What to wear to the Career Fair… and what to avoid

Photo by Michael James

So there you are, the morning of the Career Fair, prepared with ample cover letters and carefully crafted, one-page resumes printed well in advance documenting your years of meticulous work. 

You have researched the hundreds of attending companies, narrowed them to a few key targets and have rehearsed your pitch thousands of times to any and all that would allow. Perfection.

But as you catch yourself in front of the mirror, you realize you overlooked one thing: your outfit.

Worry not Jackets, here are some general rules and tips to follow that will help your attire become as polished as your resume.

DO plan to wear business professional attire. 

In the same way that you worked to showcase your best on your resume, you want to do the same with your clothing. 

Your goal is to effectively present how you would appear, in your place of employment, in the position you are applying for. You want recruiters to be able to clearly and confidently visualize you in the role. 

You will not only fit the part, but look the part.

DO iron clothes out the night before. Chances are, the fine china of your wardrobe has been sitting there for a while, so make sure to press out any wrinkles or fine lines that may have formed. If you really want to show an attention to detail, a soft crease where natural could help go the extra mile, just be mindful to not overdo it.

DO dress for function. Wear clothing you are comfortable in and can actively wear for several hours. For women especially, there is often a push to wear articles of clothing, such as high heeled shoes, that are long held conventions but horrible for function.

At the Career Fair, you will likely be walking around and waiting in lines for several hours. 

Your focus should be on making your best presentation, not any discomfort your clothes may cause you.

In line with this sentiment, presentation is not only limited to what you wear, but how you wear it. Constant fidgeting with an ill-fitting tie or an itchy jacket will distract from your otherwise competent appearance.

DON’T add anything “extra.” The goal here is to present as clean, practical and capable. Stay away from loud, eye-catching colors and zany patterns. 

Your outfit should allow the attention to be on your specific skills, talents and qualifications relative to your career field.

You will want the main colors of your outfit to match and be neutral. Example include a black or navy blue blazer and slacks paired with a white button down shirt and brown or black closed toe shoes. Accents should be used sparingly and to compliment.

DON’T get caught up in brand names. What matters most is the presentation of what you have, not where it comes from. 

You are much better off in a sharp ensemble of blazers, button downs and loafers from Marshalls, than an ill-fitting suit from Ralph Lauren.

Now that you have the proper knowledge to look, feel and showcase your best, you can focus on what matters most: pitching your hard earned accolaes and experience to the company of your dreams. 

Most of all, remember confidence is key — good luck Jackets!