Creating a favorable and lasting first impression while seeking employment starts with planning what to wear to a job fair.
Never underestimate the power of coming prepared and dressing professionally. Since job fairs or job expos are fast-paced and jam-packed with job applicants, the competition for landing a job is fierce.
If you need guidance on how to dress appropriately and presentably to increase your chances of landing a job, then this article is a must-read. Down below, we will share tips on how to dress for success from head to toe at your next career expo. Let’s get started!
- Job fairs are events that bring employers and job applicants into one setting for an easier and faster recruitment process.
- It is essential to consider the industry, location of the job fair, company culture, and the desired job position when dressing for a job fair. Doing so increases the chances of getting hired or piquing the interest of employers and recruiters.
- Male and female applicants each have specific standards and pointers to remember when dressing up for a career expo.
What Are Job Fairs?
Job fairs, also called job or career expos, are events that serve as an avenue for job seekers to find employment opportunities and meet potential employers. These events are held on university grounds, at colleges, in malls, and even in some government offices.
It usually lasts a few days, with recruiters and hiring managers from government agencies and different private companies assigned specific booths where they interact with and interview interested applicants.
Fresh graduates and people who are eager to find work are the target audiences of job fairs because they bring them closer to available positions and companies in their locale and in nearby states.
Each attendee is welcome to check out any booth or company that piques their interest.
Business owners give them their business cards or ask applicants to submit their resumes. Other companies conduct initial interviews and review the applicant’s credentials on the spot.
How to Decide What to Wear to a Job Fair
Understandably, there is pressure when choosing the most suitable outfit to wear to a job fair.
There are specific factors to consider if you want to dress the part:
- Company Culture. Research the workplace culture of the company where you want to apply. A casual work culture would mean that the dress code includes button-down shirts and blouses, lightweight jackets, loafers, and flats. Meanwhile, a company that has a traditionally formal business culture will likely stick with a full-on business suit, dress pants, and skirt.
- Industry. Dress according to the industry in which you want to work. For instance, if you are thinking of what to wear to a job fair for teachers, a business suit with either a long midi skirt or a pair of pants should do the trick. Applying for an executive or managerial position requires wearing a neatly pressed business suit. Business casual works for job positions in the general trade and restaurant industries, while laid-back and casual attire is more acceptable in non-managerial and tech positions.
- Season. Never disregard your comfort and safety when choosing attire for your interview. Dress accordingly to the season for when the job fair will be held. Wear something lightweight if you will be attending career expos during the warm season. Alternatively, put on a coat, a scarf, or stockings for the ladies during the cold season to stay warm.
- Location. Check the time and location of the job fair. Bring an extra shirt or blouse in case you need to travel a long distance. It is alright to dress in business casual attire in career fairs held within universities, but professional business attire is preferred in job expos held within government offices.
What to Wear to a Job Fair – Women
Women have broader and more versatile attire choices compared to men. However, it is important to narrow down all options to achieve a professional look.
Check out the following dos and don’ts on what to wear to a job fair as a female:
The key factors to consider when picking a job fair attire are comfort, simplicity, and modesty:
- Stick with comfortable silhouettes, whether it be for slacks, blouses, or formal dresses.
- Don’t wear excessively tight or loose clothing. The last thing you want while attending a job fair is to endure the discomfort of wearing ill-fitting clothes.
- Do stay on the conservative side. Wear button-up shirts, tailored blouses, and knee-length skirts. Dress pants, slacks, and khakis are excellent alternatives if you don’t want to wear a skirt.
- Don’t wear informal apparel such as leggings, athletic gear, or fabric with glitters and sequins. Avoid crop tops, tank tops, plunging necklines, short skirts, and distressed fabric.
- Do wear neutral or muted shades such as black, dark gray, brown, beige, cream, and white. Navy is also considered a formal color, and you can wear it in place of black or gray.
- Don’t wear bright and neon fabrics, as these are distracting and deemed inappropriate in a business or work setting.
Wearing makeup completes and elevates your outfit. Just remember the following pointers on how to wear makeup for formal and professional events:
- Put on light and natural-looking makeup. Keep it simple and highlight one or two of your best features. For instance, you can draw attention to your eyes by putting on mascara to help make your eyes pop. Better yet, focus on shaping your eyebrows so that they look strong and well-defined.
- Don’t wear a thick and heavy foundation. Skip the bright pink blush, the dark eyeliner, or the colorful eyeshadow. Use neutral shades on your eyes and lips. Cream, coral, and brown hues are your best choices. The goal is to effortlessly add life to your appearance without looking too flashy or over-the-top.
- Prime, color-correct, and retouch your makeup as needed. Using a primer before putting on makeup helps it stay on longer throughout the day. Color-correcting your concealer ensures your blemishes are perfectly covered. Check and retouch your makeup from time to time so that you look fresh and flawless from the beginning until the end of the event.
- Don’t experiment with a new makeup technique because it will take time for you to perfect it and pair it with a suitable corporate outfit. Similarly, if you are someone with little to no background in makeup, then it is best to use a light face powder to keep your face oil- and shine-free. Swipe on some tinted lip balm or a light gloss in a nude hue to complete your look.
