Your Job Search May Be Tax Deductible

March 16, 2016

It’s that time of year again when we’re all looking for tax deductions and that means, we’re getting calls from independent consultants and contractors as well as candidates interviewing for FTE positions who want to know if they can write-off their job hunting efforts. Let me start by saying that before you take any action, you should first consult with a trusted tax adviser.

For those of you who are independent contractors or consultants looking for your next gig, you’re probably already familiar with the custom and ordinary tax deductions that come with being self-employed, i.e. health insurance, office space, office supplies, mileage, lodging, etc. But don’t forget the little things that are worth counting including the membership dues of trade organizations and consultations about your freelance work with lawyers, accountants and other professionals.

If you are a candidate looking for your next FTE position,  pounding the pavement during your job search may help you cut your tax bill. However, there are certain circumstances and requirements you must meet to be eligible for tax deductions.

The first and foremost rule is that you have to be looking for your new job in the same field. In other words, if you are currently or were formerly employed as a software engineer, your job hunt must be for a new position within software engineering.

Second rule is that your job hunt must be continuous after leaving your position. You can’t take a long, substantial break between leaving your last company and the start of your new job search.

Third rule is that if you are a recent grad, you’re out of luck for a tax deduction. Sorry about that. If you have read this blog to this point and find yourself still eligible for a tax deduction, hang on to your job search receipts because here’s what you can write-off:

Resume writing and printing services

Employment and any outplacement agency fees you incurred

Telephone calls and travel expenses which include out- of-town job hunting trips

Snail mail costs (stamps, envelopes, etc.)

Also, be aware that if you’re attempting to establish your own business and freelance, as long as it’s in the same field as your current or former profession, your efforts may be tax deductible.

Please note: The information of what is deductible in this blog is from US government resources. We presume the governmental information is correct, although we recommend you contact the Internal Revenue Service or a reputable tax accountant to double check the list of write-offs. With tax codes always changing, it’s best to CYA!

Job Hunting While Still Employed

By John Yurkschatt, Director of IT Services, DCA

For most workers, there comes a day when it’s time to look for a new job or career path.  However, how do you look for your next opportunity while still working full-time at your current job?  Very carefully!

Here’s what to keep in mind when you’re determined to move on:

Keep job search quiet.  It’s best not to confide in any of your co-workers that you are job hunting.  Big news like that often gets leaked. Above all, do not tell your boss.  In doing so, you will compromise your current employment.  As soon as your boss discovers you’re looking, he/she will start looking for your replacement. Consider your good name and job toast.

Don’t use company resources.  It’s tempting to use your company’s copier, fax machine, and email to send your resume to prospective employers. But it’s also a huge no-no to use your mobile devices if they were company issued.  In addition, it’s just not a good idea to look for your next job while on their clock. Use off hours. These days everything is digital and your job hunt is no longer restricted to an 8 to 5 time frame therefore, apply for jobs at home after hours.

Maximize your day.  Get up an hour earlier and commit that hour to planning, searching and following-up on leads. Also, use that time to send emails, prepare for an interview, or any other job-search related activity.

Stay employed.  It’s easier to find a job while still employed. Employers prefer to hire someone who is currently working since they are perceived as more desirable and valuable.  There’s no question that discrimination against the unemployed does happen.  Hiring managers wonder what caused the unemployment and if a candidate’s skills are up-to-date or if training will be required.

Be smart with social media.  Using LinkedIn is crucial to your job search but try not to do a massive renovation to your profile all at once. This might send a red flag to your current employer. Instead, update your profile during lower traffic times like at night or on a weekend or holiday. Also, be smart about your settings.  Modify your broadcast settings so your connections aren’t alerted of every update you make.

Schedule your interviews wisely.  When you get to the interview stage of your job search, ask that interviews be scheduled at times that won’t conflict with your work schedule, such as early morning, during lunch, or after hours. Many employers will accommodate you.  If you absolutely have to interview in the middle of the day, try to use vacation time or a personal day.

Be careful with references. Accidentally using your boss or supervisor as a reference is a big mistake. Just think how they will take it when being contacted by an employer checking up on your references. References should be given upon request only and then even then with the caveat that your job search is confidential for the time being.

Are there more things to keep in mind when it’s time to move on and you’re still employed? If so, share below.

