There are two ways to get accepted into an institution. Examples of such institutions include companies and schools.
The first is to apply using the institution’s formal application process, and the second is to offer up your candidacy through informal means, by getting directly in touch with people at the institution.
If you take the first approach, you’re competing head-on with thousands of other candidates. It’s hard to differentiate yourself.
The second approach makes you stand out. It shows that you want the position more than the thousands of people who applied through the formal process, and that you’re entrepreneurial in getting what you want.
Desire and entrepreneurship are important predictors of success in the eventual role, so most people respond positively to seeing them in a candidate. If they don’t, you might want to question whether you want to be part of an institution where these qualities aren’t valued.
This doesn’t mean that you don’t need to be qualified for the position. I’m not advocating for cronyism or nepotism. Although these unfortunately also often produce results, these results are hollow as you haven’t earned the position.
But the formal process has so many qualified people that you need to do things to stand out. You need to do the informal.