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Thought Leader Series: Job-Hunting Costs: How to Keep Your Expenses Down

Jul 29 , 2015
Job hunting

Kim Parr is an optometrist and author who writes about finance, career, and retirement. You can find out more about Kim at her blog, Eyes on the Dollar.

Job-hunting can be as intense as maintaining a full-time job. Aside from researching and making sure credentials and resumes are up to date, there could be travel, meetings, and/or networking required for you to land the perfect position. Job-search costs can be a real concern, especially if you're currently unemployed.

By following a few simple steps, it's possible to keep your expenses down while job-hunting.

Minimizing Wardrobe Costs

While it might be tempting to go on a shopping spree before meeting a potential new employer, take a look around the closet bef ore spending money for an interview suit that might not be worn much - or at all - after you're hired.

If you have interview clothes that don't fit well, consider alterations or tailoring before replacing them. If an upgrade is in order, try to get away with buying accent pieces, like a new shirt or blouse, instead of a whole set of clothes.

Another option is to seek out a high-end consignment store. No one will know that your fantastic designer outfit is really a new-to-you piece that cost a third of the retail price!

Keep Your Search Local

Unless you're hoping for a move, try job-searching only in your local area. Not only will travel be cheaper, but you can use existing contacts to put in a good word with prospective employers. Local networking events or job fairs also offer opportunities to meet a variety of employers seeking employees all at once, saving travel expenses and valuable time.

Consider an Employment Agency

If you aren't finding great job postings or getting interviews, it might be wise to consider an employment agency. While there could be an upfront cost, many employers will reimburse these expenses because they use employment agencies themselves to search for top job candidates. Even if you don't get reimbursed, using an agency will pay for itself if it means faster hiring with higher pay.

Some Job-Hunting Expenses Are Tax Deductible

If you aren't changing industries or searching for your first job, some job-hunting costs are tax deductible. Anything related to your resume - including postage, paper and printing - is deductible, along with the cost of job agencies and job-hunting travel expenses.

A couple of notes: Be careful that the travel expenses you write off are directly related to your job search and don't apply to personal travel. Deductions fall under the miscellaneous category for tax filers who itemize and must equal two percent of your adjusted gross income.

Remember to Watch All Spending During Your Job Search

It's important for all job-seekers to keep an eye on their spending during the search process, especially if a job-hunter isn't currently employed. Try to brown-bag lunch or dinner if you'll be away from home during meal times. Don't turn to retail therapy or pricey drinks when an interview doesn't end on a positive note.

You may also have to avoid expensive social outings with your employed friends until you land a job. But don't sweat it! True friends will support your efforts and choose cheaper activities until you're back on your feet.

Job-hunting can be an expensive process. Hopefully, using these tips will keep your search costs low so you can concentrate on finding the perfect job.