Q. Desperate to set myself apart from other candidates, I gave a Starbuck’s gift card to someone who interviewed me, but I detected a confused look on his face. Did I make a mistake? Isn’t it appropriate to give inexpensive gifts as thank-yous for someone taking the time to talk with me? -SS
A. A few years ago, I received a resume tucked into a Nike running shoe. A note on the shoe lace said the job seeker would “hit the ground running. . .and you’ll get the other shoe when you interview me.” It was a clever gimmick, but I returned the shoe. Ethical standards in our profession correctly frown on gift giving that might be perceived as an attempt to gain influence. Today’s hiring managers are more interested in solid resumes and experience, not gym shoes or Grande Frappuccinos.
If someone is granting you a favor by providing an informational interview–not associated with an existing position, you could make the sort of impact you were seeking by offering to bring a cup of his/her favorite latte.