One of the unfortunate truths of looking for a job is that it can be expensive. You may have no money coming in but you have to spend money getting to places, making contacts, and eating along the way. The costs can add up.
Here are a few tips to find a job without breaking the bank.
BYOR (Bring Your Own Refreshments)
It's a hidden cost of the job search, but it can add up. A coffee here, a bite to eat there, plus the cost of parking and gas, and other essentials—soon enough, you'll find the cost of the job hunt getting into the hundreds. The New York Times interviewed one job seeker who spent over $500 going back and forth on job interviews for three positions.
Don’t let that be you. Cut back on your job-hunt expenses by making one small step: always bring a thermos with coffee, a sandwich, and maybe a granola bar or two. You’ll avoid making impulse purchases and keep yourself satiated so that you’ll be at your best when out promoting yourself.
Plan Your Transportion
The cost of travel can really cut into your job-interviewing budget. Depending on where you live, public transportation could be substantially cheaper than using your car. Just make sure you know the lay of the land and the bus or train schedule before you go, and give yourself plenty of time.
Another option is to carpool with another job seeker. Several ride-sharing sites exist to connect people looking for a ride (or looking to give someone a ride). Splitting the costs can help a lot with rising gas prices.
Finally, when you plan out your interviews, you might find that you have two appointments with two companies in the same area scheduled for different days. Do not be afraid to reschedule with one or both of them to have the interviews fall on the same day. Most managers and HR pros are happy to work around your schedule—and, no, asking to change the time or day of a job interview will usually not cost you the job. And if it does—you're probably better off not working for such demanding sticklers anyway.
Get a Tax Break for Your Efforts
It’s an often forgotten fact that Uncle Sam may reward you for your job-hunting time in the form of tax deductions. If you keep good records and your situation falls into the IRS’s requirements, you could get reimbursed for your hard work. So use a travel log every time you go to interviews and keep all receipts when you have to pay for services that help you in your search, such as an employment placement agency and copies and mailings of your resume. As with most tax deals, the write-offs for job hunts come with a list of caveats; they apply only if this is not your very first job search, it’s within the same occupation as your last job, and you didn’t take a “substantial” break between your last job and the beginning of your search.
Consider Government Help
You might be eligible for some government assistance without even knowing it. Many cities and states have job seekers' programs for anyone who knows where’s to look. And it's not a handout—you pay for it with your taxes, so take advantage! Find the Department of Labor or Workforce Agency nearest you, and call them up.
If the government can't help you out, there is another way to get free or discounted assistance for presenting your best self to potential employers. Many local consignment shops or second-hand clothing sellers (even churches) get their hands on decent, modern suits and business outfits that could make you stand out. While that may require some patience and digging, consider the annual national suit drive by Men’s Wearhouse that offers suits and formal clothes to unemployed men looking for work.
Give Help to Others (So They’ll Help You)
If the job search is taking a while, you many need a makeover. You may need help with improving how you come across in interviews, polishing your resume, and promoting yourself online, through a personal website or social media profile. Try bartering with others who can help you with the areas you’re lacking. If someone you know is a talented writer, have that person rewrite your cover letters, for example, in exchange for practicing the interview process with them. You may both find a new job in no time.