The way in which you research and find new job opportunities can have a direct and positive impact on your ability to obtain those jobs, especially when done in conjunction with more traditional job board submissions.
1. Show off your job skills
Especially for jobs that require savvy interpersonal skills-including sales and business development positions, finding an opportunity through a "side door" can demonstrate the very skills the company will want you to use once in the position. When hiring decision comes down to you and someone else who submits a resume through the "proper channels," then the edge you'll have is that the company will have seen-with their own eyes-that you can actually use your skills. (Note: do not try this with companies that are currently hiring and have a clear, "do not call" policy for candidates.)
2. Have a hand in creating the role
No two people do any job exactly the same way... which means that when a manager creates a job description, s/he can create it either with an "average" candidate in mind, or with someone specific in mind. Either way, the person the manager has in mind is probably... not you. Unless your research puts you in front of the manager before the job description is created, that is.
3. Keep it positive
The endless cycle of submit-and-wait can be frustrating for many job seekers. For one thing, the process yields very little feedback. For another, what feedback it does offer is generally vague and often unusable. Researching jobs off the beaten path, even if the process doesn't result in a job, can yield powerful feedback that you can use to refine your pitch, your resume, and your interviewing skills... because people are more willing to talk when they're not inundated with 100's of resumes to sift through.
4. Build your network
Getting creative and putting yourself in positions where you are the only "you" (read: job candidate) in a room makes it much easier for you to make an impression. It also demonstrates that you have the confidence to leave the "herd." The benefit of job boards is that you know the people you talk to are hiring; the benefit of doing some research and going around the boards is that you end up in positions where you can build personal connections.
5. Make conversations easier
When you research, you learn things that other people don't know. Imagine for a moment you are a recruiter, and you get two phone calls. The first person answers the phone and says, "Hi, I've got great project management skills, and I was wondering if you are hiring for these skills…?" You can't hang up fast enough. The second person says, "Hi, Jason [pretend your name is Jason], I noticed recently that the CTO position was taken off from the corporate website. I'm not a CTO candidate, but I do have project management experience in high-stress, transitioning environments, and I developed a guide for tech departments on how to stay on plan, on budget, and on schedule during such times. Is this something you'd be interested in?" Nothing's guaranteed, but isn't that second call much more interesting?!