Creating a Job Search Budget

It takes money to make money, right? That’s especially true for a job search where budgeting skills can mean the difference between a job you love and a job you have to take just to pay the bills.

Budgeting isn’t usually viewed as a necessary skill in a job search. Whether your job search is voluntary or involuntary, the goal is to find a high paying job as quickly as possible, effectively negating the need to create a budget for your job search.

But in reality, budgeting is one of the first things jobseekers should do, even if they don’t anticipate being in the job market for very long. Although you may not want to hear this right now, good job searches cost money. The more accurately you budget for your search, the more options and success you will receive from your efforts.

The most important benefit of creating a job search budget is that it helps unemployed jobseekers gauge how long they can look for a job and remain financially solvent. By integrating your monthly bills and personal spending habits into your job search budget, a little belt tightening can let you hold out a little longer for the job you really want.

Here are a few other items that need to be addressed when you create a budget for your job search:

  • Technology

    Technology has become an integral job search resource. At a minimum, you’ll need a PC (preferably a laptop), a printer, an Internet connection and a mobile or smartphone. Decent laptops are fairly affordable these days, but you’ll need to make sure it’s loaded with Microsoft Office solutions (Word, Excel, etc.), the standard file format for nearly all employers.

  • Clothing

    If you don’t have professional attire, you’ll need to get some. If you already have a professional wardrobe, it will likely need to be updated to make an impression on employers. Play it safe and budget at least a few hundred dollars for wardrobe.

  • Travel

    It’s possible that your job search may require you to travel in order to job fairs or events in other cities. If you are invited to interview for an out-of-town position, the employer will usually reimburse you for the expense – but you’ll need enough cash or credit card availability to cover the upfront costs.

  • Memberships & Event Fees

    Some career events and networking opportunities are free, while others require payment of a one-time charge or membership fee. In many cases, premium events and trade associations offer the best networking opportunities, so you’ll want to set aside several hundred dollars to participate in these types of activities.

  • Incidentals

    Food, gas, parking, office supplies and other incidental expenses add up over time. Most jobseekers can expect to spend about $100 a month for these types of expenses. But think about this: if you job search lasts 6 months, incidentals will add up to $600 – and if you haven’t budgeted for it, other spending categories may suffer.

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