career

7 ways to save cash on a job hunt

If the center teaches a specific skill you need -- such as word processing, learning a spreadsheet program or graphic design expertise -- take advantage of the opportunity to increase your chances of being hired.

Contact your state's department of labor to locate centers in your area.

Another good source for help is your alma mater. Dorio suggests visiting your school's career center, even if you graduated many years ago.

"College alumni centers have lots of job resources, both in-office and online," he says. "They have personnel who can help with resume preparation, networking and putting you in touch with other alumni to support your search efforts."

Look for informal job search groups, too. With these organizations, people come together about once a week to share ideas, resources and experiences without requiring you to spend a lot of money, Dorio says.

The group can keep you accountable in your search, offer encouragement and provide an informal critique, such as double-checking your resume for typos.

"These support groups can help you stay motivated and may provide you with a tip that lands you your next job," Dorio says.

4. Group-related job hunting tasks

Cutting employment-related transportation costs can net major savings. Proper planning can minimize the amount of time and money you spend traveling.

"Plan your time so that one day you're making phone calls, the next day you're making copies and sending letters out and the next you're visiting potential employers," says Dorio.

Litvin adds a related tip: Try to schedule interviews during slower periods of the work day, if possible.

"Interviewing during nonrush-hour times helps you save on gas by dealing with less traffic," she says.

5. Use free and low-cost Internet and phone services

It's crucial to have online access when looking for work. The Internet allows you to research companies and get access to job-hunting Web sites. But if you don't have the budget for costly Internet service, consider dropping it in favor of using the Internet for free at places such as the library or a local job center, Steele says.

You can also sign up for free e-mail accounts, such as Hotmail or Google Gmail, Litvin says.

"Having this type of account might demonstrate that a candidate is computer savvy and financially efficient," she says.

Regardless of which e-mail account you use, remember to keep your user name professional, Steele says.

"Stay with using something simple, such as your first and last name or something similar," she says. "Don't use a cutesy nickname."

Along with Internet service, evaluate your telephone plan to make sure you're getting the most value possible for the money.

Most candidates also need cell phone access and voice mail, so they're always available if an employer calls for an interview, Dorio says.

"Even so, shop around for the best deal, and consider dropping extra services you don't need," he says.

6. Pack your own lunch

Save a few dollars by packing your own lunch, Dorio says. Or at least bring along some snack bars.

"If you have several interviews scheduled, you could spend a lot of money stopping by restaurants to get something to eat after each meeting," Dorio says.

7. Save your receipts

Whenever you spend money on your job search, save all receipts -- you may need them at tax time.

"Many of the fees related to your job search could be tax-deductible," Dorio says.

Such fees include the cost of preparing and mailing resumes and expenses related to employee outplacement services and travel. Be sure to record your mileage for each trip, including starting and ending odometer readings.

There are a few caveats to the tax deductions. You have to be looking for work in your current occupation, and you shouldn't have been out of work for a substantially long period of time.

"Become acquainted with IRS Publication 529 because it explains in detail which job search expenses can be deducted from your taxes, and what the requirements are," Dorio says.

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