What to (and not to) wear at the CPCC Job Fair

Looking your best is important in the job search because first impressions are lasting ones. Fair or unfair, an employer forms an opinion of you before the handshake, greeting or initial conversation. What you wear when interviewing or meeting employers impacts your ability to find a job. It’s for this reason that Career Services requires professional dress for people planning to attend the CPCC Job Fair on March 7.

But what exactly does “professional dress” mean anyway? Check out the following guidelines for men and women to dress for success in your job search.


  • Business suits
  • Khakis or dress slacks
  • Collared or button-down shirts
  • Professional dresses and skirts
  • Neutral or matching panty hose
  • Closed-toe shoes (no sandals!)
  • Minimal jewelry (avoid long dangly earrings, bangle bracelets and excessive necklaces)
  • Groomed hairstyle
  • Light makeup and perfume
  • Neatly manicured, clean nails

Ladies, the club scene and job search scene are two different scenes! Low-cut shirts, short skirts and tight fitting clothes are not appropriate.


  • Suit (solid color, preferably navy, black or dark grey)
  • Long-sleeve shirt (white or color that coordinates with the suit)
  • Belt and matching tie
  • Dark socks and matching conservative shoes
  • Little or no jewelry
  • Neat professional hairstyle
  • Limit aftershave and cologne

Guys, a properly fitted suit makes the best impression. Make sure your suit suits your size and shape.

Guys and gals, remember to bring a folder to hold all of your resumes. Additionally, bring a bag to carry that folder and company handouts and materials that employers will be giving you.

So what are some dress no-no’s to avoid at the job fair?

  • Wrinkled clothes. The night before or morning of the interview, iron your clothes.
  • Bad breath. While chewing gum isn’t suggested, bring breath mints.
  • A loud cell phone ring.  Avoid this potential distraction when talking to an employer by turning your cell phone ringer off or at the very least to vibrate.
  • Exposed body parts. A job fair isn’t the place for spaghetti straps, mid-drift tops or muscle shirts.
  • A showcase of tattoos. If your arms are covered with art, cover them.
  • Food in your teeth. Check a mirror to make sure that your smile doesn’t reveal what you just ate for breakfast or lunch.
  • Piercings in other places besides ear lobes. It’s best to removal facial and tongue rings.
  • Orange, yellow, green and blue hair color or nail polish. Stick to traditional conservative colors.

Don’t break the bank to dress professionally

Dressing professionally can be achieved on a budget. Check out these resources where you might find great deals on business suits and other professional attire:

Finally, don’t forget the most important accessory: Confidence!


11 tips to get ready for the CPCC Job Fair

The CPCC Career Services is just six weeks away! Mark your calendar for Thursday, March 7 from 10:00 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. at The Grady Cole Center. This year marks the 25th anniversary for this event, one of the largest job fairs in Charlotte.

At this job fair you’ll be able to talk to employers about employment opportunities and learn about the variety of companies and industries in the region. Whether or not your experience at the job fair is successful is up to you. Take time to prepare for the event. Check out the following 11 tips to help you get started.

1. Bring your CPCC Student ID. The event is open to the community, but a VIP entrance (with shorter lines!) will be available for students who present their Student ID.

2. Create a standout resume. Employers glance at resumes before deciding whether they go in the “yes,” “no” or “maybe” pile. Make sure your resume makes the cut. Visit Career Services to have your resume critiqued by a career counselor. Don’t wait until the week before the fair!

3. Make multiple copies of your resume. Once you’ve developed targeted resumes for the companies/positions you’re interested in, be sure to make multiple copies of each. Bring at least two copies for each employer you plan to speak with.

4. Dress to impress. Professional dress is required for admission to the job fair. If you’re unsure if what you plan to wear is appropriate, talk to a career counselor for attire advice!

5. Research employers. You’ll be one of thousands attending the career fair. Stand out from the rest by taking the time to research your employers of interest. Keep checking the Career Services website for a list of attending employers. Visit company websites of those you plan to talk to at the fair. Doing so shows initiative and a strong interest in wanting to work for them.

6. Introduce yourself. Smile, say hello and shake hands with the recruiter. Be prepared to talk about your achievements, accomplishments and career goals, and why this particular company is a good fit for you. Use the Elevator Speech guidelines to help.

7. Ask questions. After researching employers, develop a list of insightful questions you plan to ask. You have limited time. Don’t waste it by asking the recruiter, “what does your company do?” Withresearch you will already know the answer!

8. Map out your day. When you arrive at the fair you’ll be given a map of the career fair employer tables. Strategize which employers you’ll visit. Quality is more important than quantity.

