Job-hunting can be expensive, but you can find a job without breaking the bank.

Sometimes, it takes a while to figure out what you want to do. Other times, it takes a while to get a job…doing what you want to do.

Whether you are looking for a new career or just want a change, having to find a job can be expensive. If you add up the costs (travel, clothes, materials, time spent, etc), you may end up spending a lot, and this doesn’t even include the price of education.

Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to save money when a new position opens up.

Don’t Pay for Resume Preparation

In many cases, you do not need to pay for resume preparation. You can find free resources all around you. If you do not have a good resume, try this: Go to Google Images, search “Resume + [your job category]”, and copy the design and terminology of a resume you found (as long as it is applicable).

If you are not great at Google searches, contact your local college (community, public or private). Most colleges will have resume building courses that are open to the public (Free!). If that does not work, ask an employed friend for help. Ask them to look over your resume, and be open to their critiques.

If you do decide to have a company prep your resume, vet the company. Make sure that the company you pursue has experienced workers – meaning – they’ve worked other jobs, hopefully at Fortune 500s. If they haven’t, and this is the only job they’ve ever had, you may not be getting the best help.

*Treat your resume like marketing material. If you send out your resume to 5-10 places, and don’t hear anything, change something (change the font to a serif, change the font color, change the wording, etc).

Avoid Paying Unneeded Travel Expenses

Scenario: You are invited to interview at a company 300+ miles away.

If you haven’t had a phone interview, ask to have one before you drive / fly to the interview in order to make sure the job is a good fit. You can also ask if the employer would be willing to do one round of interviews on Facetime or Skype. You may find out through these two steps that you are not interested, or that you did not have a solid chance at landing the job.

After the phone interview, if you are invited for another round, ask about interview expenses. Do not assume that the company will not pay for expenses, and (more importantly) don’t initially offer to fly yourself out. If you do, you will end up paying, even if the company was going to pay.

Before you agree to travel for the interview, it’s okay to ask how likely you are to get the job. Ask something like, “I’m interested in this job and will pay my way to the interview. Before I do that, however, would you tell me how strong of a candidate I am?”

There’s a big difference between “You are the leading candidate” and “We are interviewing a list of 5-10 people, and you are one of them”.

*You also need to consider if the company will pay for relocation.

Use Your Network

Networking For College Students

One of the hardest times to find a job is right out of college. Why?

1. If you did not attend club meetings or do an internship, your network consists of: mom and dad, college friends, newly employed college friends with no hiring power, and unemployed-job searching college friends. You are kind of in a pickle.

This is why meeting people older and more experienced than you (outside of your comfort zone) is vitally important. Otherwise, you’ll graduate college and end up working for your old man.

2. You have to explain how the PowerPoint you made in college somehow contributes to the bottom line for the company you are interviewing at.

When you are in college, make sure that you reach out to professionals, and that you read industry standard material.

*If you read a great industry article online, tweet at the writer and tell them what you learned. They’ll say thanks, and you may get a follower. 

Networking for Experienced Workers

After working for a few years, you should have a great network of people to connect with. Save emails, connect on LinkedIn, follow and ask questions of experts on Twitter, and work hard. One of the easiest and best ways to have a career change is getting poached by another company.

Get Smart with Your Taxes

Did you know that you are allowed to deduct many job-hunting expenses on your taxes? It should not surprise you; it’s better for you and the IRS (it’s in their best interest that you earn money). However, the job related expenses have their limits.

Itemize Your Taxes

You must itemize deductions on your Schedule A to count your job-hunting expenses. If you take the standard deduction, you will not be able to deduct job-hunting from your taxes. In some cases, it is best to take the standard deduction.

Occupation Must Be Related

The other big hurdle in writing off job search costs is that you can only deduct expenses if you are looking for a job in the same field. Additionally, the IRS won’t help you out if you took a year off and want to get back to work. And sorry, new graduates. You cannot deduct job expenses on your first job.

Seek out a Career Counselor

If you are unsure of yourself or what direction you want to take even before you find a job, please consider talking to a career counselor. A professionally trained career counselor will help you to:

  • Map out your Interests and Skills
  • Assess your Values and Personality
  • Find a Fit for your Specific Career Goals

Studies have shown that people with a sense of purpose in their work report fewer psychological issues, lower rates of workaholism, better work adjustment and greater overall happiness in life (Kosh, Steger & Duncan, 2008). If you need help finding the right path, consider talking to an expert with your best interests in mind.

Talking with a career counselor can save you thousands of dollars and hundreds of wasted hours. A career counselor can also help you find what you want out of life and a list of opportunities that fit your needs, goals, and personality.