BBC Capital

Last minute gifts: What to give the career-minded

About the author

Alina Dizik is a freelance journalist who covers consumer trends, careers, lifestyle and small business for national publications. Her work appears in the Wall Street Journal, Entrepreneur, Men's Journal and BBC.

  • Leaping into the career new year

    What can you give someone on your holiday gift list whose biggest wish is to land a new job in the New Year? Or to finally get that big promotion?

    For the career-minded gift-giver, there are myriad options, from sessions with a resume writer, to a smart new interview suit, or even more polished business cards. Of course, keeping the gift for yourself is also an option.

    Scroll through the images above to read about nine career-minded presents at the top of BBC Capital’s list.


  • The perfect interview suit

    Skills aside, first impressions are key.

    Surprise a loved one with a custom tailored interview suit that doesn’t cost thousands, but fits like it does. Suitsupply, a custom tailoring company with shops worldwide including Amsterdam, Brussels and Hamburg measures men or women for the ideal business suit.

    Prices start at $749 for a personally tailored suit; the company also offers extensive alterations such as enlarging the armholes ($16) or narrowing lower leg ($17) for their off-the-rack suits. Worldwide shipping takes less than a week.

    Other options include New York-based retailer MySuit and Vancouver-based

    (BUY AT:, gift cards from $25 to $1000; MySuit, suits from $500;, suits from $429)

    Photo: A Suitsupply store in Atlanta, Georgia. (Courtesy Suitsupply)

  • An attention-grabbing CV

    These days, it’s important to have a CV that stands out — in the right ways — whether you’re actively looking for work or simply gearing up for a promotion.

    Purchase a consultation from a local resume expert to help a loved one create a polished, updated and professional CV. Look for an expert who will first work with a client to learn a bit about his or her experience before helping to shape their CV into a concise, specialised document. And be sure that the resume writer is familiar with CV customs around the world.

    Consult the online directory of the Professional Association of Resume Writers & Career Coaches for a list of licensed resume writers in the US, Canada and other countries.

    Expect to spend about $1,000 on about seven hours of resume help, which includes a personal interview; a quick online assessment costs $100. Or work remotely with someone like Laura Smith-Proulx, an executive resume writer whose hourly rates start at $200.

    (BUY AT:; starts at $100)


  • LinkedIn headshot

    Like it or not, your LinkedIn profile and headshot says a lot about you and recruiters look at them very closely.

    A professional headshot can make the difference between getting noticed or ignored. Recruiters spend 19% of their time on your LinkedIn profile looking at your headshot, according to a 2012 study of 30 recruiters conducted by jobs website TheLadders that used an-eye tracking heat map. Not having one can put you at a disadvantage.

    Corporate photographers charge anywhere from $200 to $1,000 for standard headshots, which can be used both online and in print. Check whether professional hair and makeup application is included or comes an extra cost. For example, US-based photographer Michael Schacht, offers a “LinkedIn special” for $299 without a makeup artist.

    To find a photographer use a directory from a trade organisation such as the Professional Photographers of America, which has members throughout the world. Be sure to check work samples before purchasing a gift session.

    (FIND AT: to search for a photographer; starts at $200)


  • A polished online identity

    A website boasting a professional biography along with contact information can help define a personal online brand and make it easier to get the attention of recruiters. Indeed, many career experts now recommend maintaining a personal, simple professionally-oriented website.

    Building one from scratch — especially one that shows well on all types of devices — can take weeks, or longer, if you’re not tech-savvy.

    But offers sleek templates that also look polished on mobile devices. Sign up and prepay for a year on the site ($96), then hand over the reins to a family member or friend who is in job search mode.

    (BUY AT:, available worldwide; $8 per month)

    Photo:Squarespace customer Sara Blake puts the finishing touches on an image for her website. (Collin Hughes)

  • The art of the spreadsheet

    You’ve heard it over and over: Big data is here to stay. It’s driving decisions in companies and helping make arguments for and against everything from new projects to cash flow.

    And that means virtually every professional should know their way around an Excel spreadsheet — even the creative types.

    Give the gift of mastering complicated spreadsheet manoeuvres through a simple-to-follow online course. offers one that is broken down into 37 separate modules.

    Created by Ken Puls, an Australia-based Excel expert, students learn build anything from pivot tables to macros via online easy-to-understand videos. At the end of the course users get a certificate of completion to add to their CV — not to mention the know-how to out-argue a data guru.

    (BUY AT:; $25 for 30-day access)


  • A better business card

    While professional social media site LinkedIn has made it easier to stake out business contacts, there’s still no replacement for presenting a well-designed informative business card at an in-person meeting or networking event.

    Consider a virtual Moo gift card for an entrepreneur, consultant or job-seeking friend or relative. The company makes business cards in regular or mini sizes with luxurious textures and custom designs to help cards stand out when stuffed in a pocket or pressed in the palm of a hand.

    The US-based website prints cards in five languages and ships worldwide within a few weeks. Before committing to a final design and full order, Moo will send a free pack of 10 business cards to make sure the card is a keeper.

    (BUY AT: Moo; $10-$100)

    (Courtesy: Moo)

  • Words that inspire

    The global conferences non-profit, TED, has some of the most encouraging and inspiring talks to help listeners climb out of a job rut or bring essential work-life balance in the coming year.

    What began as a one-off conference in the 1980s has bloomed into a conference series with talks by the world’s most influential thinkers including Steve Jobs, Sir Ken Robinson and Tony Robbins. The group’s website sells a personalised DVD that contains six motivating TED talks. Among the ones we like: The Puzzle of Motivation by career analyst Dan Pink and author Shawn Achor’s The Happy Secret to Better Work.

    The beauty of this gift is the ability to personalise it. You can choose from the thousands of videotaped talks from previous conferences on topics ranging from creativity to business.

    (BUY AT:; $10 plus delivery, ships worldwide)

    Photo: Dan Pink at TEDGlobal in 2009. (James Duncan Davidson for TED)

  • Bedside reading

    Cheer up a friend during the holiday blahs with How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big.

    The book covers career lessons from Dilbert comic strip creator Scott Adams. The pervasive theme: how constant setbacks lead to success. The author’s failed career moves and embarrassments lead to eventual success — an inspiring read for future career changers.

    Among the best takeaways: “Goals are for losers. Systems people succeed every time they apply their systems,” Adams writes.

    (BUY AT: Amazon; $18 for hardcover)

  • Subliminal stress relief

    Work-related stress isn’t a stranger to most of us. To help battle it, entrepreneur Gail Peterson developed Stress Rocks.

    The small rocks come pre-packaged in sets of 10. The general package includes rocks labelled “fear”, “anxiety” and “job”. The idea: as you feel stressed about one of these things, grab the labelled rock and put it in your pocket.

    Later, remove them (or move them across your desk from one side to the other if you’re sans pockets) as you symbolically leave stress behind at the end of the day.

    Ending each day without the weight of the rocks can have a calming effect, she says. While the gesture is symbolic, it may help you cope with real stress.

    (BUY AT: Too Many Rocks In Your Pocket; $30 per 10 rocks)

    (Courtesy of Gail Peterson)