Why Craigslist May Be Your Customers’ Most Expensive Recruiting Tool

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 first of 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.

From the early days of the site, Craigslist has offered a very easy method for posting listings: you simply select a city, then a category, open an account and post your job. This ease of use was a breakthrough in the often complicated online recruiting space. Over time, virtually every online job board has created an equally easy posting method, typically relying on e-commerce to generate revenue from each job posting.

Free also was the clear differentiator between Craigslist and most other online job sites. As founder Craig Newmark liked to explain, his goal was to help boost communication between communities of visitors, not generate revenue. Eventually Craigslist began charging for job listings in many markets, which Newmark explained as a great way to filter out fraudulent and frivolous job postings.

Newmark added that keeping the posting fee low – $25 to $75 dollars per month depending on the city – allows Craigslist to retain its position as the low-cost provider compared to the major job boards, a position the site actively promotes (http://www.craigslist.org/about/job_boards_compared). Low pricing also helped Craigslist cement its relationship with the demographic that the site cultivated from its beginning: teens, students and singles who relied on the site to help them find cheap furniture, a used car, a new partner (for the night or forever) and an entry-level job.

Yet, 18 years after the launch of Craigslist, the site is losing effectiveness as a recruitment source under the weight of its own success. Job seeker traffic has grown exponentially in most Craigslist cities through the years, and the still shaky hiring market for many job seekers has accelerated that traffic growth. At the same time, the growth in job postings has stalled in many cities in parallel as other recruiting alternatives have emerged.

The result, say recruiters, is that every Craigslist job posting is inundated with applies, and given the demographics of the typical Craigslist visitor, that influx of applies has created a backlog of work. Instead of receiving 30 applications for a position, among which one or two may be worthy of an interview, companies of all sizes report receiving hundreds of replies within 24 hours of each posting. Yet the number of qualified candidates who apply remains the same or has fallen for many positions, recruiters say, which translates into multiple hours spent reviewing an overload of resumes searching for the needle in the haystack.

This issue is a familiar one to anyone who has posted a listing of any kind on Craigslist. Since all listings are posted in reverse chronological order, the newest listings get the most prominence. When a company posts an opening for a receptionist on a Tuesday at 10am, the window for responses to roll in starts at 10:01am, but typically ends later that day as other postings push the receptionist listing further and further down the queue. While it’s true that search results pull in older listings, those results also show in reverse chronological order, so the receptionist job falls below new listings for receptionists each time another job in that category is posted.

The problem is exacerbated in markets where Craigslist charges for job postings. If a gas station posts a listing for a mechanic for $25, and none of the applicants in the first 24 hours is a good match, the likelihood that the station will receive a relevant application through the rest of the 30-day post is very small, recruiters say. To refresh the flow of new applicants, the station must re-post the job for another $25 to have the listing jump back to the top of the list. In some cases, employers post jobs four and five times before attracting a qualified new hire. At $25 or more per post, Craigslist becomes an expensive option fast, not to mention time-consuming given the flood of unqualified applicants, say recruiters.

To be continued in part II.

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.


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.