Sometimes practical is best
by Andrea Woroch
Sure, an all-expense-paid trip to Europe seems like the ultimate graduation gift. However, college students who face thousands of dollars in academic debt may need to jump on the job hunt sooner than expected. With new financial responsibilities looming, recent grads will appreciate whatever help they can get.
To help soften the real world blow, here are seven practical gifts job-seeking college graduates will appreciate.
Resume ServicebrThe first thing employers see is an applicant’s resume and cover letter. Unfortunately, the style of these documents has become more complex in recent years. Graduates won’t get noticed using the old method of simply listing experience by date. Cover letters are now approaching works of art, mentioning much more than that applicant is interested in the job and is a good team player, trustworthy, and a hard worker.
A resume service will create updated documents so subsequent resumes and cover letters live up to modern standards. Costs run roughly $100 to $200, depending on the services you desire. It’s worth paying extra to have an expert explain the latest tricks and how graduates can alter these documents for each job. Sites like ResumeMyCareer can help you compile a professional and competitive resume at an affordable cost.
Home FurnishingsbrAfter living with cinder-block bookshelves and saggy mattresses for four years or, worse yet, being surrounded by their childhood furniture while living at home, graduates might appreciate an upgrade on everything from a couch to kitchen implements, especially those moving into a new apartment to be closer to their new 9 to 5 job. You might also put together a basket of upscale bed and bath products so the grad can finally dump their dollar-store shampoo and soap.
Gift CardsbrThe 2011 crop of college graduates faces more debt than any other generation, so money is always a welcome gift, especially to help them get through that first, unstable post-school year. Grads not comfortable with the idea of asking directly for money can create a gift card registry at CardAvenue.com to receive gift cards from hundreds of merchants in a variety of categories from apparel to food, gas, and much more.
Job Interview ClothingbrSuits can be overkill in some places, unless the graduate lives in a big city or is looking for a management position. Most employers will expect something a bit more casual these days. Men should have a dress shirt, pants, and shoes with a matching tie and, perhaps, a sports coat. Women will need a demure outfit of skirt and blouse or dress with basic pumps. A coordinated jacket would nicely complete the outfit.
Foreign Language LessonsbrCollege graduates face a tough job market, and high unemployment rates mean more experienced competition. Given any opportunity to improve his or her skill set, grads can make themselves more marketable to potential employers depending on the position. Consider gifting Spanish lessons (Rosetta Stone is an effective and affordable option) or perhaps a GMAT review course for help towards MBA school admissions.
BriefcasebrBackpacks and messenger bags are great for toting books and water bottles, but grads will have a better chance of securing a job when they show up looking sophisticated. A soft-sided briefcase with room for a laptop, resume binder, and lunch will give any job seeker a more professional appearance.
SmartphonebrWith instant email access and GPS navigation, a smartphone will keep recent grads connected with potential employers and recruiters so they never miss an interview opportunity or an offer. Not to mention, the various apps that offer banking on-the-go, cheap dinner recipes, and anything else you can think of to help make their lives a little easier.