9. Collect your thoughts. After meeting with an employer, write down some notes about your conversation before speaking to the next recruiter. You’ll use these notes to send follow-up correspondence.

10. Collect business cards. Use them to send follow-up inquires and thank you notes.

11. Follow up. Send a recruiter a follow up email, thanking them for their time and reminding them of your conversation (use the notes you took as a refresher). It’s best to send this correspondence within 24 hours, preferably the afternoon or evening of the fair.

Visit this blog over the next few weeks leading up to the job fair, where we’ll be providing in-depth suggestions on how to make the most of this great job searching opportunity.


What do job searching and playing darts have in common?

Comparing job searching to playing darts? Yes, it can be done. Both involve strategy, concentration and skill. And neither is particularly successful when attempted while blindfolded.

How often will you hit the bulls eye – or the dart board itself – if you can’t see it? Increasing the amount of darts won’t help. Try playing a game of darts blindfolded with 50 darts in hand. Now remove the blindfold and play a game with only five darts. Which attempt had better results?

Looking for jobs operates in much the same way. More resumes doesn’t mean more job offers if your search isn’t targeted and your resume isn’t tailored to each position. You’ll increase your chances for an interview if you send 10 customized resumes to 10 specific job openings as opposed to sending 100 resumes to 100 random companies.

Target your resume

  • Write an objective tailored to the position. Mention anything in your background that connects your qualifications to the position. Doing so invites the employer to read further.

Good objective: Seeking the customer service position with Bank of America using my three years of call center experience providing excellent service to clients in the credit card industry.

Bad objective: Seeking a position with a company where I can use my experience and education.

  • List relevant skills and accomplishments.
  • Organize your resume categories in order of importance supporting your specified objective.
  • Provide more details for relevant experience. For example, applicants for a human services position might discuss volunteer work more extensively than engineering job seekers.

Target your search

What kind of positions are you applying to? “Anything that pays” isn’t the best answer. Search for jobs matching your skills and qualifications. Look for industries that compliment your interests. The type of positions and industries you’re seeking helps determine what job search resources to use.

Engineering and technology positions are more often found on job search websites like Indeed.com and Monster.com. You can also find these positions posted on company websites. Social service job hunters should utilize networking and social media much more extensively.

When you attend a job fair it doesn’t make sense to stop at every employer’s table, given the variety of industries represented. Take the time to research the companies attending and develop your customized resume and elevator speech. You’ll save time and frustration in the long run.

Speaking of job fair, the countdown is on to CPCC’s 25th Career Fair. Look for upcoming posts highlighting tips for making the most of this fantastic job search opportunity.

4 motivating thoughts to start the New Year

Happy New Year! Career Services is excited to work with students in 2013 to help achieve your career goals.

Are you a New Year’s resolution maker? It’s a popular topic this time of year. To start 2013 on a positive note, here are four motivations that can help you make a difference – in your life and other’s lives – this year.

1. Give a gift today.

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” – Maya Angelou

The gift-giving season doesn’t end with the holidays, and random acts of kindness don’t have to cost a penny. Smile to someone passing by, say hello to the person crossing the street. Spend a day volunteering at a community organization. Check out CPCC’s Student Life website for information about student clubs, organizations and activities that will help make the campus your community.

2. Know who you are and let everyone around you know it.

“I’m going to stand outside, so if anyone asks I’m outstanding.” –Author unknown

What do you want people to know about you? In 30 seconds or less what impression do you want to leave with someone? In the job search this exercise translates to an elevator speech. In life it’s thinking positive about what you can offer the world.

3. Ask for help.

“Keep in mind that part of growing up is dealing with difficult issues, and the benefits can be great if you have the courage to ask for help.” –Jack Canfield

No one is immune to struggles. Whether you’re a new or returning student and whether it’s a tough academic class or personal concerns. Take advantage of assistance opportunities in the CPCC community. The Academic Learning Center (ALC) provides students with academic assistance in math, English and select science and accounting courses. The Student Success Center (SSC) provides students with centralized access to information about a variety of helpful services.

4. Set specific, achievable goals.

“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself in any direction you choose.” –Dr. Seuss

Setting goals is a long standing New Year’s resolution. Starting with short-term goals specific goals increases your chances of reaching them. “Doing better in school” is a vague goal. “I want to earn an A in my Business 115 class” is a specific goal that means you’re doing better in school.  

Keep your goal list length reasonable. A list of three to five accomplishments is very doable compared to a lofty list of 50.  

And finally, a bonus motivating quote:

“There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.” -Leonard Cohen

Don’t lose sight if you start losing your way in 2013. Find your way back and go from there.