Women to the Workforce program connects women with careers as they 'dress for success'

Professional apparel and accessories might come to mind when you think of Dress for Success. But it’s about much more than providing clothing: Dress for Success helps women chart a career path.


“What’s most important are the skills and the tools we’re giving the women who come to us,” director of women’s programming Erin Bosch said. “If we don’t give the skills, the clothes really don’t matter.”


Dress for Success Sioux Falls works with a referral network of 90 partners to vet women who need help reentering the workforce or who are under-employed and looking to further their opportunities.


Dress for Success Sioux Falls offers a multi-week program, Women to the Workforce, twice a year aimed at providing career development tools, mentorship and support.


“We start out helping them tailor their resume, making it marketable and highlighting skills,” Bosch said. “Some of these women may have been released from prison or have hiccups in their record. We talk about how to communicate why they haven’t been in the workforce in a professional way.”


From there, the women practice interviewing. They are able to ask questions of a human resources panel, connecting with potential employers along the way.


Recently, Dress for Success started working with Avera to offer job shadowing throughout the program.


“It gives our participants insight into a lot of different industries, from marketing to finance, health care, hospitality, IT, and individuals can job shadow in those sectors and find out what it’s really like day to day. Plus it provides an opportunity to network within the organization,” Bosch said.


The support doesn’t stop once women find a job. Dress for Success transitions Women to the Workforce participants into a year-long Professional Women’s Group.


That group is aimed at supporting retention and covers workplace issues in addition to topics such as health care, investing for retirement and building a professional network. After participants spend a year in that, they are paired with a mentor for another six months.


The approach is working.


Dress for Success has worked with 1,500 women in Sioux Falls, and more than 90 percent who have participated in the Professional Women’s Group have stayed in their jobs during the two years the Professional Women’s Group has existed.


“It’s been very good,” Bosch said. “These women are staying in their jobs. They’re contributing. They’re doing community service projects on their own. We know for every one woman we empower she goes on to empower six others. It creates a tsunami of change.”


Dress for Success Sioux Falls is always open to working with businesses to help meet their workforce needs. To learn more, contact Lori Strasburg at 605-610-0665.


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