Top 5 Unemployment Gift Don'ts
Tis the season, as they say, and I'm sure there's someone unemployed on your list given the nation's 10 percent unemployment rate.
You, in fact, may be that very jobless person. If so, please post this list in a prominent place, say on your refrigerator or forehead, for likely gifters to see and learn.
Oddly enough, the best holiday unemployment gift is not a job. A job would be nice, yes, presuming it's the right job and not just any job. But what the unemployed really could use is money. Especially since they have way more time for shopping. Second best gift: Lifetime membership in a good, solid wine of the month club. You can buy me that. I won't say no.
Most definitely under no circumstances should you get an unemployed person the following:
1. A résumé revamp.
This does not count as a gift. Do it for free if you're skilled in the area, but don't bestow your presumed talents upon someone and call it a present. Plus, you're just reminding them that they don't have a job. And they'll only want to punch you in the face for it.
(The same goes for sessions with career counselors, therapists, life coaches, and unemployment whisperers. This is not a gift. This is an intervention. Wait until after the holidays.)
2. A dog, gerbil, rabbit, ferret, or any kind of pet.
Just because the unemployed are home a lot doesn't mean they want something to take care of. They're busy taking care of themselves. Or wallowing.
Plus, pets cost money. Unless it's a pet that can make money, like a trained monkey, and it comes with a little fez and can dance. That's a pretty good gift.
3. Anything that says "Save Your Money, Spendthrift!" either literally or figuratively.
That means no wallets, piggy banks, socks for keeping pennies, coin collecting machines, change purses emblazoned with bank logos, or discount coupons to the local package store. Be a mensch and just give the money itself, okay?
4. A clipboard.
Actually, this is a bad gift for anyone except maybe my fourth grade P.E. teacher. (For her, throw in a lanyard whistle and a gift card to Modell's. You'll have a friend for life.)
5. A nice "interview suit."
Unless specifically asked for, identified, and put on hold at a specified store, this is going to go badly. Same with books on career change, handmade interview flashcards, and brochures to clown college. If you can't resist the urge to help, give the best gift of all: nothing. That's right. Don't say a word to your unemployed friend or family member about their joblessness. Not a word.
Silence is beautiful.
What other gifts would be the worst if you're unemployed? The best? Tell us in the comments below.
Jen Doll was the devil-may-care managing editor at Radar magazine when, in October of 2008, her world changed completely. The great media apocalypse began, and all at once, her magazine was no more. Though she landed a job at OK!—where she learned more than she ever wanted to know about Angelina Jolie, Britney Spears, and Paula Abdul—she was laid off (again) in May.With her newfound freedom, Jen started YourUnemployedDaughter.com, musings from “a formerly high-powered media exec.” She also chronicles her thoughts on the great recession on trueslant.com/jendoll, and she freelances to make rent. Believe it or not, her layoff was the best thing that ever happened to her.