July 18, 2018

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Place Your Hands in the Air and Step Away from the Computer!

I sometimes feel as if we’ve reached the point where if we cannot source, find, identify, or research a company using some form of internet based tool that we can not possibly be doing something right.

Week after week I get calls about which software, what online service, Application Service Provider (ASP), what system tools, email this or that are we using.

I can tell if I reply with something simplistic: Such as, “Oh gosh we just use Outlook Express or Act …” that I’m getting stares from the corner of the caller’s eye for being so low tech.

Such a call came in recently prompting this article. It went like this:

Jean, a recruiter with a local firm, calls seeking assistance. She knows a particular financial services company is laying off thousands of people nationally starting next week and wants names of employees in their New Jersey office to solicit among which hundreds locally could be effected.

I ask her to provide a sampling of the names, titles, salary levels she’s looking to connect with. She mentions the New Jersey office location and how “I’d LOVE to find out who’s in these positions and be able to call them”.

During the entire call she was stuck on the solution having to be some online system, email harvesting, or research tool. Every question asked centered around whether she should:

  • Use an online researching tool such as Eliyon, Broadlook,
  • A search engine like Google or Yahoo or …
  • Subscribe to a fee based service such as Gale or Hoovers.

I listened. And knew immediately what her problem was: Jean was hopelessly addicted to her PC keyboard.

“Jean,” I said, “you need to put your hands up in the air and step away from the computer. Now.” Apparently she did not think that was funny.

I outlined a short, inexpensive, two-hour telephone training session and explained by the end of the two hours I felt confident she’d have the names. When in two days I didn’t hear back, I realized she was not convinced so I decided to have some fun.

A few days later during an extended lunch hour I drove by the local division of the company she was targeting. I made a few observations from the street while pulled over:

  • There was no security gate
  • The employee parking lot was accessible to all
  • The building was shared by three other companies

I proceeded driving the half mile driveway and made my way around the East parking lot, then North, West, and South. I drove around twice to get a feel for the place.

I then parked and walked around a bit. I eventually went into the lobby and hung out there … I studied the directory listing … the layout, etc. ( I was dressed well with herringbone jacket shirt and tie and NO, I was not acting suspiciously!)

I wasn’t sure what I was looking for, but knowing some of the people walking past me were Jean’s targets made me feel confident I’d get an idea soon.

The idea came to me when I walked back out and noticed the employee parking spaces for Jean’s company were clearly marked with yellow outline and an emblem stating “Parking for XYZ Employees Only”.


That day I had my assistant print up about forty flyers on elegant IRES stationary and staple my business card to each. The text was very short and brief. I returned to the lot during the middle of the afternoon two days later and made sure each space occupied by XYZ company’s automobiles got a flyer on their windshield.

Corny? Perhaps. Too easy? Maybe.

Within two days six individuals called. I got all their names, title and phone numbers.

Armed with this information I called Jean the recruiter back whom I had not heard from during the week and a half that had passed.

I asked Jean if she succeeded using an online service that could produce the results she was looking for. “No,” she replied, “I’m trying to analyze my options carefully.” She went on to indicate she was between two internet services which I believe were Broadlook or Eliyon or something along those lines.

I stated the title, salary, and residential location of one individual and asked if that’s what she was looking for.

“YES!,” she said, “who gave you that person?” I rattled off two more.

I now had her attention. I also secured the training session during which time I emailed her all the contact leads we collected as I had no need for them.

The point here is there ARE plenty of no-internet ways of getting what we need.

I will confess I did not brainstorm the windshield flyer technique. Hundreds of local deli's, pizzerias (of which we have several on every block in New Jersey) and fast food joints have been using this technique for decades. Why? Because it works.

I first realized this was a suitable approach for recruiters when a few years ago a president of another company disclosed during a conversation, “I lost three people in the last nine months. That (*explicative*) recruiter keeps coming around our parking garage and putting her business card on everyone’s cars,” he stated in a very angry voice.

My ears perked up.

This made me wonder: “You mean it's working?” I asked him. “Yeah I lost three people already so she must be doing this again for some reason.”

I always thought an upscale recruiting firm would diminish its “appearance” using such approaches. But does the candidate care how he learns of you? Of course not.

That was the moment I realized we need to always think out of the box and not forget simple methods that might be right under our nose.

Here’s another method I admittedly do not use frequently but has worked whenever the mood strikes: Buy some flat magnets from your local office supply store sized to adhere to a business card. You can buy a box containing dozens for a few bucks. One side peels and adheres to the business card while the other side attaches to anything magnetic, turning your business cards into magnetic cards.

I can’t tell you how many places I’ve left magnetized business cards!! I always keep a stash in the car console.

I’m selective as to WHERE I leave them, however. Not just anywhere.

Entrances near restrooms at a nearby Hilton situated across the street from a Big Four CPA firm is one of my favorites. Any hotel which is part of a greater business/corporate complex development is a possibility. Another is the metallic base of lamps in the lobbies of such hotels. Usually the lamps are on end tables located next to seating arrangements of couches and end chairs and eventually get noticed by business people lurking there.

I also make sure I leave plenty so after the first one disappears there are remaining ones that may continue to serve the purpose.

Here’s another example of what ideas may surface by getting out of the office (and away from the PC) regularly.

One time while out visiting a prospective client yet in the negotiation stages, I was waiting for the receptionist. Thinking she had stepped out, I realized it was just after five and she probably left for the day. I happed to peer over the desk (actually I did so intentionally) and noticed a sheet titled “ABC Company Birthdays”. One of them was the birthday of the president.

I logged in into my PDA and the following month I bought him a large, very noticeable birthday card which clearly stood out and arrived exactly the day before.

“How did you know when my birthday is?” he asked.

I told him “I just know, and what I don’t know, I know how to obtain. Same applies to how I’m prepared to find the candidates you want to start meeting. Now about our contract …”

The contract was signed and the CFO of the company was placed by us within eight weeks.

Could I have made the resulting $200k placement without the inside knowledge of his birthday? Maybe. But when someone is sitting on the fence and it only takes one light breeze to push things over every little bit helps.

I hope you’ve enjoyed these “Out of Office” ideas and become stimulated to think of others of your own.

- Frank G. Risalvato

For more information on one-on-one customized coaching call the author Frank G. Risalvato @ (973)300-1010. Frank is a recognized recruiting industry leader who has appeared on numerous radio and TV business segments (including CNBC). He has written countless articles, and has provided innovative training to independent recruiters nationally since founding IRES, Inc. in 1991 · Visit and receive a never-before released second book free with a purchase of his Recruiter Training Guide· Frank’s Email: