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Why Can’t I find a Job?
6 Mistakes You Might Be Making and How You Can Fix Them

Everyone is struggling in this tough economy, right? This isn’t exactly true. There are many people who are doing just fine – even thriving – and getting interviews and job offers within weeks of beginning their job search.

If this doesn’t describe your experience, you are probably making some basic mistakes. You’re not alone. Most people are searching for jobs in the wrong way.

I love my work and began my company to help women and empower them in their job search. I have helped these women re-enter the job force, move up the corporate ladder and change careers by creating professional resumes showcasing their expertise and skills.

Once you understand what you are doing wrong, you can make simple changes to realize the results you’re seeking.

  1. Mistake: Applying for jobs

    How can I be making a mistake by applying for jobs? Isn’t that how I will find a job?

    Surveys show that 80% of all jobs are filled without being advertised. Professional recruiters, employee/customer referrals, existing candidate database or internal employees supply the applicant for open positions most of the time. Companies save a lot of money on advertising by filling positions using these means.

    How do you compete? Start doing your homework. YOU need to research companies and types of companies who might hire YOU and your skill set. You can still use online job boards, but you need to be proactive by doing some research yourself.

    How do you do this? Make a list of companies you would like to work for. Find out the name(s) of people at the company(ies) who do the hiring and write them a personal Cover Letter and send them YOUResume.

    Another way to research companies and get YOUResume and name in front of potential hiring personnel is to have a LinkedIn account.

  2. Mistake: YOUResume

    Does YOUResume represent you in the best light? Does it let the employer know why he should interview you and nobody else? Does it look professional? If you can’t honestly answer “Yes” to these questions, then you are not ready for job searching.

    If YOUResume isn’t great, you are like most other job searchers. A bad resume is the most common mistake job seekers make. If YOUResume is not fantastic, a future employer or recruiter is never going to call you.

    Did you know that recruiters and HR personnel spend an average of 10-20 seconds per resume to decide if they continue to read the rest of it? If something doesn’t grab their attention in that short time frame, it is put into a ‘maybe’ pile or deleted.

    I believe this is the biggest mistake job seekers make – not hiring a professional resume writer. You can be the best person for the job, but if YOUResume doesn’t say this clearly and powerfully in the first 20 seconds, you will never get the chance to prove it.

  3. Mistake: Not Having a LinkedIn Account

    You probably think you are doing everything you can do to find a job; but if you’re not on LinkedIn, you are not doing everything possible. You’re not even doing the bare minimum.

    LinkedIn is the #1 business-networking site in the world. It is a primary source of candidates for recruiters who are scouring the site looking for hires just like you. If you don’t have an account, they will find someone else.

    Another benefit is tracking down old colleagues and reconnecting, giving you access to many more potential job opportunities. You can join groups to meet people in your industry. You can make connections with industry leaders. You can research potential employers to help prepare for interviews.

    Do yourself a huge favor and set up the best possible LinkedIn profile you can.

  4. Mistake: Having No Direction

    People think they just “need a job, any job,” but that is not a positive goal. You need to decide what job you want so that you are proactive instead of reactive. This doesn’t mean you have to decide on only one job search, job title or job description. You need to have decisive goals so that you can define yourself in YOUResume. You can even have various resumes for different job positions.

    Once again, LinkedIn can help you have YOUResume and profile discovered by a recruiter. You can connect with new people or reconnect with past colleagues giving you more exposure and access for potential job opportunities. Set up the best LinkedIn profile you can to utilize this job opportunity in your search.

  5. Mistake: Be Proactive, Not Reactive—Social Media

    I have mentioned LinkedIn and its importance in your job search, but Social Media is more than LinkedIn. You can begin a Blog or Twitter page that could result in many career opportunities. There are free and easy web tools to help you share your background that can build professional connections. Once you establish a Blog or Twitter account, people may begin approaching you with job opportunities in contrast to you seeking them out.

  6. Mistake: Ignoring Professional Recruiters

    Many job seekers ignore using a professional recruiter because they believe they can find their own job and they feel it will cost them money and time. Recruiters have access to job opportunities that aren’t available other places.

    This is how they work: Employers hire recruiters. Retained recruiters are paid 30% up front, 30% halfway through and 30% at the end of the search. Contingency recruiters earn their fee upon their client accepting a position. Their loyalty is to the employer who is paying them. He isn’t there to find YOU a job. He is there to find a RESUME and candidate to fill a job he has been hired to fill. It is a good idea to use many or at least a couple recruiters because each is working to fill different vacancies.

