Wednesday, December 1, 2010

How To : Write a Craigslist Job Ad

Often, I am asked, “Hey, Francis, I'm in charge of hiring for a large, possibly international company and we've been putting up ads on the local craigslist. The shitty part is, people seem to want to apply for them. Lots of people, 100's even 1000's. So Francis, as you seem to know things, what should I do?”

This is all too common, unfortunately. Most experts seem to suggest that this is due to some kind of correlation between people wanting work and people not having it. As for me, being more qualified due to the fact I am writing this and they are not, I suggest it to be a different problem. Your troubles of having to do too much work boils down to how you are not using Craigslist effectively.

Take this ad for example,

A small but growing architecture company is seeking a project assistant to help expand our capabilities in our local Vancouver office. Position requires strong organizational skills and well-developed aptitude in group problem solving. Bachelor's degree or technical school training in a related discipline would be beneficial, as would previous project assistant experience. Please forward your resume and cover letter in confidence to Mary Jenkins, HR Manager at

Now look at this ad subjectively. Its short, to the point, gives a basic idea of the job requirements and allows the viewer to make an educated decision as to whether or not they want the job. In craigslist terms, however, this ad can be summarized into one word; wrong.

First things first, length. This is far too short. One may think that since craigslist is technically taking over from the newpaper want-ads, which were even shorter, short would be good, but again, you would be wrong.

 On craigslist, this ad would be listed under men seeking men

All craigslist job postings should top the 1000 word mark, at least. Think less pamphlet, more biblical text. You want to make sure the viewer is thoroughly intimidated by the amount of multi-syllabic words you can cram into a paragraph without actually saying anything. Make bullet points, then put bullet points within the bullet points. Remember more is more and therefore better.

Secondly, what this ad is asking for is far too understanding and reasonable. Hey, your company wants to be the boss, right? No sense in acting timid, come right out and say it “We need you so much less than you need us.”

 Sometimes I can't help it. I'm just too fucking good at being real.

A good way in doing that is to demand that all applicants meet some arbitrary experience requirement. For instance, all craigslist job ads, as a matter of uniformity, should include the phrase “At least X years experience, with at least (X-2) years direct experience in (precisely what the job is)” The bigger the X, the better the applicants you will get. Its fairly common knowledge that most 25-year professionals routinely scan craigslist for job leads. I mean, where else would they look?

Hello, is this the internet? Fuck. You wouldn't happen to know it's number, would you?

It's also important to use your caps-lock as often and as indiscriminately as possible. Don't let those petty would-be employees think that they will be considered based on merit on not just a number. Be a man about it. Tell them they MUST have decades of experience with some weird management program that even Bill Gates wouldn't know about.

Capitalize everything: make it seem like you, the employer, are yelling at them for not being good enough. For example, “Only candidates with AT LEAST seven years experience working BAREFOOT in the fields a Southern GUATEMALAN coffee farm will be considered.” is a perfect way of letting it be known that your particular Starbucks franchise doesn't fuck around.

The compensation line is also a great way to show the viewers who's really in control. Its of paramount importance to be as vague as possible. “Competitive” gives absolutely no indication whatsoever of the pay scale and is a perfect way to keep them in the dark. It can mean so many things; it could mean the you expect to pay above the industry standard according to national job surveys. It could also mean that you expect that their wage to be directly related to the ability to best other candidates in mandatory nude-limbo contests. After all, competition is competition and words are words.

Here are a few other good ones: “Based on experience,” “Negotiable” or my personal favourite, “Hourly.”

It's a good thing you mentioned I'd be paid hourly because, at this moment, I feel like a prostitute

While we are still on the subject of compensation, don't fall into the trap that is expecting your would-be applicants to have common sense. If you absolutely MUST include a wage (see what I did there, that's a callback), make sure you write the minimum. Not the minimum number of words, write the minimum wage. Remind them, despite the 3 years experiences carrying curry-based dishes with their LEFT hand and a Masters degree in Indian Culinary History the job requires, how much, at the end of day, they are actually worth to you.

Finally, the email address. Don't be stupid enough to give the official company address, with both your title and name. That would mean the would-be applicant would be actually able to do some background research and know where it is they're sending their confidential work history. Where's the trust? Craigslist is full of scams, but these whiny pussies should know instinctively that you're the real deal. I mean, just look at all the big words! The randomly-generated craigslist email address is really all they need, and honestly, they should be thankful to get it.

Well, now that you have a better understanding of how craigslist job ads work, you can get started at finding that perfect person. At the very least, those thousands of potentially qualified people will stop pestering you and you can go back to doing what you do best, being happy you already have a job.

Fucking. Sweet.

No comments:

Post a Comment