Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Job Search Costs

Changing careers or conducting a job search can cost money. Of course, with the growing accessibility of the Internet, there are many free resources at your fingertip. Even so, it’s best to plan for these expenses, especially if you’re the one making a decision to leave an existing job without having another job to move in to. Take a look at this list, and then you decide what you can and can’t do without.

·Resume: Numerous online sites exist and many books and articles are in print explaining how to compose a resume and cover letters. Better yet, go directly to the “Prepare Resume” tab in Career Transitions to access a convenient, step-by-step resume wizard for walking you through building, saving, storing and sending targeted, efficient resumes and cover letters. Two situations may preclude you from wanting to undertake resume writing on your own or with the help of an online tool: 1) You have difficulty putting thoughts into words accurately and 2) You find it difficult to be objective about yourself, including your previous work and educational experience. If either of these is the case, use your local directory to locate a professional resume writer near you or go online to locate websites and professional resume writer associations for help.

·Computer and Internet access: It’s fair to say that daily or every-other-day access to your e-mail on the Internet, not to mention job board and company websites, is imperative during a serious job search. In addition, you’ll want to have ready access to a word processing program. Your local library may be equipped with all of the above, but unless you have your files stored in a convenient web-based tool like Career Transitions’ Prepare Resume dashboard, be prepared to invest in storage media for carrying files related to the job search (for example, your resume, reference list, and job samples).

·Appearance: If you’re between jobs or attempting to change careers, it can be tough to earmark funds for regular haircuts, not to mention clothing to wear on interviews. But when you consider that first impressions are lasting impressions, these expenses are worth their weight in gold. Make sure you research what clothing is appropriate for interviewing in your field and shop around to keep the costs reasonable. Accessories like a decent briefcase or portfolio may also be necessary expenses depending on the type of work you’re applying for.

·Travel and Meals: Whether you’re traveling across town or to another state for an interview, you’ll want to plan on the costs associated with gas, parking, flying, car rentals, meals, and possible overnight stays. In addition, just networking locally can get expensive, depending on the frequency of lunch/dinner meetings or just meeting for coffee.

·Dues and Memberships: Professional and trade associations as well as memberships in organizations like your local Chamber of Commerce can be very valuable sources for job leads and expanding your network. Some allow you to attend free local meetings or simply charge a fee per event. Others require you to pay annual dues to participate. Be sure to weigh the value of membership in terms of what the organization delivers in access to both online and local services, networking opportunities, publications, and training.

·Miscellaneous: You may want to consider the costs of a cell phone if you’re in a situation where you share a home phone line with children or roommates. And, you’ll be glad to have note cards on hand when it’s time to follow up with a “thank you” after an interview. Although more and more of the job search is being handled online, you’ll still have occasional need for paper copies of your resume. Invest in some nice-quality paper for your resume and cover letters, look into getting business cards printed, and plan on spending a little bit on copies and postage.

The good news is that, in some cases, expenses associated with a job hunt can be tax deductible. For example, you may be able to deduct the resume writer’s fee or some of your travel expenses. Take a look at this article in BankRate’s 2009 Tax Guide for a more extensive list of deductions and the criteria they must satisfy. But beware! According to the article, these deductions are only good if you’re looking for another job in the same field. So unfortunately, career changers, these tax deductions won’t apply in your case.

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