So you’ve been laid off from your job. The price of everything, including gas, food, and insurance, seems to be on the rise. You have the mortgage to pay, kids to feed, and a retirement to plan. How can you possibly afford to pay for job hunting expenses on top of it all?
Yes, it does cost money to find a job, but it doesn’t have to deplete your savings. Here are 8 tips on how to keep your job hunting expenses to a minimum:
Reduce Expenses By Getting Free Help
1. Utilize Social Media and Free Job Boards
Many people find jobs using social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. In fact, in a recent survey, approximately 15% of people found their most current job through social media. Best of all, it’s free to use these tools as long as you have access to the Internet.
Additionally, check out all of the free job boards out there. There is a lot of traffic on these boards, and you can benefit from frequently reviewing postings.
2. Go to the Library
If your financial situation is especially dire, cancel your Internet service and use the Internet for free on a library computer. While this may be slightly inconvenient, it can easily save you $50 a month. This could equal a week’s worth of groceries or even more if you extreme coupon. If going to the library is not practical due to its location or operating hours, ask a friend if you can use his or her Internet access, or search for free WiFi hotspots in your area.
3. Have Friends Review Your Resume
It’s not cheap to have your resume and cover letter written or critiqued by a professional. In fact, top professionals charge up to $2,000.
While you may not have friends or family members who are professional resume writers or reviewers, you probably know someone who knows more than you do on the subject. Consider anyone who is a recruiter, works in human resources, has a technical writing background, or has recently been on the job hunt themselves. These individuals should have some great tips they can share. You can also ask your friends and family to conduct a mock interview with you so that you can practice responding to some basic questions.
4. Find a Free Recruiter
Companies often hire professional recruiters to find candidates for open positions. If a recruiter refers the candidate who gets hired, the recruiter gets paid by the company a percentage of the new employee’s salary. There are also recruiters that are paid by the job seeker, but to keep the costs of your job hunt low, skip on these recruiters for now. To best utilize a free recruiter, you’ll need to find one that specializes in your industry.
Reduce Expenses By Optimizing Your Time
5. Combine Interviews with Errands
When I had an interview, I tended to make it the main event of my day. If an interview was an hour away, I would drive an hour there, do the interview, and drive an hour home. It would have been smarter to group any errands I had near the interview location with my time in that area. Not only would it have saved me a trip at a later time, but it also would have lightened the mood and my stress level by incorporating normal aspects of life into my day.
6. Compact Your Job Search
The more time and effort you put into your job search, the better your chances of finding a new job sooner. You can do this in two ways. First, don’t take a break. Many job hunters stop their search in December because they believe everyone is on holiday. Not true. Companies are still at work, and many hire if they have leftover money in their budget for the year.
Secondly, be diligent with your search by making it your job to get a job. Wake up early, get dressed, have breakfast, and work until lunch. Get back at it in the afternoon, and do some networking in the evening.
Reduce Job Hunting Expenses in Other Ways
7. Deduct Job Hunting Expenses From Your Taxes
There are tax deductions for job search related expenses you can take advantage of, even if you don’t find a job in that calendar year. Expenses that can be deducted include:
- Employment agency fees
- Transportation to interviews, including airfare, hotels, and out-of-town meals
- Stamps and paper for mailing applications and resumes
- Telephone expenses
- Pre-employment physicals
- Resume preparation
Note that you cannot use these deductions if you are looking for your first job, switching career fields, or going back to work after a long break. Also, you can only deduct travel expenses if your main reason for travel was job search related. Remember to save your receipts.
8. Maximize Local Networking Events
Often, these events are free and packed with business people. Networking is the number one way to find a job, and these events can be invaluable. If you are a college graduate, contact your alumni association to find out if they have a local chapter you can join.
Also consider groups within your industry or college major, and do some networking online if the groups are small in your area.
You always have the option of being frugal in your job searching efforts, but if you do decide to make one splurge, I highly recommend attending a conference or workshop for your industry. While conferences can be expensive, especially if you have to pay for airfare and hotel, the contacts you will make are priceless. Conferences and workshops are the mother of all networking events and will be your best bet to find a job.
What other tips do you have for saving money while hunting for a job? What do you consider to be the best job search resource?
Casey Slide has a background in industrial engineering and shares her tips related to jobs and careers on Money Crashers Personal Finance.