How to Dress for a Job Fair

"Dress for success" is still the right advice when going to job fairs.

"Dress for success" is still the right advice when going to job fairs.

You've been waiting for a chance to wear that hot new red number and the great stilettos that match . . . keep waiting, if your next outing is to a job fair. You want to look great and be remembered, but not for the wrong reasons. Tone it down and dress in a conservative business style, just as you would for an actual job interview. You want to come across as polished, confident and professional, so dress accordingly. You can still wear red, but instead of the red dress, wear a red scarf or eye-catching piece of jewelry to jazz up the dark suit.

Select a solid-color suit in a neutral color, such as black, navy, gray or plum. While pantsuits are acceptable attire in many offices, stick with a skirt for job fairs and interviews. Pair the suit with a tailored blouse in a rich jewel tone or small, colorful print -- it doesn't have to be white or cream unless you're going to a job fair in a super-conservative profession, such as the law or banking. If you can't stand the thought of a suit, pick out a simple dress in a solid color or muted print and add a tailored jacket.

Wear comfortable shoes, since you'll be on your feet most of the time. This doesn't mean you're relegated to flats or the dreaded "sensible shoes." Low-to-medium heels are fine, as long as you can walk and stand gracefully in them for extended periods. Make sure the shoes are clean and not scuffed. Avoid extreme styles, sandals or boots for job fairs -- style and flair are fine, but shoes meant for a night in the dance clubs or a fall football game are not.

Get your hair done in advance and be sure it's a style you can replicate on your own. Keep it neat, clean and under control. The same goes for makeup and nails -- a little color is fine and it's absolutely okay to highlight your features, but keep it muted, controlled and appropriate for daytime in the office. And that new tattoo you got at the beach last summer? Keep it covered up, along with any body piercings beyond those in your earlobes.

Leave the baskets, backpacks and trendy tote bags from last year's trip to Africa at home. Carry a simple, small leather purse for your phone and lipstick, along with a neat leather portfolio that has room for multiple copies of your resume and whatever materials you might pick up at the job fair.

 

About the Author

As a national security analyst for the U.S. government, Molly Thompson wrote extensively for classified USG publications. Thompson established and runs a strategic analysis company, is a professional genealogist and participates in numerous community organizations.Thompson holds degrees from Wellesley and Georgetown in psychology, political science and international relations.

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