This one can’t be stressed enough, hence it’s place as #1 on this list.
Getting an internal referral from someone within the company to which you’re applying goes such a long way to help your cause. Often, referrals from existing employees to straight to the top of the pile and certainly receive added consideration. Whereas not having the required experience or skills might’ve earned you a spot in the “maybe” pile, there’s a very good possibility you’ll find yourself landing an interview specifically because someone internally has vouched for you.
That’s why it’s so important to make connections, maintain and harvest your professional network, and reach out to people at the companies you’re targeting during your job search.