It is frustrating to win your case, but get limited compensation because you can’t convince the tribunal that you have done a reasonable amount to find work – what’s called ‘mitigating your loss.’
It is important to make sure you collect evidence of all your mitigation efforts. If you are claiming benefits for which you have to be available for work, you will have to show the JobCentre some evidence that you have been looking for work. But bear in mind that evidence that is sufficient to convince a bored and underpaid JobCentre worker may not stand up to the kind of scrutiny you can expect from an employment tribunal.
Your aim, in collecting evidence of your mitigation efforts, should be to collect together a pile of papers so enormous that the respondent’s lawyers feel tired just looking at it, and can’t face trying to cross-examine you on it at all.
With this aim, do the following. Keep a diary of your job search. Aim to take at least one step every weekday day to find work, and record it in your diary. Make a note every time you look for jobs in a newspaper, or visit the JobCentre, or visit or telephone a particular employer. If for some reason you are not able to take any steps at all on a particular day, make a note in your diary of the reason why. Keep a file of relevant papers in chronological order. Put in it clippings of all newspaper adverts you follow up, a copy of every application you make, a copy of every rejection letter or invitation to interview that you receive.
Keep copies of the cost of your job search in the same file: keep your train or bus tickets if you have to travel to an interview, and receipts for printing costs if you have to print copies of your CV.
Bear in mind that the longer you are out of work, the more you will have to prove: if you find another job in 3 months or less, it is unlikely that the respondent will even try to argue that you have not done enough to mitigate. But if you are out of work for 9 months or a year – especially if you are still out of work at the time of the hearing – you will almost certainly face close questioning about what you have done and why you have not succeeded yet.