"A professional is not a begging, needy job seeker," he emphasizes. "Let's say I find five open positions at American Express. That gives me something to talk to (the current employee) about.
"I can ask about those positions and find out how long they've been open, what the department is like, what issues they might have and more. Better yet, if you can find openings that are not advertised, you won't be competing with hundreds of other job applicants."
Only after you've developed a rapport with the person should you ask them to review your resume and cover letter.
"That might happen in the first call, or it might happen a few calls or e-mails later," Alba says. "If I can tell (the person) isn't going to have the time or interest in helping, I won't ask him. I'm hoping my conversation will help me get good information about the position or department or players or issues, and if he has clout with HR or the hiring manager, perhaps he can put in a good word for me or do an introduction."
4. Do your research before the interview
Before the interview, you should gather as much information about the company as you can. Read any press releases, media coverage, annual reports and whatever other information about the company and industry you can get your hands on. You should also find out as much as you can about the people you're interviewing with.
"There's nothing wrong with asking the HR person or recruiter who you'll be interviewing with," says Levit. "Try to Google (them beforehand)."
She adds that finding out what type of interview you're having (a panel interview, one-on-one interview, behavioral interview, test and so on) will help you feel more prepared.
5. Dress for success
Wearing the right outfit will help you feel cool and confident. But Levit cautions job-seekers against wearing something too cool or comfortable.
"Even if the company is business casual, be business professional," she says. "I would say even if people in the company say 'everyone wears jeans,' don't wear jeans (to your interview). I think that it's too risky."
Levit also warns against bright colors or flashy jewelry and neckties when you're interviewing at a conservative company. She adds that ladies should "watch the heel height. It's better to look a little shorter than be constantly tripping."
6. Calm nerves by remembering what you offer
Earlier this spring, after five or six months of job-hunting, Jonny Dover made the jump from working the night shift at a local newspaper to editing a medical journal in Little Rock, Ark.
Dover says the key to staying positive during a job search and interviews is to remind yourself of what you bring to the table.
"I made a list of my bigger accomplishments and made sure I was able to work them in casually," he explains.
Also, remember that while your potential employer is evaluating you, you should be evaluating them, too.
"I had one job interview where the guy showed up late," Dover says. "Then his boss came in and interrupted him, then he had me jump through all these hoops and this silly test. I realized, this guy isn't getting any respect from his boss. If I work here, I'm going to be waiting around and won't get any respect either. It's a good idea not to leave one evil for another."