The Cost Of Finding A Job In The A/E/P Industry

This week I received a call from a candidate/ job seeker.  A senior manager in the A/E community, he told me about the increasing costs associated with his job search. He was asked by an engineering firm if he could drive 5 hours (one way), at his own expense, to their corporate office for an interview.  Prior to this request, he was contacted by an “employment consultant”.  That person wanted $5,500 – $9,500 to review his resume and discuss how he should proceed in his job search.  The consultant offered no guarantee that he would have a job after the consultation.

This job seeker also told me that the cost of finding a job has become expensive! Paying to attend professional association meetings to continue his networking, travel costs to firms who won’t contribute to offset costs and exam costs to obtain a new registration or to renew registrations are just a few expenses that tax someone without a weekly paycheck. The good news is that some of the expenses incurred in your job search are tax deductible.  Here is what I have found…but, please check with your tax consultant! Some of the costs that are tax-deductible include:

  • Employment and outplacement agency fees.
  • Resume services.
  • Printing and mailing costs of application/search letters.
  • Want-ad placement fees.
  • Telephone calls.
  • Travel expenses, including out-of-town job-hunting trips.

But you can’t automatically subtract your job-hunting costs from your income — just those that, when added to all your miscellaneous deductions, come to more than 2 percent of your adjusted gross income. And the expenses must be for a search within your current profession.  If you are looking in a new field, you are out of luck.

In trying to minimize your financial cost you can suggest to firms that you would be available to interview by teleconference.  Visit a local mailing center and for a minimal cost you can utilize their teleconferencing stations.  As for traveling at your own expense for an interview…ASK THE COMPANY FOR ASSISTANCE!  If they told you to travel at your own cost, then ask them to split it with you or ask if they can contribute in some manner.  You won’t know the answer until you try! Firms, like job seekers, are all feeling the financial pinch. But, many firms will step up if you make the request. Hopefully they too understand the strain on the job search.

To continue your face to face networking, you need to approach your professional associations about a reduction in event fees. As in the travel situation above, if you don’t ask for help so you can continue to attend functions, then you won’t know if changes can be offered. Some associations have funds that are specifically designed to help in these types of cost challenges for their members.

The emotional costs of finding a job is becoming a frequent discussion piece on many of the social media outlets. Besides lack of application follow-up from firms, many of those candidates that manage to interview and receive offers are finding limited relocation allowances and low salary offers. To attempt to place a number on the emotional costs of a job search would be out of my expertise. Treating your job search as a full time job when receiving limited positive feedback can be overwhelming and depressing. Be aware of the taxing nature and be kind to yourself.

What are you experiencing and what suggestions can you offer to others?  How are you tackling the process and making it through?

By Carol A. Metzner
President, The Metzner Group, LLC and
Managing Partner, A/E/P Central, LLC home of

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One Comment

  1. It is really becoming expensive to look for a job. In addition to job search agencies trying to scam you so that you you have ‘guaranteed results’ from your job search, you now have to worry about spending money if you do get the interview.
    A small time engineering firm I recently interviewed for required me to pay for my plane ticket to Chicago and also indicated that I would be covering my own relocation expenses if hired. The painful part is that I did not get the job and I was not reimbursed for any of the expenses.
    It is unfortunate some employers are using such devious tactics on already desperate job seekers. I really hope this stops soon.

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