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Using Craigslist to Find a Job

By Susan P. Joyce

Craig's List (officially, is an enormous, widely-distributed, mostly-free online classifieds site. Organized by location, Craigslist offers all of the traditional classified ad sections plus quite a bit more. It is a simple site, organized by location - city or state or country - and it is gradually expanding to additional locations.

Each Craigslist site has the same "look" and organization - but not content - as all the others, with many categories of classified ads, including jobs and gigs (projects), as well as events, housing, and things for sale.

2 Important Cautions

Craigslist is different from most sites you have used in looking for a job because the cost of posting a job is non-existent (a.k.a. free!) or very low cost ($25 to $75), in comparison with most job sites. That difference is a major benefit of using Craigslist since it attracts postings from employers of every size.  However, as with most things, there can also be a downside.

1.) Watch out for scams.

The Craigslist people work hard to minimize the scams posted, and visitors can "flag" postings that they think are inappropriate or badly categorized.  However, since posting an entry is free for most categories and locations, there is abuse by scammers, scammer wannabe's, and just plain inept people.  So, be careful.  To help their visitors, Craigslist has a section called "avoiding scams and fraud." Be sure to read it!

2.) Protect your privacy if you post your resume.

There is a category where people can post their resumes. Those postings will be visible to anyone who visits the site, so limit the contact information and details that you include. Anyone, including your current boss, can view your resume on Craigslist if you post it there. See Job-Hunt's CyberSafe resume article for tips on methods to use to protect your privacy while enabling your job search.


Craigslist for Job Search

When care is taken, Craigslist can be extremely useful for job hunting.

Finding the "Right" Craigslist

To find the Craigslist for your state or town, or where you want to live, go to Craigslist, click on your continent (Craigslist is in 70 countries!), and select the location you want from the map. Craigslist also provides a lists of links on the right side of the home page of every Craigslist location.  Just click on the appropriate location link from those listed. 

The home page for every Craigslist location will look like all the other Craigslist homepages except there will bea different name in the heading at the top of the page (and maybe a different language, depending on your choices).  If you pick a state in the USA with several local Craigslists, you will get a page that offers you a choice of towns and cities in that state.

Understanding Craigslist

The listings are organized by category, in reverse chronological order which means that the newest ones are at the top. So, today is at the top (with the most recent postings at the very top), yesterday's postings will be next, and on down to the oldest at the end.  So, you can pick a category and/or a sub-category to see the listings.

Listings may be mis-categorized by the people who post them, so focusing on a sub-category can be a mistake if something you want is listed in a sub-category you don't check. The search function is a BIG help here (more below).

Finding the Jobs (and Gigs) in the "jobs" Column

Near the top center of the home page, you'll find the column heading -"jobs". 

To get started, just browse through the job postings by clicking on the word "jobs" and scrolling down to see what was posted today (so far), yesterday, the day before yesterday, etc. as far back as you want to go. I like to browse through everything posted recently (last few days) in Jobs so that I don't miss something that is in an unexpected category.

Below the jobs on the home page are the "gigs."" Gigs" are mostly short-term jobs, also organized into sub-categories and presented in reverse chronological order.  Browsing through the gigs is usually very interesting in most locations.  Sometimes you can end up with a permanent job starting out with a "gig;" sometimes you'll just make enough money to cover your bills until you get a "real job;" and sometimes you're just adding experience to your resume (and maybe a skill or two, too).

Searching in Craigslist

Craigslist also has a search function that works very well. They provide different search capabilities depending on what page of Craigslist you are visiting. If you select the category or subcategory for "jobs" or "gigs," you get an advanced search function that provides you with good fine tuning capabilities for that category. Pick the category or subcategory you want, and then search through the postings using the usual key words and the fine tuning.

If you type your query into the search bar on the Craigslist home page, select the part of Craigslist you want to search through from the drop down list (e.g. "for sale," "events," "jobs," "gigs," etc.) for a simple keyword search.

[More: Job Boards for Seasonal Jobs includes a section about Craigslist.]

Networking with Craigslist

Networking is still the best way to find a job! And, in addition to the jobs and gigs, Craigslist's "community" and "discussion forum" sections may also be helpful to your job search. In the community section, you'll find activities, groups, events, volunteers, classes, and politics. All of those are potential sources of opportunities for networking. And, volunteering to help less fortunate people in your community usually makes you feel better about yourself while you help someone else (and network, too). In the discussion forums, there is a "jobs" discussion group, although at this point there isn't a separate forum for each location - the forums are combined into one very large one.

Subscribing to Craigslist Updates

Craigslist offer RSS feeds for most categories and sub-categories. Just click on the RSS feed button at the bottom right of each page to subscribe to updates of that page's contents.

About the author...

Online job search expert Susan P. Joyce has been observing the online job search world and teaching online job search skills since 1995. A veteran of the United States Marine Corps and a recent Visiting Scholar at the MIT Sloan School of Management, Susan is a two-time layoff “graduate” who has worked in human resources at Harvard University and in a compensation consulting firm. Since 1998, Susan has been editor and publisher of Follow Susan on Twitter at @jobhuntorg and on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+.


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