What can Leonardo da Vinci and Will Rogers tell you about finding a job?
Plenty, it turns out.
Read on for some new twists on timeless advice that might help you get hired faster …
1. "Men of lofty genius when they are doing the least work are most active."
- Leonardo da Vinci
You see, your subconscious mind can solve problems while the rest of your brain and body are doing other things, like sleeping, eating an apple, or showering.
Example: You suddenly remember seeing the name of your ideal employer two weeks ago on the Facebook profile of your high school buddy.
Inspiration can strike anytime, anywhere, so be ready to capture these ideas. Two ways to do it: a portable voice recorder (there's probably one in your cell phone) or a pocket notebook.
Sure, most may ultimately fail, but you could be just one good idea away from a new job. You'll never know unless you test them out.
2. "You've got to think about big things while you're doing small things, so that all the small things go in the right direction." - Alvin Toffler
The average job search takes 34.2 weeks - more than 8 months -- according to Dec. 2010 data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor statistics.
That means the #1 Big Thing in your life must be finding a job. And every small thing you do each day must point in the direction of employment.
Any time you're not sure whether you should be doing something, ask yourself: Is this moving me closer to a new job? If not, stop doing it.
Examples of small things to analyze with your employment goal in mind:
* Email. Do you really need to check it every hour? Are employers contacting you that often? Would two or three email checks per day suffice instead?
* Errands. Yes, it's good to get out of the house, but couldn't you do your banking or shopping after first having a networking lunch or coffee with a person in your target industry?
* News from TV, print, or online. Do you really need to sit through 30-60 minutes of bad news on TV each morning and night? How will it make you more employable?
3. "When you find yourself in a hole, stop digging." - Will Rogers
If you've been taking the same actions for months and not getting job offers, stop.
Examples of tasks that may not be working:
* Applying only for advertised jobs … instead of having business discussions with decision makers who can create positions for you or introduce you to other hiring managers.
* Networking with a stale "elevator pitch" … instead of offering to be useful to others -- busy people won't take calls from desperate job seekers, but they will take calls from folks who are helpful.
* Sending cover letters that read like IRS tax forms … instead of sending sales letters that paint a picture for employers of the specific results you can deliver.
Still stumped on what to do? Ask five people who have great jobs what they did to find their last three positions. Not only will you get 15 potentially useful ideas, you'll be networking with five successful people -- not a bad use of your time.
4. "The secret of getting ahead is getting started. The secret of getting started is breaking your complex overwhelming tasks into small manageable tasks, and then starting on the first one." - Mark Twain
When it comes to writing a cover letter or a networking message to friends, few things are more daunting than a blank computer screen.
Yet, to get ahead -- and get hired -- you have to get through some grunt work. If you can break complex undertakings into smaller ones, you can get started -- and get done -- faster.
Example: Cover letters. They can be a royal pain to write.
But what if you start with a simple task first? Ask yourself: "If I were on the phone with this employer, what would I say?"
Write down your answer, no matter how illiterate it may appear. Do not edit. Simply write.
This "dictated" cover letter may run for one sentence ... or three pages. But somewhere in it is a main idea -- the key reason you deserve the job. Find it.
Then, build the rest of your cover letter around that main idea, like a sculptor adding pieces of clay to a wire frame, until a recognizable form appears.
Kevin Donlin is contributing co-author of "Guerrilla Marketing for Job Hunters 2.0." Since 1996, he has provided job-search help to more than 20,000 people. For a free Guerrilla Job Search audio CD, visit MyNewJobHunt.com