Job Tips


Dressing to Succeed At Military Career Fairs


Dressing To Succeed At Military Career Fairs

Wendy S. Enelow, CCM, MRW, JCTC, CPRW
Co-Author, “Expert Resumes for Military-to-Civilian Transitions”

I often find myself attending military and civilian career fairs across the U.S, working with job seekers to provide information on resumes, cover letters, interviewing, job search and more. And, at almost all fairs, I am amazed at the difference in attire. There’s always a large group definitely “dressed for success” – men in nice suits and jackets; women in suits, dresses and slacks with blazers. And, at military career fairs, there are always a number of attendees in uniform who look great.

Unfortunately, there is always a large group of individuals – men and women alike – who are inappropriately dressed. Either they are too casual (shorts and a T-shirt don’t cut it!), too messy (wrinkled shirts, half-tucked in and half out, with paint-stained pants aren’t your best impression!), unshaven or otherwise disheveled. Although these individuals are probably as serious about their job searches as those dressed more appropriately, it certainly didn’t look as though they are!

When you arrive at a professional career fair dressed inappropriately, here are the messages you’re communicating:

  1. You don’t take your career seriously.
  2. You don’t take yourself seriously.
  3. You don’t take the career fair seriously.
  4. You aren’t particularly interesting in working for any of the employers at the fair.
  5. You don’t really care about the impression that you make on others.
  6. You certainly won’t know how to dress appropriately in the civilian workplace.

Is this what you want to communicate to a prospective employer? I doubt it!

Before you attend your next career fair, take a moment to think about your wardrobe and what it says about you. Then, put on that uniform or take that old suit out of the closet, press those slacks and shirt, buy a nice new tie or scarf, and present yourself as the “civilian” professional you wish to be.

No matter the type of job, profession or industry you’re pursuing as you make the transition from the military to the civilian workforce, your first impression lasts forever. Don’t make the mistake of hiding your portfolio of skills, talents and achievements beneath a less-than-professional exterior!

Wendy Enelow is an expert.  She has one of the best reputations in the business.  Wendy is recognized worldwide.  It is important to make a good impression.  Candidates need to do so the first time.   The reality is that people judge you by how you present yourself and your appearance.   That extra time to dress for success makes all the difference.  It will give you an edge.   Take every advantage there is to win that job.