Sometimes, recruiters for major companies post job announcements just to curate résumés. Maybe they need them for research, or maybe they want to build a pool "just in case" an urgent opening comes up in the future. You waste a lot of time on mega job boards, re-working your cover letter for each email you send, only to wind up in the slush pile. How can you cut through all that white noise?

In today's digital world, the "obvious" ways of applying for a position are also the least useful. You have to get creative, use your connections, and find a way to stand out among sometimes thousands of applicants. It's not easy, but it's actually less work than the traditional approach in a side-by-side comparison. Here are a few ways to get started:

1. Use LinkedIn wisely

Being on LinkedIn means you can sometimes directly message the exact person hiring for your dream job. However, this is still a professional site, so don't message like you're on Twitter (which is a means of job hunting in its own right!). Remember that if your only choice is to "cold tap" someone, offer to do something for them. Otherwise, you're asking for a favor/handout from a total stranger, and an email that just says "u hiring?" isn't going to get you anywhere.

2. Find a connection

There's a good chance, especially if you're job hunting in your existing industry, that six degrees of separation comes into play. Figure it out and find the person who knows someone who knows someone who knows the recruiter and play off that connection. Maybe you can get someone to pass along your résumé, or maybe you can name drop (with permission) and that will make you stand out. However, still abide by rule No. 1: Don't ask for a favor off the bat.

3. Look at niche job boards

No offense, but the biggies like Monster and Indeed aren't going to give you an advantage. However, if you happen to work in a field where there's a niche job board, take advantage of it. The smaller the pool, the greater your odds will be. Plus, it's much more likely that the software used will be scanning your information for key words. If it's within an industry you know well, that's in your favor.

4. Network in person

This is one of the few old school strategies that still works today. However, it's also easy to go to an event and suddenly remember that you have zero networking skills. Everyone can improve, so consider taking a Toastmasters class, always research who might be there before you go and come up with opening lines using The Simple Dollar's advice, and keep body language in mind. Millennials are especially rough around the edges, since they're used to doing everything online, but a real-life connection can work wonders.

5. Build your online reputation first

Once you catch the eye of a particular recruiter, it's easy to lose it just as fast. Make sure you have a professional website, blog, social-media account, etc. and update them all before you reach out. Particularly if you connect online, the first thing a recruiter will do is Google you. Manage your online reputation using these tips from Forbes at all times, but particularly before you start job hunting.

You shouldn't have to re-craft your entire résumé for every job you apply to, and it's a sign that you're not best suited for the positions if you are. It's quality, not quantity, when job hunting, so plan your strategy wisely.