It is best to stick with simple and neat hairstyles that frame your face perfectly:
- Keep your hair away from your face. If you have long hair, tie it back in a sleek ponytail or a bun. Use bobby pins to make sure stray hair stands in place. You can also braid your hair or style it by adding subtle waves.
- Don’t forget to bring a hair brush and extra hairpins just in case. Also, steer clear of unconventional hair colors and extreme hairstyles.
Shoes & Accessories
It is important to pay attention to your choice of footwear, even though it may be the last part of your attire that interviewers notice:
- Keep your jewelry to a minimum. You can wear a watch or a simple yet elegant necklace and bracelet. Save your dangling earrings and big bangles for a night out with your friends. Remember to take off any facial piercings if you have them.
- Don’t wear excessive or flashy accessories to make a statement. Accessories are only meant to highlight or accentuate your outfit and not to draw attention away from your qualifications during your interview.
- Wear comfortable and formal shoes. Loafers, oxfords, and flats are acceptable. For heels, the maximum height should be 3.5 inches.
- Don’t wear casual footwear such as flip-flops, sandals, open-toe shoes, sneakers, crocs, or platform heels.
What to Wear to a Job Fair – Men
When analyzing what to wear to a job fair as a male, men have fewer options clothing- and accessory-wise.
The fit and tidiness of your suit will make or break your job interview attire. Check out the following tips when dressing up for a career expo:
- Do put on some dress pants or suit pants. A button-up shirt, a decent blazer, or a suit jacket are also excellent choices. Neckties are optional. Opt for dark-colored blazers, jackets, and suit pants as they create a more professional and formal ensemble compared to cream-colored suits.
- Don’t show up in casual wear. Denim, distressed jeans, t-shirts, cargo pants, shorts, leather jackets, and sweatpants are inappropriate for career fairs.
- Check the fit of your suit beforehand. Your outfit instantly looks 10x sharper and sleeker when it fits you perfectly from head to toe.
- Don’t be sloppy with your attire. Some men make the mistake of wearing a blazer that is clearly two sizes bigger or put on tight pants and a super-fitted dress shirt. Suits with visible wrinkles, stains, and mismatched colors are also a huge no-no.
There are makeup brands for men that provide natural-looking coverage. You can also take note of the following makeup tips for men:
- Put some concealer to hide blemishes such as acne, scars, and the dark under the eyes. You can also apply some foundation to help even out your skin tone and look more flawless.
- Don’t entertain any stigma or negative feedback about men wearing makeup. It’s 2024, and people should understand that makeup is free to be used by everybody, regardless of their gender or sexual orientation.
Your hair is also a part of your attire, so pay close attention to grooming the hair on your head and face:
- Groom facial hair. Shave your mustache or beard, and keep your hair neat. It is best to keep your hair short particularly if you are applying for an executive or a corporate position.
- Don’t leave your hair messy or unruly. Apply hair products to keep your hair in place.
Shoes & Accessories
Think of attending a job fair as something similar to showing up at a formal event. Looking your best from head to toe is a must:
- Do pair your business attire with a pair of polished dress shoes. You can also wear a leather belt as long as it is in a neutral hue.
- Don’t wear shades, hats, or baseball caps. Sneakers and sandals are reserved for casual and informal settings.
4 Final Tips on What to Wear to a Job Fair
Here are a handful more tips for completing your job fair attire:
- Be mindful of the industry or the company that you want to be a part of. More often than not, recruiters can gauge your level of commitment and dedication to the job just by looking at your getup. Corporate jobs typically have strict and high standards on employee performance, which means they are also evaluating their staff based on how they carry themselves at work. On the other hand, startups tend to embrace a casual and more laid-back work environment.
- Dress the part. Think of the job fair as a sneak peek of what it’s like to work for different companies. Consider how the outfit suits the position you are applying for. Casual attire may not help employers associate the qualities of a teacher, an accountant, or a finance specialist with you. In the same manner, formal attire may make you seem too uptight for a career in the creative industry.
- Confidence is key. If there is any accessory that works best with any corporate or business attire, it’s confidence. When you feel confident from within, it radiates positive emotions that employers instantly notice and resonate with. Forget about wearing expensive suits and dresses to your next career fair because having a strong belief in your capabilities is enough for you to make heads turn and get noticed by recruiters.
- Comfort over anything. Speaking of confidence, your comfort level directly affects how well you do in your job interviews. Job fairs take an entire day, and it also means walking around and standing in line for hours on end. You don’t have to put on heels, a necktie, or a skirt if you are not comfortable in them. Choose an outfit that lets you move freely and walk around comfortably.
The next time you think about what to wear to a job fair, picture your outfit as your armor. Imagine that it empowers you to put your best foot forward.
As such, you have to check all the boxes that make up a suitable ensemble for a career expo. Take advantage of the tips in this article to improve your chances of creating a good and lasting impression on potential employers and ultimately landing the career of your dreams.