How to Turn Blind Box Ads into an Outstanding Contact

Believe it or not, job postings with a "blind" post office box (POB) listed for response, in which the ad does not give a company name, can be the very best ads to which to respond. But don't mail your resume like the ad requests. Contact the company directly. Yes, I said directly. There is a very legal and very honest way to find out who the company is that owns the POB, and it will put you miles ahead of the competition. The next time you see an ad that has a POB, call that post office branch and say:

"Can you please give me the name of the company that uses post office box ___?"

Fifty percent of the time you will get the answer just by asking this simple question; if not, continue with:

"This company is soliciting directly from the public by a newspaper ad."

Again, at least 50 percent will give you the information at this point; if not, continue with the following.

"According to the Freedom of Information Act, the post office is required to give out the information on any company that uses a post office box to solicit from the public. Can you please give me the name of the company and their address?"

Nearly all will give you the information at this point.

In reality, the Freedom of Information Act requires that you make a written or in-person request, so if the postal worker wants to be a stickler, you might be required to either mail in your request or supply it in person. But here is another secret. Most POB ads are placed with branch post offices, so call the main post office for your city first and ask: "Does the Freedom of Information Act require post offices to reveal the identity of companies that solicit from the public?" The correct answer should be "Yes." Then if the branch balks about giving you the information over the phone, just say: "The main post office downtown has already told me that the Freedom of Information Act requires that the information be given out." Watch how quickly they jump. And for the "toe-the-line" group that will not give you the information over the phone, mail for the information or stop by personally. Stick with it and you will get 100 percent results.

Then contact the company directly. When you reach the Hiring Manager, simply state,

"I understand you're currently seeking to hire a _____. I believe I'm the person you're seeking."

Blind box ads are often the best ad leads to track down.

Go on to state your background and abilities. The person will likely be surprised that you are aware of the opening—even to the point of embarrassment! Many companies place POB ads thinking they are totally anonymous—in fact, many companies place the ads to replace existing employees. So if the question "How did you find out about the position?" comes up (it will), just say, "One of my network contacts informed me that your company was interested in hiring someone in this area." You don't need to reveal that this particular "network contact" works at the post office. The Hiring Manager will usually be fascinated that you are aware of their need. This is a great contact, since there is virtually no competition. Make the most of it!

P.S. If the ad is a blind newspaper box (i.e., replies must be sent to an address in care of the newspaper), it is generally impenetrable. Respond if it's a good fit, but the odds of getting a response back will generally be low. Send it out, then go on to pursue the next opportunity.