How To Find Contact Details, Part 2: The Pros and Cons of Contact Search

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Nov 22, 2011

When we talk about finding someone’s contact details, what we are normally trying to achieve is a way to directly communicate with the candidate. The surest way of connecting with a candidate is to speak with them directly.  Failing that, we can send them an email or be connected with them through a third party. Paradoxically when we are finding someone’s contact details it is usually easier to work from the edges towards the centre (see image).

For a sourcer the preferential order for contacting a person is:

  1. Mobile number or direct number
  2. Personal or company email address
  3. Switchboard or Mainline (third-party)

But for finding contact details it is easier to move from:

  1. Third party connections
  2. Emails
  3. Mobiles and direct numbers

This week, we will approach the pros and cons of each of these methods starting from the outside and working our way in.



A tried and tested way of getting in touch with anybody in a company is to call up the main line or switchboard and ask to be connected directly.


The problem with this method is that sometimes the person who picks up your call may decide to check or screen your call before connecting you – the gatekeeper. It normally comes in the form of, “May I ask who is calling?” or the dreaded, “May I ask what’s this in regards to?”

Depending on the nature of your call, it’s very unlikely you want to tell them your true intentions. From here we follow the debate we started last week on what constitutes to a reasonable response.


Here are a few methods to find a company’s main line:

  • Go the company website and pull up their ‘contacts’ or ‘contact us’ page.
  • Search for ‘[company name] contact’ in your favourite search engine.
  • Search for the company name in Google Maps or if they are a publicly listed company try using Google Finance.
  • Use an online directory like Yellowpages.


Company Email Address


In this day and age, and especially with white-collar roles, almost every employee in an organisation has an email address. If you have their email you can send them a direct message.


The problem with this is that you don’t actually have control of whether or not your prospective candidate will actually receive your email or will actually be the one that receives it, let alone have time to read it! Considering these factors, you need to be careful when crafting your initial email. You need to introduce yourself, let them know why you’re contacting them, how you got their contact details (perhaps), give them just enough information to pique their interest about the role you’re approaching them for and without being too direct. All the while being clear and concise and to not fall into the trap of using common sales or marketing language that will cause your email to be automatically discarded as spam.

I don’t know about you, but for me that’s a lot of variables to consider and too many ways that my email can get misdirected, misconstrued, or simply disappear into the ether never again to see the light of day. One way to mitigate some of the issues with emails is to make contact through their personal email address.


If you haven’t already done so, check out my previous post on ‘how to fabricate an email address.’

Personal Email Address


This approach allows you to be a little bit more forthcoming with the reasons why you want to speak with your prospective candidate and in the opportunity you are presenting.


It’s difficult to source! This is especially true if your candidate has a common name or if they don’t have enough unique points on their profile to help corroborate that you have the right person’s email address. Ideally you’re looking for information that supports the fact that the personal email address you’ve found links to the profile of the person you are sourcing e.g. their location, company, job title or interests. There is no science to this, just calculated and educated guesses. It all depends on your source and if it makes sense… After all, you can’t just use any old email address that’s owned by someone that has the same name as your candidate.


To find personal email addresses I tend to use social networking sites or any site where they might have a public profile – LinkedIn, Spoke, Plaxo, Facebook, their personal web site, any communities or groups they may be involved in. A simple search of their name plus a few relevant keywords (industry, company, title, etc) on your preferred search engine may be all that is required if they have a unique name – again, ensure you have corroborating evidence to support that you have the right email address.

Direct Phone


With this we’re starting to walk on hallowed ground when it comes to finding contact details. A direct number means that you get to talk to the person of interest directly without having to jump any hoops or pass any proxies — i.e. no gatekeepers.


Your calls are limited to when they are in the office and available. Not to mention the amount of people who screen their calls using voicemail!


As with all of these approaches, there is no sure-fire way to get the contact detail you want. Try:

  • Asking for a direct number from the main line or switchboard
  • Brute forcing their email address (plug their email address into any search engine)
  • Search mail and message archives like,, (Use your search engineer to find more “mail archives”)

One tip I can suggest if you’re finding it hard to get in touch with someone is to call either at the very start or at the very end of the day. People tend to take calls during these times probably because it won’t interrupt their workflow or whatever issue they are focusing on.

Mobile Phone


The Holy Grail. Connect with your potential candidate any reasonable time during the entire day. Not limited to business hours.


More likely to question how you got their mobile number. Make sure you can answer this question before you contact them!


Same as Direct Phone but also try to:

  • Listen to their voicemail message  – you can normally achieve this by purposely calling their direct phone number outside of normal business hours… (ooh…tricky I know!)
  • Get their out-of-office message – check out my voicemail and ‘out-of-office’ trick for more details.

These are the more “legitimate” ways of contacting your prospect. Find out about the more “unconventional ways” of connecting with people next week!

Have any tips on finding people’s contact details? Share them with the rest below!

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