Looking for a job? You’re probably applying online, aren’t you?

That makes sense. Online applications are everyone’s go-to option these days. The last time you reached out to an HR person directly, they probably said, “Apply online. If you’re a good fit, we’ll call you!” They may have even explicitly told you not to reach out to them directly.

Don’t be fooled. In most cases, the HR person is simply giving you the company line. They’re telling you the official rules of the game, but the thing is, people hire people.

What I mean is, few hiring managers post a job and think, “I sure hope our company website lands me a great hire this time!” Most hiring managers post jobs to the company website only because they have to, because that’s the company’s official process.

When a hiring manager begins the hiring process, their real concern is this: “Do I know anyone who might be able to do this job? Do I know anyone who knows anyone?”

Think about it this way: When’s the last time you found a new doctor solely by researching on the internet? You probably asked your friends for recommendations first. It works the same way with hiring.

Does this mean you shouldn’t apply online? No, definitely follow the company’s directions – but then think about how you could meet the real-life people who will be making the hiring decision.

If you go the route of applying online only, it may take you hundreds of applications to land an interview. If you’re the exception to this rule, awesome. There are always exceptions. But the thing about exceptions is they don’t happen often. That’s why they’re called “exceptions.”

Go old school with your job search. Find the hiring manager and get your resume to them – via a friend, email, or even snail mail. The internet is amazing for research. Never have we had so much information about prospective employers at our fingers. But at the end of the day, people hire people.

A version of this article originally appeared in the Memphis Daily News

Angela Copeland is a career coach and CEO at her firm, Copeland Coaching.

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