As a job-hunter you know that a significant number of companies, nonprofits and public-sector agencies use an online tracking system to accept applications and screen out applicants. It cuts down on their paper work and saves them time.

If you must apply for jobs online, you can take steps to stand out from competing applicants to sail through human-resources filtering systems.

However, admittedly, in my situation, I’m not in the job market. However, if I were, I’d never apply for a job online.  My preference would be to bypass the filtering systems. I’d capitalize on a self-marketing approach.

Applying for jobs online is too impersonal.

It’s tantamount to the entertainment industry’s audition cattle calls in which there’s one winner and dozens of losers. I believe in a proactive approach and maximizing my potential for success by minimizing competition from others.

Another important strategy:

No matter what you do for a living, there’s one investment on which you can count to improve your career.

It works for any situation and won’t cost you any money — get a mentor.

Bypass HR

When I was a young job-hunter here was my mindset:

Whenever possible, I’d want a presence in the hiring room before applying. In other words, I’d use strategies to make sure the hiring persons were already familiar with my work. At all costs, I avoided the human resources department.

As opposed to HR employees, executives more readily spotted my strengths and potential to help them save time and money while contributing to the welfare of their companies. That enabled me to minimize my competition from competing jobseekers.

As a college student, I often contacted executives to get advice on courses to take. Executives were delighted to give their opinions. The strategy worked better than expected. I’ll never forget getting immediate consideration for an announcing job by the executive at an ABC television affiliate station.

That’s probably when I first realized it was better for me to bypass the HR department. I would ask such managers to meet with me.

Boss’s boss

While job hunting after college, I used the same approach. I did my homework on companies. My practice was to contact a manager two levels above the level that I’d hoped to work — my prospective boss’s boss.

Such people were usually impressed by such an assertive approach when I asked for advice. Good executives were honored to share their opinions. I wanted to know their perspectives regarding their industry issues and what they wanted in talent.

In meeting with an executive, if it was obvious I wouldn’t get a job offer, I asked for two referrals – “Thank you for sharing your insights – who are a couple of your peers who wouldn’t mind sharing their insights, too?”

Whether or not the executives were considering me as an employee, I headed directly to the post office to mail a handwritten thank you note on my monarch-size stationery. The notes arrived the next day and created a favorable impression.

Sometimes, there were subsequent meetings. In the second interview, executives spent the first five minutes thanking me for my thank you note.

Another thing I learned:

It helped to have a relationship with my potential boss’s boss. Such managers would typically offer me higher wages than lower-level supervisors. It also accelerated my promotions. As the executive moved up, so would I.

From the Coach’s Corner, related tips:

Tips to Land Your Dream Job with Style, Substance — Yes, the competition for jobs is ferocious. Here are proven tips to be hired for your dream job.

15 Tips to Improve Your Odds for a Job — If you are unemployed, you are probably feeling desperate. But take heart. Here are 15 proven strategies.

Is Your Career Stalled? Turbo Charge Your Personal Brand — Perhaps you’re struggling in a job search. You’re ambitious but underemployed, or worse – unemployed. You’re not alone. Millions of professionals are trying to solve similar puzzles. The good news is that you can rebrand yourself for a rewarding career.

8 Career Tips to Unlock Your Potential as a LeaderIt’s important to note that leaders aren’t necessarily born. They develop themselves. They don’t settle or languish. They evolve by constantly assessing their progress to improve.

Career Strategies: How to Get a C-Level Job — If you’re climbing the corporate ladder and have designs on a C-level job, a noted Stanford University professor has some excellent advice.

“The quality of a person’s life is in direct proportion to their commitment to excellence, regardless of their chosen field of endeavor.”

Vince Lombardi


Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.