Good ol’ Craigslist – that quirky online marketplace where you can find your next couch, profess your love to someone you locked eyes with on the subway for two seconds, sell your comic book collection, and even find a job. Yes, even though the site has a bit of a questionable reputation amongst its offerings and dealings, it is a surprisingly great resource for job searching. Many local shops, small business owners, and startups use Craigslist to search for their next employee. Furthermore, since Craigslist instilled a fee for posting job adverts, there has been a vast reduction in scam job listing on the site, as only those employers who are serious and willing to invest a couple dollars into their hiring make it onto the listings. However, you may still want to tread cautiously when browsing the site looking for a job, and if you can, imagine what the employer must go through upon posting an advert – hundreds. of. applications. Some in Chinese, some with spam links, some with NSFW photos…it’s a pretty daunting experience that would leave even the most meme-loving, internet-pro traumatized. I’ve had to post many job adverts in my position as director of an NGO, and as a freelance project manager. In order to stand out in the sea of spam, here are my six DOs and DON’Ts when applying for a job on Craigslist:
- DO write a quirky headline. It will get you noticed.
When we (as employers) are looking at an inbox filled with 132 applications (and we’ve only posted the job 4 hours ago ) everything starts to look the same. Except…what do we see there, in between emails 32 and 33…wait, what?! A different subject line! Click. Even something simple like “Your next sales rep” will get you points amongst the standard “Application for Sales Rep Position.” My favorite subject line so far? “Hello…is it me you’re looking for?”
- DON’T write in asking for more information, or if the employer can verify themselves first.
First, a reputable company will list as much information as they are comfortable with in the ad. Anything else, including salary, is usually discussed in the interview. Second, yes, I know there are a lot of scammers out there who will post fake job adverts to get your telephone number, amongst other personal info from your resume (although the posting fee has reduced this significantly). But a company recruiter does not have time to respond to emails requesting verification/more info when there are hundreds of apps to process. You literally have seconds to impress or get passed on. And if you’re concerned with spammers, please mind your email signature (aka don’t include personal info as in the photo below!)
- DON’T put your full address in your resume.
This practice is typically seen as outdated, especially in this digital age, but I’m surprised at how many people still do it. If anything, a city and state would be the most you should list, but remember, you are sending your personal information out on the internet. There is no need for a potential employer to know your address down to your apartment number.
- DO make sure you read a job advert in its entirety for special instructions on the application process.
Many savvy companies will post specific instructions such as “reply with code #2314 in the subject line when applying” or “include the answer to 3+5 in your response” in order to filter all the spam bots out there that will inundate our inbox. Filtering out those submissions that do follow instructions not only saves time when deciding to continue reading an application, it also shows us those applicants that can follow directions, and well…read!
- DON’T send broken links to your portfolios, online resume etc.
Come on people – do a copy edit on your application, have a friend or your mom look at it, but make sure your links work! Similar to the way one little typo can throw your application for a loop, a broken link is frustrating for the viewer and doesn’t reflect so well on your standards and attention to detail.
- DO keep your cover letter, which is best written directly in the email, to about two paragraphs long – no need for a novel.
Again, time is of the essence – no need to spill your life story and every company you’ve worked for. Just include who you are, why you are the best, and why you are the perfect fit for the position. And please include a letter, greeting, even a simple hello. I receive so many applications with just a resume attached, or a resume and routine cover letter that is clearly sent out to multiple applications, and I can’t express how mundane and boring they all start to sound, especially after going through the first 30 or so. Show that you are not a robot!
As you trek precariously through the mysterious land of Craiglist, follow these tips to protect your online privacy, impress a potential employer, and really stand out amongst the spam bots and the scammers. Good luck!