Here’s a scenario I read about the other day in The New York Times: An article profiling several unemployed white-collar workers focused on one man, in his early forties, who wondered why his job search strategy wasn’t working. According to the piece, this man, and many others featured in the story, had spent the greater part of a year submitting resumes to job postings online, to no avail. Sound familiar?

No matter how terrific the Internet is, applying to job after job online simply can’t be your entire job search strategy. Consider how you’re limiting your channels of distribution by putting all of your eggs in the Internet basket – for instance, one study reported that an average of 300 job seekers apply to any given job posting online. Do you really want to compete with 299 people (or more) every time you’re applying for work? Who can compete with those odds?

Here’s the bigger issue: If you’ve been hoping and praying that you’ll be able to land a job by submitting resumes online, texting, emailing, or otherwise avoiding good, old-fashioned networking, think again. Calling people on a regular basis (even when they don’t get back to you), following up, meeting for lunch, coffee, going to conferences (even if they are in other cities) – these are only some of the activities that need to be part of your job search arsenal. Sure, some of these activities cost money, and following up with people (as opposed to stalking them) can get tedious, but we need to do more of this stuff more often, particularly when times are tough. Calling someone once or twice and giving up - or getting mad, bitter or depressed --when they don’t get back to us does not a networker make.

Let relationship-building, not technology, drive your job search. It’s a lot easier to simply press ‘send’ and forward your email around, but that’s no substitute for good, old-fashioned conversations with people. Focus on having as many conversations with as many people as possible – make this your primary job search goal.

Will every conversation lead to a job offer or interview – or even some kind of promising lead? You and I know that in this economy, you’re going to have to kiss a lot of frogs to find your prince. Starting today, think of networking and relationship-building as watering the job search seeds you’re planting. You may not see the payoff immediately, but keep watering anyway. When jobs do come rolling around, you’ll be the one they remember.

Yes, the economy stinks and companies aren’t hiring. Tell me something I don’t know. Still, I can’t help but wonder if we’re taking a bad situation and making it worse by letting our own bad job search habits get in the way. Spend less time in front of the computer and more time in front of people to give yourself the best job search shot you can.

Author's Bio: 

Elizabeth Freedman is an expert in career and workplace issues. She is the author of Work 101: Learning the Ropes of the Workplace without Hanging Yourself and The MBA Student’s Job-Seeking Bible, and was a 2005 finalist for College Speaker of the Year, awarded by the Association for the Promotion of Campus Activities. Elizabeth runs a Boston-based career-development and coaching firm; clients include PricewaterhouseCoopers, Thomson Reuters and The Gillette Company. To bring Elizabeth to your next association event or workplace meeting, please visit