For those who just read my latest posting about value, and its role in the hiring process, I wanted to follow up and examine the concept from a slightly different (and perhaps more tangible) angle.  What I was trying to communicate in so many words, earlier, was that we ALL tend to recognize value immediately when we experience it — whether we’re a consumer of “employee talent” or consumers of just about anything else out there one can conceivably purchase in the market.

For example, if I were to think about the places where I feel I receive great “value” on a regular basis, in my daily life, a quick list of the establishments that come to mind are:

Teriyaki & More: While there’s hundreds of eateries around to choose from, I find myself making at least one or two trips each week to an unassuming little place called Teriyaki & More that’s located in the Eastgate strip mall, behind Dairy Queen.  Why is this the case?  Because every time I go there for lunch, I know I can count on receiving a gargantuan plate of very good food (I’m a big eater — and the portions here easily last me two meals) for under eight bucks.  It almost seems unfair how much you get for your money — and they don’t even charge you extra for brown rice, like so many places!

Mediterranean Kitchen: As for those times when I’m not in a big hurry — and might be craving a dining destination that’s a little more upscale?  In these situations, I often head over to Mediterranean Kitchen in downtown Bellevue, where for years I’ve been impressed by the friendly service and the fact that you get a full sit-down meal (appetizer, bowl of soup, huge portion of Lebanese food) for a mere $12 or so.  The garlic breath that comes with this choice?  Alas, there’s no shaking that side effect.  But again, this restaurant never disappoints me, and I count on it to provide consistent value, time after time.

Beijing Herbal Massage: Okay, this one may sound a little weird, but a friend of mine (very credible — she’s a massage therapist!) talked me into trying out this “hole in the wall” in Kirkland’s Park Place mall where you can get a one-hour massage for dirt cheap.  Man, what a hidden gem!  For $25 plus tip, you’re greeted by a very enthusiastic employee who will give you a one-hour foot, back, head, and shoulder massage for about a third of what you’d pay anywhere else.  It’s the perfect antidote to a crummy day or way to treat yourself to an affordable luxury, on occasion.  And apparently I’m not the only one who thinks this.  Check out a few of the rave reviews the place has received on Yelp and other websites…

Seattle Premium Outlets (Tulalip): Other budget-savvy destinations that come to mind?  When I’ve got several larger purchases to make, such as buying a new computer or perhaps picking up some new dress clothes, or a pair of shoes, I’ll often drive an hour north to see what I can scrounge up at the Seattle Premium Outlets mall near Maryville.  If you’ve never visited this shopping center, you’ll find it puts most of the other outlet malls to shame both in terms of product scope and selection.  You’ll find a link here listing all the various stores available in this one facility.  As for my personal favorites?  I usually make a beeline to Brooks Brothers to pick up some high-quality (but well-priced) clothing, with another stop by Clarks for shoes and perhaps a peek into the Sony Outlet Store if I need a new computer or laptop accessory.

Again, all of these suggestions are just ones I’ve come up with off the top my head, based on places where I’ve had multiple positive experiences and know I’ll be able to savor that great feeling of “wow, my dollar really went far with that purchase!”  So on one hand, I’m hoping they illustrate the importance of positioning yourself in similar fashion to an employer, where the company can barely believe how much they’re going to get back from the investment they make in hiring you.  That’s the feeling you want them to have — and it’s one that will protect you like a suit of armor, no matter how the economy may be contorting itself.

While we’re at it, too, given that many professionals today have become a bit pinched in the pocketbook, I’d love to hear your suggestions of other local spots where people can expect strong value for their money.  Any recommendations you’d add to my above list?  Any retail establishments, restaurants, or other service providers you swear by?  Any “best kept secrets” you’d be willing to share with your fellow readers?