Job Search

How to Plan Your Budget While Between Jobs

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When unemployed or saving for a period you know you will be unemployed, along with the usual living expenses, you need to factor in your job-search needs.

The following tips will outline what expenses to expect during a search and how to customize the best strategy for you:

Planning ahead:

The best way to invest in your search is to take into account what you will need before you think you may become unemployed. As with travel or home buying, it is sometimes necessary to go over budget, and this is easier to do before money becomes finite.

While it is not possible to calculate exactly how long you will be unemployed, you do need to keep a timeline to match with your budget, and try to set realistic goals. There is a theory that the average job search takes one month per $10,000 of salary (a job that pays 100,000 will take 10 months to land), however, the origins of this claim are somewhat unknown.

To plan ahead, take into consideration the 50/20/30 guide to your monthly budgeting.

  • 20% of your monthly spend to paying off debt/loans.
  • 50% of your monthly spend should go towards fixed costs such as rent/mortgages/utilities/food/ etc.
  • 30% of your monthly spend on non-essentials. Unfortunately – this is the area that is going to take a hit while you are unemployed. See what you can eliminate from your usual spending such as dining out, gym memberships, or entertainment. This should really be money put towards your job search or saved for emergencies while you are unemployed.

Investing In Your Job Search

Your Resume:

If you haven’t revised your resume for a few years, a professional resume rewrite is likely a valuable investment. A well-written resume is a long-term investment that will gain you interviews in the current search, shortening its duration and reinstating your income often months sooner than your previous resume. With a well-written version in hand, you may even be able to make adjustments to it as your career progresses, without needing future rewrites. It will also benefit your future networking and job searches. A resume writer’s facility with language, both industry-specific and otherwise, allows the story of your success to be told with the compelling objectivity essential to a good resume, something virtually impossible for most people to achieve on their own behalf.

In choosing the ideal resume writer for you, be sure to pick someone who understands your industry and has at least a decade’s worth of experience professionally writing resumes. Not all resume writers are created equal! Any person/company can hang up a sign and say they write resumes. But find out who will be rewriting your resume—a professional who has been doing this for 10 years or more, or a B.A. graduate with an English degree. If you are an executive, be certain this person understands what an executive-level resume must include. This is one case in which cheapest is rarely best.

Don’t wait until the last minute. If you have any idea that you might change jobs within the next couple of years, have a well-crafted resume at the ready. Career changes sometimes come more suddenly than expected, and it is by far better to take time in choosing your writer and what stories the resume should tell about you than potentially making the wrong choice in a hurry and wasting hundreds/thousands of dollars.

Executive Coaching:

If you are making a career transition, having trouble with networking/elevator pitch, career coaching will allow you to overcome your challenges within a few weeks, whereas attempting the same on your own could take months. As with resume writing, be sure to choose a coach who has worked with clients in your industry before, whose schedule fits with yours, and whose coaching style you feel fits your needs. Have a list of questions ready, and plan on doing research before hiring a coach. Remember that a good coaching experience is never money wasted—the only bad investment is a bad-coaching relationship. This means that quality, not price, must be your first consideration.

Your Networking:

If you don’t have a good networking strategy or a strong network, coaching can help you with tools to develop both. Again, this is a long-term investment, because once you know how to network, the skill will aid you for the rest of your professional life.

Beyond a computer and Internet connection, online networking need not incur much, if any cost. But in-person networking requires you to have the following: business cards, the means of printing copies of your resume, funds for coffee dates/the occasional meal, conference/event fees.

No Cost Ways to Invest in Your Job Search

Networking – Reach out to friends, family, former colleagues or clients, and beyond. Attend networking events and set up informational interviews.

Build Your Online Reputation / Blog – This is a great way to get noticed. Hop on LinkedIn and begin sharing your knowledge with your connections or in groups. You never know who might read your article!

Volunteer – While unemployed, the benefits of volunteering are at least threefold: 1. You can keep active, which looks good on a resume. 2. Volunteering will boost your confidence, self esteem, and motivation. 3. It can lead to a potential full time opportunity.

Take Online Courses – Check out open resources online. This is a great time to brush up on skills that will aid you as a professional, or learn new ones that you can start to practice before your next interview.

About the Author

Lilly-Marie Lamar is a career advisor for Ivy Exec. She provided career advice to college students and professionals in the U.S. and abroad, and was a Fulbright scholar. Lilly-Marie has a degree in education from Columbia University.