It’s easy when applying for a large number of jobs at the same time to give less than 100% to each one, especially if you have had experience of rejection that have made you a bit dispirited. However it’s really important to pay attention to the little details of your application as they can help you get a job. And one of these details is making use of the informal contact – it can really help to swing things in your favour.
I have just done a brief survey of the last 10 history jobs posted on jobs.ac. and about one third included details of the informal contact (that is, for those of you in the dark, the contact details of a member of the academic staff from the department who are looking to hire). All of the recent lectureship adverts posted in my field have included such contact details. Don’t ignore this information, it gives you the opportunity to ask some useful questions, but also can give you the chance to impress someone on the hiring committee.
Anecdotally, I heard recently of a colleague you had telephoned the informal contact and had made such a good impression that though his application had not been initially short-listed, the member of the hiring team made a special plea for him to be interviewed because he had sounded so professional and enthusiastic on the phone. This candidate then went on to get the job, all because his phone call had brought his application back from the discarded pile.
So, to those active jobseekers among you: always make use of the informal contact, you never know when it might really work in your favour!