Dress to impress at the fall career fairs


Azwan Azhar/Iowa State Daily

Do not attend the Career Fair in sweatpants or jeans. A suit is preferable, but if you don’t have one, other dress pants will suffice.

Tedi Mathis

Dressing for the career fairs can be just as nerve-wracking as actually attending them. It is known that employers pay attention to what students wear, and Career Services has some advice for students this fall.

Taren Crow, director of Career Services for the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, said they “invite students to wear business professional apparel.”

For men, Crow said, this means either a suit or dress pants with a button-down shirt and tie. She said khakis can be an acceptable option if the student does not own a suit.

For women, Crow recommended a suit as well, but said similar to men that dress pants and a nice top is also acceptable, as long as the top isn’t too low-cut or tight.

She also said women should focus on shoes that are professional and comfortable. There are a lot of stairs at Hilton, and those stiletto heels may not be the best option.

In fact, Loni Pringnitz, director of career fairs in the College of Human Sciences, said to avoid stilettos altogether and said that women should avoid tight shirts and skirts.

“Students that are unprofessionally dressed stand out the most,” Pringnitz said. “It is very easy to critique dress.”

Crow also said students dressed unprofessionally are hurting their chances with employers, and one of the worst things she sees at the career fairs are tight skirts.

“[Students] think dressing up is like a Friday night, what you wear out with your friends,” Crow said.

For students who think their career fair attire is still missing something, Career Services had some advice.

Pringnitz said a staple item for students at the career fair is a padfolio or other professional folder.

“One of the things we always look at is to tell students not to go to the career fair with their heavy backpacks,” Pringnitz said.

Crow said a suit is a staple item for students, recommending them to check JCPenney or Kohl’s for a price to fit their budget.

“It doesn’t have to be something super expensive,” Crow said.

Final advice from the two women was to take the career fair seriously.

“The more serious [students] take it, the more serious employers will take it,” Crow said.

Pringnitz has told students to take it seriously no matter what the reason is for attending.

“Even if you are required to go for a class, take it seriously,” Pringnitz said. “For first-year students, one of the main things we tell them to do is attend the career fair to get the experience. At that freshman level, it is about exploring and getting that experience.”