Why Craigslist May Be Your Most Expensive Recruiting Tool – Part II

Craigslist has built a reputation as a great resource of free and low-cost classifieds online, especially among company recruiters operating with limited budgets. But as the years pass, it’s become clear that relying on Craigslist to fill local job openings may require more time and money than its reputation suggests.

Written by TONY LEE


When asked to pinpoint their most significant threats, respondents to the 2014 IAEWS-Job Board Doctor Global Benchmark Survey didn’t rank Craigslist in the top three.  However, they did list the commoditization of job postings and the growth in “free” job sites as key areas of concern, and Craigslist has certainly had an impact on both.  The following is the second in a two-part post that addresses the Craigslist challenge by looking at the site’s shortcomings from an employer’s point of view. – ed.

Craigslist has built a reputation as a great resource of free and low-cost classifieds online, especially among company recruiters operating with limited budgets. But as the years pass, it’s become clear that relying on Craigslist to fill local job openings may require more time and money than its reputation suggests. In fact, in many cases, using a traditional job board is a more cost- and time-effective strategy than posting on Craigslist.

In addition to the concerns I addressed in my first post (Tuesday 5/20), another common issue raised by hiring specialists is Craigslist’s lack of customer service. Once a job is posted, returning to the site to make edits or remove the ad isn’t difficult, as long as you’ve saved your confirmation email. But if you require a live person to ask a question about any aspect of Craigslist’s posting process, you’re typically out of luck. Craigslist communicates with its customers solely via email, and given the size of its databases compared to the very small size of its customer service team (of which Newmark himself is a member), few customers receive replies to their support requests.

To be sure, there are exceptions to this trend depending on the job being advertised. And employers in smaller cities say they tend to fare better than their colleagues in medium to large markets. But for evidence of the larger trend, look no further than comments posted each day on Craigslist’s own user forum. It’s an insightful way to view the challenges recruiters face with the site nationally. Some examples include:

  • When I post a help-wanted ad, I get flooded with resumes from people who aren’t qualified and I have to post several times to find a qualified candidate. If I were paying to post, I wouldn’t post here anymore.” – a contracting firm
  • We’ve been trying to post job ads for several weeks now. The ads are accepted and appear in our account but never appear on the site. I can’t tell you the number of hours we’ve spent trying to re-post so the ads will appear. We’re now at our wit’s end and have sent several help requests but haven’t even received an acknowledgment.” – a non-profit agency
  • To pay $25 a day to find someone (yes, per day because ads are lost after the first day due to volume) is too much. We can only pay a dishwasher minimum wage, so $175 a week to advertise is a lot.” – a restaurant

Alternatives to Craigslist abound for recruiters. There are a wide range of sites that also reach national audiences at fees that range by zip code. But recruiters typically report the same issues with national general interest sites, including a burst of response immediately after postings go live – often less qualified geographically given the national nature of these sites – and then a fast decline over a few days.

Holding up more effectively are niche sites that target the job market by one or more narrow criteria, ranging from industry or function to geographic and demographic. For instance, job boards offered by trade magazine web sites and associations tend to deliver a narrow, targeted response of applicants to job listings aimed at that audience. In these cases, the niche sites typically charge posting fees ranging from $25 for seven days to more than $500 for 30 days, but recruiters say the return on investment is good since they tend to receive higher-quality applicants to review. Recruiters seeking an engineer in San Francisco that post the position on IEEE.org, for example, will tap into the niche of a site targeted to the engineering profession.

Recruiters also report that newspaper and television career sites with a high penetration of visitors in a local market remain a strong source of qualified applicants who live in that market. Most local newspapers maintain an online audience penetration of more than 40% in their markets – and often higher – despite recent drops in print circulation and viewership, reports the Newspaper Association of America and National Association of Broadcasters.

The bottom line is that when recruiters consider online resources for attracting job candidates, the result often mirrors the quality of the source. As the adage goes: you get what you pay for, both in terms of quality and the time required to identify those qualified applicants.

How to Spot a Bad Candidate Who Looks Perfect on Paper

Have a job applicant who looks too good to be true? These five signs might indicate that’s the case.

Have you ever put in a good word for someone, only to hear that he or she got the job-, and then totally bombed? I’ve been there and I can tell you: It’s super awkward.

Have a job applicant who looks too good to be true? These five signs might indicate that’s the case.

Have you ever put in a good word for someone, only to hear that he or she got the job-, and then totally bombed? I’ve been there and I can tell you: It’s super awkward.

But if people (myself included) can be fooled by contacts we know, what hope do hiring managers have to spot a bad apple when all they have is an interview process?

Thankfully, there are some telltale signs you can look for to see if someone’s the right fit. If an applicant does one of these things, think twice before extending an offer.

1. They (Only) Talk About Themselves

Yes, it’s an interview, a.k.a., a Q&A in which the candidate answers questions. However, it’s red flag if someone talks about herself–exclusively.