    Make sure all recruiters who are looking to fill a position with someone of your qualifications receive YOUResume. More homework: Research and find recruiters who specialize in your field and get to know them.

How to Write Your LinkedIn Profile

LinkedIn is an indispensible tool for professional and executive-level searches today. They advertise job vacancies and provide the opportunity to network with people in your industry. They also market their database to recruiters, giving you the opportunity to improve your profile and get in front of the necessary people.

It is completely free to join and is the largest professional social networking site on the Internet. LinkedIn profiles rank high on all search engines. This means you can be found easier.

  1. List Every Job

    LinkedIn is different than a resume in that it is okay to include early jobs and positions. You may leave many of these off YOUResume, but this is a mistake on LinkedIn. LinkedIn allows former colleagues and connections to find you by searching through particular companies and positions.

    Tip #1: List each position you have held. List all of your associations and certifications because many recruiters will search using these.

  2. Describe Each Position

    Recruiters need to know what you have done and what you are capable of and this is where you can describe your successes and accomplishments. Your descriptions will contain keywords that they are searching for, so this can aid in finding you.

    Tip #2: List metrics, actions and results instead of boring descriptions.

  3. Fill in the Specialties Section

    This is the place where you can stand out from the rest by listing your key skills. It is important to include as many pertinent keywords as possible so that a recruiter will find you.

    Tip #4: Check job postings that match what you are looking for and look for the common keywords and phrases from that particular profession or industry and incorporate them into your profile.

  4. Edit Your Title

    LinkedIn will automatically place your current job title underneath your name. This may not be the first thing you want a recruiter to see, so edit this to say what YOU want it to say. Make sure it tells recruiters something that communicates YOUR value.

  5. Build Your Network Connections

    If you want to be found by the maximum number of searches, open networking is the way to go. Some people want to limit their connections. That is fine, but you must then add as many connections as possible using LinkedIn features. This is a personal decision and depends on your goals for using LinkedIn.

  6. Your Personal URL

    LinkedIn will assign you a personal URL that can be used to access your LinkedIn profile. This is important for external Internet searches by recruiters.

  7. Go Public

    LinkedIn lets you control how much of your information is visible to the public, to those not connected to you. If you are set to Private, your profile will not be very impressive to a recruiter. Unless you have a reason to keep your profile Private, I recommend keeping it open.

  8. Ask For Recommendations

    Many recruiters like to see recommendations on peoples’ profiles. Because of this, you should ask YOUR contacts for recommendations. You should also write recommendations for other people who you recommend. Many of them will reciprocate.

  9. Log In

    It is important to stay active on your LinkedIn profile. Post updates and continue to make new connections. Use the site to search potential employers and network with those who might help you in your quest.

4 Reasons You Didn’t Get Called For an Interview
4 Reasons you didn’t get called for interview and/or didn’t get the job:
  1. I never saw your resume,
  2. Your resume didn't capture my attention
  3. We had a nice conversation at the interview
  4. I never heard that you wanted this job,
  5. Somebody else got back to me first

You control your resume and your interview.

The goal of your resume is to get an interview.

The goal of the interview is to receive an offer.

Remember, it’s great to have many interviews, which could in turn generate many offers – but you only need one…the right one!

If you want to have your resume and your interviews be successful, you need to have a mindful, purposeful strategy.

Your strategy in creating a powerful resume is to have the people on the hiring end decide to call you up and invite you for an interview. To achieve this, you need to present a resume that shows your accomplishments in the best light to those people on the other side of the table that will cause them to pick up the phone and offer you an interview. If you want to take the guesswork out of this process, let HEResume write your resume for you!

Your goal after the interview is to have the hiring manager and any other person you meet leave the room feeling that you are the person for the job.

The interview is not a casual conversation, a social call, or a time to suck up. It’s a face-to-face discussion in which you show that you understand the hiring manager’s needs and the company's needs for this position. It’s the time for you to explain why you meet those needs and how you will enable the company to achieve its desired outcome by using specific examples from your past experience.

Your strategy here must be to not give in, slow down, or ease up until you are actually sitting at your new desk at your new place of work. Until you have a job offer written down on paper, and you and the company have both signed the document, your success in your job search is incomplete.

You cannot stop your job search until you are sitting at your new desk.

Let HEResume help you achieve your success!

Tips for Women Who Want to Work Well with Men
Written by John Gray, Ph.D.

John Gray, one of the world's foremost communication experts, offers 32 tips to help you understand, respect and benefit from the differences between women and men and how they operate, both in and out of the workplace.

