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Job Search Guide: Strategies for Professionals

Chapter Two

Managing Your Personal Resources

 

[Keep a Schedule] [Maintain a Routine] [Stay on Top of Finances]

Whether you are unemployed, working or in school during your job search, your search will be more productive if it is well-planned. Start by making a list of the things you have to do. Deciding on career goals, updating your resume, doing library research, making phone calls and arranging interviews are just some of the things you can do to start getting organized. Cross items off the list as they are completed to give yourself a sense of accomplishment.

 

Keep a Schedule

If you are employed or in school, set aside a specific portion of your day for job-hunting; don't just squeeze it in. On the other hand, don't risk losing a job or flunking a course needed to graduate because of your job search.

Set aside specific times for writing your resume, making phones calls, answering ads and doing research.

Use a calendar, planner (either electronic or paper) or your personal computer to keep track of your time and make notes.

Check your calendar/planner every day--don't rely on your memory.

Set up a work space. Have a phone nearby. Keep a typewriter or computer, stationery, envelopes, stamps, copies of your resume and phone directories handy. Choose a quiet space where you will be free of interruptions.

Below is a sample schedule of how you can plan your time effectively.

 

Sample Schedule

 

Wednesday
July 6
8:00 Breakfast
9:00 Look Thru Want Ads
10:00 & Journal Classifieds
11:00
12:00 Lunch
1:00 Jog - 2 miles
2:00
3:00 Follow Up Phone Calls
4:00 Pick Up Kids @ School
5:00 Take Kids To Park
6:00 Family Dinner
7:00
8:00 Job Hunting Group
9:00 @ Library
10:00

Maintain a Routine

If you're unemployed, job hunting is your new, full-time job. Resist the temptation to sleep late or watch television all day. Plan to spend 30-40 hours per week on your job search. Your period of unemployment will be shorter if you make a concerted effort to find a new job.

Get up in the morning and eat during the day at the same times as you did when you were working.

Keep up with your exercise routine (or start one).

 

Stay on Top of Finances

Being unemployed probably means a substantially reduced personal income. Careful planning and money management will help you cope with changes in your financial situation. Some important things to do right away are:

Apply for benefits. Apply for unemployment benefits as soon as possible, even if you're not sure you are eligible. If you do qualify, you can include the amount of your benefits in your monthly budget. Depending on how long you have worked, you can collect benefits for up to 26 weeks. In times of high unemployment, benefits may be available for a longer period. Contact your state Division of Employment Services Information for further information.

Register with your local consumer credit counseling organization. In some locations, you can register with a consumer credit counseling organization that can provide economic planning assistance and help you get a handle on your finances.

Examine your income and expenses. Take a complete accounting of your income and expenses. Use the chart below as a guide:

 

Your Monthly Income-Expense Chart
Income Expenses
Unemployment Benefits $ Mortgage/Rent $
Spouse's Income $ Utilities: Electric $
Severance pay $ Gas/Fuel oil $
Interest/Dividends $ Water $
Other Income $ Telephone $
TOTAL $ Food $
Car payment/expenses $
Other loan payments $
Insurance premiums $
Medical expenses $
Tuition $
Clothing $
Entertainment $
Taxes $
Job hunting costs $
Other monthly expenses $
TOTAL $

If you're like a lot of people, your expenses exceed your income. You may have to dip into your assets, trim expenses, or both to make up the difference.

Review your assets. Make a list of all your assets and their current value.
The chart below can help:

 

ASSETS
Value
Liquid assets
Checking/Savings accounts $
Money market funds $
Pension/Annuities/IRAs $
Cash value of life insurance $
Securities
Stocks/Bonds/Mutual funds $
Government securities $
Personal property
Car(s)/Boat $
Furniture/Appliances $
Art/Antiques/Collectibles $
Jewelry/Clothing $
Real Estate
Home $
Other properties $
Other assets $
TOTAL ASSETS $

Based on your Monthly Income-Expense chart, see if it will be necessary for you to tap into your assets. Review your Assets chart to see if you have enough to supplement your income for six months? nine months? a year? When you have made this determination you will know how much time you have to look for the job of your choice.

Reassess your finances periodically. If your assets are being depleted and your ideal job has not yet come along, you may have to reevaluate your career goals, consider relocating or take a "fill-in" job. An option for you might be becoming a consultant. You might explore temporary jobs that are "typically" easier to obtain to make money to help tide you over.

Reduce expenses. In general, your strategy for controlling expenses can center on determining what costs you must incur to keep you and your family in a solvent status. If you need to limit expenses, try some of the suggestions below:

  • Reduce credit card purchases. Try to pay for things in cash to save on interest charges and prevent overspending.
  • Notify your bank or mortgage holder if you expect to have difficulty making mortgage or loan payments. They may be willing to renegotiate or arrange a better payment schedule.
  • Consider cashing in some "luxury" assets you may not really need. For example, sell a car or boat you rarely use. This will not only generate cash but will save you money on insurance and maintenance costs.
  • Comparison shop for home/auto/life and other insurance to make sure you have the best coverage at the lowest premium.
  • Repair rather than replace major appliances.
  • Keep your car well-maintained to avoid costly repairs.
  • Cut down on utility expenses by washing full loads of clothes and dishes and by adjusting the thermostat and turning off lights and appliances that aren't being used.
  • Reduce food costs by shopping for specials, using coupons and cutting down on eating out.
  • Enlist the cooperation of your spouse and children to help limit other family expenses.

Review your tax deductions. Some job hunting expenses may be tax deductible as a "miscellaneous deduction" on your federal income tax return. According to the IRS,

"You may be able to deduct certain expenses you have in looking for a new job in your present occupation, even if you do not get a new job. You cannot deduct your expenses if you are looking for a job in a new occupation ...."

If you're eligible, some of the expenses that you may be able to deduct are employment agency fees, resume expenses and some transportation expenses.

If you locate work in another city and you must relocate, some moving expenses are tax deductible on your federal tax return, Schedule A.

Keep records and receipts for all these expenses. Contact an accountant or the IRS for more information.

 

Review your health coverage. Although the cost of medical insurance is constantly increasing, it is still less expensive than becoming ill without insurance. There are several ways to obtain medical coverage for you and your family if you're out of work:

You can probably maintain coverage at your own expense, under the COBRA law if you worked for an employer that provided medical coverage and had 20 or more employees. Check with your former employer. To continue your health coverage under this law, you must tell your former employer within 60 days of leaving the job.

If you're married and your spouse works, check to see whether you can be covered under his/her health insurance plan.

Contact any professional organizations you belong to; they may provide group coverage for their members. Speak to an insurance broker, if necessary, to arrange for health coverage on your own or join a local Health Maintenance Organization (HMO).

Practice preventive medicine. The best way to save money on medical bills is to stay healthy. Try not to ignore minor ills. If they persist, phone or visit your doctor. It will be less costly to treat them before they become more serious.

Investigate local clinics. If you find that your health resources are being depleted, investigate local clinics that provide services based on a sliding scale. These clinics often provide quality health care at affordable prices.

 

Go to Table of Contents, Handling Your Job Loss, Assessing Your Skills, Experiences and Interests, Researching the Job Market, Conducting the Job Search, Networking, Writing Resumes and Cover Letters, Employment Interviewing, and Employment Testing.

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