After all, there should be at least a few times when other people’s names pop up. When you ask about the applicant’s career aspirations, you’d ideally want her to throw out the name of some successful person she admires. Or, if you ask someone about his previous experience and how it led to where he is now, he’ll hopefully mention someone positively–be it an influential colleague, boss, or client–in the answer.

These are just examples, of course, but if a candidate talks for an entire interview without any mention of anyone else, it’s a red flag. Translation: This may be the colleague who complains about pitching in on extra work, finishes the pot of coffee without making more, and sets up a print job to run 1,000 copies the morning she knows another teammate is pushing up against a deadline.

Instead, choose the person who talks warmly about at least a couple of people. A person who can recognize-;and celebrate-;others’ accomplishments is someone you definitely want on your team.

2. They Take Credit for Everything (Good)

This candidate has a particular brand of only talking about himself. Unlike the applicant above, he’ll mention teammates and colleagues and classmates in his answers-;with one exception. Whenever, there’s something to take credit for, he’s suddenly a one-man show.

Yes, an interview is a place to sell your accomplishments and pitch your potential, but be wary of someone who sounds like any on-the-job success he’s ever had is his and his alone. This person may become the teammate who steals ideas or takes sole credit for a team win.

A better sign? A candidate who talks enthusiastically about working collaboratively (like this), and who genuinely seems to understand the reason behind teamwork.

3. They Don’t Discuss Their Shortcomings

You know all of those articles that advise you to choose something other than “I’m a perfectionist!” as your answer to “What’s your biggest weakness?” They exist because, well, there are candidates who are afraid to admit they’ve ever done anything wrong in the workplace.

Case in point: They can’t name one thing they’re working on–other than “being perfect.” Sure, you could argue that this is an issue of semantics and interview coaching. It’s true, though. The same person who stinks at writing could either say that she’s working on her language skills or that she’s a perfectionist. One candidate chooses to discuss the steps she’s taking toward becoming a better communicator, and the other candidate chooses a superficial response.

I’d choose the person who has the confidence to discuss areas of improvement with her prospective boss. Being able to recognize her weaknesses and working to improve them will go a lot further on the job than trying to sweep them under the rug.

4. They’re Unprofessional Throughout the Process

Yes, it’s possible that someone who is always punctual hits a traffic jam that causes him to be tardy for the first time in five years–on the very same day as his interview. And yes, it’s also possible that she really did attach her writing sample at the exact moment that her internet went out–resulting in an incomplete application.

But, if that same candidate continues to be unprofessional throughout the interview process–she swears when answering a basic question or he brings up his ex and follows it up with “Gosh, I don’t know why I just said that!”–it can be hard to know whether you should chalk it up to bad luck and nerves or assume the worst.

If you love the candidate, you can obviously move forward with the process. However, if someone acts unprofessionally when he’s nervous, know there’s a chance those habits will reappear in other stressful situations (i.e., that this person will be late or say something off color in important meetings too). So, to ease your fears, definitely touch on these issues with his references to find out the truth.

5. They Seem Too Good to Be True

I’ll admit it: This is one is tricky. How can you tell if your dream candidate is everything he’s cracked up to be (or not)?

I’d say to be wary of a candidate who is literally perfect for the job. All applicants want to show how their qualifications align with the position description, but for many roles it would be surprising–and a little fishy–to find someone with the exact number of years of experience you’re looking for, in the exact field, with the preferred degrees, and whose resume or cover letter states she’s checked every single box. More often than not, at least some of those items are touched on through transferrable skills.

If you’re feeling guilty about discounting someone who is 100% qualified, remind yourself that a position she can do with her eyes closed probably isn’t what’s best for her. Not to mention, it’s not good for you either, because this applicant will most likely have one eye on the door. Once something more interesting and challenging comes along, she may ditch this job, leaving you to start your hiring process all over again.

Hiring managers often say they want someone who could “hit the ground running,” so it’s surprising (even to them) when they’re turned off by someone who could set the course on fire. But unless you’re totally sure this would be the best hire, know that it’s OK to trust your gut and look for someone you think would grow within the role–rather than someone who might feel immediately constrained by it.

No one wants to hire someone and then work with that person’s far less desirable twin. So, look for the signs above to avoid a Jekyll and Hyde situation.

73% Of Professionals Don’t Love Current Positions

38% of participants said their job was “okay, I guess”
35% of participants said they hated their current job
27% of participants said they “REALLY love” their job

Hampton, N.H. (May 12th, 2015) – CAREEREALISM, a career advice and employment branding site, published the results of its 2015 career satisfaction survey, through which its audience of 1M+ monthly readers were polled. Readers were prompted to share their level of satisfaction with their current job and/or company.

