The Laid-Off Life: Craigslisztomania

Nancy Anderson
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"People everywhere have the same needs and values. They need a place to live and a job. Beyond that, they may need to sell stuff or get a mate." – Craigslist founder Craig Newmark
I’ve been writing this column for four months now, and I have yet to really touch on a job hunting tool that often gets overlooked by the Laid-Off Life population. I’ve extolled the virtues of social job hunting on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, and aggregation sites like CareerBuilder, Monster, and of course But one source I’ve been neglect to discuss is the often maligned, often misunderstood Craigslist.

Since I was involuntarily introduced to the Laid-Off Life last year, I have made my ends meet while job searching by taking on several freelance clients, both short-term as-needed and ongoing. And the two places I have found my leads were through real-life connections and social network relationships, and from Craigslist. It's an amazing undertaking of an organization for what it is: a bare-bones online classified marketplace run by a mere 30 employees in San Francisco. If you can learn to navigate through the ads for engineless Camaros, M4F sensual massages, and rants about obnoxious Starbucks baristas, there’s some pretty good opportunities to be had among the Times New Roman hyperlinks and complete lack of graphic design.

One of the great things about Craigslist is the hyperlocalization. Seven hundred cities and regions worldwide now have dedicated Craigslist sections, including 16 in Pennsylvania, five in New Jersey, and a page for all of Delaware, and 32 different categories of job listings from accounting to writing. Ok, granted a pretty hefty percentage of job listings are not of the sort that you would call legitimate, but just like anything else on the web, use your Internet savvy and interpret the language to find the promising results.

Recruiting agencies, staffing companies, and temp agencies love to post on Craigslist. Who wouldn’t? It’s only $25 per listing for 30 days to post ($25 in Philly and similar cities, free in smaller cities). The advantage of replying to an agency ad through Craigslist – as opposed to through CareerBuilder – is that you are often replying directly through standard email to the post, or at least via Craigslist’s blind email addresses. You can present yourself as you wish, format an email as you wish, and attach documents you wish.

You’ll also find more small companies on Craigslist (even smaller than Craigslist itself) than you would uncover elsewhere. When you’re an organization with a zero HR budget, what better and cheaper way to find personnel than that? And another gold mine on Craigslist is jobs in your field at companies that are not. Through Craigslist I found a law office looking for marketing help. You can find a sales job at a research company, you can find an accounting job at a non-profit, you can find a construction gig at a travel agency. Sometimes, businesses just don’t know where to advertise. Craigslist has become that place.

Oh, and Craigslist is notorious for random jobs that are interesting, unique, and uncategorizable (yes, it’s a word because I say it is). When people are looking to fill a strange ("Need someone to write my obituary") or unusual ("Looking for body double to date my wife while I go bowling") position, this is your one-stop-shop. But as bizarre as some may be, there are diamonds in the rough. Occasionally celebrities anonymously post for personal assistant positions with very vague and secretive postings, looking for their diamond in the rough. And there have been times when big companies want to fill a key and exclusive position, or something savvy like Corporate Tweeter or Social Network Liaison, with obscure, enigmatic Craigslist ads that give nothing away. Oh, and want to be an extra for a television show, movie, or indie film shooting in your area? When you’ve become a big star, don’t forget us little people.

Of course everything listed isn’t on the up-and-up. A huge chunk of jobs on Craigslist are for work-at-home envelope stuffing jobs or just-barely-not pyramid scheme cold-calling positions. I can’t say how many of those are legit and how many are scams, but caveat emptor. If you really think you can make $40,000 just by sitting at home three days a week for a 'small' upfront fee, no one’s stopping you.

Also, Craigslist is the best place to find jobs posted by individual people, not companies. If you’re starting out with your own business, or you’re a business of one, or you’re just looking for someone to do work for you, Craigslist and the Penny Saver are pretty much your only options. But what great opportunities lie within! Start-up realtor looking for marketing help? Freelance website architect looking for someone to design a page? Opening a local consignment shop and need a good accountant? These are the jobs that you have to dig to find, but can be exactly what you’re looking for.

And if you’re looking for some great freelance work, opportunities abound on Craigslist. You just gotta search through the muck and the listings from to find them.

Like any other site on the Internettes, Craigslist is what you make of it. It’s a great resource if used correctly, and with a dose of caution and a dash of common sense. It can be a wealth of information, but some days, the dearth of relevant listings can make you feel like there are no jobs in the world for you. But, hey, as long as you keep using the same rules of applying for jobs as always – tailor your résumé to the job, tailor your cover letter to the recipient, and research the company posting the gig – there's nothing different sending your job search journey down Craigslist Boulevard.

So, if that doesn’t work, does anyone know if eBay lets you bid on jobs?

Michael Hochman
? Laid-Off Life on Twitter ? Laid-Off Life on Facebook

Michael is a Copywriter, Creative Marketer, and Broadcasting Professional still in search of full-time employment after 14 months of full-time job hunting, thanks to an "involuntary career sabbatical". A Philly native and Syracuse graduate, Michael will gladly accept any job offer you may have for him. Any. Really. Please give me a job??

"Oh, you hate your job? Why didn't you say so? There's a support group for that. It's called everybody, and they meet at the bar." - Drew Carey

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