The Upside of a Downside (Hunting for Tax Deductions*)

It may not seem like an upside but you may find some comfort in carefully reviewing what you can and can not deduct from your taxes as a result of your job search. With a few weeks left before the end of the year, now is the time to review items for possible deductions. Gathering and organizing the information now will not only make tax time easier, it may give you some peace of mind.

As always, consult a tax professional to make sure you are complying with tax law. Here’s a link to IRS Publication 529. Here are a few things to consider:

1) If you’ve taken a “substantial break” between your last job and when you started looking for a new job, you may be out of luck in terms of deducting  job search expenses. Also new grads are not eligible.

2) If you’ve started your own business, you may have some additional deductions, make sure you check with your accountant.

3)  Here are few job search expenses that may be deductible:

• Employment and outplacement agency fees

• Resume services

• Printing and mailing costs of search letters

• Want-ad placement fees

• Telephone calls

• Travel expenses, including out-of-town job-hunting trips

Here’s a short video that explains a few key points in the tax deduction equation.

4) A review of the 2009 stimulus bill shows that up to $2,400 of unemployment benefits may be tax-free (Federal Taxes only).

May everyone find a good job soon. Happy Thanksgiving.

Job Hunting is Cool

power of positive thinkingWhen we lose our jobs, most of us go into ‘deer in the headlights’ mode. Even if we know it’s coming, we still freak out. For those of us who are actively managing the change;  the emotional transition, while difficult, doesn’t slow us down.

For those who choose, and yes I use the word choose, to ignore the realities of the economy and our ability to earn a living; you will get no sympathy from me. Each of us is responsible for our own careers. Whatever has happened in the past, no matter how long you’ve worked for your current employer; you still need to face the facts. Employment security is a thing of the past.

After I was laid off, I made a decision to actively network with 5 to 10 people a week. When I would meet with a new contact, many of whom were employed, I would tell them how much I enjoyed looking for a new job. Their mouths would drop open. They simply could not understand how someone could enjoy what they considered to be an “ego-deflating”,  “unnerving” and “unrewarding” process. I completely disagree that finding a new way to use my skills, learn new things and make a positive contribution to our society (oh yeah, and pay the bills) is unrewarding.  It’s cool. So I suggest that people, no matter how unsettled you are, to get up and take action. If you’re not sure what to do, ask someone.  Here’s some great advice from Chris Brogan on ‘getting on with it.’

I always believe (because it’s in my best interest to) that whatever I do next will be better than I could imagine. This isn’t just a Pollyanna attitude; it’s a way of living life. There’s a saying, “Fake it ‘til you make it.” Wise advice.

I don’t have to be certain of what the next phase of my life will be. I only have to believe that, whatever it is; it will be good. And it starts today. I don’t have one minute to waste on negative energy.  What will it take for you to truly believe that job hunting is cool?

“When I Drink Alone, I Prefer to be By Myself”*

I recently attended a local TEDx (Technology, Entertainment, Design) event. TED’s focus is stimulating thinking and innovation by bringing together speakers and an audience from as many divergent fields as possible. A perfect networking opportunity.

I showed up by myself.  Why? Because while I am uncomfortable walking into this room full of hundreds of people alone; I know that if I am with a friend, I will miss opportunities to meet new people.  As I pushed my way through the crowd, I saw a few people I know. I said hello but quickly moved on. I’m here to make new connections and I can’t do that  talking to people I already know well.

The first person I met was from Rochester Institute of Technology. The demonstration is remote movement technology. Fascinating. In the auditorium, I sat down in an empty seat. I started talking and laughing with the guy next to me. It turned out he’s the vice president of human resources for one of Rochester’s largest employers.

A few minutes later, a young man plunked down in the seat on the other side of me. He’s a Taiwanese national who is studying industrial design at one of the local college. We shared ideas about design.

If you are looking for a job or trying to build your company, I suggest you attend events alone. Being a little uncomfortable is a good thing. It means you are stretching beyond your comfort zone.  Are you meeting 5-10 new people a week? There are a lot of ways to do this; you need to make a real effort.  What’s your favorite way or place to meet new people? Please share your thoughts.

*Song lyrics from George Thorogood and the Destroyers, I Drink Alone. My blog does not advocate drinking and certainly not drinking alone. 🙂