With the national unemployment rate above 10 percent and Kentucky's even higher, it's a fair bet that most people this holiday season know someone struggling to find a job in our slowly recovering economy.
Rather than a manufactured trinket, here are eight gift ideas you the employed person can give that might help the unemployed land the biggest gift of all: a job.
The gift of time
Volunteer to watch your friends' children so they can have a day off. Taking a day off from the job search can be crucial for job seekers, said Michael Cronk, assistant director of career development at Transylvania University.
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"If you're a job seeker and you're really having a tough time and you're tired and miserable, it's going to come across that way in interviews," he said. "Give yourself a chance to recuperate. That will make you a stronger applicant."
The gift of fashion
Buy your jobless friends a gift card for a new suit or dress. Any department store or shop that sells business clothing will do, but please pick up the gift card so they can pick the outfit out themselves. Then offer to accompany them on the shopping trip. It's always good to have a second eye when trying to find a great-fitting interview suit.
The gift of sharing
This goes without saying, but tell your friends about any job leads you hear. Lots of times it is who you know that can get you the job.
The gift of technology
If your unemployed friends lack some technology savvy, help them set up a profile on LinkedIn, which has become the leading business networking site online. If you're feeling bold, help them develop a Web site to promote themselves or put them in touch with someone who can.
The gift of a sounding board
Take some time out of your day and perform a mock interview with your unemployed friends. Folks are always more agile in an interview when they have lots of practice.
The gift of knowledge
Various organizations around Lexington offer computer classes to help people learn new skills or bolster existing ones. Talk with your friends and pay for their registration for classes at places like the Carnegie Center for Literacy and Learning.
The gift of a professional
Set up your friends with a career counselor to review their résumés. While some counselors charge, others are available free of charge to alumni at colleges, for example.
The gift of company
If you go to a networking event, invite your jobless friend, or if he or she is going to one, offer to tag along. It's always easier when you have a buddy to help navigate the crowd of strangers.