  1. When presenting a proposal or plan of action, talk less about the problem and more about what you think should be done.
  2. Be direct when you make a request. Don't talk about a problem and wait for him to offer his support. Often men feel manipulated when women are not direct. It is as if he "should do it" without your having to ask.
  3. Give him more space when he moans or groans. Don't give him a pat on the back. Avoid doing anything that demonstrates a feeling of motherly empathy.
  4. Get to the point when making a suggestion. Avoid talking too much about problems. Remember, men hear sharing as complaining.
  5. Only complain when you have a solution to suggest. Take less time to explain the problem and quickly move on to suggest a sulution.
  6. After asking for his advice, be careful not to correct his solution or explain in great detail why you are not going to follow his advice. By allowing him to save face, a woman gains points.
  7. Give credit and recognition whenever he has achieved something.
  8. Graciously interrupt in a group meeting. Don't say, "Can I say something?" Instead, go with the flow and say something more friendly like, "That's true, I think . . ."
  9. Use a relaxed and trusting tone of voice when discussing work problems. Men are repelled by the tone of being emotionally overwhelmed.
  10. Stay focused on the task at hand and postpone the sharing of personal feelings. Keep your work life and personal life separate.
  11. When asking for support, keep your emotions out of it and focus on stating what you want. Take time to justify your request if you are asked why you need more.
  12. If you must complain to your manager or coworker, be objective and avoid making value judgments like, "It's not fair" or "He isn't doing his job." Instead say, "He was three hours late. I was the only one there to do a job that requires two people."
  13. If there is too much being expected of you, ask for the support you need, but don't complain. He reasons, "Don't waste time complaining, instead do something to get the support you need."
  14. When making a presentation or discussing something, don't be overly eager or automatically reassuring while listening. Let him feel that he is earning your agreement and support.
  15. Pace yourself. After listening to a man, let him know that something is helpful before you bring up more issues or questions.
  16. Share your experience to back up a request and don't quote an expert. For example, don't say, "John Gray says you should listen to me more . . . ." Instead say, "I would appreciate it if you would listen a little longer before responding."
  17. Stay on schedule. Let a man know up front how long you expect a meeting to last.
  18. Distance yourself. As a manager, depersonalize your directions with comments like, "We are expected to . . ." and then ask him to do what you want with a phrase like, "Would you . . ." or "Please . . ."
  19. Shake hands. When a man comes into the room and you are sitting, stand up and shake hands as equals.
  20. When stress increases, act as if everything is OK. Worrying or showing concern about him can be offensive. A more relaxed response demonstrates a level of trust that says, "I'm sure you can handle it."
  21. If you are in a supportive rule, rather than do everything in an invisible manner, sometimes ask in a friendly tone, "Would you like me to . . ." In this way, he realizes how much you do and can give you the points you deserve.
  22. Don't ask a man how he feels about something; instead ask what he thinks about something. By appreciating his logic, you can score a point.
  23. Introduce yourself. In a business setting in which many people are being introduced, introduce yourself so that the male host doesn't have to remember everyone's name and introduce each person.
  24. When you disagree or are challenged by others in a group meeting, stick to your argument and do not digress by sharing how you personally feel. Even if you have a better point, you may be discredited because of your emotional delivery.
  25. If an argument has already become emotionally charged,gracefully find a way to take a break. Say something like, "Give me some time to think about this and then let's talk again." Overcome the temptation to say, "You're not being fair." or "You are not listening to me." "Excuse me for that outburst." also works well.
  26. Don't take it personally. Recognize that most men don't like being told what to do. If your job requires that you give him instructions, to minimize the inevitable tension, prepare him by saying, "Is this a good time to review some changes?" or "Let's schedule a time when we can meet. I have some changes I need to convey."
  27. Be clear about the tasks you want. When dividing up projects or tasks, state clearly which ones you want or prefer. Women don't get points from men for being uncertain and saying, "What do you want to do?" You get points for clarity if you know what you want and then even more points if you make a reasonable compromise.
  28. If you don't have an answer or a solution, don't let on right away. Always appear confident. Avoid the phrase, "I am still working that one out."
  29. Display your awards, certificates, and degrees on the walls of your office. Display pictures of you with successful people or involved with different work projects. If a man shows interest, describe your success with a tone of confidence.
5 Easy Ways to Build Your Digital Reputation
By Fauzia Burke, President of FSB Associates

Social media has given us great ways to protect and build our digital reputations. Today we have the ease of searching conversations, the ability to set alerts to help us monitor our names, the constant availability of learning opportunities, and more ways to communicate and interact with others. All of these touls, which were not available just a few years ago, now make it possible for us to be proactive in maintaining, building, and protecting our good name. Here are five easy ways to do just that:

  1. Set Goals

    I am sure you have done this already, but just in case, first do a search on Google for your name in quotation marks. It is important to see what comes up on the first page. The first page of a Google search result is precious real estate. Then set up a simple spreadsheet so you can keep track of your digital footprint. Do a little research and spend some time collecting numbers. How many Facebook followers do you have? What kind of traffic do you get on your site? Once you have the numbers, you can then decide on your goals.

    Are you interested in growing the numbers of links/connections/followers or do you want more one-on-one engagement? Or are you more interested in getting re-tweets on Twitter (which, as Guy Kawasaki said recently, is "now the sincerest form of flattery"). Once the goals are in place, track the results in the spreadsheet and adjust as needed.

  2. Learn

    To accomplish any of these goals, you are going to need to learn. The new world of communication is moving quickly, which naturally lends itself to a couple of advantages. First, there is a lot of room for experimentation, so use your talents and skills to communicate in your own unique way. Second, this experimentation has led to collaboration, and smart people are sharing information all the time. Make sure you make time every day for "learning." Look over sites and information to keep up with the developments in social media. Currently I am taking part in an online conference called Social Media Success Summit 2010 and am learning a lot. And among the many sites I visit, one of my daily stops is: PR Daily News: Public relations news and marketing in the age of social media.

  3. Develop Content

    To communicate 24/7, which is now the expectation and the norm, you need to develop different types of content. Blogging is a great way to share your knowledge and collaborate with others. However, blogging can be a big undertaking. Blogging expert Denise Wakeman recommends that you blog three times a week. If that is a daunting task for you, try guest blogging on an established site or blog in your industry. Another way some of my clients have developed content is through books, ebooks, white papers, audio recordings, slide presentations, and videos.

  4. Build Relationships

    Building and maintaining relationships has never been easier. Those of us in sales and marketing have always known the value of relationship building, but now everyone needs to make it a priority. Make sure you have profiles on LinkedIn and FaceBook. Twitter is a fantastic source of information and an excellent place to learn. People on Twitter are eager and happy to help each other.

    To get tips on effective communication on these sites, I look to Cindy Ratzlaff, who has a daily video tip along with regular blog posts on her site. Social media is an excellent way to build relationships, but don't forget the value of face-to-face meetings, phone calls, handwritten notes, and emails. It's good to focus on important clients and influencers, but leave room for the "accidental" connections. Social media networking can be serendipitous; you never know which person may lead you to a new connection or client.

  5. Monitor

    Social media alerts (Google or Social Mention) are a great way to monitor your name and/or industry. If something important happens in your industry you'll know about it and can comment. If someone says something positive, a thank you goes a long way. If there is negative chatter starting up around your name or company, alerts keep you on top of it and you can jump in and take care of things quickly. I also use Addictomatic, which is a great site for big picture monitoring. There are many tools and resources now that can help us to become better communicators and better guardians of our reputations. I know it is a big undertaking, but the question to ask yourself is: If you are not investing in yourself, why should anyone else?

Fauzia Burke is the Founder and President of FSB Associates, an Internet marketing firm specializing in creating online awareness for books and authors. From the company's inception in 1995, Fauzia has been a trendsetter in developing integrated online marketing campaigns for authors and publishers alike. FSB has played a rule in the success of numerous chart-toppers, including novels by Daniel Silva, Mitch Albom, Michael Cunningham, Tana French, Barbara Delinsky, Jonathan Franzen, Sue Grafton, and Jacqueline Winspear; and nonfiction titles by Doug Stanton, Alan Alda, Barbara Ehrenreich, Dr. Arthur Agatston, Al Gore, Linda Greenlaw, Tony Horwitz, Richard A. Clarke, Vincent Bugliosi, Marlo Thomas, and Bob Woodruff.

Before starting FSB Associates, Fauzia worked for John Wiley and Henry Hult. She lives in Basking Ridge, NJ with her husband and two daughters. Social media news, follow Fauzia on a new Twitter feed: @WebSnapshot, Facebook, and The Huffington Post.

www.bluesuitmom.com/career/advice/digitalrep.html
Sorry. Online Profiles Haven’t Replaced Resumes
By Leslie Stevens-Huffman

I’ve heard a few — just a few — people say you’re better off spending your time creating a great online presence rather than putting together a strong resume. They’re wrong. There’s no doubt that Web and networking sites have changed the job hunting process, but they haven’t yet killed the resume.

Rumor: Your online presence has replaced the traditional resume.
Reality: Your online information invites interest and augments your resume.

