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Graduation gifts for job hunting

You’ve just graduated from college. B-bye finals and all-nighters. Time for the real world. And that means using some tech tools that can help you in your search for a job.
Image: Logitech Web cam
Logitech's QuickCam Pro 9000 ($99) Web cam is a good option for the job-hunting grad.Lance Shows / Logitech

You’ve just graduated from college. B-bye finals and all-nighters. Time for the real world. And that means using some tech tools that can help you in your search for a job.

Among the first to consider, an online resume site geared to those leaving the halls of academia.

“The career and hiring process is moving from offline to online,” said Heidi Hanisko, spokeswoman for

The Milwaukee-based company has 700,000 unique visitors each month, and a database of 500,000 resumes, with an average of 3,000 to 5,000 new resumes a month, she said.

“In our sector, the Internet is the first place college students look to search for jobs, post resumes, find job information,” she said.

She recommends including video with resume postings. Videos help grads in interviews — both as a means of conducting them with employers and pre-recording segments for potential employers who want a sense of a grad’s personality, but are unable to meet them in person.

Some grads with newer laptops will have built-in cameras to do the job. Others will need to attach them to their computers. A good candidate is the Logitech QuickCam Pro for Notebooks ($99).

Its image quality is high, but its design — it doesn’t stay perched on a laptop really well — is less than ideal. Use the stand that’s included instead.

Design-wise, the Logitech QuickCam Pro 9000 ($99) might be the better choice for those with either a desktop or laptop.

Both Logitech QuickCams are 2 megapixels, and will offer a good-quality view for a professional — just remember to dress the part.

Microsoft’s LifeCam VX-6000 ($100) is another strong contender, with a built-in microphone. ( is a joint venture of Microsoft and NBC Universal.)

Colleges and universities and even some companies are also pre-loading iPod Nanos with career and classroom videos and podcast lectures, so those music musts can also serve double duty for more practical matters. Duke University offered them for free a few years ago, while other schools pushing pilot programs incorporate the devices instead of laptops.

E-mails on the go
Hanisko also stressed the importance of having transportable technology, such as a BlackBerry, an iPhone or other types of smartphone devices.

“A great gadget for students as they commence with their life post-college is a Web-enabled phone that is built for professionals, such as a BlackBerry,” said Steven Rothberg, president and founder of

“Although the vast majority of today’s college students are very comfortable texting on their cell phones, the vast majority of the people they’ll be working with are not, and strongly prefer to use e-mail,” he said.

“Young professionals will help their older colleagues learn to use text messaging more, but the young professionals will need to adapt and communicate in the way that is best for their organizations. For now, that means mostly e-mailing, so that means getting a mobile device that is well suited for e-mails.”

Right now, the BlackBerry and the iPhone (and all those iPhone killers) probably have the most appeal in that department, although enough practice on a Sidekick will go a long way, too.

(Having used a BlackBerry Curve and Pearl 8120, I can recommend both for firing off e-mails, especially in conjunction with the very easy-to-use mobile Gmail application that makes responding a snap. Writing a decent size e-mail was also not arduous.)

Sure, you love those Motorola Razrs and the super-slim Nokias, but they won’t help you respond quickly and coherently to an important e-mail, no matter how good you are on those keys.

And don’t even think about sending a professional a message full of "UR’s" (You are) and "B4UNOITs" (Before you know it) and assorted other shortcuts. Those really don’t fly in the real world.

GPS, Wireless headset
If you do get a smartphone, it may be GPS-enabled, or you might want to consider getting a stand-alone GPS device. There’s nothing less professional than showing up late for a job interview, and saying you got lost. With the kind of tech tools that are available now, that reason really won’t fly. It will make for a really unfavorable first impression, and show you’re neither resourceful nor savvy enough to figure things out.

If you’re getting your grad a smartphone, and feeling really generous, throw in their first-year plan — but make them responsible for any costs that go over the plan limit.

Image: BlueAnt wireless headset
BlueAnt Wireless' new Z9 Bluetooth headset ($100) weighs .35 of an ounce and is 1.5 inches long.

Because everything is go, go, go in the job world, grads may also want to get a wireless headset to allow them to talk business wherever they are. I've tried quite a few, and find that those made by Jabra seem most comfortable with very little, if any, echo effect.

The Jabra BT8040 ($65) is one of the more recent models that has scaled down from its once-cumbersome design. It's the gel insert that makes it work for me, and because it's Bluetooth, it'll sync up with whatever smartphone you end up getting.

The BlueAnt Z9 ($99.95) is another possibility. It, too, has a slimmed down design that also stays in your ear, making it easier to have a regular conversation without taking your hands off the wheel.

I'm not such a fan of speaker systems. I have one in my car, and it's OK, but I always feel like I'm talking too loud and my callers sometimes say it sounds like I'm going through a wind tunnel. I hear them just fine, through my six speakers in fact, but they have a harder time hearing me clearly.

Parents, I know you’ve already invested a heck of a lot with your kids, but if you want to send them out into the world and help them fend for themselves, you’d be doing them a favor by providing these tech tools gestures of generosity. (Think about them getting a job and not depending on you anymore!)

Let them use their education and the technology they’re familiar with to help launch the next phase of their life.