45 Gifts to Speed Job Offers

by William S. Frank, President/CEO of CareerLabĀ®

CANDIDATES dislike job hunting and consultants don’t like to look for new assignments, because they must ask for help. It’s difficult to impose on a friend or acquaintance once, but if a campaign continues, returning repeatedly is painful. It’s hard to say, “It’s me again, and I’m still out of work. Can you give me more help?”

The way to avoid this is to be a giver as well as a receiver, to balance the scales. Any time you receive something, give something back in return.

Anyone who gives their time deserves a small gift. A simple handwritten thank you card (not an email) is fine, but the list below shows dozens of other “free gifts.”

This can be quite fun, actually, turning yourself into a giving machine. It takes the focus off of having to get. I call it “selling by not selling,” and it’s a way of renewing and improving friendships, not just continually requesting help.

The trick is to tailor the gift to the person. Not everyone should receive a New Yorker cartoon, just those with a sense of humor. And the cartoon should be on a topic of interest, just as a written article should.

The more you do it, the more fun it becomes. Let’s face it: employers hire people they like. As a giver, you’ll be much more likeable and employable than someone who’s simply calling around for job leads. Here are 45 free gifts you can use to increase the effectiveness of your career transition, or build a booming consulting practice:

    1. New Yorker cartoon.
    2. Political cartoon (as long as you know the recipient’s leanings).
    3. Advice on any topic of interest: home remodeling, publishing, networking, etc.
    4. Introduction to an adviser, influential contact, or even a friend.
    5. Help for their children.
    6. Link to an informative article, or PDF of the article.
    7. Clipping of an article, advertisement, short story, or anything relevant.
    8. Link to a pertinent website.
    9. Link to a book on Amazon.com, Abebooks.com, or similar site.
    10. Invitation to an event, meeting, conference. (Invitation only, not the entry fee.)
    11. Personal notes, brochures, and handouts from a speech or conference presentation.
    12. Invitation to a party or professional gathering.
    13. Endorsement (one-click) or Recommendation (one-paragraph) on LinkedIn.
    14. Send a note or email to thank anyone who has endorsed or recommended you on LinkedIn.
    15. Suggestions or edits for their LinkedIn site, or for their resume.
    16. Name of an informational website or publication.
    17. Links to free Web resources like freeconferencecall.com or join.me/.
    18. Name of an organization or trade group to benefit them.
    19. Motivational or inspirational quote:
      “The best way to predict the future is to plan it.” ~Peter Drucker
    20. Suggestions for places to eat, shop, or live.
    21. Book, magazine or trade publication you no longer want or need.
    22. Business idea, business plan, business critique.
    23. Pro bono (free) business consulting.
    24. Read and comment, or edit something they’re writing or publishing.
    25. Critique their website with emphasis on the positive.
    26. Give travel advice.
    27. Discount coupon for something the recipient wants.
    28. Favorite tried-and-true recipe.
    29. Take a photo of your prospective client or employer, and email it to them. People love that.
    30. When traveling to Alaska, for example, send three photos to an Alaska-lover, and include one shot with you in it. Ditto Phoenix, Carmel, and wherever.
    31. Mail a postcard from distant or exotic cities you visit. (OK, not free, but close.)
    32. Give computer hardware or software help if you’re geeky.
    33. Companionship in time of grief.
    34. Companionship during surgery or a hospital stay.
    35. A compliment, spoken or written as a handwritten note.
    36. An uplifting voicemail, not about you.
    37. A ride, if they lack transportation, say to or from the airport.
    38. Research they don’t have time to do.
    39. Introduction to a job candidate for their company.
    40. Introduction to a recruiter for themselves or their employer.
    41. Solve an interpersonal conflict for them.
    42. Run an errand. (No, that doesn’t make you an errand-boy or errand-girl.)
    43. Give a job candidate the name of a recruiter or hiring authority; give a recruiter or hiring manager the name(s) of good candidates.
    44. Send them a note of support or condolence.
    45. Equally good, sometimes better, send their friend or family member a note of support or condolence.

I often get resistance when teaching this outside-the-box philosophy. The reaction is, “Oh, yeah, whatever. I have to get names, I have to get leads, I have to get a job.” As long as the focus is on getting and not giving, doors will close. A friend won’t want to take your third or fourth call, because they realize you’re in the “all-about-me” mindset.

When you shift into a giving-as-well-as-receiving model, doors will open. Friends and acquaintances will work extra hard on your behalf. You won’t have to prod and goad them. And you won’t have to call them a sixth or seventh time to say, “I’m still looking for work.”

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