It's the kind of subject that rarely - if ever - comes up in the context of job seeking: how to be stylish and look good without breaking the bank. Staying sharp in appearance without worrying about having to choose between Ramen Noodles and real food because one needs a new tie.
(Thankfully, I'm not going to talk about issues of style at the workplace - my pal Rachel has an excellent blog called The Working Wardrobe, and will direct you to that address. My goal in this blog post is to help you further economize and save money on the job search. And a note - my tips are going to be very guy-friendly, so some of what I say may not apply to the ladies. I apologize in advance for my chauvinism).
First, even on a limited budget, good grooming - getting hair cut and styled, nails trimmed, and being clean shaven - is still important. It's easy to fall into the trap of working in pajamas all day - for me, getting showered and semi-professionally dressed (OK, I'll wear a t-shirt and jeans) is helpful because it gets me in the mindset for working. It allows me to be proactive - so for those of you who work all day in your pajamas? Please don't hate the rest of us because we like to get a little bit more polished.
One of the money saving habits that I'm learning to develop is going back to old fashioned wetshaving. (That's right - soap in mug, lathered with a brush, and shaved with an old school safety razor). Inspired by a gentleman under the blogger name "mantic59", his blog and YouTube videos have helped me realize that I can look...if not stylish, then at least a little bit crisper and more professional. (With wet shaving, the major expense is a safety razor - my father's old Merkur Progress will do quite nicely, and soaps range in price, from $2 at Wal-Mart to over $20 at finer shops. Blades and brushes can be found for a variety of prices, and much of these can be found at Merz Apothecary downtown).
As far as clothes....well, this may sound a little bit like I'm being flip, but I'm not - I usually do a mix of high end stores (when I have the cash) and thrift stores. I'm fortunate enough to live within walking distance of a thrift store that tends to carry clothes in my size; that has a changing room (because there's nothing worse than buying a pair of pants and finding that they're several sizes two small); and actually sorts its clothes by color. I also go the extra mile - after purchase, all of my clothes get dry-cleaned before being worn. (With dress shirts, I usually wash them with fabric softener before getting them laundered - they seem to wear a little better, and look crisp without feeling stiff.) Drycleaning may not be very green or cheap, but at the very least, it helps make my networking and interviewing wardrobe look their best.
Looking good also extends to other aspects as well - every two months, I get a haircut. (My hair tends to grow thick, and I'm fortunate enough to still have plenty of it). I have one or two of my father's old dress watches. I polish and care for my dress shoes. It sounds like relatively minor stuff - after all, my focus should be on finding work - but in an unusual twist, if I have enough self-esteem to care for my outward appearance, it means that I have enough to face the other tasks: networking, interviewing, reviewing my resume, etc.
But enough of my comments - any tips for freshing up while seeking work? Please leave them below. Please feel free to connect with me via Linked In (just mention "Job Stalker" in your note), or contact me directly via my web site.
Thanks for reading!