The old saying about getting a job, that it's who you know, rather than what you know that counts, still applies in many respects. For an employer, hiring a new employee comes with some level of risk, especially if that employee is someone completely unknown to them; so most employers do like to reduce the risk as much as possible, which means hiring people who are known to them in some way. It's still true, therefore, that the best jobs are often not advertised at all; instead, they're either filled in-house, or by recruiters.
Some estimates say that can account for up to 70% of new positions and in general the higher-level any given job is, the less likely the position is to be advertised. So how do people find out about vacant positions, let alone the top-level jobs that don't get advertised? Networking is still top priority, but these days, online networking is key.
Going online to get ahead of the game
For some people the job hunt is all about staying local; for others, it makes more sense to cast the net as wide as possible. To find the most opportunities these days, it's an absolute requirement to take advantage of online opportunities, like job-hunting websites, social networking platforms like LinkedIn, and even Google alerts.
Getting into business networking platforms can be hugely advantageous, especially in the corporate sector; it's about who you know, and online networking allows people to vastly increase the size of their networks, with relatively little effort. This is just as important when contacting recruitment agencies as it is contacting organisations directly; after all, recruiters make the decisions on the candidates they offer to organisations, so “who you know” never stops being important.
The best way to approach the hunt is by being proactive: instead of checking for new listings once a day, the smart job-hunters are networking with online contacts, and setting up email alerts that let them know immediately when specific kinds of jobs are posted.
Getting specific is a good approach too. That means targeting organisations of interest, and networking with the goal of creating connections with people in those organisations. At the very least, visiting the websites of those organisations and checking out their employment information can bear fruit.