Saturday, January 22, 2011

The Phone Number All Job Seekers Should Know

If you are in a job transition, you know how tough it is. Not only are you spending all of your time looking for a job, you have other issues to worry about. You have to keep the roof over the head, the car in the driveway, and food on the table. The job search can also be very tough emotionally and taxing on relationships. Job seekers need to get help for these “pressure points”.

Let me ask you: would you hesitate to call 911 if your house was on fire? Of course not; that would be absurd. Next question: if you were a trained fireman would you hesitate to call 911 if your house was on fire? On occasion when I ask that, someone will respond that they would hesitate until I point out that it is much easier to put out the fire with the pump truck than with the garden hose and you would want all of the help you can get, after all we’re talking your house here. So we clearly see that we would ask for help when we need it; there is no shame in asking for help, in fact it would be ridiculous not to.

We have the phone number 911 for first responders (fire, police, or ambulance). We have the phone number 411 for information. We have 511 for the Department of Transportation. A phone number that is not as widely known, 211, is the nationwide number for the United Way.

The United Way serves as a coordinating service for many organizations and programs. In fact, the church I belong to is part of the United Way network. My church wants to help people in our community by providing a food bank and rent assistance. It is a huge effort to get the word out to everyone in our community that we provide that type of assistance so we depend on the United Way to direct people to us.

It is impossible for me, a volunteer for Crossroads Career Network and a job search coach, to stay on top of all of the programs available to job seekers for all of the types of assistance they might need. I too depend on the United Way. If I meet a job seeker needing assistance, whether it is guidance with consumer credit or understanding the programs that will help prevent foreclosure, someone in need of emotional support or rent assistance, I direct them to 211. In return I give financially to the United Way (direct or through my employer) so it is there when I need it, or when you do.

When you call 211, they will ask for the type of assistance you are interested in and your zip code. They need your zip code so they can direct you to the organization closest to you offering the type of assistance you want.

When should you call? Call as soon as you think you might need assistance down the road. The sooner you call, more options are available. Do not wait until the sheriff is knocking on the door to call about preventing foreclosure.

So we agree there is no shame in asking for help, and in fact would be crazy not to when we need it. Remember the number 211 and call to see what assistance is available to you. Help other job seekers by letting them know about this number as well. Then, when you can, contribute to the United Way so they are there for others.

Judi Adams
The Affordable and Successful Job Search Coach

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The Job Search and Tax Season

Did you know that federal income taxes are not due until April 18 this year? Yes, Emancipation Day, a holiday also celebrated in Washington, DC falls on Friday April 15 this year, which means IRS offices will be closed that day. Therefore, tax returns will be due the next business day which is Monday April 18.

Even with all of that extra time (3 whole days) to complete your taxes, this is the perfect time to gather up information about your job search expenses.

Job search expenses can qualify as a tax deduction (see the IRS web site or your tax accountant for complete details). In general, the money you spent to attend networking meetings, the mileage you incurred going to and from the meetings, and the fees you paid a job search coach or resume writer can be submitted for inclusion as deductions on your taxes. This is a great time to start getting that information together.

If you have not been keeping a detailed list of the events or mileage, you can rebuild some of that information.

• A good place to check for information is your e-mail systems Sent folder.
For example you can find the e-mails when you RSVP’d to meeting invitations.

• If you paid by PayPal, there will be a record within PayPal of that

• Most on-line banking systems have search capabilities and you can print out
canceled checks you made out for services or meeting fees.

• Look at your 2010 calendar and create a record of the events you attended.

• Use MapQuest or other on-line mapping system to get the mileage to places
you went. Don’t forget to multiple the one way mileage by two to account for
the round trip and include tolls and cost of parking if applicable.

• Add in the cost of books you bought, training you took, business cards you
ordered, and the cost of duplicating your resume.

Print out the information that you find so you have some way to substantiate these expenses; if you think the job search isn’t fun, try a tax audit.

You paid good money toward your job search and should not pay taxes unnecessarily on that amount. This is a great time to start getting the information together and consulting the IRS web site or your tax accountant for complete details on taxable job search expenses.

Judi Adams
The Affordable and Successful Job Search Coach