Hunt Companies, Not Jobs
Be proactive in your job search, not reactive. Don't wait for your dream job to fall in your lap. Identify your dream company and convince it to hire you [source: Crimaldi]. If you sit around waiting for an attractive position to open up at a good company, you'll be competing with hundreds of other applicants. But if you get your foot in the door before a position officially opens, they might hire you first and save themselves the trouble.
How do you make contact with hiring managers at these companies? It requires a combination of careful research and shameless cold calling. Start by combing your extended network at professional sites like LinkedIn. Search for the company name and see if any friends of friends or colleagues of colleagues currently work there. Take advantage of even the most tenuous relationship by sending an e-mail, honestly explaining your situation, outlining your skills and asking who would be the best person to contact for a possible job.
Once you have the contact's name and phone number, think about unconventional ways to grab his or her attention. Sending a resume is standard, but it'll probably get filed away in the recycling bin if the person isn't actively hiring.