Be creative. Take this route only when it's a good fit for the company you're pitching, says Massey, the new MindBloom employee. While her creative cover letter was successful, she acknowledges she might not have included her subtle humor in a pitch to a more serious corporate firm.
Use your network. Don't forget to take advantage of your connections, just like you would with other job-search strategies. Once you've identified which company you want to target, determine whether you—or someone you know—know anyone who works there. LinkedIn especially is helpful in this pursuit. "It definitely helps if you're not coming out of the blue," says Hauser of The Management Center. "If you have a validator or somebody who knows the organization introduce you, that's more likely to lead to an interview than just a cold call." And if you can't find a connection? Create one by joining online or in-person associations that are popular with people who work at your target company.
Offer a business plan. Once you've done all that research, why not put together a one- or two-page plan for your target company with ideas for improving their service or product? Anderson, Massey's coach, says a well-done business plan, while time-consuming to create, is a worthwhile investment because it proves you'd be a solid hire.
Have you tried this proactive approach to job hunting? If so, tell us in the comments how it worked for you.