Q. I've been trying to find a job for several months now. I keep checking on Monster and on AppleOne.com, and I keep submitting my resume, but nobody ever contacts me back. Help!

A. We sympathize. We've all been there, and nothing is more frustrating than a job search — particularly when you don't seem to be getting any traction. Even though unemployment is steadily dropping, hiring managers are still getting hundreds of applications for every available job, so they're looking at your resume to figure out how quickly they can remove you from consideration. We're going to restate that because it's critical for you to understand it: resumes are designed to prevent you from getting a job.

Does that mean you should stop responding to advertised jobs? Of course not. Do it, it doesn't take very much time, and you could get lucky, but don't feel as though you've applied to 10 jobs and now your job is done. If you want to find a great job you're going to have to take it to the next level. Identify the 3 companies you'd most like to work for. Then start working your personal network. Tell your AppleOne AE that you've identified these companies that you want to work for. Talk to your friends to find out if anybody knows anybody who knows anybody who works there.

Once you find some in to a company, try to set up an informational interview. It's likely that the person that your friend's friend knows at XYZ Widgets won't be in a position to hire you. That's fine because you don't want them to hire you. You're thinking about taking a job with their company, and you want to meet with them briefly to find out what the company is like. Ask questions about the environment and the job. Is the person happy there? How long have they been there? What is their boss like to work for? If you know the department you'd like to work for, then does this person interact with the manager of that department? If they do, would they introduce you? If they don't, do they know anybody who might?

Your goal is to work your way up to the person who can hire you, but now you're doing it from the inside. When you do finally get that introduction to the person who can hire you, you aren't one of hundreds of resumes to be discarded. You're Bob's friend. It's a lot of work, and it doesn't guarantee you the job, but it puts you much closer that sending a resume.