When you need unskilled or entry-level employees, one way to find them is embarrasingly simple: pay attention to the general public you deal with every day. Blair Brown, CEO of Charrette Corp., a chain of architecture- and design-supply stores based in overemployed metropolitan Boston, considers everyone he meets in passing as a possible Charrette staff member. "I told my personnel department they have to develop guerrilla strategies so the business can grow," Brown says. To date, the tactic has paid off in the hiring of eight people -- good results, considering its beginnings.

When Brown's car broke down during a late-night snowstorm some winters ago, he walked until he found an off-duty taxi. The sympathetic driver was nice enough to interrupt his coffee break and take Brown home. Brown didn't simply acknowledge the extra effort in the cabbie's tip. He offered him a job as a driver. Today, that driver is a marketing specialist.

"I like to see people and meet the public," says Brown. "By chatting with the taxi driver I found out he was a graduate of Amherst College and didn't have any plans." Brown also makes it a rule to forgo the self-serve pump at gas stations. Unpinched pennies at the pump have rewarded him with one especially courteous attendant who was ready to come in from the cold.