Recruiters and managers still screen candidates by reviewing resumes, because it’s more convenient, the information is current and (hopefully) customized resumes will have you stand-out-by-giving-employers-what-they-want . Your online profile’s job is to grab their attention and get them to ask for more information, says Mark Langlie, an independent recruiter based in Silicon Valley.

A lot of any recruiters confirm or supplement resume information by reviewing your website or glancing at your profile and recommendations on networking sites. So you need both a strong online presence and a strong resume, and remember to coordinate your information.

Rumor: Recruiters will accept an online profile in lieu of a resume.
Reality: Occasionally.

In a pinch, corporate recruiters may accept a profile if you’re a passive candidate with hard-to-find skills, because they generally require prospects to complete an application and attest to the information. And a profile or project summary may suffice for highly experienced contractors, though third-party recruiters still require a resume.

Rumor: Recruiters only source candidates on professional networking sites.
Reality: Recruiters consider active job seekers and referred candidates first.

The bottom line is that recruiters don’t have time to cold call a plethora of passive professionals to fill an open requisition. In fact, some companies prohibit recruiters from reviewing online information and photos due to legal concerns. If posting the job and searching databases doesn’t do the trick, then recruiters may scour the Internet and view online profiles to find a suitable slate of contenders. So to be most effective, you need to post your resume and create an online profile.

Rumor: A profile is superior to a resume.
Reality: Profiles and template resumes look alike.

“There’s no doubt that resumes are starting to resemble an online profile, so the Internet is definitely having an impact,” observes Mike Peck, senior manager of IT recruiting for Echo Global Logistics, based in Chicago. “While the profile’s simplified format accelerates the screening process, the candidates all look the same.” Peck recently confirmed that when he screened 30 resumes for a QA analyst position without identifying a clear leader. Also, recruiters often shun cookie-cutter resumes that have obviously been converted from a profile. Whether it’s a Word document or a PDF, nothing sells a candidate like a unique resume. Like it or not, that’s not likely to change anytime soon.

“The profile provides basic, superficial information about a candidate,” says Peck. “As of today, candidates still need a distinctive, customized resume.”

About Leslie Stevens-Huffman

Leslie Stevens-Huffman is a business and careers writer based in Southern California. She has more than 20 years’ experience in the staffing industry and has been writing articles, blog posts and moderating the Dice Discussion Board since 2006. In addition to her writing pursuits, Leslie is a part-time instructor for UC Irvine Extension and a member of the Human Capital Institute’s Contract Talent Advisory Board. Leslie has a bachelor’s degree in English and Journalism from the University of Southern California.

Tips on Interviewing
By Blair Singer

Interviewing for a coveted position can be a daunting task! You want to put your best foot forward, but it can be difficult when nerves get the best of you. However, there are some steps you can take to prepare for your interview. Follow these simple steps, and that job offer might just be around the corner!

  1. Do your due diligence up front. With the Internet, there is no excuse for not knowing a ton of information about the company with whom you are interviewing. Know their website, know their appearances in the news, know their culture. Nothing puts off an employer more than a person who shows up “winging it.” Show real interest and a level of intention to get into their world quickly and deeply.
  2. Remember that in any form of selling, “highest energy generally wins.” Make sure that you do whatever it takes to show energy, optimism, future thinking, and a high level of personal responsibility. Show ownership for everything. Do 20 push-ups in the rest room before you go into the interview to get your energy and mindset in tune. Engage, smile, nod, lean forward, and use expressions that show you are really interested physically and mentally.
  3. Role play a lot in advance! Either with a partner or out loud alone, role play potential employer/interviewee conversations, challenges, and objections. Do tons of them. Even practice your worst nightmare questions. You will be amazed at how well the interview will go in reality. That is because the “Little Voice” in your head has been quieted and replaced with confidence and the knowledge that you can handle anything.
  4. Verify what you are hearing the interviewer say. “So are you saying that this position is challenging because of the hours or because of the team involved...or both?” This kind of question puts you IN THEIR WORLD and takes the conversation to a deeper level. It also shows that you are locked in with them.
  5. It’s common knowledge that you should ask lots of good questions based upon your pre-research and the information the employer is giving you. But also ask questions like...”When I am faced with that situation in the coming days ahead, would it be okay with you if I involve you and other team members in the decision making?” “Who is the person I should contact to get a hold of my training materials?” These are assumptive closes in which you speak “as if” you already have the job. You entire conversation should be in “assumptive” language. This gets the employer talking to you as if you are already on the same team.
  6. As in any selling situation you should always be closing. Periodically ask questions to calibrate where the interviewee is with you in the conversation. Nothing is worse than spending the whole time talking about yourself only to find days later that you and the interviewer were not on the same page. Ask questions like... “Based upon what we discussed, I am extremely excited to sink my teeth into this position. How do you feel about it?” “I feel we are a good fit, what do you think?” “How soon can I get started?” Of course after you ask the question....shut up! Remain silent until the other person responds.

