4 Ways To Dress For A Job Or Career Fair

A job fair can feel like you’re about to interview for twenty companies all at one time. And you want to make the best first impression. It’s great that you are looking for what attire you should wear to the job fair.

First impressions are important. On average, someone makes their first impression of you within 5 seconds of seeing you. This is quick. And can be hard to reverse any predetermined notions that the person had in their mind.

Let’s walk through what types of attire you should wear to the job fair. And cover what you might want to wear if you are a woman, too.

Table of Contents

Should You Wear A Suit?

The answer is, no. While wearing a suit might feel like the best option. Because it is the most formal. There are only a few companies left in the U.S. that required formal dress code. Goldman Sachs was one of the last to make this change. And now they are more comfortable with business casual attire.

If you wear a suit, you might come off as desperate. And for most young professionals, wearing a suit can feel uncomfortable. The more comfortable you are, the more confidence you will have.

What Is Business Casual?

Business casual is the dress code you should follow when preparing for your job fair. A business casual dress code consists of what you might see when you walk into J. Crew. It is slacks or cotton material pants. Sweaters. Dress shirts. For women, it is fairly similar material choices.

Here is what you might expect to see on a man when thinking of business casual:

  • Dark clothing, nothing with patterns or bright colors.
  • Dress slacks or cotton pants.
  • Dress shirt or cotton button down shirt.
  • V-neck or crewneck sweater.
  • Dark colored socks.
  • Dress shoes or workwear boots such as Redwings.

Here is what you might expect to see on a woman when thinking of business casual:

  • Dark clothing, nothing with patterns or bright colors.
  • A pencil skirt or long skirt.
  • A cotton button down shirt that is not revealing.
  • Heels or flat shoes.
  • If option for heels, choose a low heel.

Avoid any clothing that seems as though it is ready for nightlife. For men, this means to avoid any “streetwear” or clothing that has logos on it.

For women, this means avoiding high heels or boots. And any clothing that might be revealing.

Choose long sleeves whenever you can, even in the summer. As long sleeves will look more professional. Avoid shorts or anything that shows a significant amount of skin.

What About Accessories?

Women love to wear accessories, and this is okay. But consider what you are drawing attention to. If you have large hoop earrings, for example, your interviewer might be paying more attention to that then what you are saying. Avoid accessories that are going to be distracting to the conversation.

What Should I Avoid Wearing?

At all costs, avoid any revealing clothing, even in the summer. This could send the wrong signal to your interviewer and cause the conversation to take an odd turn. Keep your presence professional.

Avoid low necklines, high heels, shirts with stains on them, shirts that aren’t tucked in, sweatpants, neckties that aren’t tight, anything like that.

The Goal With Your Attire

If you can, wear dark clothing. This will signal more attention towards you, the individual, versus what you’re wearing. Job fairs are not fashion events. You want the interviewer to be paying attention to you, not your clothing.

Avoid bright colors, patterns, or anything that may make you stick out amongst the crowd. In this situation, you don’t want your clothing to be what makes you stand out. It should be your background, your merits and your interview answers.

2 Outfit Ideas For Men

Here are two example outfits for your job or career fair as a man.

Example one

  • A blazer.
  • A crewneck sweater.
  • Slacks or cotton pants.
  • Wingtip shoes.

Example two

  • A v-neck sweater.
  • A cotton dress shirt.
  • Slacks or cotton pants.
  • Wingtip shoes.

2 Outfit Ideas For Women

Here are two example outfits for your job or career fair as a woman.

Example one

  • A long-sleeve cotton dress shirt.
  • Slacks or cotton pants.
  • Loafers.

Example two

  • A long cotton pencil skirt.
  • A cotton or silk long sleeve top.
  • A 2” high heel.

Other Attire Related Resources

author: patrick algrim
About the author

Patrick Algrim is an experienced executive who has spent a number of years in Silicon Valley hiring and coaching some of the world’s most valuable technology teams. Patrick has been a source for Human Resources and career related insights for Forbes, Glassdoor, Entrepreneur, Recruiter.com, SparkHire, and many more.


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