Finding a Job on Craigslist -- Carefully

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Classified ads on Craigslist website
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Craigslist is a unique site with 700 local sites in 70 countries offering 80 million classified ads to the people in those locations. On Craigslist, you can find everything from jobs to places to live (for sale and rent) and many things to purchase.

Craigslist Has Advantages

Craigslist is different from traditional job boards in four important ways:
  1. Jobs posted on Craigslist are often not posted elsewhere.
  2. Posting jobs is free or inexpensive (compared with a traditional job board) for employers.
  3. Small and very small employers use Craigslist more often than large employers.
  4. Craigslist jobs are presented in chronological order based on posting date and time.
Keep those characteristics in mind as you hunt for your new job on Craigslist.

Do a Search of All "Jobs"

The most effective way to find a job on Craigslist is to search the entire "jobs" category so you don't miss a job that was posted in a subcategory (e.g. "admin / office" etc.) you wouldn't check. Simply click on the "jobs" title at the top of the Craigslist homepage for your location. Then, type your query at the top of the "jobs" category page.

When you get to the results of your first search, you can fine-tune by clicking on the "search titles only" or choosing another option with choices like "internship" or "part-time." Check the left column on the search results page for these and more options. Craigslist will show you search results in the usual reverse-chronological order with the newest at the top. If the results are limited, Craigslist will also search "nearby" locations to find you more opportunities.

Caution!

Like most websites that accept postings from the public, some of the jobs you find on Craigslist are bogus, so keep your guard up. Be careful if:
  • No employer name is visible. Some legitimate employers do post "blind ads" with no indication of who they are to protect their intentions from competitors or even current employees. But be wary if the employer's name, address, and contact information is not given.
  • You need to pay them. The posting wants you to invest some money before "qualifying" for the job. Recruiters are paid by employers to find good candidates, and employees are paid by employers. So, no one should be collecting money from you.
  • They offer you a job without any screening or interviews. The employer is willing to hire you immediately, based only on your interest in the job, and wants you provide your Social Security Number and/or bank account number before even interviewing you for the job. That very important personal information is the last information provided, after you have interviewed for the job, are sure that the employer is real, and have been given a formal job offer.

Remember, if the job doesn't feel right to you or the people are a little scary, trust your instincts, and skip the opportunity!

Research Before You Apply

The Internet is your best defense. Don't be in such a hurry to apply for a job that you skip taking the time to be sure that the employer and the job are legitimate.

Who and where is that business? Look for postings that include the employer's name, address, and phone number. Then search on that information to be sure that the employer is "real." Is the address given for an office building or an empty lot or something else inappropriate?

Does that employer have a website that describes the business? If you only find job postings when you do the search, skip the opportunity. Legitimate businesses must do more than relentlessly hire people. They must generate revenue to pay those employees.

Apply Very Carefully

When you respond, use an email address specifically for your job search. Best is a a free email address from Yahoo, Microsoft, or Google--but, of course, not a "cute" address like HotMama@example.com or YankeesStink@example.com. Avoid using an address associated with your current employer (great way to lose your job or have a very uncomfortable talk with your boss).

Limit Personal Information Sharing

Don't share your home address or home phone number when you apply. Stick to your job search email address in your initial contact with the employer. Once you are sure that the job is legitimate, you can share more information, although I would protect my home address for as long as possible.

Meet Only in a Populated, Public Location

Even to meet someone who works out of their home, the first meeting or job interview should be in a populated public place, like a coffee shop or a public library. Don't meet someone in their apartment or house for your first meeting.

Bottom Line

Craigslist can be very helpful for finding a job. Many of the successful job seekers I speak with found their jobs on Craigslist. But be cautious with Craigslist--as you should be with any job posting, whether you find it online or on your local public library's bulletin board. The bad guys and gals are out there.
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