just follow their book. And many of them are burnt out, too- understandable, since they get to witness a constant parade of other people's misery.

In the initial stages of unemployment, you'll get some understanding if you don't take the first crappy job offered- if you have marketable education and experience, you have an argument for not taking that position selling knives or AFLAC. If you've got a few interviews in the pipeline for jobs in your field offering a typical salary, they'll understand if you're not taking a $10/hr job from a temp agency. The whole idea of unemployment is to buy you a little time to find a decent job.

As your unemployment wears on, though, they will want to see you casting your net wider- take a temp assignment or two, have some part time work, etc.  In this shitty economy it is taking people a LONG time to find a decent job. The focus will shift from "finding a similar job and similar salary" to "take a less than optimal job if offered just to stay in the workforce" (and off government aid). Skills can atrophy and the longer you are out of work, the worse you will look to hiring managers.

Your unemployment benefits are basically a pot of money and time. There is a set stretch of time under which you can claim benefits. This is longer than the amount of time you can actually collect benefits If you take a temp job, that clock stops while you have the job. You're earning money, not burning unemployment benefit. It's put "on hold." If you've collected unemployment for three months, and you work 1 month as a temp, you still have three months left of the six months that regular unemployment lasts. Once the temp assignment ends, you can re-open your claim.

If you find something for only a few hours a week, they'll let you "keep" a small amount of the wage beyond your normal weekly benefit- anything left over just slows your rate of burn. And then if you're keeping that part time employment for a good while, you buy yourself more time for your claim on the back end because your burn rate is slower. So if you get $300/week in UI, and you're making $200/week part time, they might let you keep $100/week extra for working. The other $100/week will offset your unemployment benefit- so you're only burning $200/week out of your total pot of ($7200 in this example, being 6 months worth of the weekly benefit shown).

If you are honestly searching for (full time) work, go ahead and collect UI; it's what the program is for. Whether it would be too much hassle for you is your own call. Several years back my mother got laid off; she was burnt out by then and would not even pursue unemployment. She simply signed up for Social Security (not an option for you, I know). She said she didn't want to pursue work at the time, and so it was not honest to take the benefits and go through the motions.


The Pigeon

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Re: Question for those who took unemployment (or tried)
« Reply #3 on: September 30, 2015, 11:11:27 AM »
In California, it was all online. You had to sign up for a certain govt.-run jobs thing, and re-certify every two weeks (which was like stated above, check boxes that state you looked for work, at least three contacts, and that you did not turn down work, and whether you did any paid work at all. You only had to list the contacts if your form had a checkmark in a certain box.
I kept an excel list of all my contacts in case I was questioned.
I found the process, while outwardly simple, to be a pain in the butt. Some weeks there weren't any acceptable jobs, so you wondered if you should just apply to anything to fulfill the requirement.
Luckily for me, I ended up not being on it very long. However, the two payments I received last year (December) are still feeding me today! (I only have about $40 left, though).

I found the logging, paperwork and requirements annoying and bothersome. The actual process was handled all online (no requirement for in-person meetings/seminars). Your mileage for your state may vary.

NoraLenderbee

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Re: Question for those who took unemployment (or tried)
« Reply #4 on: September 30, 2015, 04:46:04 PM »
In California, it was all online. You had to sign up for a certain govt.-run jobs thing, and re-certify every two weeks (which was like stated above, check boxes that state you looked for work, at least three contacts, and that you did not turn down work, and whether you did any paid work at all. You only had to list the contacts if your form had a checkmark in a certain box.
I kept an excel list of all my contacts in case I was questioned.
I found the process, while outwardly simple, to be a pain in the butt. Some weeks there weren't any acceptable jobs, so you wondered if you should just apply to anything to fulfill the requirement.
Luckily for me, I ended up not being on it very long. However, the two payments I received last year (December) are still feeding me today! (I only have about $40 left, though).

I found the logging, paperwork and requirements annoying and bothersome. The actual process was handled all online (no requirement for in-person meetings/seminars). Your mileage for your state may vary.

