We propose a modification of the Variational Quantum Eigensolver algorithm for electronic structure optimization using quantum computers, named nonunitary Variational Quantum Eigensolver (nu-VQE), in which a nonunitary operator is combined with the original system Hamiltonian leading to a new variational problem with a simplified wave function ansatz. In the present work, as nonunitary operator, we use the Jastrow factor, inspired from classical Quantum Monte Carlo techniques for simulation of strongly correlated electrons. The method is applied to prototypical molecular Hamiltonians for which we obtain accurate ground-state energies with shallower circuits, at the cost of an increased number of measurements. Finally, we also show that this method achieves an important error mitigation effect that drastically improves the quality of the results for VQE optimizations on today's noisy quantum computers. The absolute error in the calculated energy within our scheme is 1 order of magnitude smaller than the corresponding result using traditional VQE methods, with the same circuit depth.