Job seeking and the strategies and preparation involved in the job search can be expensive. Let me clarify that the frugal job seeker is one whose money conscious yet very strategic in how they manage their job search and the tools and resources they choose to use and invest in. Like any marketing campaign, it is important to select and manage your resources. If done carefully, you can effectively prepare and market yourself for under $500. Money well spent. In my own experience, the frugal yet strategic job seeker can lessen the amount of time in the job search by 25-50%. From a finance management perspective, this is a phenomenal return on investment. Here are some insights.
The Frugal Job Seeker
- Personal Branding Consultation. ($300) Just like a real estate home stager, a personal branding consultant can get you off on the right foot. Home stagers provide an unbiased opinion and are trained to highlight your home’s strengths while downplaying its weaknesses. Most consultants and career coaches including myself are willing to provide a personal branding and marketing consultation for perspective clients. Xceptional HR provides a basic career package of a resume, cover letter, reference check, and intial consult for $300. By meeting with an expert, you can get a feel for the market, have custom designed marketing materials, and a sense of direction that highlights your strengths and downplays your weaknesses.
- Professional Business Cards. ($50) Professionally designed business cards are essential for job seekers of all backgrounds. I recommend using a design company to help you design your business cards instead designing and printing them yourself. It is important to include your contact information, your professional website or LinkedIn profile url, as well as a memorable tag line or description that differentiates you from the rest. Using color appropriately is also important. A business card can be a difference maker that shows companies and professionals that you are serious about your professional job search. For the seriously frugal job seeker, Vista Print offers 250 free business cards and has templates and colorful backgrounds that you can take advantage of.
- Professional Dress. ($125) A great suit and accessories can make a lasting impression. Purchase items that you can mix and match to get the most bang for your buck. For the ladies, purchase a nice suit that includes pants, skirt, and blazer. Use different accessories like scarves, jewelry, and also blouses for different looks. I encourage men to do the same with ties, cuff links, and dress shirts. Department stores like J.C. Penny’s, Kohls, Target, and also thrift stores offer professional yet affordable options. When making a clearance or thrift store purchase, you can have your suit tailored to fit your body type at an affordable price. I once purchased a $350 suit at Nordstroms for 75% off. I had it custom tailored for $75 and walked into an interview looking like a million bucks.
- Networking Events. ($25) Use Social Media sites LinkedIn Groups, Meetup.com, Wimgo.com, FaceBook events, and your network to find free networking events. $25 includes the cost of gas to attend these events. Since many of these events are Happy Hour Networking events, order a water with lime to save on the cost of alcohol while ensuring that you are professional no matter what the circumstance.