By now you get it: If you want to land an interview — let alone a job offer — you need a stellar résumé. Fortunately, you already have one and are fairly certain it’s strong enough to put you a step ahead of the competition.

Not so fast. Sure you’ve got a knockout résumé, but do you actually know how to use it? Unfortunately, most job seekers don’t, according to career coach Katy Piotrowski.

“Nine out of 10 job seekers do very little with their résumés, hoping that their dream employer will come looking for them. Just like a hammer, a résumé is a tool that can help you get the job done. But if the hammer sits in a toolbox unused, it’s worthless. Your résumé, sitting on your desk or in your computer, will do little for you unless it lands in the hands of decision makers,” Piotrowski writes in her recently released book, ““The Career Coward’s Guide to Résumés.”

While working with thousands of job seekers, Piotrowski has seen firsthand which résumé strategies significantly increased the number of interviews her clients received. Based on her experience, here are five sure-fire methods to maximize a résumé’s results:

Customize your résumé every time you apply to a job opening

  • Include the position’s job title and any reference code or number provided.
  • Ensure that your résumé mimics keywords used throughout the job description.
  • Make changes if the résumé does not already highlight a key skill area mentioned in the job description.

Tap into your network to identify helpful contacts in the hiring company

  • If you’ve found a job target, contact friends, family, colleagues and references to ask if they know anyone connected to the company.
  • If they do, discuss whether or not you can mention their name in your cover letter.
  • Ask if they would be willing to hand deliver your résumé to the hiring manager.
    Submit both electronic and hard copies of your résumé
  • Most employers now require job seekers to apply online, through e-mail or various application processes.
  • On the other hand, many hiring managers have expressed to Piotrowski that they miss receiving hard-copy submissions that they can actually hold.
  • Sending both an electronic and hard copy ensures that the employer still receives your résumé, in case one is lost.

Send a second submission of your résumé two days later

  • Two days after sending both the electronic and hard-copy of your résumé and cover letter, resend another hard copy.
  • In the upper-right corner of your cover letter, hand write, “Second Submission. I’m very interested.”

Go direct

  • Identify 25 to 100 companies where you want to work and mail your résumé and cover letter directly to them, even though they may not be hiring.
  • Consider using a phone book to identify target employers.
  • Studies show that one-third of all positions are filled through this method, but less than 10 percent of job seekers actually do this.

“A strong résumé and taking advantage of effective job search techniques are what will help you pull ahead of your competition. Then you’ll open many doors to attractive positions that fit your skills and interests,” reminds Piotrowski.

Source: MSN Careers