​In litigation, the unemployed or under-employed are expected to show that they made genuine efforts to find employment comparable to their experience, education and/or training and earning capacity. Many factors determine earning capacity, but this month, we focus on the Diligence of the Job Search.

Courts and judges may evaluate job search efforts differently, but there is some agreement about the criteria of a “good faith” search for employment. The unemployed or under-employed need to “prove” how they made their best efforts to find such employment. The opposing party (in employment litigation, the defendant), often refer to the job seekers’ testimony and documentation about their efforts (or lack thereof) to execute a diligent job search.


The question is:  What criteria demonstrate a “good faith” effort?
  • Conducting a self-assessment and seeking feedback from others (professionals, mentors, family, colleagues, community?
  • Researching and really using resources that can help?
  • Making a plan that sets a clear direction?
  • Putting a plan into action with the right activities?
  • Employing a variety of the right activities rather than relying on only one or two?
  • Devoting an appropriate amount of time and effort to those activities?
  • Keeping track of activity, follow-up, results and next steps with contact information and dates?
  • Adjusting their plans and seeking help when results fall short
Websites, publications or career advisory services about this topic consider all of the above criteria necessary for an “effective,” and “diligent,” job search. New York, New Jersey, Illinois and Washington (among other states) require those claiming unemployment benefits to keep a log of actions, with contact information and dates. ​See http://lwd.dol.state.nj.us/labor/forms_pdfs/ui/BC-514.pdf​


What differentiates diligence and success in a search for employment is how well the job seeker keeps a well-organized, up-to-date tracking of their job search. When the job seeker builds contacts, in person meetings, commits the hours and range of activities that is expected in this process, he or she is quickly overwhelmed and opportunities will be overlooked – even lost. Good tracking of a job search should include clear details such as notes on conversations or emails, results, follow-up and next steps after each contact or action. This is a far more effective process than referring to stacks of printed emails and a volume of online applications.


As both a career consultant and vocational expert, I recommend a more detailed log to organize the job search (excel spreadsheets are a great tool and can be imported into a Word document for those who prefer).


Remember, this is not only important for litigation, it is an essential  process for actually getting hired.


To get your copy of our Job Search Tracker, email indi@TheEmployabilityExpert.com.