The following is a guest post by the super-awesome, old-school Nickelodeon-loving Jessica Malnik. Jessica is a Gen Y blogger, social media enthusiast, and all around great person to know. For Jessica’s social media, technology and workplace ramblings, swing by her blog here.

It’s amazing how much we learn about ourselves in times of extreme uncertainty.

Looking back, I learned more about myself in the four and half months of my grueling job search than I have in 10 years. There’s something about writing countless cover letters, remaking dozens of resumes and the stream of rejection emails that really got me thinking.

So, after three months of applying to dozens of jobs and getting no solid leads, I started doing some serious soul searching. I realized I needed to change up my strategy in the job hunt.

I was so worried about confirming to the “traditional” job search approach that I was losing what made me UNIQUE.

Define what makes you…you

I wrote down a list with all of my best qualities. Then, ran it by some friends and family. I chose three items from the list to incorporate in ALL FACETS OF my “revamped” job search approach. Those three qualities were: I’m creative, a good writer and outgoing.

I took my job search to the next level by writing two creative, out-of-the-box cover letters. I broke pretty much every rule in the book, and just made a couple of cover letters that represented the real me.  I wrote two non-traditional cover letters: one was a rap song and and another incorporated my quirky personality and sense of humor.

It turned out to be the turning point in my job hunt. I got more calls to set up interviews in the month after sending those non-traditional cover letters than I had in the entire three months of my job search. One of those calls turned out to be the company that I now am working for TODAY.

While the “rap song” cover letter was by no means the reason I got the job, it did catch their attention and provided me the opportunity to “sell myself” during the initial phone and then in-person interview.

The point I’m trying to make is: Sometimes you just have to go against the norms to stand out and get noticed.

Matt’s Take:

I wrote about a similar idea recently after reading an article in Inc. Magazine about the hiring process of Chicago-based 37Signals. In short, if you’re not doing something above and beyond, and if you’re not, as Jessica put so well, ‘breaking a few rules’, then you’re not going to get noticed. The job market is still complete shit out there – but there ARE opportunities. If you’re ‘that guy’ who’s scouring Craigslist, sending resumes to every company out there, and starting your cover letter with “Dear Sir/Madam” – you’re going to either A) stay unemployed or B) end up working a job you hate. Both scenarios suck.

Do you think a traditional approach is holding you back in your job search? What creative ways have you used to land a gig?

About Matt Cheuvront

I empower folks to do the work they want to do and live the life they want to live. I also watch entirely too much Saved by the Bell, run marathons, and drink plenty of craft beer. Check out the work my company is doing at Proof Branding.