No phone calls or emails, please!" If you've ever applied to a job online, you've seen that line hundreds of times. Yes, it's annoying for HR reps to receive dozens of phone calls from unqualified applicants, but it's very difficult to get a foot in the door without someone at least unlocking from the inside.
If you're lucky enough to have a productive conversation with a recruiter at a job fair, get that person's card and save it. Once you have the recruiter's card, ask politely if it would OK to contact his or her to follow up on your application or talk about any open positions.
Sometimes companies will send managers or other employees to job fairs instead of recruiters or human resources staff. If you really hit it off with an employee, even if that person doesn't work in the department you'd be working in, ask if you could use him or her as a reference. This request should be reserved for someone with whom you have a substantial conversation and who is genuinely impressed by your qualifications.
For lots more information about job hunting, interviewing and résumé writing, see the links on the next page.