18 Holiday Gift Ideas for Job Seekers

If there's a job seeker on your gift list this year -- and with about one in 10 Americans unemployed, chances are there is one -- a helpful, carefully selected present could make a huge difference and maybe even change a life. Two million Americans are on the brink of losing their unemployment benefits this month, and your presents could well bring them some much-needed holiday cheer.

But finding the right gift can be tricky. Although the thought should count, gifts like a month's supply of diapers for the baby might make the recipients feel that the whole world believes they are unable to provide for their kids. A new interview outfit is a little personal, and might not suit their particular taste. And a gift certificate to the neighborhood grocery store might give someone the impression that they're seen as a charity case.

After doing extensive research, we've assembled a list of gifts that would be welcome under any job seeker's tree, no matter what their status or position.

1. A new resume

There are a number of resume services online that will update a resume with all the latest tricks and tips. Most will be happy to take a payment from you and send an online certificate for their services to the job seeker. Some of the services we particularly like are:

2. Business cards

A simple, elegant business card with a name, e-mail address, website if there is one, and a cell phone number can come in handy in myriad situations. No position or job title necessary on it, it can be handed out to anyone, at any time, for any reason. It makes a better impression than hastily scribbling your phone number and e-mail address on the back of a store receipt with a borrowed pen. Vista Print and Moo Business Cards are great options.

3. Perfect business bag

The bag you carry into an interview containing a resume, work samples, etc. can make a huge impression on a potential employer. The last thing you want to be seen with is a scuffed leather briefcase, a worn nylon messenger bag or a dowdy purse. Lodis.com carries great business bags for both men and women. It's a respectable designer brand that's also carried in upscale department stores, but doesn't have expensive designer prices.

4. Paid subscriptions to job search and networking sites

Many sites offer free memberships, but the premium or advanced subscription services can be a huge advantage, according to April Mendez, who was unemployed for more than a year during 2008-2010 and now works as a public relations manager at Thinkflood.com. She says she would have been happy to receive an advanced membership to sites like:

5. How-to books

There seems to be an infinite number of job search books out there, but the ones we like best right now include 'Career Comeback--Repackage Yourself to Get the Job You Want,' which is geared mostly toward women but has helpful information to use right now for men as well; and 'Happy About My Resume -- 50 Tips for Building a Better Document to Secure a Brighter Future'; and 'Get the Job You Want, Even When No One's Hiring: Find a Job You Love, and Earn What You Deserve.'

6. Netbook/tablet

Much more portable and less expensive than a laptop, these devices can more easily be carried to a job interview and used in a coffee shop for job searches on the go. Of course the iPad is great, but we also like the Toshiba mini NB305. It weighs in at under 3 pounds, has up to eight hours of battery life and even comes with a webcam for conducting video interviews. It comes in blue, red, white, black and brown and has a starting price of $379.99.

7. Office supply store gift certificate

Printer cartridges, pens, paper, portfolios are all necessities in any job search, but they can add up. A FedEx Kinkos gift certificate could come in handy for resume copying. Shelley Hunter of GiftCardGirlfriend.com suggests going the extra mile and attaching a "lucky comb" (ala 'Glee') or your five favorite motivational quotes, put on sticky notes so he/she can hang them around the house to stay motivated.

8. Social media class

Everyone knows that the more social media savvy you are, the better chance you have of finding a job. Brandy Nagel, of Marketing Catalyst, suggests that "learning new skills is valuable for any job seeker, and social media is a great way to network and connect."

Local classes can be found through EventBrite.com and LinkedIn Events. Prices begin at $20 for an hour class in the metro Atlanta area.

9. Online presence

Help potential employers find the job seeker by giving them a digital profile. Chris Perry, an associate brand manager at Reckitt Benckiser and founder of Career Rocketeer, the career search and personal branding blog, suggests giving a "domain Name with the person's name to be used for a personal website or for forwarding to a LinkedIn profile or other online resume page; and a Wordpress Blog for those careerists who want to start blogging to help them in their job search and/or ongoing career."

10. Salon certificate

Everyone, male or female, rich or poor, could benefit from a good haircut/blow dry/color/mani/pedi before the big job interview. If you're feeling really generous, a certificate to a spa that would cover the cost of a relaxing massage, facial or other treatment would also be welcome.

11. Personalized note cards

"It's a well-known fact that sending a hand-written note after a job interview is an important touch that shows prospective employers gratitude, graciousness and dedication," says Kristine Smith of Expressionery.com. "So why not buy the job-seekers in your life a set of sophisticated, personalized notecards that they can use after interviews? Expressionery has dozens of card designs that will fit the personal style of virtually anyone on your list." Papeterie has nice ones too.

12. Photo session

This might sound a little vain and frivolous at first, but a hip, fresh digital photo can really enhance a job search. When posted on Facebook, LinkedIn and varous other networking sites, even in an e-mail signature or on a business card, a great photo will help make a fabulous, multi-dimensional first impression.

13. Specialty grocery gift certificate

Shopping on someone else's dime at the neighborhood grocer might wound someone's pride, but everyone, even the wealthy, love getting victuals from a place like Whole Foods, Trader Joe's or the local gourmet deli. Gift cards to places like this are equally popular with people who already have great jobs.

14. Optical services

Outdated eyewear can make a candidate appear hopelessly behind the times, yet a checkup and new glasses might not be a very high priority on a job seeker's limited budget. A generous gift certificate to a retailer like LensCrafters can change all that in one stop and an hour or two.

15. 'Good luck' tie or scarf

Something bright and cheerful for interviews and networking events can boost confidence and make a great impression. Be sure to pick the right color combination for the wearer, however. You can find help with this at JillKirschColor.com or on AOL Shopping.

16. Interview outfit gift certificate

If you're feeling truly flush and want to give the job seeker on your list an entire interview outfit but don't trust their taste, give a gift certificate and offer to go along and help pick out the right attire. Macy's and Men's Wearhouse are good choices because there are locations just about everywhere, the selection is amazing and there's something at just about every price range.

17. Help with transportation costs

Whether you drive or use public transportation, costs to get to and from interviews can add up. Nancy Anderson of Blackbird Learning Associates suggests a gas card, a gift certificate toward car washes and/or oil changes, a monthly train, bus or subway pass, or even a roll of quarters to feed the parking meter.

18. A brighter smile

With teeth freshly whitened, the confidence to smile will be increased and the job seeker will make a much better impression. Your local dentist or whitening center should have gift certificates, and Crest 3D White Strips or another drug store whitening method could help as well. You must be a little diplomatic about how you present this, though.

Now you have a little something for every budget, a little something for every job seeker. If you can think of anything else that might be appreciated, feel free to add your own suggestions.

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