What to Wear for Different Career Events

By: Zach

When it comes to dressing for success, what does it mean to look the part? If you are meeting with a professional to do an informational interview, going to a job shadow, or are doing a Skype video interview, what is the best dress? In this brief blog post, I am going to break down the appropriate dress code for a variety of professional settings with the exception of normal job interviews. You can check out Ashlee’s post from yesterday for a break down of how to dress for interviews.

What to Wear Career Events

Job Shadow

Picking the right clothes for a job shadow should be pretty straightforward. Who are you meeting with? What industry are they in? What is their job? Answering these simple questions will give you an answer. If you joining Donald Trump and Co. for a board meeting at 3:00pm, you may want your suit to be designer made and custom fit to you. However, if you are instead meeting your Uncle Ned at the local insurance agency he owns, simple slacks or khakis with a button-down shirt will most likely suffice. Ultimately, know the person and know the day. If you are meeting with an executive and can assume you will be following them to some meetings, you will want to be in professional attire, whereas, a casual day at the office may allow for business casual attire. If you still don’t know for sure. Just ask. The nice thing about most job shadows is that you are supposed to ask questions! Let the first question be to your host… “What is the best business attire to wear?”

Informational Interview

Most often we can think of informational interviews as being a formal event. Just like a normal interview, it is important to dress to impress. Though the format of the interview is for you to ask questions and learn more about their job, they will be taking note of you as well. In most instances, it is best to dress as if you were going for a normal job interview. Gentleman should be wearing suits and ties, and the ladies have a little bit more variety with blouses, blazers, skirts, and pants. Remember to be genuine and sincere in your questions! Show that you have interest in their career and that you appreciate their time. When they see your professional dress and energetic personality, you should be a shoe-in for that open intern position this summer!

Job Fair

What to wear to the job fair, that is the question! And the answer is easy, as you should always plan to dress business professional. By the time you reach your junior and senior year and you are seeking internships and full-time employment, it is important to look your best as you chat with prospective employers. Job fairs are the first interaction you have with many of the people within an organization you may be interested at, and remember that first impressions are very important. Suit and tie for gentleman, and blazer and blouse work best for ladies. Now, if you are a freshman or sophomore and attending a job fair, you may have more interest in just meeting different professionals, learning more about industry, or even getting a feel for different companies that are out there. For you, it may be appropriate to be wearing a button down shirt and tie as a male, or a button down shirt or blouse for females. Ultimately, remember to put your best foot forward at job fairs, and I promise that looking the part is a big key to succeeding.

Video Interview

There may be a variety of reasons your are asked to do a Skype or video interview via your computer, but no matter the context of how you are meeting the interviewer, it is still important to look the part. Video interviews are the same professional dress code as any other in person interview, with the exception that pants are optional… I’m kidding, I’m kidding! Please wear nice pants even though the camera will only show waist up. It may be funny to tell you friends that you have been to an interview in your briefs before, but I just can’t imagine anything good happening from that! Anyway, not only remember to dress professionally, but take note of your background. What is behind you? Is it a window, a plant, a television, a wall, your childhood bunk beds? No matter the location of where you are at, make sure you are in a private room with no other people to distract you. Public places like coffee shops and malls will not do. Find a good neutral background like a wall, and make sure to test lighting and sound before the interview begins. Once your computer is set up, you look as sharp as a tack, and you are ready to meet, you are on your way to success and hopefully a second, in-person interview.

Networking Event

Networking events, though similar to job fairs with large populations of people, are not always the same for dress code. Depending on the status of the networking event, it may be okay to throw on a blazer and slacks with no tie, or possibly a collared shirt with a sweater. Overall, a networking event may prove to be a bit more casual as many of them happen outside of business hours. They could be over the weekend, or over happy hour, but most often you will want to balance being comfortable and looking professional. My suggestion for these events is to be classy, but be you. Add a bit of personality with your clothes by wearing fun seasonal colors, patterns, and textures. As a gentleman myself, I am a fan of a textured grey sports coat with colored stripped shirt, and comfortable slacks. If you stick with these rules, you are guaranteed a mission success!

Hopefully this quick talk on professional dress answered some of your questions! If you want to get any more information on any of these types of professional settings, remember to skip on down to Career & Internship Services where a Peer Educator or Career Counselor is ready to help! Thanks again for tuning in, and talk you soon.

Cheers, Zach

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