jobs

Suits, ties donated to help men find jobs

Volunteer-run event helps men in the Halifax job market by giving them free clothes and haircuts

This story contains a correction

Charles Banal checks out the selection at Attire to Aspire.   Sindi Skenderi

Jeffrey Zoccole has been without work for one month. After moving to Nova Scotia in August, he quickly found that the job market in Halifax was tough.

Previously a welder, Zoccole wants to get re-certified. He says he’s looking for work in any aspect of construction.  

“The (construction) field is hard to get in, unless you know people,” he says.

After a month with no work and bills racking up, he thinks he may have found a way to better his odds.

Attire to Aspire is a volunteer-run event put on by Job Junction, a career resource centre, at their office in west-end Halifax.

Jan McColm, Case Manager at Job Junction, started Attire to Aspire in 2014. It runs for two days three times a year, offering men clothes and a free haircut.

“Almost immediately as soon as they get a haircut and put on a suit, they feel so much better,” says McColm.

Sailor Bups, an old-school barbershop, sends an apprentice to cut the men’s hair.

Cory Debaie, an apprentice with Sailor Bups, gives Zoccole a new do.
Cory Debaie, an apprentice with Sailor Bups, gives Zoccole a new do.   Sindi Skenderi

McColm says they encourage men to make an appointment before going to the event, but walk-ins are also welcome.

The suits, shoes and ties are donated by local businesses and people in the community.

McColm was unemployed when she got the idea to start Attire to Aspire. She visited Dress for Success, the women’s version of the event, and realized there wasn’t a place giving free employment clothing for men.

wideshot clothes
Zoccole is led through the selection to the section that holds his size.   Sindi Skenderi

“A lot of people can job search but be invisible,” she says, “because they don’t have the right clothing, they don’t make a good first impression.”

Zoccole says having at least a good suit and a haircut gives him one less thing to worry about.

Charles Banal is waiting to renew his work permit, and hasn’t worked in six months. He says an event like this along with food banks really help.

“I think it’s useful, they’re very accommodating,” says Banal. “It saves me a lot of money.”

McColm says over the two days Attire to Aspire helped 53 men find clothes for their job hunt.

Correction: March 3, 2016: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated the number of men helped during the two days.