When looking for a new job there are multiple costs to consider. Preparation and organization reduce the bleeding of cash when you search for your next gig. According to a survey of over 3,000 job seekers over one quarter of people had to spend $200 or more when looking for a new job. Costs include clothing (68% spent money), transportation (49%), printing (44%), and travel (40%). But searching for a job does not require additional costs with the proper planning and negotiation.

Plan of Attack

‘Prior preparation prevents poor performance’ is an applicable adage here. Ensuring you use the resources at your fingertips on your computer and smartphone substantially saves you time and money. There’s no need to pay for expensive software services or personal assistants to help you with organizing the search. Using Excel or Google documents allows for a clear outline of the status of your job searching. Setting alarms, creating alerts, and tracking appointments are easily conducted through deliberate organization and time spent planning prior to the interviews.

An Alternative to Travel

The biggest price tag that eats into your budget comes from travel expenses. If your search is out of the immediate driving distance, this cost may explode if you fly, rent a car, and need a hotel room. If an out-of-town expense is required for the job interview, first ask if the company will pay for this and make arrangements on your behalf. They may say no but put that feather in your cap to ask for reimbursement during negotiations. Second, ask if it’s feasible to conduct the interview online or over the phone. If a connection is made, then you can consider forking over payment to travel to the location.

Looking Your Best

Knowing the culture of where you’re interviewing is the key to knowing what to wear. Err on the side of caution and dress up, verses down. Even if the interview is conducted over Skype or Zoom, looking the part is key. This need not cost you an arm and a leg if you plan ahead. Begin by asking family and friends if they have clothes to share. A new wardrobe is unnecessary. There are plenty of online consignments sites such as eBay, ThredUp, Poshmark, and TheRealReal for top end clothes at a fraction of the price.

Call Out the Reserves

There are multiple free resources and tools on the Internet to assist with resume writing and example cover letters. Planning and organizing your content, in advance, makes this a free endeavor after you’ve rolled up your sleeves and completed the work. YouTube has hundreds of practice interviews, both questions and answers, for you to view. Reconnect with your network and call out the reserves to assist you. If your school has a great career center, let the alumni introduction assist in your positioning before the interview.

Don’t Go Stale

If you’re hitting a brick wall and money is still outgoing and not incoming, it may be time to look at some new skills. Most companies identify what they’re looking for when asking for the job. Another deeper way to determine what’s valued is by looking at qualifications of peers. With a list in hand use online classes, via sites like edX or Coursera. Even the U.S. Department of Labor provides information on training programs, apprenticeships, or certifications on CareerOneStop.

As you already possess a wealth of knowledge, knowing your worth and being surrounded by a team of people who are helping you, a clearer path forward is established. Planning ahead, using resources at hand, and exploring all free options, before shelling out the dough, will save you a small fortune.

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Candice Frost is an active duty Army officer and a leadership consultant. Her work in intelligence on the Army Staff provides her unique insights on the highest levels of leadership in DoD. She is a public speaker who focuses on mentorship and leader development. She lives in Washington, DC and can be reached at candicefrost1776@gmail.com