The Desk

April 29, 2014

Career Tip: Economics of Search

Job search can be a very expensive proposition. There are the costs of preparing your portfolio. Wardrobe and cosmetic expenses. Transportation costs. Hygiene related issues. We still aren’t talking about the cost of Internet access, stationery and reproduction costs, much less postage (do we still mail things via snail mail?).

Sometimes you need to rein in the costs so that you don’t go bankrupt, not from the lack of a steady income but because of the expenses of doing the job search. There are some strategies that can keep you looking sharp while saving your wallet.

Your interviewing outfit doesn’t have to be wool or satin (or sateen) or silk in order to have a professional appearance. A blend will work. If it’s washable (instead of dry clean only) and still has a crisp, finished look out of the dryer, all the better. Just remember to keep an iron handy in order to at least steam out little puckers and wrinkles.

Selecting your interview wardrobe at least the night before is a wise move. It gives you time to make any repairs that weren’t noticed the last time you wore the clothing. Stains can be handled instead of trying to find a substitute outfit 15 minutes before you’re supposed to walk out of the door. Does it still fit? If not, the night before gives you time to check for alternatives that are a good fit.

A woman who spent several years as a working, single mom bestowed some knowledge that has proved extremely useful over the years. Wear skirts and blouses (with a nice jacket) instead of a dress. Coordinates are good. They’ll work to create several looks and over time will make it appear you have a huge wardrobe. It may seem as though an ensemble would be more expensive but just the opposite is true. Where the blouse may need to be washed out on a nightly basis, the skirt (or slacks) will still have some wear available. It isn’t the entire outfit that needs to be cleaned in order to have a fresh outfit the next day.

Should you be shopping at Nieman Marcus or Saks or will an outfit from Out of the Closet work? Let’s think about this. You’re probably surviving on limited unemployment stipends. If the upscale stores are having a 75% off sale, you may be able to find a bargain. Buy at sale prices. Buy one, possibly two, items at a time in one month. If you can buy it over time (we’re returning to layaway sales), do so.

Also shop for classic styles that won’t age quickly and become oh so last year in three months. Classic styles will carry you through just about any employment setting and situation. Rely on them. If you can find a couple of items at a recycled clothing store and the item is gently worn, you’re a clever one and can show it.

Do you need to advertise (or share) how clever you are in your economies? Definitely not. That’s your little secret. It’ll allow you to have a latte with friends and some laughter time. It’ll make you better company. Maybe someone will want to share some insider lowdown with you about a particular company because you’re so clever and sharp looking.

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