I was reminded this week about a Toronto charity that is doing something quite interesting, and altogether admirable. It is called Dress for Success, which has devoted itself to helping unemployed and financially troubled women look and feel good during one of life’s biggest make or break moments – namely, interviewing for a job.
Actually, Dress for Success features a five-step process that greatly empowers women as they seek and undertake new employment opportunities.
The process begins with what is called “interview suiting” wherein women in need receive for free two formal outfits to prepare for upcoming job interviews. Not only that, but volunteer stylists work with each woman to select clothing that serves the dual purpose of reflecting individual style while at the same time promoting a smart professional image.
Now, if anyone out there thinks this sort of support sounds rather “decadent” insofar as charity work is concerned, I say think again. The aim here is to help financially troubled women not only make a good first impression, but build self confidence, which as any employer will tell you is a key deciding factor when considering job applicants.
Truth is, we all know how important first impressions can be, and most of us can identify with how a smart set of clothes makes us feel. The donated clothes Dress for Success offers are either new or in first-rate condition, according to those who’ve benefitted from the charity.
I can just imagine how relieved some job seekers must feel when they first discover Dress for Success and realize that they will not have to appear before a prospective employer in a shabby outfit simply because no money is available for new clothes. Anyone can identify with the demoralizing nature of being incapable of dressing properly for an important meeting – or for any important occasion.
Looking good is only where the Dress for Success story begins. The organization also offers something called “dress rehearsal”, which highlights career guidance, a mock job interview, and mentorship sessions. Then there’s the “career centre”, offering job search assistance, résumé and cover-letter-writing lessons, plus programs covering workshops and technology skills.
Even after a job has been secured, the team at Dress for Success extends help with “employment suiting,” meaning that once work proceeds, a client can return to the organization for additional business attire to build a professional wardrobe.
As well, those who’ve found employment are encouraged to join the Dress for Success Professional Women’s Group, offering free membership to programs highlighting the handling of personal finances, getting a handle on corporate culture, as well as networking, growth opportunities, and peer-to-peer support.
Seems to me Dress for Success makes for a great fit for a lot of women who’ve found that being down doesn’t mean being out – not by a long shot. Every year, more than 1,000 of Dress for Success' friends and supporters get together to celebrate all the newly empowered women who – thanks to a little charity - are now excelling in their careers and their personal lives.
Visit http://www.dressforsuccess.org/home.aspx for more about the organization, including the location of affiliates in Canada.
Allow me to add that we here at Credit Canada Debt Solutions partner with an organization called Windfall that, like Dressed for Success, also offers charitable, back-to-work wardrobe fittings, job interview tips, and financial coaching to both women and men alike in Canada.
Go to http://www.canadahelps.org/CharityProfilePage.aspx?CharityID=s46194 for a good overview of what the Windfall program entails.