Changing careers or even jobs within the same career can be expensive. The costs of hiring a coach, making a decision, then lining up resources like interview suits, résumé services and travel expenses to interviews may make you want to give up before you begin. Hiring a career coach especially may seem out of reach.

Before you get discouraged, consider these ways of saving money as you reconsider your work.

1. Do the Groundwork for Free

Before calling a career coach like me, create two lists: one of the careers or jobs you’re considering and another list of your non-negotiables. Maybe you absolutely need certain benefits. Maybe you can’t dip below a certain salary or go back to school right now.

Then go to a free Department of Labor web site called O-Net to research options. Weed out the obvious ones by checking salaries, training requirements and other baseline info. Then bring the remaining ones to the coach to hash out.

If you’re not at that point, see if you are clear on some aspects of your career. Are you sure of your work values? Do you know your interests? How about your top skills? Ask a career coach for help only with what you’re unclear on.

2. Check with your college

If you attended school, even if you didn’t graduate, you may have access to a certain number of career counseling sessions, alumni job listings, or other resources. Call the career center and ask what’s available. This can be easier than trying to navigate the university web site. Often career centers are hard to find within a large web site.

3. Consider a therapist

Some workers think therapists are only for the deeply troubled, but the truth is many can help with workplace frustrations that don’t constitute a mental illness. Therapists are often covered by insurance, while coaches aren’t.

If you have a history of conflict with bosses or coworkers, out-of-control stress, or even a lack of career direction, you could first consult a therapist who lists career issues as part of their specialties.

4. Résumé templates aren’t so bad

There are some résumé writers who will tell you that templates signal to hiring manager that you cut corners in your job hunt. I disagree. They can help job hunters who aren’t whizzes at Microsoft Word or Canva and don’t have the money to spend on a writer.

Just be careful. Stay away from elaborate formatting or text boxes that may render your résumé invisible to Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS), those pesky robot readers of résumés. And compare your chosen template to your profession. If you’re an accountant, for instance, don’t pick an elaborate design that includes your photo and every social media account known to man. Keep it simple and dignified.

5. Update skills for free

Taking an online class can be a great way to update tech skills or try out a new interest. Before buying something online, however, check out your local library system. The Howard County Public Library system, my local library in Maryland, offers free access to, which has some great courses on software, to area residents with a library card. They include communication skills, programming fundamentals, graphic design and project management, just to name a few. I just took one on the publishing software Scrivener that was wonderful.

Also, download the app associated with your library. If you’re considering a new career, check the library database of books. Mine even has access online to magazines this year through the Overdrive app. For example, today I downloaded Culinary Careers: How to Get Your Dream Job in Food by Rick Smilow and Anne E McBride. It has a range of interviews with everyone from cheese mongers to chefs to Ruth Reichl of Gourmet magazine.

6. Save Your Receipts

The IRS may seem like the enemy most of the time, but check in with their overview on tax deductions for job hunting. Consider saving receipts for certain job-hunting activities if you’re looking for something in the same field. These can include travel for interviews, résumé printing costs or working with a job placement agency.

7. Blowing Up Your Current Career is a Huge Cost

One of the most costly mistakes in anyone’s career is quitting in anger and burning bridges. It can take years to rebuild your credibility in many fields, which are smaller networks than you think, even in big cities.

A career coach may seem costly, but in the long run they may save you thousands of dollars. They can help you manage your frustrations and brainstorm solutions to help you improve your job even before you make a change, even if you know in your heart you’re leaving eventually. Things like negotiating for continuing education, or even a well-earned vacation, can buy you enough time to job-hunt while keeping your current job.

If you feel like you’re tempted to do something drastic, call a career coach. Many like me offer free intro sessions and that may be enough to talk you out of saying those choice words to your boss.

To schedule a free consultation, call me at 240-277-6224 or email me at