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* 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