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Do you have a job-seeking veteran or military spouse on your gift list this year? Here are some gift ideas to help you show the ones you love that you see their effort and potential.
I already put together a list of five free things you can do to help a veteran job seeker. Now, here's a list of things you can buy, wrap, and give your favorite job seeker this holiday season.
Business Cards for Job Seekers
One of the best skills I learned at a conference was how to use the QR code on LinkedIn mobile to instantly connect in person. This method is better than a business card since you don't have to remember to look up the other person on LinkedIn and find their profile and think up something to say.
Yet, there are times that job seekers want physical business cards, especially when someone hands them one of their own and expects an exchange.
You can help the job seeker in your life by designing a minimalist business card on a design-and-print site like Zazzle or Canva. Don't be intimidated or think this is too difficult or personal; this is not a card that is meant to be a standout. This is the blue tie of business cards, the sensible pump, the white Acura.
- Design: Search for "minimalist business card." Pick black-and-white, classic card design in the standard 3.5" x 2" size. Print on the heavier grade of paper.
- Information: The card needs no logo or photo -- only the person's name, phone number, email address and LinkedIn link. Optionally, you may also include the field in which the card holder is seeking a job.
The best part of this gift is that it should cost less than $20 for 100 cards and gives the job seeker one less thing for them to worry about.
The Right Words
This next gift idea helps veteran job seekers get more comfortable with using a civilian vocabulary, especially when they describe what they do well. Left to their own devices, your job seeker will make themselves sound like every other veteran -- a hardworking, intelligent, problem-solving leader. The trick, however, is to distinguish them from the competition.
One way to get around this is to nudge them in the direction of their strengths using a civilian vocab. If they have already taken the Gallup Organization's StrengthsFinder, grab those results. If they haven't, give them the test as a gift. Or buy them a copy of the book "StrengthsFinder 2.0." I also like the explanation of strengths in "YouMap: Find Yourself. Blaze Your Path. Show the World!" Learning your top five strengths costs only $20.
The kicker is the visual reminder. Someone gave me a Strengths Mug with my top five strengths, and it's one of my favorite gifts. I keep it on my desk and see it every time I need to be reminded of why I'm doing the job I'm doing. What a win during a time when the job seeker's confidence is taking a hit!
A Job Seeker's Bible
Everyone who is successful at the job hunt does two things: They figure out what they don't really know even though they thought they knew it (which is why they take our Veteran Employment Project Master Classes), and they turn the actions they learn into habits.
Help your job seeker get a head start by giving them a copy of what should be the job seeker's bible: James Clear's "Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones." Next year, I'll be teaching how to make the most amazing networking habit ever using these principles.
A Total Mindblower
Veterans often tell me they do not want to sell anything. They recoil in horror at the thought of an employer who expects them to dig into their "Rolodex." This astounds me. I haven't met anyone with a Rolodex since 1995.
"The Unsold Mindset: Redefining What It Means To Sell" was written for everyone who pictures transition hell as seeing themselves in a Herb Tarlek plaid suit. Since corporate America jobs involve a little bit of sales, this book offers a unique way to reframe, relate and get on with it. It's especially good for transitioning senior leaders.
A Scorching Need
For mid-career and senior veterans, networking is an essential part of the job search. Most of the jobs transitioning military members want are not listed online and can be uncovered only through their networks. But you know your veteran and how much they hate to ask for help.
They do, however, love to drink coffee. Give them a gift card to your local independent coffee shop, which will make them look cool. I like Lookout Coffee in San Jose or any of the Black Rifle Coffee locations nationwide. Pick a place near their home or their work. Having the gift card burning a hole in their wallet might be enough to get them to call up someone for an informational interview.
Interview In a Box
Most veterans hate to practice interviewing in front of other people. It makes them feel incompetent, so they often just wing it -- and then they blow the interview. Job seekers must practice interviewing out loud if they want to succeed.
While I like some of the free AI interview tools like the one available on LinkedIn, that is not always the best place to start for veterans. If you are buying a gift for an introverted veteran, get them started on the interview process with a deck like The Behavioural Interview Flash Card Deck: Your Ultimate Interview Prep Tool. It will let them prep and practice in private before they are ready to rehearse with you. Set a date on the calendar.
Cheat Sheet Holder
Finally, no gift list is complete without a gadget -- and this one is a winner. Your veteran or spouse may not know it yet, but most interviews are conducted by Zoom. So the gift of a tie, blouse, briefcase or leather folders may not be all that helpful.
What is helpful are those gadgets that attach to your laptop so you can see your interview notes easily without breaking eye contact with the interviewer. Consider the Note Tower Desktop Pro Document Holder or Kensington Flex Clip Copyholder.
INSERT PHOTO: Adobe-stock- Adhesive Bracket
Professional Coaching Services
I count my own career bonuses in "aha!" moments. I love those moments of working one-on-one with a coaching client on their federal or corporate resume, or coaching them through tricky interview questions and hearing them say, "Oh, now I get it!" Let the shooting stars commence.
Because every job seeker is unique, getting one-on-one attention is critical. Give the gift of doing the research for your job seeker. Contact a career coach like me who specializes in transitioning military. Most coaches will offer an initial meeting for free to make sure the coach and job seeker are a good match. Look for someone with experience working with military members. Then pick up the bill for your service member since they don't think they should spend on themselves during transition.
Jacey Eckhart is Military.com's transition master coach. She is a certified professional career coach and military sociologist who helps military members get their first civilian job by offering career-level Master Classes through our Veteran Employment Project and on her website, SeniorMilitaryTransition.com. Reach her at Jacey.Eckhart@Monster.com.
Find Your Next Job Fast
Transitioning military, veterans and spouses may be qualified for the job, but they are missing the secrets of civilian hiring. Find out everything you need to know with our FREE master class series, including our next class. You can view previous classes in our video library. Questions for Jacey? Visit our Facebook page.