The unemployment rate for recent college graduates is 8.8 percent, according to the Economic Policy Institute, well above the national average. Even though the economy has shown signs of life and job creation is on the upswing, finding that first paid position is going to be a challenge. It's in your interest to save as much money as you can to ensure you have the time and resources to devote to your job search after college graduation. Follow these tips to help get you started:
1. Rethink Hiring a Headhunter or Career Counselor
In the pre-digital age, headhunters and career counselors were a necessary component to any job search. With the availability of information online nowadays, however, much of value they provide can be obtained on your own. Don't discount these professionals entirely—just be sure you're getting a good return on your investment, or you're applying for a position in which headhunters are essential.
2. Resist the Urge to Buy New Clothes
Most qualified HR personnel look for the substance of the interview rather than what you're wearing. Keep your attire conservative and eliminate any expensive accessories. If you need some business wear on the cheap, check thrift stores or consignment stores—you may be surprised what you find.
3. Take Whatever Work You Can Get
If you're presented with an offer for employment, even if it's a simple retail position or a job waiting tables, take it. You're going to be bringing in money, which is especially important if you have significant student loan debts. Just be sure you perform at a high level no matter the job. You never know what it can lead to, or when you're going to need a reference.
4. Keep Up With Student Loan Payments
As soon as you start earning some money—or if you have savings—make your student loan payments of utmost priority. These loans are going to nag at you until they're gone for good, so the sooner you eliminate them and stop that interest from accruing, the better off you're going to be.
5. Document All Job Search Related Tax Deductions
Many expenses associated with a job search, such as job counseling fees and resume preparation expenses, are tax-deductible. Research online for a complete list of what you can legally deduct, and keep thorough, well-organized records and receipts.
6. Invest Money in Resume Preparation
One thing you should not cut costs on is resume preparation. Your resume is likely going to be your first contact with any potential employer, so make sure it's of superior quality. Investing in professional resume preparation is going to cost you, but it's also going to help reduce the amount of time you're jobless.
Once you do find work, keep this money-saving mindset in place. Immediately get yourself on a budget, and stay financially prudent when setting up monthly services such as cable TV, Internet, and cell phone. Reduce costs on groceries, utilities, and transportation and hold off on any major purchases until you're sure your budget can handle them. The foundation of a healthy financial life is set very early. Get yourself on solid footing today, and you're going to be well on your way to a successful life.
What ways can you think of to save on a job search?
Tony Harmon writes about money saving strategies, job hunting tips, and education.