Your Job Search Expenses May Be Tax-Deductible

by John Rossheim Monster Senior Contributing Writer

Did you spend substantial amounts of money looking for a new position last year? You may be able to succeed where Nelson Rockefeller failed and take a tax deduction for many of your job search-related costs.

When New York Governor Rockefeller was appointed vice president in the ’70s, he deducted expenses incurred in connection with his congressional confirmation hearings. Years later, the courts upheld the IRS’s denial of the write-off, saying it violated a key rule on job search deductions: You must be looking for a job in the same trade or business as your previous position.

But fear not: The legitimacy of these deductions rarely gets decided in court. Armed with a bit of knowledge and some individualized professional tax advice, you may be able to reap savings by writing off a variety of job search costs.

Three Major Deduction Categories

Deductible job search expenses generally fall into three categories, according to IRS Publication 529:

Outplacement and Employee Agency Fees: If you pay for job counseling or to have an agency match you with an employment opportunity, this expense is generally deductible. Of course, if you are reimbursed by an employer or anyone else, you cannot deduct these fees.

Resume Preparation, Mailing and Related Expenses: Paper, envelopes, portfolios, postage, phone calls and the like add up. To deduct them properly, you’ll need to keep meticulous records, including receipts and notes on the purpose of purchases.

Travel and Transportation Expenses: Something else you take the bus to an interview or fly across the country to pound the pavement, your job search-related travel and transportation expenses may be deductible. But remember: The amount of time you spend searching for a job versus engaging in personal activities during your journeys can be a factor. In other words, a three-week trip in February with one face-to-face informational interview thrown in isn’t going to cut it. These deduction rules are complex; get professional advice.

Before You Take That Deduction, Consider These 4 Factors

Even though you now have an idea of what to deduct, you still need to jump through some hoops — four, actually — before plugging in those deductions:

You Must Be Looking for a Job in the Same Occupation: Career changers don’t get a break from the IRS. “If a general manager of a food market goes out and looks for a job as a VP of an Internet company, that’s not going to fly,” says Bradford Hall, managing director of Hall & Co. CPAs.

Distinctions between career fields can be arguable, so it pays to get professional advice. “I would go ahead and take the deduction if, say, you switch from journalism to marketing, because it’s all communications,” says Jim Dowling, senior tax manager for Weaver and Tidwell LLP.

You Can’t Take a ‘Substantial Break’ Between Your Previous Job and Your Search: “There’s no specific time frame provided by the IRS,” Hall says. “But if a teacher becomes a stay-at-home mom, then years later decides she wants to go back, that’s too long” to qualify for job search deductions. “The IRS wants to encourage people to get back on the horse and get back in the labor force.”

You Can’t Be Looking for Your First Job: High school and college students seeking their first real-world job cannot deduct search expenses — you must be transitioning between career positions.

Job Search and Other Miscellaneous Deductions Must Exceed 2 Percent of Adjusted Gross Income: Major caveat: You can only deduct job search costs to the extent that they — lumped together with all other miscellaneous deductions (such as unreimbursed employee expenses) — exceed 2 percent of your adjusted gross income.

What if December 31 rolls around and you’re still looking? Relax — you can write off well-documented job search expenses for the year just ended, even if they haven’t yet paid off with a new job.

Have you eaten your frog today?

This arrived in my in-box today and I had to share it. Thanks Peter Crocker for a great article – something we can all relate to – managing time during a career search. 🙂

Peter CrockerHere’s something that used to happen to me all the time, and it completely infuriated me…

I’d head into my home office around 8.15am all ready to go. I’d pop back out and boil the kettle. Open up the email, check who won the cricket, drop by a few of my favourite sites. I’d re-boil the kettle. Clear out my spam, respond to some emails and read a few newsletters. I’d finally make my coffee, ponder my non-flowering frangipani tree and check my list.

Suddenly, it would be 9.45am and I’d have achieved nothing at all!

Every time I thought, “If only I’d done an hour and a half of productive client work I’d be well into my list, feeling great and all set for a productive day”. Instead I was behind for the rest of the day.

It was when I read a book called Eat That Frog by Brian Tracy, that I realised exactly when this procrastination routine kicked in. It was whenever I was putting off working on some complex or uninteresting project.

To save you reading the book, it’s essentially based on an old saying that if the first thing you do each morning is eat a live frog, you can look forward to the day knowing that it’s probably the worst thing you’ll have to do.

‘Eat that frog’ is a metaphor for tackling the most important and challenging task of your day, before dealing with the rest.

Because there’s rarely time to do absolutely everything on our to-do list, productivity depends on prioritising the tasks that will make the biggest difference to your life and making sure they get done first.

Does this sort of thing happen to you? Are you procrastinating now? How do you beat it? Hop online and share your thoughts.

After that, stop mucking about and go and eat that frog!

Until next week.

Love your work,

Peter Crocker

Ready for Your Close-Up, Mr. CEO?

