It’s been a tough year for a lot of Oregonians. The state unemployment rate remains one of the highest in the nation (9.9% at the time of the time of this writing), and there are many who are under-employed and earning wages well below what was possible in 2007. Although there is hope that our economy can slough off this mild depression in 2011, job seekers still have to get up every morning and hit the pavement.

We know it can be hard. But there are many people, organizations and businesses in Portland who are willing and able to help make the task a bit easier. In light of their charitable spirits, we’ve compiled a list of places that offer free and/or affordable services in support of diligent job seekers.

 

Office Assistants

Free Geek is a great resource for refurbished computers.

 

Free Geek

We’ve included Free Geek in previous resource guides because they provide so many things to so many people. For job seekers, it’s hard to beat this non-profit organization for finding a refurbished computer, parts, and accessories for much less than retail.

1731 SE 10th Avenue
Portland, Oregon 97214


Oregon Telephone Assistance Program (OTAP)

Humans managed to survive without cell phones since, well forever. But once they’re in our hands, it’s terribly difficult to give them up, especially when expecting that important job offer call. So, if you can keep your cell phone and save a few bucks, take advantage of it!

Earlier this year, St. Vincent de Paul Portland Council partnered with Cricket Wireless to improve awareness of the Oregon Telephone Assistance Program (OTAP), a subsidy that can reduce your monthly phone bill—including cell phone bill—by $13.50 each month.

The online application is available at: http://apps.puc.state.or.us/rspf/otapapp.asp. A printable version of the application is available in local Cricket stores. Completed print applications can be faxed to the Oregon PUC at 1.877.567.1977 or 503.378.6047, or they can be mailed to: PUC, PO Box 2148, Salem, OR 97308

 

Steps to Success

Sometimes just getting started on a job search can be overwhelming. Steps to Success offers not only a place to look through job listings but also access many handy resources like free copying, fax, telephone and internet service.

5600 NE 42nd Avenue
Portland, OR 97218


Cycle to Success

Community Cycling Center provides struggling job seekers with a means of transportation and gear.

 

Community Cycling Center

One of the beautiful things about this town is that a job candidate might actually score points if she/he shows up at the interview with helmet in hand. To encourage more bike interviewees and future commuters, the Community Cycling Center offers a program for struggling job seekers—the first in the nation—that provides a bike plus lights, a lock, a helmet, rack, tools, and all the other accessories needed for year-round commuting. Participants in the program must be enrolled in a comprehensive employment program and complete five hours of safe commuting and bike maintenance training. For job seekers not enrolled in a program, the Cycling Center sells refurbished bikes, maintenance at reasonable prices, and a low-income commuter discount. Show your Oregon Trail Card for 10% off any new parts or accessories.

1700 NE Alberta
Portland, OR 97212


Confidence Boosters

Plaza Cleaners will clean your clothes for an interview for free.

 

Aveda Institute

Aveda devotees on a budget take heart. The Aveda Institute in the Pearl District is an excellent place to get fancy salon treatments for a lot less. Students offer every type of service you’d find at a professional salon on a sliding scale based on your stylist’s education level. For example, a haircut, shampoo and blow dry from a senior level student is $18, while the same service from a Sophomore is $10. For that extra boost of confidence consider their fabulous facials and manicures. (This applies to you men-folk, as well.)

325 NW 13th Avenue
Portland, OR 97209


Crossroads Trading Co.

Portland is home to so many amazing thrift and vintage clothing stores that one is never at a loss. However, Crossroads tends to have a consistent assortment of more “professional” clothing—the kind you need for an interview or that pending corporate gig. The beauty of thrifting is that you save enough on the critical pieces to afford groovy accessories—a scarf, tie, pin or bag that will help you stand out from the rest of the dogged crowd.

3736 Southeast Hawthorne Boulevard
Portland, OR 97214


Dress For Success

This international non-profit organization helps women with lower incomes find employment and provides them with an interview suit. Once they secure a job, DFS fits them with another suit, if needed. Since 1997, the organization has helped millions of women around the globe start their job search and secure employment with the extra boost of confidence a good suit can bring.

Portland is lucky to be one of 75 international cities with a DFS office. In addition to getting suited up so to speak, DFS has numerous resources for women seeking work and career development advice. DFS clients come from non-profit and government agencies including homeless shelters, immigration services, job training programs, educational institutions and domestic violence shelters, among many other organizations.

1532 Northeast 37th Avenue, Suite B
Portland, OR 97232


Marinello School of Beauty

As most women can attest, part of creating a glow of confidence is having a good haircut, clean nails, and a fresh face. Sure, your best friend might be good with a pair of scissors but why risk a bad haircut right before an important interview? Marinello School of Beauty offers a wide range of salon services for very little cash. In fact, Dress for Success refers their clients to Marinello. Women’s haircut with blow dry is only $9.99, and a men’s cut is a mere $5.00. Appointments are recommended but walk-ins are welcome.

2540 NE M L King Blvd
Portland, OR 97212


Plaza Cleaners

Stand up and applaud Plaza Cleaners for offering to give the hard-working job seeker a break! Drop off your garment(s) at either location, tell them you are pounding the pavement and they’ll dry clean that “I’m about to tackle the world” suit for free.

803 NW 21st Ave
Portland OR 97209

909 NW Everett
Portland OR 97209

 

Refill Your Spirit...and Your Cup

Ristretto Roasters offers free refills, free wifi, and a chance to network.

 

Ristretto Roasters and First Cup Coffeehouse

What do these coffee shops have in common? Free refills. If you’re spending long days working on your job search, getting out of the house for some fresh air and caffeine will keep your spirits fueled. Not having to pay for multiple cups of coffee helps when time is more plentiful than money.

Ristretto Roasters
3808 N Williams Avenue
Portland, OR
or
3520 Northeast 42nd Avenue
Portland, OR

First Cup Coffeehouse
4103 SE Woodstock Blvd
Portland, OR

Are we missing a great resource? Please share it in the comment section below.