Over the holidays, even if we know a friend or family member is actively looking for a job, we typically avoid asking them about it like the plague. The job search process is demoralizing, lonely and hard to navigate. Why bring up such a touchy subject?

In response to this I say: The job search process is demoralizing, lonely and hard to navigate -- show your support!

We all need affirmation and encouragement, but job seekers have to go to battle for it every day. And if the average worker stays at each job for 4.4 years (according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor), the reality is most of us have a job search around the corner. 

In the spirit of our gift-giving holidays, here are a few gift ideas under $50 (and a couple of free ones!) to make someone’s search a little brighter:

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Most of our job search guidance focuses on the key steps required to land a job you love, like strategic networking and mastering the interviewBut the little details matter too, like looking professional at interviews and networking events; looking professional communicates that you’re likely to act professional on the job.

A dynamite tie or a classy scarf bolsters the professional look while literally wrapping your support around your favorite job seeker with a physical reminder you’re in their court.


85% of jobs are found through networking, and the best job seekers network strategically into hiring pools. What does this mean? It means job seekers buy a lot of coffee.

A coffee shop gift card makes it that much easier for job seekers to network and to show their appreciation for people helping them through their search.

3. An inspiring journal - $35

Journals inspire us to actively work through what we want next and how to get there. Plus, remember the feeling of opening a new notebook the first day of school? Writing those first few words on the page felt energizing and special.

A new journal can give even the job search a boost in energy, and this one we love includes a folder in the back and pen holder loop to serve as the perfect companion for taking notes at networking meetings and interviews.

4. A seriously sharp, modern-day briefcase - $19

When you show up at an interview or a networking event, you don’t want to be schlepping a heavy bag behind you and fumbling to find a pen. Briefcases are too formal, but backpacks are too informal -- what to do?

This multi-purpose laptop case / shoulder bag / briefcase looks sharp and offers some serious utility by carrying and organizing your laptop, resume, journal, pen, and the many business cards we collect throughout the job search process.


A great LinkedIn profile is a requirement in today’s job search process -- just having a photo makes your profile 14x more likely to be viewedSome seekers have old head shots to choose from, but for most of us, finding a great photo that’s well-lit and perfectly professional isn't any fun.

By offering to take your friend on a photo shoot (courtesy of your smartphone or digital camera) you can turn this dreadful process into an empowering, fun activity for you to do together. Take a new headshot for yourself while you're at it!


Have you ever written down why you think this person is amazing, and why companies would be positively stupid not to hire them? Well now’s the time!

The typical job search process can include 5-10 times more “no’s” than “yes’s,” and your words of affirmation can make a difference in reminding your job-seeking friend or family member they they’re terrific and they will get there.


Of course, it doesn’t need to be the holidays or any day in particular to make any one of these small but significant gestures. And if you have great ideas for other empowering gifts under $50, we’d love to hear them in the comments section.

Happy hunting, and happy holidays!