Make us your home page

Keep job search cost low

Search out free or low-cost assistance in your job search, like the free resume help offered at this job fair in San Francisco in August.

Associated Press

Search out free or low-cost assistance in your job search, like the free resume help offered at this job fair in San Francisco in August.

MILWAUKEE — With little relief in sight on the employment scene, job hunters have to be savvier and more careful than ever about what they choose to spend money on as they search. Luckily, one of the best ways to find a job — networking — is practically free. The key is to stay focused on your goals, experts said. Here are some tips on ways to keep spending down while looking for the job you want. Emily Fredrix, Associated Press

Network online

If you don't have a free profile on LinkedIn, get one, said Susan Joyce, editor and publisher of, an employment portal that links to job Web sites, employment offices and articles with tips.

"The LinkedIn profile is the new resume," she said.

You can connect with old friends and classmates on the networking site, which bears some resemblance to Facebook. Start by posting your work history and comments and questions and answering others' question thoughtfully. That will build up your presence. Then you can solicit recommendations and start to network.

Joyce suggests also joining Linked­In groups, such as the ones for alumni of your college and for the most relevant professional organization, because that's where recruiters now focus their efforts. They can fine-tune their searches very quickly by going to groups of people with an attribute they're seeking such as paralegal experience or an MBA, she said.

Network in real life

Don't neglect networking in person just because you're searching online, said John Challenger, CEO of Challenger, Gray & Christmas, an outplacement firm in Chicago. That's where the real connections are made, and they don't have to break the bank either.

"You have to get yourself out from behind the computer at your home, out engaged in the external side of things," he said.

Join the professional organizations you chose in step 1 — ask about discounts — and go to their events, for example. Often these groups will let new members attend events — say, a dinner — for free even when other members must pay. Some groups let people join for free if they're looking for a job.

If you arrange meetings with new contacts, don't feel like you have to treat them to a meal or coffee. Often, just meeting in an office is enough, Challenger said, and it could help you stay focused on business.

Go back to school

No, we don't mean for a new degree, which could be helpful but certainly won't be cheap. Check your college's career center for new contacts and leads. Many college centers now cater to alumni, not just recent graduates, and offer career advice, help with resumes and connections to other alumni.

Also check career centers at local community and technical colleges, which may help you for a small fee, even if you didn't matriculate there, said Dorothy Graham, a career coach and owner of, a career transition business.

And don't forget state and municipal work force development organizations.

Know when to hire professionals

There's a thriving industry built around people looking for jobs, but spending on head hunters, career coaches and resume writers doesn't always pay off, experts said.

Challenger said never to pay a company that promises you success, for instance.

"There really aren't places that will find you a job," he said. "That's a myth."

But if you think your resume is out of date, it can be worthwhile to — carefully — hire a resume writer, said Joyce at An online search finds they typically charge about $200.

"Get references; try to find someone who really knows what they are doing and has a proven track record," said Joyce, who has been through two layoffs herself.

She suggests posting your resume for free on sites like and refreshing it every 10 days (just change a word or two), so it never looks like you've been searching for work for months.

Career coaching can cost more than $100 an hour, but some coaches will offer a sliding scale or work within a budget that a client sets, said Graham. She suggests first seeing how much work you can do on your own by tapping free resources; then, if you get stuck, hire a professional within your means.

Be methodical

Planning each step of your job search will help you save money and time.

If you know you'll be visiting a city for a job interview, plan your trip at least two weeks ahead so transportation costs less and so you can arrange other interviews or meetings, Challenger said.

Maybe even stay with one of the old friends or classmates you've reconnected with to save on hotel costs. Ask prospective employers to pay for the trip. And keep using your time efficiently by finding out ahead of time where there's free wireless Internet you can use between interviews. Check out:

It's tax-deductible

Keep your receipts for things like travel and photocopying your resume. Some expenses incurred during a job search in your current occupation are tax deductible, Challenger said.

Check IRS publication 529 for details:

Keep job search cost low 10/24/09 [Last modified: Saturday, October 24, 2009 4:30am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Trigaux: How Moffitt Cancer's M2Gen startup won $75 million from Hearst


    TAMPA — A Moffitt Cancer Center spin-off that's building a massive genetic data base of individual patient cancer information just caught the attention of a deep-pocketed health care investor.

    Richard P. Malloch is the president of Hearst Business Media, which is announcing a $75 million investment in M2Gen, the for-profit cancer informatics unit spun off by Tampa's Moffitt Cancer Center. Malloch's job is to find innovative investments for the Hearst family fortune. A substantial amount has been invested in health care, financial and the transportation and logistics industries.
  2. Three-hour police standoff ends, thanks to a cigarette


    TAMPA — A man threatening to harm himself was arrested by Tampa police on Tuesday after a three-hour standoff.

  3. Another Hollywood nursing home resident dies. It's the 9th in post-Irma tragedy.

    State Roundup

    The Broward County Medical Examiner's office is investigating another death of a resident of the Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills — the ninth blamed on the failure of a cooling system that became a stifling deathtrap three days after Irma hit.

    Carlos Canal, pictured at 47 years old, came to Miami from Cuba in 1960. Above is his citizenship photo. [Courtesy of Lily Schwartz]
  4. Despite Hurricane Irma, Hillsborough remains on pace to unlock hotel tax that could pay for Rays ballpark


    TAMPA — Despite the threat of a catastrophic storm, it was business as usual at many Hillsborough County hotels in the days before Hurricane Irma bore down on the Tampa Bay region.

    The Grand Hyatt near TIA closed during Hurricane Irma, but many other Hillsborough hotels were open and saw an influx.
  5. New Graham-Cassidy health care plan stumbles under opposition from governors


    WASHINGTON — The suddenly resurgent Republican effort to undo the Affordable Care Act was dealt a blow on Tuesday when a bipartisan group of governors came out against a proposal gaining steam in the Senate.

    Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., joined by, from left, Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., Majority Whip John Cornyn, R-Texas, Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La., Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., speaks to reporters as he pushes a last-ditch effort to uproot former President Barack Obama's health care law, at the Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2017. To win, 50 of the 52 GOP senators must back it -- a margin they failed to reach when the chamber rejected the effort in July. [/J. Scott Applewhite | Associated Press]