It’s that time of year. Children are writing letters to Santa. Adults are giving their significant others subtle (or not so subtle) hints about what they want for the holidays.
If you have a job seeker on your holiday shopping list, we’ve got gift ideas that can help your loved one land a better job faster.
And job seekers, well, we’re sure you’re drafting a wish list of your own. Once you’ve written your resume, and checked it twice, it’s time to let Santa know about these career-finding goodies that could help you land your dream job.
For job seekers, here are 10 holiday gift ideas that will keep on giving.
Professional interview attire
Gentlemen, a new suit can make you feel like a million bucks, but no need to spend that much money on one. Assuming the interview suit in your closet does not have moth holes, purchase date of more than 15 years ago, or a coffee stain from that interview from hell a while back, a new shirt and tie can go a long way toward updating your look.
A coordinated look will give your interviewer the impression you care about your personal and professional appearance. New dress shoes, or a good shining of the old ones, wouldn’t be a bad idea either (Gift idea for dad from the kids: Coupon for 1 shoeshine).
Ladies, the same goes for you. A new suit can provide a boost of confidence. Or you could spend less and opt for a stylish new shirt or accessory to add some new life to your old interview ensemble.
Shopping for a job seeker? Think shiny new power tie, crisp new dress shirt, or gift certificate for a department store with a nice selection of interview-worthy clothing.
An impressive new briefcase, portfolio, European carry-all (Wait, scratch that last one, guys.)
Showing up to an interview with a tattered folder under your arm is not the way to show a potential employer you care about protecting important documents, i.e. your resume, references, published clips, etc.
Carrying these items in a briefcase or portfolio (not a man-purse) shows that you recognize certain papers are worth shielding from the elements and hazards of the daily commute. It’s a lot easier to look confident and put-together with a sharp-looking bag.
Networking is inherently social. Since so much of our daily socializing seems to happen online, it’s important to utilize social media and LinkedIn can be a networker’s best friend. LinkedIn now offers premium Job Seeker accounts that allow users to connect with employers outside their existing networks, gain added visibility when responding to a listing and access tools to help organize their job searches.
LinkedIn Job Seeker accounts start at $19.95/month or $15.95/month, prepaid for one year.
Interview preparation software
We may be a little biased, but we think a BigInterview.com membership would make a perfect gift for any job seeker. Many job hunters, even those with top-notch communication skills and impressive resumes, are making big mistakes in their job interviews. This is usually due to lack of preparation, lack of practice, or lack of training.
With BigInterview.com, you get a structured online training course and tools for practicing your interview technique with your webcam. You can even get feedback and advice from one of our career coaches.
Subscription to an industry publication
Being unemployed means more free time on your hands. Why not spend some of that time staying abreast of current industry trends by reading up on the latest news? Even subscribing to the online or print editions of major daily newspapers like the Wall Street Journal or New York Times will allow you to remain informed of developments in your industry and the U.S. economy in general.
Try not to worry yourself too much with the national unemployment rate.
Give that resume and cover letter some weight
If you want to get a bit fancy, or you’re applying for a position at a paper-supply company and need to suggest you know your way around different varieties of 8 ½ x 11, invest in some heavier stock paper. A little weight above the average photocopy paper makes your interviewer feel like he’s holding something significant, as he should while reviewing your credentials.
Quality thank-you cards
Yes, in this digital age we live and work in, writing a thank you email is the easiest and most common way to follow up with your potential employer the day after your interview. However, because personalized stationary is such a rarity, a thank you card with your name printed on it may set you above the rest of the qualified applicants vying for the same position.
And in the tune of “The Twelve Days of Christmas”…
8. Three references:
References (or at least one really good one)
A reference from a former employer goes a long way, especially if you were at the company for a long period, developed a good rapport with your supervisor during that time, and left the company on good terms. Additional references from colleagues, clients or other former supervisors can also improve your chances of a holiday miracle.
If you’re lacking in the reference department, the holiday season may be the perfect time to reach out to former colleagues to respectfully request a letter of reference. Catch them when they’re feeling jolly and generous and make it easy to say yes.
Networking – possibly the greatest job-finding gift of all
Having multiple connections in your field to help you learn about available positions, seek interviews and gain insight, as well as references, is nearly imperative in finding a new job, especially in the current economic climate. Expanding your professional network by two or more this holiday season is like getting to open a few gifts early.
Get out and attend holiday gatherings and mingle. Make sure you’ve prepped and polished your elevator pitch. Oh yeah, and always do what you can to make connections between people you know. Networking generosity tends to come back to you tenfold.
10. And a firmer (but not too firm) handshake
No one wants to hire someone with a flimsy handshake, so take hold. But don’t break your interviewer’s fingers. Shake too hard and your interviewer will (1) squeeze back harder to show dominance, (2) make a quip about your strength and laugh it off or (3) never call you due to the fact that he had to ice his hands for two days after wishing you a happy holiday.
Now that you know what you’ll be asking your friends, family and significant other for this winter, it’s time to start working on your New Year’s resolution.