Monthly Archives: December 2010

The BEST Holiday Gifts for Job Seekers

This Holiday Season is the PERFECT time to give yourself or someone you know the ideal gift to help them in their job search. Here they are, in no particular order:

Membership to a health club or gym: The holidays are an ideal time to overeat even in the BEST of circumstances. For the roughly 10% of America’s workforce that is “officially” out of work (the true number of unemployed is closer to 20%), Depression can set in easily. Overeating is a sign of depressed individuals seeking comfort through food. Give them a one year membership, or sign them up for their first 3 months.

Pay for Meet Up group networking events: Make them a coupon saying that you will pay for them to attend their next few Meet Up group networking events. Networking is a critical tool to add to the job seekers’ arsenal. Some Meet Up group facilitators charge a registration fee to attend the events.

Bond Paper & Envelopes: Buy them a ream of 500 sheets of HIGH quality bond paper and matching standard #10 business envelopes. Throw in a roll of 100 stamps. They will need to send our resumes, cover letters, and other business correspondence. Help your job seeker position themselves for success by putting their best fut forward in their written correspondence.

Separate Phone for Business Use: Consider getting them an inexpensive phone and separate phone line through the phone company or cable company for them to use ONLY for their job search efforts. They can use that telephone number on their business cards, resumes, and leave their own pre-recorded message.

Hair Cut or Mani/Pedi: Consider buying them a gift card to their hairdresser or nail salon. The job seeker ALWAYS has to make a great first impression. A new haircut and/or manicure/pedicure will make them feel good about themselves. Consider buying them a gift card to your local spa, for a special treatment.

Work Portfolio: Your job seeker will need to display their work product, so a professional portfolio to hold their resumes, references, and other “salesmanship in print” materials is always a great gift. It may not be sexy, but it will help them build their own personal BRAND. And THAT is a gift that keeps giving.

Find Them a Career Coach: For many people the fear of not knowing WHERE TO START can be so overpowering it binds them in inertia. By paying for a few sessions with a career coach (get a personal referral, don’t hire one blindly) can help your job seeker to get the focus they need to begin their search journey.

Online Career Assessment Tool: Give them an IOU coupon promising to pay for them to do a personality/value based assessment tool. Some of the better ones are:
– Myers-Briggs (
– Keirsey Temperament (
– Birkman Method (
– DISC tool for salespeople (
– Herman Brain Dominance Instrument (

Your Ear & Support: Being unemployed is an extremely stressful period in time up there with the loss of a family member. They do not need any additional stress or negativity around them. Provide them with a nurturing, positive environment. DO offer to help them, and give them your ear to bend. DON’T be judgmental. DO provide them with your unconditional support.

Meditation Tapes Buy them a gift card to iTunes or get them a tape of meditation or relaxing sounds. Buy them the CD to their favorite artist/performer/band.

Great Career Counseling Books: For example “Bulletproof Your Career in These Turbulent Times” by…me!
These may not be romantic, sexy, or FUN but they make GREAT gifts for the job seeker faced with finding their next job.

Have other gift ideas? Let us know.

Great Places to Work

Sure, most companies are toxic environments of back-stabbing, decimated employee morale and senior management apathy, but some organizations offer their people a GREAT place to work. In my opinion some of these great places to work include:
Whole Foods
Trader Joe’s
Dreamworks Animation
Iron Mountain
Edward Jones

The New Normal in America

Does it seem like everything has been turned upside down in America these past 2 years? Welcome to the NEW NORMAL. We have no choice but to get used to double digit unemployment in the 21st Century global contract workplace. This is the logical outcome of nearly 40 years of myopic, short-sighted American policies in Education, politics, and business.

Some signs of our NEW “NORMAL”:

The cost of a four year education skyrockets towards $200,000 yet many college graduates cannot find work, nor can they communicate efectively either verbally or in writing.

The average American will change jobs 8-9 times in their career, and nearly 1 in 4 American workers can now be categorized as contractors, consultants, and independent workers.

Entire industries are transforming / imploding (see banking, financial services, insurance, printing, manufacturing, retail, publishing, advertising) and new industries are rising from the ashes (green technologies, home aides/health care, business continuity, risk management, sports management)

Our infrastructure is crumbling, many states are near bankruptcy, and our children are falling behind the rest of the post-industrialized world in science and math skills.

Now more than ever we require visionary leadership to steer us towards a viable future. Yet our political leaders seem more focused than ever on answering to the deep pockets of special interests.

How can we take advantage of opportunities in this NEW NORMAL?
1. Embrace change
2. Develop transferable skills
3. Lean into your discomfort
4. Pursue a lifetime of continuous learning
5. Become a networking star
6. Act like a business owner
7. Always deliver service/value to others