The rules on unemployment insurance vary by state, but in general, to collect you must be able to work, available to work, and actively seeking work.
If you’re doing so much freelancing and volunteering – or even so much networking that it gets in the way of your availability to work – you might have some explaining to do at your unemployment office.
The reasoning is this: Unemployment insurance is meant to help you get your next job. Volunteering and networking can’t get in the way of your taking a new position.
So when you’re communicating with unemployment officials, always be as clear as you can be. If you’re volunteering as part of your job search, say that. If you’re volunteering, but can leave any time someone calls you in to work or for an interview, say that, too.
Taking freelance or contract assignments can impact your eligibility, too. So when you disclose your activities, be as accurate as you can be, to help officials see the big picture. Try to anticipate their questions, and be ready to answer any you might have missed.
The same is true for working on your own business – or even pursuing an activity that might LOOK like a business.
One IT worker from Texas told us she lost a week of benefits for attending a sales-training course. Another, in California, had his benefits suspended when he launched a Web site about – unemployment. The state said it was a business, and it took him six weeks to get his benefits restored.
Yes, we still say freelancing, volunteering and networking are all critical aspects of a job search. But if you’re collecting unemployment, be sure you’re clear on your state’s rules, and weigh the risks and rewards of any assignments you take.
I’m Cat Miller, this has been DiceTV, and we now return you to your regular desktop.