Changing the future by planning today

It's a given that, these days, almost any employment search is going to begin online (CareerBuilder's 2013 Candidate Behavior Study shows that about 80 percent of job seekers use job boards). The truth is, though, that the majority of positions you see posted are already filled, says Nicole Williams, career expert for LinkedIn.

Just 18 percent of external hires can be attributed to job boards, according to the recruiting site CareerXroads. Successful candidates use boards to learn about the kinds of roles a company they're interested in is trying to fill (and what specific skills it's looking for), Williams says, and then they network to find people they know who work at that company and can help them land an interview.

One more thing: Jessica Rohman, senior content producer at the HR-industry consulting, research and training firm Great Place to Work, says the average referral bonus at companies on its Best Companies to Work For list is $3,600, and the bonus can go up to $20,000—which underscores the importance companies place on hiring employees who are recommended by people they trust. So don't feel shy about reaching out to that friend of a friend, since helping you out could pay off for her. Click here to view the rest of the article.