Sometimes life deals us unexpected reciprocity. And sometimes that is wonderful.
Such is the situation for the suppliers and retailers working as volunteers with Dress for Success Northwest Arkansas. This nonprofit organization helps women seeking entry, or re-entry, into the workforce, by providing them with gently used business attire, as well as guidance about getting hired. In addition to offering items from their own closets, local volunteers help Dress for Success clients through mentoring, resume preparation and review and mock interviews.
“Yes, our volunteers feel good about helping clients eager to get into the workforce,” said Virginia Germann, executive director for Dress for Success NWA, “but many of those volunteers benefit far beyond those good feelings.
“First of all, our volunteers gain a deeper understanding of our remarkable community. They meet people they might otherwise never know and experience the rich and diverse fabric of Northwest Arkansas,” she said. “Then, working with our clients in mentoring or interview practice has produced some unexpected benefits. You just never know what’s going to come up — a new product or marketing idea, a candidate to hire for your own company, even a friendship.”
Technology has given Dress for Success options not available previously, which makes volunteering fit more easily into a busy schedule. Volunteers can review resumes through email and conduct mock interviews through Skype and FaceTime.
Since the volunteer’s work can now take place from the office, home and even after-hours, busy people who want to help feel more open to make the commitment.
“More and more job interviews are happening online,” Germann said. “Practicing this way not only makes sense but also makes our clients more comfortable when the actual online interview happens. In addition, if a company has a new HR person, that person gets to practice conducting an interview with our clients. Everyone wins.”
Dress for Success’ networking events offer volunteers another benefit.
“Attending these events is wonderful for our clients who are so eager to talk with professionals,” Germann added, “but these events also give companies a chance to get to know candidates in a setting other than a formal interview. It really works all the way around.”
This year’s Dress for Success LBD (Little Black Dress) Dinner Party fundraising event on Oct. 6 is sold out.
On Oct. 15, Dress for Success will also hold its annual 5K run and walk in Lawrence Park in downtown Bentonville, starting at 7:30 a.m.
More information about events and the organization is available at www.dressforsucessnwa.org or by calling 479-276-3433.