How Much Money Should I Spend to Find a New Job?

If you have recently found yourself out of a job, you may be asking yourself a key question. For folks who are brand new to the search process – meaning that you have been gainfully employed since graduation – you will ask: How much money should I spend to find a job? If you are a veteran of the search process having transitioned a number of times, your question is slightly different: How much money should I spend to find a job THIS TIME? Depending on your past experience and on your specific situation right now, money is either no big deal, a concern or a major stressor. You will need to decide how much you are willing to invest in your job search. My advice, however, is: No matter how much you spend, spend it early in your search process

Below is a list of the things you can spend money on along with my advice as to whether the payout is there:

1. Resume writing services

I can’t say it much clearer or stronger – you absolutely need a great resume. Your education, skill and experience have to come across to the reader as being relevant and significant to the position you are pursuing. If you are not a strong writer or are new to the search process, I encourage you to find some help. While there are free writing services available, this is a place I would spend money.

2. Resume distribution services

These services take your resume and “blast” them out to a huge list of employers – some are better at targeting than others. Probably the best service I’ve used is at RiteSite, a sub-set of a paid service ($100/year) that sends your resume to recruiters across the country. Even better, the recruiters have signed up to receive these resumes – not a cold call! RiteSite also sends your resume in the format requested by the recruiters so it is more likely to be reviewed. Other than this service I have not used or heard of any other mass mailing resume service that is worth the time or money. If you have, let me know!

3. Job search seminars

If you are new in your search, if it has been a while since your last search or if this is your first, a job search seminar is likely a good investment. Make sure it is not just a sales pitch for resume distribution services. As I’ve said in prior posts, the key to job search success is in having a plan. It gives you confidence along with a series of significant action steps to take. A good seminar can provide you with the basic structure and is recommended.

4. Paid online search

If you go to Monster or YahooHotJobs, the services are largely free. You can pay more to get more but I have never seen that value. If you are looking for a higher paying job ($100k plus) there are sites like The Ladders where you can pay a monthly fee to see jobs that fit your needs (city, industry, $’s, job type). By paying, you are limiting your competition, right? Since not everyone is willing to pay, you have a better chance of seeing that job early and getting a call. The Ladders also lets you e-mail the recruiter or company directly in a way that feels less like a cold call. My own personal experience with The Ladders is mixed. The right jobs didn’t come often enough for me, but it felt well worth it on the days when one hit. I recommend getting a month by month membership on any of these sites to see how it works for you.

5. Career coach

This can be your biggest expense and one that you should really think about in depth before a decision. Most good career coaches will offer a free first meeting to review their typical program and discuss whether your situation is a good fit. The good ones I know will not pursue you unless they think they can help. Look for a career coach who not only offer a full service plan but also offer their services in a menu approach (if you are three months into your search, you may not need the resume services, for example). I am a big fan of career coaching because you have a strategy and someone to re-build it with each time you meet. They are also great at providing you with 3rd party endorsements and key market/company introductions (both are significantly better than your cold calling and hoping someone “sees something in you or your resume”). Career coaches are not cheap. A good coach can cost a few thousand dollars all the way up to $10,000 for an executive program. This is why you make the investment up front and make sure that you’ve chosen one with good recommendations from prior clients (folks who have arrived successfully at a new job).

Another piece of advice? If you are being laid off, don’t forget to negotiate these services as part of your severance agreement. Many companies already offer transition services – ask them to customize them for you or provide you with a budget to identify your own custom plan.

In addition to the paid options above, please make sure that you first have a solid base of FREE services under your belt. What’s free:

a. Local networking groups (e.g. Meetup) b. Appropriate use of recruiters c. Informational interviews d. Online search engines (Monster, Indeed) e. Your personal network of neighbors, friends, family. f. And much, much more . . .

So, what calms the nerves when money is tight and the offers aren’t yet pouring in? The answer is – have a strategy. One that includes your objectives, your financial plan and a specific list of tactics that you will use to identify and arrive at that great new job.

Tim Tyrell-Smith is a veteran consumer packaged goods marketing executive with a passion for ideas and strategy. He writes the blog Spin Strategy(TM) – Intelligent Tools for Job Search, a new efficiency-based job search strategy and tool set that is based on the concept of “plate-spinning”. It helps place the right efforts against the right resources to maximize the return in job search. He created Spin Strategy in 2007 after coming out of his own job search experience with a desire to share his new found methodology with anyone needing support in finding that next great role.

You can view Tim’s blog at http://quixoting.typepad.com/spin_strategy

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