If you’re looking for a job, there’s a good chance you’re applying online. And, chances are good that applying online is your go to option. It makes sense. The last time you reached out to a HR person at a job fair or on LinkedIn (or anywhere else), they said, “Apply online. If you’re a good fit, we’ll call you!” They may even have said, “Don’t reach out to us. We review every application carefully.”

Don’t be fooled. In most cases, they’re giving you the company line. They’re telling you the official rules of the game. But, this is the thing: people hire people. Yes, you heard me right. People hire people.

Most hiring managers do not post a new job and then think, “I sure hope our company website lands me a great hire this time!”

Most hiring managers post their jobs to the company website because they have to. It may even be automated. When they got the approval to hire someone, the powers that be took a copy of the job description and uploaded it into a system somewhere – and bam, it showed up on the company website.

When a hiring manager gets approval to hire someone, this is what they typically think. “Hmm… do I know anyone who might be able to do this job? Or… I wonder if I know anyone who knows anyone.”

This process makes sense if you think about it. When’s the last time you found a new doctor solely from the internet? You probably asked friends for a recommendation. Iif you couldn’t find a recommendation, you may have looked at reviews online. But, chances are good you asked around first. It works the same way with hiring.

Does this mean you shouldn’t apply online? No. Apply online. But, then think of how you can meet the real life people who will be making this important hiring decision.

If you go the route of applying online only, it may take you hundreds of applications to land an interview. I hear from people every day who have applied to 100 or more jobs online, only to receive very few callbacks.

If you’re the exception to this rule, awesome. There are exceptions. For example, you may have a skillset that’s rare where you live. Or, maybe you do something that’s incredibly specialized. I have a friend who is an Abinitio developer. Ever heard of it? Me either. And because this friend has such a specific (and rare) skillset, he could probably apply online and get a call back. But, most jobs aren’t like that. 

Go old school with your job search to find success. Find the hiring manager and get your resume to them – via a friend, email, or US Mail. The internet is amazing for research. Never have we had so much data about companies at our fingers. But at the end of the day, people hire people.

Angela Copeland, a career coach and founder of Copeland Coaching, can be reached at

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