Should Job Seekers Pay to Find a Job? Read the JobsInMA.com Survey Results
By Margaret Hansen
Marketing Content & Development Leader
|Alabama's, Mississippi's and Louisiana's
Job Seeker Poll
Time and energy are no doubt required to conduct an effective job search campaign, not to mention tenacity, drive and a thick skin.
But what about cold hard cash? Should a job seeker pay anything out-of-pocket during their search?
Most recruiting costs are covered by employers, who intend to make a profit or some sort of organizational gain from their hired candidates. But job seekers also stand to benefit from investing in their job search.
In a recent survey, we polled job seekers across Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi to tell us about the costs of their latest job search and where it has led them. We wanted to know:
The answers we received were varied with some interesting trends.
- How did they spend their time?
- What took up the most of their energy?
- And how much, if any, money did they need to shell out?
Surprisingly, about half of the group spent at least some of their own money during their last job search but only a small percentage have yet to achieve job satisfaction. Off the radar screen completely was paying an agency or a head hunter to find a job - no one mentioned it. Let's take a look at the results.
Time and Energy Spent
Browsing jobs online came in as the #1 time spender with nearly half of the group choosing this activity. Another 16% spent the bulk of their time in the application process: writing cover letters, updating their resume to fit a position and meeting all of the application requirements. Lowest on the list of time spent were: networking and company or salary research - coming in at a combined 8%.
The top 3 energy-draining activities during a job search were: applying to jobs (34%), browsing jobs online (32%) and interviewing (18%). Reflecting the job seeker's most important role in the job search process, if you don't break a sweat doing at least one of these activities, you're probably not giving it enough effort.
Majority Spends Some Money
of those surveyed spent at least some of their own money on a job search. The most common cash expense during a job search was for travel and lodging (the most notably mentioned within this category was the cost of gas) with 26% of the group incurring this expense as part of a job search.
The next most popular expense (24%) involved purchasing a career wardrobe. This expense can vary widely with each job and each company's culture/dress code. The Internet has given rise to many casual work environments, but the need for work attire, albeit business casual, still exists. Many have had luck with second-hand clothing programs designed to overcome this hurdle, such as Dress for Success or non-profit retailers.
Coming in last on the list of most expensive job search costs is resume distribution - whether that include stamps and stationery or an online resume distribution service. This appeared on 18% of our respondents' expense lists.
Should a job seeker spend any money on a job search? Almost half (42%) of those surveyed said yes, if it's needed, while just the remaining 58% of the group said a job search should always be free. Despite this, only 29% avoided spending any money in their last job search, showing that the expectation of a free job search is greater than the reality. More than one-third of those surveyed (37%) spent between $1-$100 on their most recent job search, while 13% spent between $101-$250 and only 5% spent more than $1,000.
Only 5% Happy with New Job
Whether they're continuing their search, beginning their retirement or are currently employed, our respondents' job status was varied. Of the currently employed (making up 42% of the group), about 13% were able to find a job within 3 months of their job search commencing while another 32% took up to one year to find work. Of those who were employed, 32% landed a job that they considered temporary, until they could find something better and only 5% said they were happy in their job, saying they either liked it or loved it. More than half of the group (58%) were not employed at the time of our survey.
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