I am not going to promise you that you will find a job using Craigslist. I am just a regular guy that has found a couple of jobs using the site, so I am going to give you my real world and honest advice. With that said, here is my experience.
Before I get into my experience finding a job, however, I will first tell you the other side of the experience: the employer. I worked at a place where someone seemed to leave every 6 – 8 months. When someone left, we always put an ad on Craigslist to get a replacement. And I was the one that would see the emailed responses and resumes. If there was a possible fit, I would print the resume and pass it on to the manager so he could contact them.
Wow. The responses. I am not an HR person. I have never worked in HR, so I don’t know how the pros do it. But probably 90% of the responses I got were crap. And the work was for a basic sales position.
Generic Emails are Easy to Detect
It was so easy for me to spot the generic emails and resumes that people would send. They probably didn’t even read the post. They just send out mass emails with a resume fishing for responses to whatever new ads are posted on CL. I don’t recommend sending canned, generic responses to ads. Since it was so easy to spot them, I wouldn’t even read past the first line or two of their emails. And I wouldn’t even open their resumes because I assumed they were lazy and just sitting at home spamming the job section. Not a person we would want to hire.
An odd thing I noticed is that people would send their resumes from inappropriate email addresses. I would get resumes from addresses like email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org (those are not real email addresses, I hope, but you get the idea). Send your stuff from an email address that is more professional (i.e. email@example.com) if you want to be taken seriously.
Another odd thing I would see is people basically asking for a favor. “My mom said I need to learn responsibility, so I would like to work for your company.” Or, “I was recently laid off, so I would really like to work for your company”. Employers know Craigslist is free for job seekers to use and it attracts tons of traffic, but don’t be so casual. Write a professional cover letter. There are plenty of resources online that can show you how to create one. And definitely don’t make it seem like the employer should do you a favor by hiring you.
Now, my experience using Craigslist to find a job.
I’ll be honest. It’s not easy. There is a ton of competition, mostly because Craigslist is so popular and free to use. Employers that post job ads on Craigslist are going to get tons of responses, no matter what the position is. As I explained above, most of the responses employers receive are going to come from unqualified people or people that didn’t even read the job post, so they won’t be responding to you if you fit that description.
My first tip: Read the full post and follow instructions.
If the employer wants a cover letter and resume attached as separate Word documents, email them your cover letter and resume as separate Word documents. If they want your cover letter and resume copy & pasted into the body of an email, copy & paste your cover letter and resume into the body of an email. Simple, right?
Also, even if they don’t ask for a cover letter, it is good to include a cover letter every time you apply for a position.
The Cover Letter
Don’t create a generic cover letter that you use for all of the careers / gigs you apply to. And don’t use a cover letter template and fill in the blanks. Create a great unique cover letter related to your field that points out your strengths. Then for each one you apply to, modify the cover letter a little each time so it specifically addresses things in the ad.
For example, if you are applying to work in sales, each ad is going to be different. If one ad stresses phone communication, quickly describe your phone communication skills. If another ad stresses customer email communication, quickly describe your experience dealing with customers via email.
Using those examples, if you are applying for the spot that needs great phone communication skills, don’t tell them how great you are dealing with customers and resolving issues through emails. Get the idea?
When applying for employment on Craigslist, the goal is to stand out and get noticed over the garbage that employers will receive. It takes a little extra work, but you will have a better chance of being noticed and contacted if you take that extra time to customize your response.
Again, don’t use a generic resume template and don’t send the exact same resume to each job you apply for. You can use a template, but modify it so it looks unique. Trust me, I’m sure every HR or hiring person has seen the same resume templates over and over again. Be unique to stand out from the rest. And use the same techniques as the cover letter. Change a few lines each time you apply to a new place, making your resume specific to the ad. You want to get discovered by the employer, not thrown into the trash.
Finally, and this is the most important part:
Use Craigslist to apply for jobs that aren’t solely listed on Craigslist. Confusing? Let me explain.
A lot of the time, a company will post the name of their company in the Craigslist ad. Many companies don’t include their name in order to avoid tons of phone calls about the posted position. But many put the company name in their ad.
Since these companies might get hundreds of emails via the anonymous Craigslist email address, you could easily get lost in the mix of generic responses. It could be difficult for them to notice you. Instead, go to the company’s official website. A lot of the time, they will have a jobs or careers area on the website with the exact same ad they posted on Craigslist.
Use the form on their website or respond to the email address posted on their website. This will cut down the competition. Think about it. Would you rather compete with 500 spammy emails they get from Craigslist? Or would you rather compete against 10 – 20 people that took the time to discover the listing on the company website?
If you use my tips to send personalized cover letters and resumes to each employer through the job listing on their own website rather than CL, you cut down the competition significantly. And it will give you a much better chance for someone to actually see your application and contact you for an interview if you are qualified.
How to contact me
If you have any questions, please ask: nicholas @ howtoselloncraigslistebook.com. Again, I am not an HR professional or job placing expert. I am just giving my real world experience about how to use Craigslist to find a job. If you find this information helpful, please share it on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+. Thanks!
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