Finding a job right now is tough, which means that there’s a fairly decent chance you’re going to be involved in a lengthy search that requires you to make the money in your bank account last as long as possible, even if you know all the right things to do to get hired. Unfortunately, the actual act of looking for a job can be expensive when you add up coughing up dough for sites that give you job listings and let you post your resume, driving from interview to interview, and even paying for internet access itself. Because of this, you need all the free help you can get, to which I have to say: “you’re welcome”.
Below you’ll find several suggestions on resources that you can use to get help on your search—most of them without paying a penny! You’ll be surprised by how obvious some of these ideas are, and wonder why you didn’t think of them yourself, but hey—that’s what I’m here for.
Your friendly neighborhood library.
I used to go to the library all the time when I was growing up, so it pains me to admit that I haven’t been to one in a long while. Most of you are probably in the same situation, but if you’re looking for a job, there’s never been a better time to rediscover the library that’s closest to you. Why are libraries so great? For many reasons, but the number one benefit for job seekers with pitiful bank accounts is that you can save money by canceling your internet account, because the library lets you use it for free. That’s right: you can us it to search for and apply to jobs, keep up with your email, network with people on LinkedIn, and even waste time checking Facebook and ESPN. Beyond this, most libraries also offer workshops and clubs where you can learn new skills and meet people (hey, networking!).
Sites with free resources.
While you’re at the library using their internet, take advantage of sites like Career Igniter and Brazen Careerist, which offer a number of services completely free, such as a job search engine, virtual career fairs, advice columns, and even resume builders. There are also niche sites that focus on giving you guidance in particular industries. For example, Wall Street Oasis provides free (and some paid) resources for those looking to enter the financial sector, and The Aspiring TV Writer and Screenwriter Blog shares advice for those looking to gain a toehold in the entertainment industry.
The chamber of commerce.
The what now? Many of you probably don’t even really know what your local chamber of commerce is, but if you’re desperate for work, you should. Basically, it’s an organization run by local companies that tries to push the interests of business. Why does that matter to you? Because the people running it are the very ones you should be networking with to get a job. Plus, they tend to know about area job openings first, and many of them hold frequent job fairs. Head here to find the one closest to you.
Your Alma Mater.
Did you know that most colleges and universities will give their graduates free career help for life? Pretty nice, huh? Yes, most of it is standard stuff like talking to people about how to interview, what should be on your resume, and which job strategy is right for you, but many career services offices also have job listings that they make available only to alumni. That means your field of competition will be greatly reduced for those jobs so you have a better chance at landing them. Also, they can help you network by putting you in contact with other alumni in your field.
It’s important to note that any money you spend on your job search can become a tax write-off at the end of the year, so keep a careful record and itemize everything. Additionally, some companies will offer you free incentives that can help your job search in exchange for advertising their services. Vistaprint, for example, gives free business cards to anyone who lets them print the company logo on the back of the card. That may be slightly tacky, but free is free!