We interrogate the distinction between searching and non-searching unemployment in South Africa using data from the first national panel survey that tracks the individual. In particular, we test whether the non-searching unemployed display a weaker commitment to the labour market than the searching unemployed, and we investigate what counts as search activity. We find that over the panel, the search status of the unemployed does not predict their subsequent employment status, a result that is robust also for subsamples that vary by age cohort, gender and location. Moreover, social networks are the most important job-finding strategy of the employed. These findings challenge the exclusion of the non-searching unemployed from the measure of “genuine” work seekers.