This post originally appeared on The Daily Muse.
You’ve been on the job hunt for weeks.
You’re applying immediately to every job you come across that’s remotely related to your field. You’re getting your resume in the hands of anyone you meet. You’re following up with hiring managers like your life depends on it.
And still? Nothing. Nada. Zilch.
Well, I’m going to tell you a little secret. It might be you that’s the problem.
I know—before you get all ready to tussle with me, let me assure you that I realize that most people are smart and motivated and have all the best intentions when it comes to landing that next big thing. The problem is that most of us don’t have much training on how to not suck at the job search. Which means—we’re bound to make some gaffes along the way.
So let’s change that. ASAP.
Rule #1: If you’re using any of these (very-common) job search tactics, you must change course immediately.
1. Spending 100% of Your Search Time Submitting Online Applications
If trolling the job boards is your primary search tactic, you’re looking at a long road ahead. Realize that, for every job you pursue, at least one or two people are going to find an “in” at that company. And they’re going to use that “in” to get a direct introduction. Would you rather be the one with the “in,” or one of the other 20, 80, or 400 contenders coming in via the automated “clump” of applicants?
Instead: Even if you apply for the job online, the moment you hit “send,” head over to LinkedIn and see if you have a first- or second-degree connection at that company. Reach out, stat. Your goal is to be the one who gets the direct introduction.
2. Applying for Jobs (Blindly) When You’re Not an Obvious On-Paper Match
Nobody’s sitting around deducing what you might be good at or why you might make sense for any particular job. Read: When you apply online, if your resume and cover letter don’t speak to the specific needs and deliverables of the job—and spell out exactly how you are going to meet them—no applicant tracking system is going to even find it.
Instead: If you’re not an obvious match (on paper) for a job, you either need to figure out a way to make yourself one (i.e., gaining new skills, taking on volunteer opportunities or freelance work to boost your resume), or find an opportunity to explain your rationale for applying directly to a hiring manager (i.e., show how your previous work experience in your current field would translate seamlessly to this new job).