When your line of business is out of line with your region's industrial base, finding skilled employees is nearly impossible. Karmak Inc., which manufactures software for the trucking industry, is located in Carlinville, Ill., far from any hub of the high-tech universe. As a consequence, local help-wanted ads for software-savvy employees bombed.

Desperate to build his staff, CEO Richard Schien appealed to the families and friends of prospective employees. "Do you know someone with these skills who would like to move to the area?" his new help-wanted ads read.

"Many people would love to live in the area but think there wouldn't be work for them," says Schien. "This extends the reach of the local papers." Schien ran the ad each week for seven months and filled 15 positions as a result.