Here are some examples that you may or may not want to try at home.
Stroke their vanity. Advertising executive Alec Brownstein bought six ads on Google saying "Hey ...," followed by the name of a top creative director. When those people did vanity searches of their own name, above the results was Brownstein's ad: a direct pitch for work, with a link to his site. Result: 4 interviews; 2 offers. He's now working at Y & R.
Turn the tables. Young programmer Andrew Horner asked employers to apply to have him work for them. "I will favor those job offers which fulfill my listed preferences," he wrote, "but you shouldn't worry too much if you don't meet all of them; just be sure to let me know exactly what it is that you feel your company has to offer me." His site went viral. Result: 44 offers, and a job at a mortgage financing site.
Network in new places. Journalism student Agneeta Thacker was hired as an intern at a cultural-guide website after her mother, a biotech patent agent who was tired of working at home, used the Loosecubes office-sharing service to book a desk for herself at Flavorpill, a participating company that produces an online culture guide. Once there, Mr. . Thacker told the site's talent recruiter how perfect her daughter would be as a summer intern. She hired Agneeta after seeing that the daughter was just as bright as her mother said she was.
Advertise on Facebook. Ian Greenleigh targeted marketing managers and executives in Austin, Texas, with Facebook ads that linked to his Hire Me page. The result: multiple offers.
Get promoted by a generous blogger. Sarah Evans posted an open call on social networks, looking for job hunters to profile on her popular blog. She got more than 50 applicants and chose three. One, Mark Edwards, landed a job with TeshMedia.
Give them free advice. Sandip Singh, CEO of GoGetFunding, says he hired a programmer after the man had "spotted an error on our site and told us what code we needed to change in order to fix it."
Make a cold call. With dreams of working at a digital agency, Juda Borrayo bought a one-way ticket to from Florida New York. There, in an elevator, he met an executive creative director who tweeted about him: "Met someone in the elevator who flew here from FL, in the hopes of getting a meeting @carrotcreative Wow. That's a cold call." Borrayo says he did get some encouraging words and tips from the Carrot Creative CEO. Result? A few more interviews, but no offer.
Demonstrate your prowess with their product. Jeanne Hwang is a Harvard Business School graduate who wants to work at Pinterest. So she created a Pinterest CV. "Hey Pinterest!" she says, "This ain't your mama's resume!" So far, no response from Pinterest, but she did get a job offer as VP of Marketing from Francisco Guerrero, founder of Pinterest analytics site, Pintics.
Self-promote on your blog. I wrote a post entitled, "The Top 7 Reasons Twitter Should Hire B.L. Ochman" It has yet to get me an interview, but a Google executive did reach out and encourage me to apply for a job there.
Write a search code. Bill Irvine, CEO of Stremor Corp., in Scottsdale, Ariz., says his chief technology officer found the company after writing code that could search every job board for companies doing "natural language analysis." It also measured the writing level of the job description -- anything under 12th grade didn't qualify. When his cover letter arrived, Irvine said, "I flew him to Phoenix within five days . . . hired him that night."
Send a clever design. Eric Gandhi created a resume that looked like a Google search-results page, which he says helped him get a job as a designer at the Weather Channel.
Make them laugh. Mike Freeman got his job at Shopify after creating a website with an About Me page that begins, "I'm Mike Freeman and I want to work at Shopify" and a home page that reads, "So I've noticed that Mike Freeman doesn't work for you guys yet. Let's fix that ."
Companies still want a solid resume, but off-the-wall tactics can distinguish an applicant and help land an interview or referral. Brittany Cooper, director of talent management at New Media Strategies in Washington, D.C., says job candidates have tried everything to get her attention, from targeted Facebook ads to sending her a Starbucks gift card "so that we could grab coffee, to someone showing up at my gym so we could get face time (that one was a little creepy). At the end of the day, the outreach should be creative in a smart way that will resonate with our business, not just crazy for crazy's sake, though that will certainly get you noticed."