Dressing for an interview can be challenging for some job seekers — even when money isn’t a factor.
Unfortunately, a person’s choice of clothing can keep them from getting a job, said James Proby, founder of the The Men’s Xchange, a thrift boutique that exclusively caters to men’s business and professional attire.
The social enterprise is Proby’s way of helping employ lower income and homeless people find employment.
“When you are hiring for an organization, you’re looking for someone who not only can do the job but who is a culture fit for your organization,” he said. “When you do that, you are looking at someone and you are judging them based on how [they chose] to present themselves … because if you are going to show up at an interview poorly dressed or poorly groomed, you are not going to fit into my organization.”
Proby has spent more than 10 years working in employment, he said, helping the unemployed find jobs.
About nine months ago, he opened The Men’s Xchange, at 2123 Templeton Gap Road, aiming to fill a void he says exists in most U.S. cities.
“A lot of communities have several types of these shops to help women with clothing for an interview, but not for men,” he said. “It ends up that we are the last stop on their journey. Clothing has been the barrier to their next level of employment, and we want to make sure we’re helping remove that.”
UCCS, using information from the National Association of Colleges and Employers, encourages its graduating students to dress in business attire for an interview, including suits for men as well as suits and dresses for women.
“First impressions do count,” according to the UCCS website. “Your resume earned you a job interview. Now, business etiquette will add some polish to your presentation.”
For every nine men who shop at The Men’s Xchange, Proby is able to clothe a homeless or lower income individual who is referred by a nonprofit partner.
“The more men who shop with us, the more men we can help,” he said. “Every single person who walks through our doors gets provided the same experience.”
Sustainable employment is one of the keys to helping someone get off the streets, according to the National Coalition of the Homeless website.
“Unemployment, underemployment, and low wages relative to rent are frequent causes of homelessness and burden millions of families with the risk of becoming homeless,” according to the organization. “At the same time, individuals experiencing homelessness face obstacles to finding and maintaining employment.”
To learn more about how nonprofits, government agencies and businesses are helping low income individuals find work, pick up the March 30 edition of the Business Journal.