Ready for Your Close-Up, Mr. CEO?
Brand like a celebrity
Feb. 8, 2007

By Stacy Straczynski

Lights, camera…action! Picture any celebrity. Whether it’s actor Brad Pitt, rocker Steven Tyler of Aerosmith or talk-show host/comedian Jay Leno, you know not only who he is and his level of talent, but also what quality of showmanship to expect. Hollywood and musical icons have perfected what it takes to stay in the limelight because staying in the public eye means staying in business.

As an executive, why should you be any different?

A good deal of your career success today depends on your public image. Professional colleagues need to immediately recognize and associate your name as a business icon if you’re going to be a coveted hire. But like the celebrities, you’ll need to promote your self as a brand to get that fame. 

Read on!

Social Networking + Digital Dirt = Love on the Rocks

That cute, affable guy who brags of his drunken exploits on may be meeting a lot of other partiers online, but he’s probably not getting added to the “friends” lists of many corporate recruiters. A recent study by the executive search firm ExecuNet found that 77 percent of recruiters run searches of candidates on the Web to screen applicants; 35 percent of these same recruiters say they’ve eliminated a candidate based on the information they uncovered.

“You’d be surprised at what I’ve seen when researching candidates,” says Gail, a recruiter at a Fortune 500 company who recently began looking up potential hires on the Web. “We were having a tough time deciding between two candidates until I found the profile of one of them on MySpace. It boasted a photo of her lounging on a hammock in a bikini, listed her interests as ‘having a good time’ and her sex as ‘yes, please.’ Not quite what we were looking for.”

“Another time I went to a candidate’s site and found racial slurs and jokes,” Gail continues. “And there was yet another instance where a candidate told me he was currently working for a company, yet he left a comment on a friend’s profile about how it ‘sucked’ to be laid off, and how much fun it was to be unemployed!”

As the amount of personal information available online grows, first impressions are being formed long before the interview process begins, warns David Opton, ExecuNet CEO and founder. “Given the implications and the shelf-life of Internet content, managing your online image is something everyone should address — regardless of whether or not you’re in a job search,” he says. Because the risks don’t stop once you’re hired.

Twenty-three-year old Kara recently took a job as a management consultant at a high-profile practice in the Los Angeles area. An Ohio native, with no friends or family on the West Coast, Kara put up a profile on MySpace in the hopes of meeting new people.

Kara was judicious in how she set up her site: “I didn’t fill out that cheesy questionnaire many people post, where you describe your best feature and say whether or not you shower every day.” she says. “I used a photo that was flattering but not at all provocative and was even careful what music I chose.”

Within a few months, Kara met many others online who shared her interest in biking and water sports. One Friday morning, Kara decided to call in sick and go surfing with a few of her new pals. That weekend, unbeknownst to Kara, her friend posted some of the day’s pictures on her profile and sent Kara a message saying, “We should call in sick more often.”

Unfortunately for Kara, her boss happened to be patrolling MySpace to check up on her college-age daughter and came across Kara’s site and the dated photos!

Mortified, Kara says she learned an important lesson — not only about honesty, but about how small the world of online social networking can be and how little control you have over any information put out there.

Not all employers search candidates and employees online, but the trend is growing. Don’t let online social networking deep-six your career opportunities. Protect your image by following these simple tips:

  1. Be careful. Nothing is private. Don’t post anything on your site or your “friends” sites you wouldn’t want a prospective employer to see. Derogatory comments, revealing or risqué photos, foul language and lewd jokes all will be viewed as a reflection of your character.
  2. Be discreet. If your network offers the option, consider setting your profile to “private,” so that it is viewable only by friends of your choosing. And since you can’t control what other people say on your site, you may want to use the “block comments” feature. Remember, everything on the Internet is archived, and there is no eraser!
  3. Be prepared. Check your profile regularly to see what comments have been posted. Use a search engine to look for online records of yourself to see what is out there about you. If you find information you feel could be detrimental to your candidacy or career, see about getting it removed — and make sure you have an answer ready to counter or explain “digital dirt.”

This article, courtesy of, was originally published as: “Warning: Social Networking Can be Hazardous to Your Job Search.”

The Seven Deadly Sins of an Interview

Puts a spin on the seven big ones. Have you been guilty? This info is courtesy of

Pride: An excessive love of self
You have years of experience, you’ve earned respect and accolades in your field, but any arrogance will come back to bite you. Remember that seemingly insignificant person you barked at this morning for snagging that prime parking space? Yep, that’s the boss’ assistant. Getting the brush off after what seemed to be a great interview? Right. It’s that assistant again, this time with payback.Once you’re within a mile of an interview, treat every person you come in contact with as though someday, they’ll be your boss or you’ll be theirs. Take time to warmly greet the receptionist, thank the assistant for that glass of water, and put your best foot forward to anybody who conceivably could weigh in on your candidacy.

Read on!

Oh — and be sure to send them each a thank you note! Often executive assistants are brought in for that “gut feeling” evaluation.