No need to envy those who get onto TV's "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy" or "A Makeover Story." Here in Juneau, job seekers can receive free advice on how to present a professional look.
For the past few years, Juneau Job Center has offered free workshops on what to wear for interviews.
"The impression you make in a job interview is especially important," said Mary Rodman-Lopez, training supervisor for the job center. "If you don't make a good first impression there, your first impression will also be your last."
Rodman-Lopez suggests job seekers always dress one step above what they would actually wear on the job.
"You can find out what kind of clothing is worn on the job by visiting the company beforehand," Rodman-Lopez said. "If it is not possible to observe employees, use your good judgment."
In a current workshop, executives from the city's three major industries - hospitality, nonprofit and banking - told job seekers what they expect to see during interviews.
Applicants for banking positions should wear suits and conservative clothes, said Ruthanne Reese, assistant vice president of human resource manager of Alaska Pacific Bank.
Who to call
Call Juneau Job Center at 465-5545 to join a Dress for Success workshop.
"If the customers think you look professional, they feel you know what you are doing," said Reese, in a tweed jacket and matching light brown skirt. "When you look for a job, you need to know the corporate culture of the company you are applying to and dress accordingly."
Reese suggests job seekers dress professionally even when they pick up application forms.
"Someone in the corporation will see them," Reese said. "They should always dress as if they were there for an interview."
It doesn't cost much to look professional.
Reese brought a blue jacket, one matching blouse, two skirts and a pair of slacks she got from Alaska Dames/Gents, a consignment second-hand clothing store, for $5.
"You can get at least four or five outfits from different combinations of these items," Reese said.
Ray Baggen, a vocational rehabilitation assistant, said she found her first job in Juneau when she was wearing a burgundy dress she got from Salvation Army and a waistcoat from St. Vincent de Paul's thrift shop.
"I was applying for a case manager position at Southeast Regional Resource Center," said Baggen, who now works for Juneau Job Center. "I chose the dress because it had a good color and fit the style of dress the other employees were wearing."
Maintaining personal hygiene is more important than wearing professional clothing in interviews for the hospitality industry.
"We usually wear uniforms," said Shelly Wright, general manager of Aspen Hotels. "Having a friendly smile, clean hair and clean shoes is important no matter whether you are a maintenance worker, a housekeeper or a general manager. You are front-line to us."
Wright suggests people update their resumes every three months and send them to companies where they'd like to work. "The turnover rate is extremely high," Wright said. "Eventually, you will hit the window."
Cheryl Eldemar, executive director of the SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium Foundation, said she dresses in casual formal clothes for her job because she deals with corporate and individual donors.
"We want people to feel that we are reliable and approachable," Eldemar said.
She said a professional look can boost people's confidence.
"No tears. No holes. No missing buttons. These are eye magnets," Eldemar said. "When I see them, I want to fix them."
Sydney Rae Stredicke, 34, said the presenters and the workshop confirmed her belief.
"You just don't go to work in a jogging outfit or a revealing outfit," said Stredicke, who has been unemployed for almost a year.
I-Chun Che can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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