THE BLOG
09/25/2014 05:22 pm ET Updated Nov 25, 2014

The Easier It Gets to Apply for a Job the Harder It Is to Get One

When I read about people who say "I've sent out 1,000 resumes over the past two years and didn't get one response," I feel sorry for them. Not because they didn't get a job -- although I do wish they had been successful -- but because they wasted their search time on mass mailings and random applications rather than focusing on the opportunities they wanted most or for which they were most qualified.

There was a time when jobseekers were forced to do this. Why? Because it took considerable time and effort to apply for a job. You had to have copies of your resume printed and available. Then you had to track down a mailing address for the company, most likely by visiting the library to search through a business directory. You needed to write a cover letter, prepare an envelope, and then get to the mailbox or post office. Plus you had to pay for postage. So sending out 1,000 resumes was nearly impossible given the time and money involved. That's all changed now that "applying for a job" comes down to clicking the "apply" button on an online job board.

But where the digital revolution has had the greatest impact has actually been on the employer side. The number of resumes received by most businesses has expanded exponentially over the past decade. Because it's so easy to apply for a job, most companies have an unprecedented number of applicants to sort through. At our company, you've got less than 10 seconds of screen time to convince the sorter that your resume is worth forwarding.

That's why it's more important than ever to not just depend on your resume to get the attention of a future employer. And that's especially true when you're applying for entry level positions or at the early stages of your career when there's very little you're able to put in your resume to stand out from everyone else.

So often the best way to get attention is to have your resume come from someone inside the company, along with some indication of why you're so interested or well-qualified to work there. It's unlikely that you actually know someone in the company -- especially at a big organization --but that's where improved technology and platforms like Facebook and LinkedIn have now made it easier for applicants: instead of using the Internet to search for jobs, spend the time searching for people you know. Tap into your personal network to track down every possible connection. If you're just graduating college, check with your professors, relatives and neighbors; even your parents' friends aren't off limits.

At nearly every business, the resumes which flow in via connections -- whether from employees, business colleagues, or customers -- are almost certain to have a better shot at getting attention than those that arrive via an online portal. So instead of spending your online time checking job boards and clicking the "apply" button, narrow down your search to the businesses in which you're most interested. And then get busy searching for a connection -- any connection -- who can forward your resume to someone at the company.