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When Men Can't Afford Proper Clothes for Job Interviews, this Newport Agency's Got the Look

In a job interview, there is only one chance to make a good first impression.

Job experience, qualifications and familiarity with the work are important, but so is general appearance. Not everyone readily has proper clothes for some types of job interviews, and that's where the Brighton Center's Well Suited Program comes to help boost a man's attire.

Well Suited is the men's version of the popular Dress For Success program which provides interview attire for women. Well Suited has been in place for over three years and works with community partners to acquire men's clothing that might help impress prospective employers.

“It's a donation program that folks in the community all donate men's clothing to,” said Jami Ahlers, Career Coach for Brighton Center's Center for Employment Training. “What we do is we connect with partners in the community and we offer interview attire for men that obviously cannot afford it.”

The Center for Employment Training is a debt-free training facility that was recognized by the White House last year for its job training services. CET offers training in medical assisting, construction and manufacturing, and business and computer technologies.

“There were 30 training centers nationwide that were recognized and of those 30, eleven were chosen to go to the White House and we were one of them that was able to travel to Washington,” Ahlers said.

Well Suited is located on the second floor of the Water Tower Square in Newport above the CET. Well Suited receives donations from a number of community partners such as the Northern Kentucky Area Development District, the Kentucky Career Center, Gateway Community & Technical College, among others.

“I know one of our donations recently came from St. Elizabeth's Physicians. They donated quite a bit of clothing to us,” she said.

Ahlers described the program as a diamond in the rough and said that up to 75 people have taken advantage of the program's services since she took her position three years ago.

“What we're looking for is any kind of interview attire, but that can mean a lot of different things. No jeans or things like that, but we take polo shirts, khaki pants, a lot of folks need black pants because they are going to the restaurant business. We do take suits as well and shoes, of course,” Ahlers said.

Individuals can donate as much or as little as they like and can drop their donations to 601 Washington Ave., Suite 140 in the Water Tower Square Building in Newport. Individuals interested in receiving clothing for interviews are referred to the agency, but can be referred to them by a wide spectrum of professionals.

“Clients can come from just about anywhere,” Ahlers said. “They are referred to us, but if they do come in at say the Family Center here at the Brighton Center and they were speaking to a resource advocate and told them that they had a job interview, then anyone can refer them to us.”

The program works for those who need its benefits of landing possible jobs. Ahlers talked about one man who landed a job thanks to Well Suited and its clothes.

“I had a gentleman that came out of Transitions and came over and got some clothing,” she said. “When he got here, he was wearing clothing that he had borrowed from someone because he had literally just gotten out of jail and he came over and we were able to get him a couple of different outfits and he was going to a job interview at a car dealership. He actually got the job and sent me a note later on letting me know that he had gotten the job, so it definitely does work out.”

While Well Suited has been successful, its administrators say that there is even more room for further assistance. Spreading the word to men in need is one of the challenges for the agency. Helping people land jobs through impressive business attire is a good first step toward dramatically changing people's lives by finding work.

“It's a very important program to the community and the more we can get the news out, the better. It definitely helps whenever someone is dressed and prepared for an interview, they definitely do better and hopefully become self-sufficient in getting their job.”   

Written by Bryan Burke, associate editor