Cast a wide net for referrals
Your chances of getting an interview are greatly enhanced if you are referred by someone known to the firm or the specific hiring manager for a job, Midkiff says.
Tolstoi-Miller says to make sure the person referring you is well-regarded by the company.
Learn the person's reputation by asking how he or she likes or liked working for that firm. If the person doesn't have positive things to say, chances are he or she is not regarded well, she says.
Williams offers another social media strategy. She says that if you are in the same line of work as those at a particular company, you might go to the company page on LinkedIn to see if you are connected to anyone who works at that firm.
It's a judgment call on whether to ask them to call or email a hiring manager on your behalf, Williams says. You have to feel you know someone well enough to expect a positive referral.
Another tool for uncovering your possible referral connections is to use the "Inside Connections" feature at Glassdoor.com, which is a free career community site. By signing onto Glassdoor via Facebook, users can see who among their Facebook network of friends works at a specific company, says Glassdoor spokesman Scott Dobroski.