For more information on the best-selling author and Internationally acclaimed speaker Blair Singer, visit www.blairsinger.com

Job Search Deductions
By Julian Block

Searching for job-search deductions
Despite high unemployment, our lawmakers have done nothing to ease the long-standing restrictions on claiming deductions for job search-expenses. Under the current rules, most job seekers are unable to satisfy the tough, often-misunderstood requirements for deductions.

Employees derive no tax benefit from their job-search expenses if they claim the standard deduction amounts that are adjusted annually to reflect inflation.

Employees are able to deduct search expenses only if they itemize on Form 1040’s Schedule A under the general heading of miscellaneous expenses, a broadly defined category. The hodgepodge of miscellaneous items also includes employment-related educational expenses, unreimbursed employee business expenses, union and professional association dues, investment expenses and fees for advice on taxes or investments.

Itemizers can’t write off all of their miscellaneous outlays for the year in question. They can deduct just the portion of expenditures exceeding two percent of AGI, adjusted gross income. Anything below the two-percent-of-AGI threshold is nondeductible.

AGI is the amount taxpayers show at the bottom of page 1of the 1040 form after reporting salaries, pensions, dividends and other income sources and deducting such items as job-related moving expenses, alimony payments and funds placed in traditional IRAs and other tax-deferred retirement arrangements. The AGI amount is before taking the standard deduction or itemizing for expenditures like charitable contributions, medical deductions and job-hunting expenses.

Another curtailment prohibits deductions for most miscellaneous expenses by persons subject to the AMT, alternative minimum tax, a complex levy that kicks in only when it produces a higher bill than the tax figured the regular way.

An example: Hester Dimmesdale works in publishing and fears she soon will be sacked. Hester anticipates an AGI of $100,000 and that she’s going to shell out at least $3,000 for job hunting and other miscellaneous expenses, such as her payments to writers’ associations for membership dues and attending meetings.

Hester has to forfeit any deduction for the first $2,000 of her expenses (two percent of $100,000). So her allowable write-off shrinks from $3,000 to $1,000. It evaporates completely if she runs afoul of the AMT or if Hester sidesteps itemizing and opts for the standard deduction.

Expenses that pass muster. Hester’s allowable search expenses include job agency and career counselor fees, RESUMES, postage for mailing applications, faxes and telephone calls and ads in newspapers, trade magazines and Web sites. As for travel expenses, they include mileage and tolls, air, taxi, rail, and lodging expenditures for out-of-town interviews, to the extent she isn’t reimbursed by prospective employers. 

Not all of Hester’s expenses qualify. If she engages in personal activities while traveling to interviews, her deduction is limited to the portion of expenses that directly relate to the job searches.

Does Hester need to buy new apparel to impress potential employers? She can’t deduct clothing suitable for everyday use.

Different rules apply if Hester hires baby sitters to enable her to go on job interviews. While she can’t claim the payments as job-hunting expenses, they could qualify for the child care credit.

Same line of work. On the down side, Hester garners deductions only for expenses directly connected with looking around for a new job in the same line of work. But assuming she satisfies all the other requirements, her expenses are allowable. This holds true even if she decides against leaving her present position or fails to find another one.

It’s another story if she’s looking for new employment in a different line of work. An adamant IRS refuses to allow any deductions. It makes no difference that her quest succeeds.

If Hester is unemployed when looking for work, the IRS says that her occupation is what she did for her last employer. Too bad if hardly any jobs are available in her previous field of work.

All is not lost if jobless Hester previously worked at different jobs. Presumably, it’s okay for her to cite any of those past positions, provided it was recent, to establish that she seeks a new job in the same line of work.

No substantial break. The way the IRS reads the law, Hester’s search deductions qualify only if her last job was a recent one. It deep-sixes deductions when there’s a "substantial break" between the previous one and her present hunt for work. True, an otherwise engaged agency has yet to explain how much time must elapse before a spell of unemployment becomes sufficiently lengthy to justify disallowance of deductions. Consistent with that approach, it also nixes deductions when Hester enters the job market for the first time because, for example, she’s just out of college.

An example: The IRS bestows no tax balm on a teacher who switches to selling for a few years and now wants to resume teaching. A compassion-challenged IRS is similarly unmoved by the plight of a woman who leaves work and settles in for several years as a stay-at-home mother or as a caregiver for an ailing parent or other family member, until her husband’s job loss obliges her to look for work.


