Gift ideas for job seekers (and other career-minded folks)

Do you have any job seekers, prospective interns or new professionals on your shopping list? Here are some fun gift ideas for those career-minded folks for whom you may be shopping. I’ve tried to suggest gifts with varying price ranges and also offer ideas appropriate for close family and friends, and for colleagues with whom you may be less familiar.

Clothing
I’ve encountered many students whose idea of dressing up for an interview is wearing jeans with no holes in them (understandably a step up if their daily attire consists of pajamas, sweatshirts and flip flops). As we all know, looking the part in a professional setting is important, but can be quite expensive. A few key wardrobe items will help get your job seeker, intern or new professional started in the right direction.

If purchasing clothing items as gifts, stick with conservative colors, such as black, charcoal, navy, brown and gray, however it’s alright for dress shirts or blouses to be a bit more colorful.
For men, consider:

For women, consider:

Accessories

When it comes to accessories, again, stick with conservative styles. For example, choose a leather-looking laptop bag as opposed to a canvas one. Even with high-end items, select those with no or only conservative print. For example, most Coach monogram bags are fairly neutral, but a Juicy Couture bag may be a bit more edgy. With time and more experience, the gift recipient will eventually develop their own professional style, but for now, conservative items will act as foundational pieces upon which the rest of their wardrobe can be built.
Some items to consider:
  • leather, or faux leather padfolio $10 – $50+ at Office Depot
  • briefcase or laptop bag $25 – $200+ at eBags
  • handbag $30 – $500+ at Zappos
  • personalized business card case $6 – $40+ at Red Envelope
  • watch $40 – $150+ at Nordstrom
Gifts to stay organized
Staying organized is key to successfully navigating job search waters and is equally important when starting out in a new job.
Items to consider:
  • USB memory card (to save all those resumes and cover letters) $8 – $100+ at Walmart
  • A calendar or organizer to keep track of when application materials have been sent and when follow-up should occur $12 – $26+ at Office Depot
  • Rolodex $2 – $50+ at Office Depot or business card case $8 – $30+ at Office Depot
Memberships and subscriptions
Many college students, recent grads and young professionals would greatly benefit from membership in a professional association and from staying current with trends within their industry.
Gifts to consider:

  • One year subscription to a trade magazine (fees vary)
  • Subscription to BusinessWeek $46 or The Wall Street Journal $119,
  • One year membership to a professional association – remember that student memberships can often be more affordable than full membership (fees vary)

Books
There are tons of helpful and interesting books out there for job seekers, new professionals, interns, and even for younger college students who are in the midst of choosing their major. Keep in mind that many college career centers also carry these or similar titles, but if your gift recipient loves books, they may want to have their own copy for their collection.

Titles to consider:
  • Specialized career books, such as “Great Jobs for Liberal Arts Majors,” “Careers in Focus: Computers,” “Career Opportunities in Marketing,” “Opportunities for Extroverts and Others Gregarious Types.” Most of these books can be purchased for less than $25 from Amazon or Barnes and Noble.
  • Internship directories, such as “Peterson’s Interships” or “Vault Guide to Top Internships.”
  • Books for new professionals, like, “They Don’t Teach Corporate in College: A Twenty-Something’s Guide to the Business World,” or “10 Things Employers Want You to Learn in College.”
  • Choosing a major books, such as, “The College Majors Handbook” or “Smart Moves for Liberal Arts Grads: Finding a Path to Your Perfect Career.”
Occupation-specific tools
Keep in mind, your gift recipient may already own some of the tools for his or her trade, but may be longing for better quality versions. Hold off on buying these speciality items unless you know the exact tools and brands most sought after.
Here are some items to serve as examples:
  • art supplies for artists (prices vary)
  • gift certificate for professional headshots for performers (prices vary)
  • a cosmetic brush set for makeup artists $20 – $100+ at Crown Brushes
Miscellaneous
  • A box or boxes of blank thank you cards – keep them plain, nothing too flowery, cute or quirky. $5 – $25+ at Target
  • office supplies, like desk caddies, pens, and note pads $3 – $50+ at Office Depot

FREE Gifts

  • the names and contact information of some key industry professionals
  • set up an information interview with a professional in his/her field
  • your support and encouragement!

(Prices and merchant links are provided as a convenience and do not necessarily indicate an endorsement of specific merchants or their products.)

5 comments on “Gift ideas for job seekers (and other career-minded folks)”

  1. Melissa Reply

    What a great idea! While some people don't like practical gifts, it's far better to go that route when someone is looking for a job since it can help them have a polished image.

    Another suggestion might be a gift certificate to their favorite salon for a haircut. Help them look their best before an interview!

  2. BARBARA YARN Reply

    So -THAT'S- where my allotment of creativity went :) Glad to see it's being put to good use! No, seriously, everything you've posted is just adorable – keep it up!

  3. akhilesh Reply

    Best website links related to Online Job sites in India!

    http://www.back2office.com

    In order achieve success in their job search, job seekers must target a wide range of Job sites and use all the available resources. Yes, its time consuming. However, dedicating the time and energy will pay off with more and better job leads, more interviews and more job offers!

  4. Sandy J. Reply

    Ah, this is perfect! My sister and my cousin are both looking for jobs and I wanted to buiy christmas gifts for them to be encouraging as they look for work. Thanks for these ideas!

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