No joke! These 11 tips increase your chances of being interviewed and hired.

Playing April Fool's Day jokes at work can be fun. You have to get the job first.

Watch your back on April 1st, April Fool’s Day. But when it comes to job searching, it’s no joke that there are strategies that increase your likelihood of getting an interview or job offer. The catch? There is none. Yet, many job seekers often don’t think about these items when doing a job search, or only give them half-hearted attention. And the results aren’t very funny.

So what can you do to improve your chances of getting that interview or job offer?

Write a cover letter. If you have the opportunity to send a cover letter, send it. If it’s optional, opt in. A well written cover letter lets you make your case that you’re the strongest candidate for the job.

Don’t rely on online job boards. Sitting in front of the computer all day and applying for jobs is tempting. Don’t do it. You’ll limit your opportunities by not including networking and face-to-face informational meetings in your job search arsenal.

Sell your skills. If someone asked you what your skills are, could you answer? Do you know the difference between your job duties and the skills you use to perform them? Create a skills checklist as well as examples of where you’ve successfully used these skills.

Apply to select jobs rather than hundreds of them. Quantity doesn’t equal quality. Using the same resume to apply to many jobs in many different fields doesn’t increase your chances of being hired. In fact, it actually decreases the likelihood you’ll be offered an interview. Develop a targeted list of companies and tailor your resume to each company, position, industry, etc.

Use LinkedIn. More people are familiar with LinkedIn, marketed as “Facebook for professionals.” But are you actually using it in your job search? If not, you’re missing out on far reaching opportunities to network, learn about job openings and become informed about your target industries. Check out Career Services’ helpful video for getting started on LinkedIn.

Research companies before an interview. Employers might think you’re joking if one of your interview questions is “so what does this job entail?” or “what does your company do?” With social media and the internet, it’s easy to research a company and its product, mission and goals. Ask questions that show the employer you’ve done your homework.

Secure top-notch references. What does the phrase “references available upon request” actually mean? More than just the name and phone number of someone who can verify you once worked for him. Your references could make or break your job offer. Make sure you ask the right people and prepare them to assist you in your job search. Click here to learn how.

Practice interviewing skills. When it comes to interviewing, “winging it” is a poor strategy. Literally rehearse your answers to common interview questions out loud. Schedule a mock interview with Career Services to role play an interview and receive feedback about how you did.

Remember that interviewing isn’t just what you say. It’s how you say it and how you look at the person when saying it. And what you were wearing when you said it and how you shook their hand before you said anything. Nonverbal communication is judged just as much, sometimes more.

Send a thank-you letter. Take the time after your meeting to send a brief note or email to the employer, thanking them for their time and reiterating your interest in the position. Great job interviewers haven’t received job offers because they failed to send thank you letters. If it’s expected and you don’t send one you won’t get the job. If it’s unexpected and you send one anyway, you may have just move your candidacy to the top of the list.

Follow up with an employer after the interview. If the employer gives a hiring timeframe – a question you can ask during the interview- contact her if you haven’t heard anything within the stated amount of time. A quick note to ask about the status of your application and reiterate your interest shows your continued interest in the position.