04/04/2012 06:06 pm ET Updated Jun 04, 2012

Landing a Job at a Job Fair

Career and job fairs offered by your college are a free and valuable resource to you. Go. Sure, it's called a "fair," but it is business -- serious business.

Recruiters pay money to attend these events because they need to recruit candidates -- students like you. They want to find the students with the best potential to interview immediately or even contact later, when they need them. First impressions count, so say your name proudly. Come with a rehearsed one-minute elevator speech to pitch yourself for the job. Think of this conversation as your cover letter, and practice it in advance. You want to talk about your skills, your major, your best courses, interests, and any relevant jobs or internships. Be curious, friendly, and ask questions.

Don't forget that you are marketing an important product -- yourself. You must dress the part and bring along the necessary materials to sell yourself to the recruiters. Dress the way that they will be dressed; as if you're going to a job interview or to work, not like a student casually walking around campus. Bring two-dozen neat copies of your resume in a folder, and make sure someone older and wiser has proofread it in advance. If you have letters of recommendation or lists of references, bring those as well. Turn off your cell phone, spit out your chewing gum, and ditch any entitled attitude before entering the room.

Be sure to ask questions of the recruiter: What are they looking for? Are they expanding? What's it like to work there? Once you finish your conversation, thank them for taking the time to speak with you. Take their business card and ask for the next step. Express genuine interest and enthusiasm in scoring an interview, and follow up. Following up means to send a thank you note or email by the next day to say how glad you were to meet them. Send or attach your resume even if they already have it. Tell why you would be proud to work for them and ask for an interview. Then, call within a few days if you haven't heard back from them. Persistence pays. Remember that they have seen hundreds of other students, so you must set yourself apart.

Many career centers offer a workshop on how to make the most of a job fair which will help you to prepare and motivate yourself, so be sure to sign up. You can usually find out what businesses will be in attendance in advance, so do your homework to find out who it is most important for you to connect with, and go to those tables first. Arrive early to beat the crowd. Talk to recruiters even if they're not specifically geared towards your profession. They may be collecting resumes for other departments that weren't able to send a representative.

The economy is up. There are jobs, but it's up to you to get one.

Make your luck happen!