Professional dress: Make a good first impression at the Career Fair

As you’re preparing for the CPCC Job Fair on Thursday, March 6, remember this fact: Employers critique your candidacy before you say a word. As you walk up to their table and prepare to discuss your qualifications, they’ve already made one evaluation about your attire. Does your choice of clothing fit the part of a future employee?

Professional dress is required for admission to the career fair. Why? Because a career fair is an event where employers and job seekers discuss professional job opportunities. The question should be why wouldn’t you dress professionally?

But what does professional dress exactly mean?  Check out the following guidelines to help you dress for success at the career fair.


  • Business suits
  • Khakis or dress slacks
  • Collared or button-down shirts
  • Professional dresses and skirts
  • Navy, black or dark grey colors work best
  • 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

Low-cut shirts, short skirts and tight fitting clothes will make an impression, but it won’t be the right one.


  • 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

Be sure your suit is properly fitted.

Some other appearance errors to avoid at the career fair

  • Wrinkled clothes. The night before or morning of the interview, iron your clothes.
  • Bad breath. Bring breath mints instead of gum.
  • 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 setting it 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 your smile won’t be distracting.
  • Piercings in other places besides ear lobes. It’s best to removal facial and tongue rings.
  • Unique hair color or nail polish. Stick to traditional conservative colors.
  • A backpack. Carry your resumes in a binder or folder.

Finally, you don’t have to break the bank to look sharp. Big box favorites like Target, Kohl’s, TJ Maxx and Marshall’s offer great professional dress options at a fraction of the cost. Additionally, you can find items at consignment shops as well as Goodwill and Salvation Army stores.