I also got UI in California in 2013, but I was not asked to provide specific contacts. I just had to certify that I had looked for work (which was true). The paperwork was minimal. There was no phone contact and no meetings, except when I had a two-week contract job in the middle of my unemployed period. I reported the work as required, and someone called to verify the name of the employer. It was probably the easiest $400/week I ever made. unfortunately, I was searching desperately for my next job and was not in a position to enjoy the leisure.

regulator

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Re: Question for those who took unemployment (or tried)
« Reply #5 on: September 30, 2015, 04:55:53 PM »
If the contacts worry, you can either send out a cover letter with typos and F-bombs, apply to friends and family who will back you up, or keep sending in a resume for completely unsuitable jobs they would never even call you for.  Just because I am a dude it is not my fault they won't hire me for that stripper pole job...

Gimesalot

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Re: Question for those who took unemployment (or tried)
« Reply #6 on: September 30, 2015, 09:41:42 PM »
I hope you weren't a victim of the oil sector massacres that have happened recently. 

My husband has taken unemployment in Louisiana several times.  It is not very difficult.  You have to call in once a week, and might have to provide contacts.  Don't worry about having to turn down a job, because if you were a professional before, it will be very difficult for you to get hired for a crappy job.  Trust me, Walmart and the likes won't touch you with a ten foot pole. 

I suggest you get as much as you can out of it since it is a benefit of your previous job. 


redrocker

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Re: Question for those who took unemployment (or tried)
« Reply #7 on: October 01, 2015, 05:51:08 AM »
I hope you weren't a victim of the oil sector massacres that have happened recently. 

That's me. Although I don't consider myself a victim. I needed a change and this pushed me.

My husband has taken unemployment in Louisiana several times.  It is not very difficult.  You have to call in once a week, and might have to provide contacts.  Don't worry about having to turn down a job, because if you were a professional before, it will be very difficult for you to get hired for a crappy job.  Trust me, Walmart and the likes won't touch you with a ten foot pole. 

I suggest you get as much as you can out of it since it is a benefit of your previous job.


Thanks for the state specific information. That's helpful.

If you cold call potential employers, it's a contact. If you send a resume/cover letter, applying to a job posting, it's a contact. If you go on an interview, it's a contact. They'll ask you to document the contacts- keep a log of all contacts because they will audit. Saved emails acknowledging your applications and rejections...

...These guys are Vogons. They don't THINK, they just follow their book. And many of them are burnt out, too- understandable, since they get to witness a constant parade of other people's misery.

Thanks for the in depth response. That answered a lot of my questions. And now I know what a Vogon is.

cripzychiken

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Re: Question for those who took unemployment (or tried)
« Reply #8 on: October 01, 2015, 06:11:01 AM »
I'm from FL, but when I took UE, it was simple filling out info the different jobs I applied for that week (we needed 3/week, but filled out the claim every 2 weeks, so 6 total).  I would keep a copy of the job posting and confirmed application from Monster/careerbuilder. 

The most annoying thing was just typing out all the info in their really crappy system, so I typically would only list/report the jobs with info missing so I had less fields to fill out while still being completely honest.  But I still made $275/week (FL unemployment sucks).

My thoughts - if you are actually looking for a job, it's 30-60 minutes every 2 weeks to report what you did, but getting the contacts/applications isn't that hard t do.  If you want to take some time off, it's really easy to apply to jobs you don't qualify for (IT professionals, Senior level accountants or engineers, vice president of marketing, Doctors) that still meet the minimum requirements.

Gimesalot

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Re: Question for those who took unemployment (or tried)
« Reply #9 on: October 01, 2015, 08:07:25 PM »
I didn't see you mention severance pay until I read your first post.  I think what they do in LA is calculate your max benefit ($246 x 26= $6396) and then they subtract any vacation your were paid out or any severance pay.  I could be wrong but I am pretty sure this is how it works.  You might want to try anyway. 

Emg03063

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Re: Question for those who took unemployment (or tried)
« Reply #10 on: October 01, 2015, 10:02:42 PM »
In NC, claim started when severance pay ended.