Turn on the news and you’ll see stories about the Class of 2012, listening to some dignitary, political figure or superstar give a rousing commencement speech. At the designated moment, hundreds of mortarboards fly into the air, signaling the end of education and the beginning of life in the real world.
It’s tough out there. With unemployment still hovering around 8.6% in many areas, college or high school may seem like a vacation compared to the rigors of finding a job. To help the new graduate in his search for employment, consider giving a graduation gift that can help jumpstart the job search and help her stand out from the rest.
1. Leather Portfolio. No more back packs or book bags. A nice, slim leather portfolio looks professional and is the right size and weight to carry to an interview. It keeps those extra resume copies and reference lists clean and crisp. It can also hold a pad of paper for taking notes during an interview.
2. Classy Pen. You can splurge for a Mont Blanc Bleu Boehme Ballpoint Pen for $425.00 or a Cross Gold Shimmer Rollerball Pen for $115.00, but a professional writing instrument that doesn’t have an advertisement for the local Pizza Parlor makes a statement. It’s also nice for signing that first offer letter.
3. Business Card Holder. A business card holder is an expression of faith and confidence. Your graduate has what it takes to land the kind of job that has business cards. Until she lands that job, personal cards with contact information are perfect for networking and will stay clean and crisp in the card holder.
4. A One-Year Membership in the Local Toastmasters Club. There is no better place to gain confidence, learn to communicate and gain valuable leadership skills than a Toastmasters Club. They are the professionals in public speaking and leadership training. What better gift than 52 opportunities to practice speaking in front of a group, take on leadership roles, learn how to conduct meetings, work with a diverse team and receive constructive feedback in a non-threatening atmosphere. This gift could be the most valuable for a small price.
5. Professional Resume and Interview Coaching. Not everyone can or wants to write a resume and is comfortable talking about themselves in an interview. A career coach can help craft a dynamic resume and put the new job seeker at ease in interview situations. Instead of struggling and missing opportunities, a career coach can equip a new graduate with the most important tools she needs to approach employers—a resume and personal confidence.
6. Subscription to Inc. Magazine or Entrepreneur. If your new graduate has an entrepreneurial spirit, these two magazines will be a window into the new world of business and self-employment. They feature some of the freshest, cutting edge articles and information on the future of business, success stories and lots of tips and shortcuts. The inspiration value is worth the subscription price, and the subscription cards inside the magazines offer dramatic discounts. It’s a way to continue their education from people who are making it in the new workplace.
7. “The Elements of Style.” This book is THE resource for grammar, spelling, punctuation, sentence structure and everything else you need to know about writing. Another valuable book, especially for writers, is the Associated Press Stylebook. Resumes, cover letters, portfolios, writing samples and thank-you notes should be flawless. A good dictionary completes the trio.
8. Support From Afar. There is a time to let go. Helicopter parents may be OK when kids are in middle school or going off to college, but after graduation it’s time to power down and let them take over. Life is a series of lessons. Hovering parents who to try to make it easy or prevent any disappointment or hard times are just delaying the learning. Nothing builds confidence like taking on a challenge, solving a problem or making a mistake and picking yourself up again. I think Sting said it best, “…if you love someone, set them free.”