5 Reasons Social Media is a Must When Job Hunting

By Matthew Cohen, Energy Management Practice Leader, DRI

Everyone knows the traditional ways of looking for career opportunities including career websites, job boards, job fairs, and cold calling hiring authorities. These have been the accepted practices in job hunting for years.  However, in recent times, social media has become an increasingly valuable tool for candidates looking for new opportunities as well as hiring authorities and companies looking for top talent.

With that in mind, here are 5 big reasons why social media is a must when making a career move:

  1. Creating a Digital Footprint- Just like paying your credit card on time helps you build financial credit, having a track record on social media can be valuable when prospective employers perform due diligence on prospective hires.  Your Facebook and Twitter are not just for vacation pictures, but are areas where you can post content that you are passionate about and can also relate to your chosen profession.  Use LinkedIn to find out information about people before you meet them as well as grow your network.
  1. Companies Respond on Social Media- Organizations that market themselves to the masses are more than ever relying on social media as a marketing and hiring tool. Hiring authorities and corporate recruiters are more likely to respond to direct messages on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn than traditional ways of reaching out to prospective hires.
  1. Job Posts on Social Media- Companies not only use social media to brand themselves, but increasingly use many social media platforms to post in-demand jobs. If you follow organizations that you may be interested in working for, you are more likely to discover open positions and they’re more likely to discover you. Companies have found that social media recruitment allows them to cast a wider net.
  1. Demonstrates Tech Savviness- Employers are putting a greater emphasis on the use of technology. Having experience on social media shows prospective employers a candidate is aware of the latest trends in technology and is tech-savvy. Therefore, you need to stay on top of relevant technology and social media platforms or you will be considered a dinosaur.
  1. Networking Opportunities- Even when not actively looking for a job, networking with professionals on social media can be a valuable investment in your future. Following executives on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook can pay dividends when the time comes to discuss your next opportunity. In addition, utilizing social media provides you with the opportunity to stay in touch with colleagues who can lead you to their connections and possible career openings.

I would like to hear from you on how social media played a role in your recent job search. Please post your comments below.

Top 5 Lies on Resumes by Guest Blogger John Yurkschatt, Recruitment Manager, DCA

Have you ever lied on your resume or embellished the truth when speaking with a recruiter or hiring manager? It happens fairly often and it puzzles me because background checks and references are quite easy to conduct. In addition, a simple Google search can quickly uncover false information.

Recently I caught a candidate in the midst of a lie just by asking the same question twice. The first time I spoke with him, he said he made $80,000 in 2013 and wanted to better himself by changing jobs. When I called back a week later and asked that same question again to make sure that the position I was about to present was in his “must have” range, he bumped his 2013 earnings up to six figures.  All of the sudden, he earned over $100,000 in 2013. I asked to see his W2 for verification purposes but he declined.  He also hung up on me which was for the best since any confidence and trust I placed in him was now gone.

What other things do candidates often embellish or just plain lie about? Here are 5 that my team and I encounter quite often:

Enhancing skill sets & accomplishments. If you didn’t do it, or didn’t achieve it, don’t list it.  However, there’s nothing wrong with enhancing your resume with quantifiable accomplishments and improving how you display them.

Unexplained gaps of employment. Rather than make up a fictional job to cover an employment gap, try acknowledging the gap in your cover letter. If you were taking time off to raise children or to take care of a sick parent, no employer will fault you especially if you can show that you’ve kept up with the industry.

Fabricated education, degrees and certifications.  This is very risky. This lie is one that could not only get you fired, but might also incite legal action on the part of your employer. It’s simply not worth the risk.

Omitting past employment.  Depending on the circumstances or why you left a previous job, you might be tempted to leave it off your application or resume. Carefully weigh your decision, because a background check or employment verification could reveal your omission, making it look as if you are hiding part of your work history.

Falsifying reasons for leaving prior employment. There’s a tactful way of explaining being fired or quitting abruptly, and it doesn’t have to involve lying. Just figure out the best way to explain it in as positive a light as possible. Not explaining the reason(s) can and will ruin your chances of getting hired.

Here’s where I need to reiterate that honesty is still the best policy. Lying on your resume or directly to a recruiter or hiring manager will come back to haunt you. Once you’ve told lies, they snowball.  If you land the job, you’ve got to keep up the charade of each lie for the rest of your career. Who can keep up with all of them?

Have you ever embellished your resume or know somebody who did and got caught? Share your resume stories with us below.