Monday, May 10, 2010

Career Clothing for Women In Need

Dressing for success isn't easy if you're unemployed and can't afford a professional suit for your job interview. That's why Rachel Grady founded Hold Your Head Up, a nonprofit that provides career clothing for women in need.

"Clothing is so important to the success of a job seeker's interview because it presents a polished image, while building the job seeker's self-esteem and confidence," says Rachel. "The three main ingredients to success of a job interview is your appearance, being knowledgeable about the position you're applying for, and your style of presentation."

In hard economic times, a job seeker might have the last two (knowledge and presentation) down pat. But what if getting nice clothes (ingredient #1) to wear to an interview presents a financial burden? That's where Rachel's organization and many others around the country come into play. They offer a wardrobe of professional clothing for free to women in need who are going on interviews and relaunching their careers.

I asked Rachel a few questions about her work and her organization:

Are there any no-no's about how one should dress for an interview?
Image is everything when dressing for a job interview. Before you even have a chance to say a word to a potential employer your image will be the first thing they notice. Here are some tips for women who want to make a good impression:
  • Avoid wearing a dress. Wear a classic skirt suit or pant suit that won't go out of style too quickly.
  • Makeup should be minimal.
  • Nail polish and lipstick should be in conservative tones.
  • Pantyhose should be a conservative color (natural skin color).
  • Carry a brief case or folder with your resume. Don't bring a purse.
  • Skirt length should be below the knees. You should not wear something that's too low, too high, or too tight.
  • Wear cleaned, polished, conservative closed-toe shoes
  • Have a well groomed hair style.
  • Be sure your finger nails are cleaned and trimmed.
  • Wear minimal perfume.
  • No visible body piercings beyond single pierced ears for women. In other words, no nose piercings or multiple earrings per ear.
  • Have well brushed teeth and fresh breath.
  • Have no gum, candy, or other non-dental objects in your mouth.
  • Wear minimum jewelry.
  • Have no body odor.
Any other image tips to be sure you make a good impression?
Just before your interview go to the restroom for a final check of your appearance.

Who is eligible to get help through your organization?
Our programs are for low-income women transitioning into the workforce. Women come to Hold Your Head Up only by referral from a range of non-profit organizations and government agencies in the Durham, North Carolina area, including homeless shelters, job training programs, educational institutions, domestic violence shelters, and many other programs in our community.

If someone wants to donate clothing or needs clothing, how can she find a local organization such as yours?
To find an organization like Hold Your Head Up, tap into resources available in your community:

  • Community websites (city and county sites)
  • Religious organizations (for example, Catholic Charities)
  • Charity organizations (for example, the Salvation Army)
  • Human Services Department
  • The United Way
  • Government-run Employment Agencies and Career Centers (for example, One-Stop Career Centers)

You focus on helping women with their professional wardrobes. How can men get the same type of help?
Men can get the same services by reaching out to nonprofit agencies and churches. Many churches have career closets for men, and several thrift stores have nice men suits for a minimal fee. Being registered in a job program will make it easier to get assistance.

How can someone get involved in this cause?
Other than donating clothing there are many ways you can support Hold Your Head Up or a similar organization. You can volunteer at the organization, organize a clothing drive in your place of work (a tax-deductible donation), and encourage your company to sponsor and spread awareness of our mission.

Rachel Grady is Founder and CEO of Hold Your Head Up. She can be contacted at (919) 402-6984 and through her Hold Your Head Up website or blog.

Thank you for joining us in the Job Lounge, Rachel, and for your good work!

1 comment:

Hold Your Head Up said...


Thank you for the great article! And for supporting our mission to help women transitioning into the workforce become self-sufficient.

Founder of Hold Your Head Up