Julian Block Photo

Julian Block is a nationally recognized attorney who has been singled out as a "leading tax professional" (New York Times), "an accomplished writer on taxes" (Wall Street Journal) and “an authority on tax planning” (Financial Planning Magazine). He is frequently quoted by such publications as Money, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Washington Post.

His many books have been praised as: "one of the best personal-finance books" (Money); "one of the best tax books, an excellent source of information" (New York Times); and "a triumph of simplicity that tackles the complex world of taxes and communicates to readers in clear, everyday language" (National Association of Enrolled Agents). He often contributes to such magazines as AARP, Consumer Reports, Money, Playboy, Reader's Digest, and Vogue.

In addition to writing and practicing law in Larchmont, N.Y., he conducts continuing education programs for tax professionals and is a frequent guest on television and radio shows. Bryant Gumbel complimented him as "a frequent guest, whose insights are always great fare and with a talent for simplifying the complications of tax work." He holds a master of laws degree in taxation from New York University Graduate Law School, and is a member of the New York Financial Writers Association and the American Society of Journalists and Authors.

Formerly, Block was with the IRS as a special agent (criminal investigator) and as an attorney. He has taught tax planning at such schools as Adelphi University and New York University, and was the tax expert for Prodigy, the on-line service.

Web site is www.julianblocktaxexpert.com.

Tax Breaks for Moving Expenses
By Julian Block

If you move to a new job location this year, those friendly folks at the Internal Revenue Service may bestow an indirect subsidy for your moving expenses. The subsidy comes in the form of a moving expense deduction that can cut your taxes. It doesn’t matter whether you moved for your present employer or for a new employer.

The details are spelled out in Section 217 of the Internal Revenue Code. Section 217 allows the deduction for moving expenses that you pay in connection with beginning work at a new principal place of work. Of course, no deduction for those that are reimbursed by your employer. The deductible expenses are the reasonable expenses of moving your household goods and personal effects from your former residence to your new residence.

Also, you can deduct the costs of traveling, including lodging, from your former residence to your new residence. For a spouse and children, these expenses are allowed only if the spouse and children have both your former residence and your new residence as their principal place of abode and are members of your household. The expense of meals isn’t deductible for either you or your family,

For use of your car to transport yourself, members of your household or your belongings, deduct the actual cost of gas and oil (but not depreciation) or a flat allowance. For 2011, the allowance is 19 cents a mile for the first six months and 23.5 cents for the final six months. Whether you claim actual costs or use the mileage allowance, remember to deduct parking fees and bridge, tunnel and turnpike tolls, as well.

The law imposes distance and time requirements. Under the distance requirement, your new principal place of work must be at least 50 miles farther from your former residence than was your former principal place of work. An example: You qualify if your former job was 20 miles from your former residence and your new job is more than 70 miles from your former residence.

Actually, you have some leeway on the 50-mile minimum. The law doesn’t require you to measure the distance on the basis of a straight line on a map. It’s okay to calculate the mileage on the shortest of the routes that you would ordinarily travel.

Under the time requirement, you must work for at least a specified period of time. During the twelve-month period immediately following your arrival in the general location of the new job, you generally must be a full-time employee at that location for at least thirty-nine weeks. If you expect to meet this requirement, you can claim the deduction on your 2011 return. It makes no difference that the 12 month test won’t be satisfied by the filing deadline for your return.


Julian Block, an attorney in Larchmont, N.Y., has been cited as “a leading tax professional” (New York Times), "an accomplished writer on taxes" (Wall Street Journal) and "an authority on tax planning" (Financial Planning Magazine). His books include “Julian Block’s Tax Deductible Travel and Moving Expenses: How to Take advantage of Every Tax Break the law allows,” available at www.julianblocktaxexpert.com.

Deduct Business Suits? Forget It
By Julian Block

Paying the shirt off your back at tax time? Don’t count on a deduction for what you wear to work from what you make at work.

Generally, clothing costs aren’t allowable as “ordinary and necessary” business expenses. They’re nondeductible personal expenses.

The IRS prohibits write-offs for clothing that’s adaptable to general wear off the job. It makes no difference that your work requires you to be fashionably or expensively dressed. What the IRS does permit are deductions for the cost and upkeep of special work clothes or equipment. To qualify for deductions, you must pass a two-step test.

First, the clothing and equipment must be required by your employer. Second, the clothes aren’t suitable for wear off the job. You must satisfy both stipulations. It isn’t enough that wearing special clothing is a condition of employment.