CAREEREALISM compiled the results and found:

  • 38% of participants said their job was “okay, I guess”
  • 35% of participants said they hated their current job
  • 27% of participants said they “REALLY love” their job

“With 73% of participants not in love with their current position, the reality that the majority of a company’s employees are open to a new job should be a major concern of every executive team today,” said CAREEREALISM founder and CEO J.T. O’Donnell. “Is your company prepared to handle unexpected turnover?”

“If employees start quitting for better jobs,” she continued, “are you ready to mobilize a recruiting strategy to find their replacements? And, how long will it take you to train new hires so they reach the productivity levels of the employees you lost? The message is clear right now: workers are dissatisfied, and that can put any company at risk of being negatively impacted by turnover.”

As you can see, it’s important for a company to select job candidates based on who they think will fit into their company culture. Once a company is aware of what makes their company a great place to work, they will look for job candidates that they know match that specific culture; making them more likely to love what they do every day.

If your company is interested in learning how to make your company culture awesome or is seeking resources on the topic, please download this free ebook.

About CAREEREALISM

CAREEREALISM, a privately-held career advice and Employment Branding company, was founded in 2009 on the belief that “every job is temporary.” The purpose of the site is to help people solve their career and job search problems. CAREEREALISM connects the top talent with the best companies by telling stories that showcase what makes a company’s culture unique. The company is the leading online destination for career advice and employment branding intelligence. With extensive experience in career counseling at large companies, founder J.T. O’Donnell has created an organic platform built to share experiences, provide feedback, and suggest how companies can reveal their talent brand. For more information please visit www.CAREEREALISM.com.

5 Questions Guaranteed to Weed Out Bad Job Candidates

Here are some of the best questions that I use while interviewing potential employees to help find the best talent.
You’ve launched your startup, you’ve probably pinned down some investors, and all signs point to a “real” business. However, you are just getting started.

Here are some of the best questions that I use while interviewing potential employees to help find the best talent.

You’ve launched your startup, you’ve probably pinned down some investors, and all signs point to a “real” business. However, you are just getting started. Every time you add someone new to the team, they’re a new “moving part” and can either make the environment better or worse–though in many cases it’s a little of both.

Mosts startups like mine are on a tight budget and can’t afford to hire the wrong person. Others, particularly with founders who consider their business their baby, want to make sure the person they hire is a right “fit” for the company. After all, if you’re going to be working with a person closely for most of your waking hours, you want to like them and make sure you’re on the same page. I’m in the middle of the two!

Here are a few must-ask questions for a business owner hiring a new team member. These answers will tell you if the person complements you business, if they’re in it for the long haul, or if they’ll just say yes to the first outside offer they get.

  1. Tell me about your dream job. Some people are desperate for a job (any job!) and you can’t blame them. If they start talking about wanting to work for a major corporation, a clear way to climb up the ladder or otherwise suggest the job they’re interviewing for will never be their dream job, it’s time to cut the interview short. You won’t be doing anyone any favors by moving forward with this candidate as they won’t be working for you long.
  2. Why do you want to work here? This is a must-ask question for any job candidate, and it shows you both where their passions are and/or if they did their research about your company. I like founders that do their research. Startups are fueled by passion, and if a candidate doesn’t even seem clear on what your venture does or why they want to work for you, that says a lot about how their work ethic will pan out. I like to hire people that know a bit about me and my company. I typically tell them to “pitch me” my company as if they are talking to a customer interested in my company. If they do well, it’s a good sign they will be good. Every company needs sales people in every position.
  3. Tell me about a challenging project you managed. Even if you’re not hiring for a management role, you want someone who can take initiative–after all, this is a startup environment. It also shows you how they deal with challenges and conflicts. You want a fighter, not a “flighter” in your venture. Don’t be hard on them if they haven’t had a lot of managerial experience as sometimes these can be amazing. You want to see how they would and have worked in the past.
  4. Explain how you go the extra mile? Everyone wears a lot of hats in a startup, and it’s nearly guaranteed that anyone you hire will have to step outside of their job description from time to time. This is about flexibility, which is a must-have with a startup. I’m not looking for someone that just does their job. I’m looking for someone that goes above and beyond. One way I like to phrase this is asking them which is better: to finish a task on-time or have it be late and something everyone loves. I love hearing their responses.
  5. Do you think you’d like to start a startup one day? This might be seen as a “trick” question by the candidate, but it shouldn’t. Entrepreneurs are drawn to the startup environment, even if they’re not ready to do it themselves yet. They can learn a lot from your company, and vice versa. Plus, if they do have an idea and it complements your startup, you might even be able to work on it together. I like startup people (even though it’s risky having them work for you). They can bring some of the best ideas ever to your business. You might even want to set aside budget for them to build out part of their dream within your business.

End each interview by asking what the candidate likes to do outside of work. You both love to kiteboard on the weekends? That might tell you a lot more about company culture fit than any other question.

Most importantly, actually follow-up on references and trust your gut. It rarely leads you astray.