A major part of job search is getting yourself out there. What better way than to attend a career fair. First of all, it is going to help you get more comfortable talking about yourself to strangers and builds a little confidence. If you are going to go, do some serious preparation.
1. Find out what companies will be there and research them for a "Must Visit" list.
It sounds obvious, but, if the company isn't in your field or industry, then, you don't NEED to visit their table. If you don't see companies from your target list at the fair, perhaps it isn't worth your time to attend.
2. Visit their websites and see what jobs they have posted.
Generally, companies that attend a career fair have posted jobs. If you can't find them on their website, check Indeed.
3. Customize your resume for that one job and put together your stunning cover letter
The letter explains why you want to work for that company and list some of your top qualifications for the job. How much more impressive is this than a generic cover letter and resume?
4. Wait in line.
Yes, you might have to. But use this time to meet other job seekers and share industry news.
5. Know your 45 second commercial
Confidently and happily convey your elevator pitch.
5a. With interest and enthusiasm, ask good questions of the recruiter at the table.
2-3 questions might be all you have time for. You want to leave them with a positive, interested and qualified mental picture of you!
6. Ask when and how to follow up.
"We'll call you" isn't good enough, ask when you can call if you don't hear from them. Nicely, but assertively.
7. Follow up, don't give up!
Companies are not giving away jobs at a career fair. They are there to "source human capital". They are looking for the people who are better than the average bear.
Get there early while the recruiters are fresh. Have business cards to hand. Turn your cell phone off. Always look your best (wear a suit). Breath mints.
Chris Brogan attends LOTS of conferences. Here is his post on 27 Things to Do Before a Conference
When I worked in HR, I represented my company at career fairs. We had two boxes under the skirted table. One box was for resumes we would take back to the office and the other box, well, it is painful to admit...