Some examples of distinctive work clothing that easily qualify: uniforms worn by fire fighters, police officers, letter carriers, health-care workers, professional athletes and delivery workers. Also passing muster are the kinds of clothing that protect workers from injuries. This category includes safety shoes and glasses, hardhats and work gloves.

Usually, the IRS prevails in disputes over deductions for business suits and dresses, because they are obviously appropriate away from work.

In a 1986 case, nationally ranked Chicago tennis pro Cecil Mella lost a match with the IRS over business write-offs for tennis clothes. Cecil worked for two private tennis clubs, both of whom barred players, including instructors, from playing on the courts unless they wore proper attire. He  deducted such items as warm-up jackets and pants; shirts with a collar; shorts that were brief to give maximum freedom of movement and had pockets for tennis balls; and shoes, each pair of which lasted only two or three weeks and were designed, according to Cecil, to decrease the chances of injuries.

Cecil said he wore the items only when playing or teaching. But the Tax Court, in its unsought role as official interpreter of fashion correctness, noted: “It is relatively commonplace for Americans in all walks of life to wear warm-up clothes, shirts and shoes of the type purchased by [Cecil] while engaged in a wide variety of casual or athletic activities.” As for the shoes’ safety functions, the court characterized his statements as “uncorroborated and vague.” Decision: No deductions for expenses that weren’t ordinary and necessary.

In a 1979 decision, the court also threw out deductions for suits bought by Edward J. Kosmal, a Los Angeles deputy district attorney who planned to leave government service. Ed decided that the right way to impress his future employers and colleagues was to upgrade his wardrobe to the sartorial standards of a “big-time Beverly Hills P.I. [personal injury] attorney.” The court denied the deductions because, unquestionably, the clothes were fitting for ordinary wear.

Hairstyling and makeup. The IRS and the courts sometimes differ on deducting hairdressing costs. The IRS classifies such payments as nondeductible personal expenses, even for a big-name, New York fashion designer like Mary McFadden, who’s in the public eye and “noted professionally for her distinctive hair style.”

However, an IRS defeat occurred in 1978, when the Tax Court sided with Margot Sider. Margot wrote off the cost of 45 extra beauty-parlor visits that were made, she argued, only because her hairstyle was an integral part of her job demonstrating and selling “a high-priced line” of cosmetics in a department store to a “sophisticated clientele.” As soon as she stopped selling, she went back to a simpler style.

At her trial, Margot cited a 1963 Supreme Court decision written by Justice John Marshall Harlan: “For income-tax purposes Congress has seen fit to regard an individual as having two personalities: One is a seeker after profit who can deduct the expenses incurred in that search; the other is a creature satisfying his needs as a human and those of his family but who cannot deduct such consumption and related expenditures.”

Margot maintained she’d spent the amount in issue as a “seeker after profit,” not as “a creature satisfying her own needs.” That satisfied the judge, who ruled she was entitled to fully deduct expenditures beyond “the ordinary expenses of general personal grooming.”

The IRS had no trouble convincing the Tax Court that Vivian Thomas shouldn’t be allowed to deduct grooming expenses. Vivian worked as a private secretary for an attorney who required her to be perfectly coiffed at all times while in the office. So she deducted the cost of twice-weekly trips to the beauty parlor. Sorry, said the court, but a secretary’s coiffure maintenance costs are not allowable— even in her case.

Back in 1979, actress September Thorp offered an unassailable not-adaptable-for-general-wear defense—and won—when the IRS challenged her deduction for makeup: “I’m in Oh! Calcutta! and I have to appear nude onstage every night,” argued September, “so I cover myself with body makeup. I go through a tube every two weeks, and it’s very expensive.”

Working out. Forget about business-expense deductions for health-club memberships. Those expenditures are purely personal expenses. It makes no difference that your employer requires you to stay in excellent physical condition, according to an IRS ruling that denied deductions for police officers (Revenue  Ruling 78-128).

Similarly, the Tax Court threw out write-offs for exercise equipment claimed by David A. Kelly of Worthington, Ohio, a CPA with a heavy workload. The court was indifferent to his argument that he was better able to maintain his stamina with regular workouts.


Julian Block, an attorney in Larchmont, N.Y., has been cited as “a leading tax professional” (New York Times), "an accomplished writer on taxes" (Wall Street Journal) and "an authority on tax planning" (Financial Planning Magazine). His books include “Julian Block’s Tax Deductible Travel and Moving Expenses: How to Take advantage of Every Tax Break the law allows,” available at www.julianblocktaxexpert.com.