Anyone who has tried to look for a job recently knows it's actually gotten harder. The online application process acts as a big barrier to getting interviews. Studies show only 3 percent of people who apply online get a phone call from the employer. That's because the job application process is designed to screen you out, not in. Which means, if you see a job that you really, really want, you need to go beyond applying online to get noticed.

It's time to make your job search more social.

While optimizing your LinkedIn profile can make it easier for recruiters to find and contact you, it's not the only way to use social media in a job search. Identifying and connecting with companies you want to work for on tools like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Youtube can actually help you get around the online application process and sneak your way into the hiring manager. Here are some steps you can take to leverage social media in your job search:

Study their employer brand.

If you research a company's social media profiles enough, you'll likely see posts that share what it's like to work there. Quotes from employees, pictures of team events, etc., are all things that tell you more about them as an employer. This is called their employer brand, and it can help you understand the kind of employee they are looking for.

Get clear on how you feel personally connected to the company.

One of the most basic interview questions is, "Why do you want this job?" Unfortunately, most people answer this incorrectly. Why? They fail to describe what internal motivation they have to do the job.

Share and comment (positively) on their content.

Companies are on social media to connect with their customers and fans. By interacting with their posts, they will start to recognize you as someone who supports them. Which leads to the last step...

Ask a question.

Eventually, you can follow up a comment like "I love your products" by posting a question like, "Is it fun to work there?" Or "What do you like most about working there?" While the response you get will likely be from the social-media manager, it will enable you to follow up with another question, like, "Do you have any advice on how I could connect with the hiring manager?" This could lead to the introduction you are hoping for! And at the very least, you'll get feedback that can help you navigate the hiring process better.

Don't let the online application process control your future.

If you want a new job, it's better if you take control and learn techniques that can help you avoid the online application process. Studies show the majority of jobs are gotten via referral, so creating opportunities for you to build connections that can lead to job referrals is the smarter, better way to look for work.