Dress to Impress: Career Fairs

It’s that time of year again. Students are arriving back to campus, career services offices are planning employer-recruiting events, and companies are beginning to assess their hiring needs. Based off of conversations with your Career Advisor, you have determined that you plan to attend and “Rock the Career Fair,” but are still unsure of what to wear.

Appropriate attire depends on the industry(s) you are targeting and meeting at the career fair. Below are general guidelines you can refer to on what to wear.

Consulting, Federal Government, State Government, & LawFor Career Fairs, these industries are the most conservative, but there are places where you can use a punch of color to show your personality

Men

  • Outfit: Dark-colored suit, light colored shirt, dark dress socks, and matching non-flashy tie (Blue, yellow, green, red, purple, pink – whichever color you choose!)
  • Shoes: Nice black or brown dress shoes
  • Grooming: Recent hair cut and facial hair neatly groomed

Women

  • Outfit: Dark colored pants or skirt suit and plain or patterned blouse with no cleavage (Skirt must come below the knee)
  • Shoes: Nice 2” – 3” black or brown heels (Or red to show some personality!)
  • Grooming: Minimal jewelry and hair styled down or gathered at the back

Environmental Services, Non-Profit, & Tech/Engineering – For Career Fairs, these industries are a bit more on the business casual side (but not too casual!)

Men

  • Outfit: Dark dress pants or dark khakis, button down shirt and matching tie (Think of this as a suit without the jacket!)
  • Shoes: Nice black or brown dress shoes, boat shoes, or casual shoes (No sneakers!)
  • Grooming: Recent hair cut and facial hair neatly groomed

bcshirttie

Women

  • Outfit: Dress skirt or pants and plain or patterned blouse with no cleavage (Remember, skirt must come below the knee!)
  • Shoes: Nice 2” – 3” black or brown heels (or red to show some personality!)
  • Grooming: Minimal jewelry and hair styled down or gathered at the back

what-is-business-casual-dress

If you then think, “Those rules don’t apply to me. I’m looking for an internship.” You would be wrong! Remember, an internship can lead to another internship or full time job. Make a lasting first impression and be sure to dress to impress!

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Rhonda Sarmento

Rhonda Sarmento has over 5 years of experience in career and professional development and is currently the Sr. Career Specialist at Duke University’s Nicholas School of the Environment. Her expertise is in helping student’s identify, embrace, and communicate their strengths to employers through engaging in meaningful experiences. She received her M.A. in Industrial/Organizational Psychology from East Carolina University and her B.A. in Psychology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.