The one who gets to the hiring manager wins
When you apply for a job, say, through Monster.com, whose eyeballs do you think review your resume first? The hiring manager? Hell no.
The head of HR? Nope.
The senior recruiter? Often, nope again.
Very frequently, the ones grabbing the many, many applications off the job boards (Monster, CareerBuilder, Dice, etc.) are the near-intern level HR assistants, or junior level recruiters. They're the ones who screen them first.
You want a neophyte in charge of your job future? Generally speaking, I'm guessing not.
Plus, when you go this route, you jump into a huge pileup of resumes of those who are going about about the job search in this same hardly-ever-works-anymore way.
If you apply one rule, and one rule only to your job search, please please apply this one:
The one who gets to the hiring manager wins.
If your resume never makes it to the hiring manager thanks to some schlemp that possibly didn't even know how to spell what it is that you do (no offense to young recruiters. I know some of you are good, I do)?
But even it your resume makes it to them, if you're in some giant stack of paperwork, you still could be hosed.
So get to them on your own. Directly.
Sounds scary, but it's not that hard if you are a little bit crafty about it.
My best recommendation is to hit LinkedIn and find some peer-level types working for that same company (preferably in similar or same function). Contact them directly and say something like this:
"Hey, I'm considering applying for that XYZ position in your group so I'm hoping to get some input from people who work there. How do you like working there? Would you do it again if you could go back in time? What's the coolest part about this company? Anything you don't love?"
Trust me. People love being sought out to talk about themselves, especially if there's no pressure.
Followed by the critical moment in that conversation...
"Say, who's the manager of that team? I'd really love to chat with him/her before I actually apply."
Something like that.
Suddenly, you have your direct in AND you can now call that manager and say "(Guy I just talked to from LinkedIn) and I just chatted about the opportunity within your group and he gave me your contact information."
Congratulations, you just bypassed every single person who just applied for that same position through Monster.com. Feels pretty good, doesn't it?