Getting a job on Craigslist

Getting a job on Craigslist

Two of my children are in their early twenties, so I have real sympathy for people starting in the job market today.  Recently, I posted an entry level job on Craigslist, and am reporting on the results to try to help people who may be looking for jobs.

Here are a few of the ways that responders ensure that they will not be hired:

1.  They list an objective that has nothing to do with the job like this:

Objective To obtain a career opportunity at your company.

This says, “I’m blasting out lots of resumes because I think it’s a numbers game, and, if I send the same resume to everyone, I’ve got a better chance of getting hired.”  It IS a numbers game, but this non-specific objective is just laughable.  You might as well write, “My objective is to get a job to make a lot of money forever.  At your company, whatever that is.” 

Here’s another actual response:

OBJECTIVE:  A professionally challenging career in a position which provides opportunities for continuous growth and advancement

Gee, that’s my objective, too:  to create professionally challenging careers that provide opportunities for growth and advancement.  Someone somewhere must be doling out the Pollyannaish advice that the world is looking for people who love challenges.  Actually, the world wants someone to solve the problem at hand. 

Truth be told, resume readers aren’t terribly interested in your personal objective unless it is to do the job for which they advertise; the more specifically an objective relates to the problem of the recruiter, the better.

2.  They attach a resume titled “Resume.doc”

This shows a lack of attention to detail and an assumption that I use their word processor.  I do have MS Word, but anyone can write a PDF file with a free PDF tool like the one available here:  A PDF shows a level of familiarity with office tools;  a file marked with your name or even more information makes you stand out:  Mark Jones Marketing Specialist.pdf 

3.  They begin a response by stating, “My name is….”

Dale Carnegie, the author of How to Win Friends and Influence People, says that a person’s name is the most important sound in the world … to him.  However, we can be pretty sure that, if you have anything interesting to say, your name will be noted at the end of the letter.  This says that you are not particularly imaginative and really don’t know what you want.  About half the introductory letters I received start with the phrase, “My name is…,” which would have been more entertaining if the names were more exotic.  This would hold my attention:  “Hello, my name is Hallelujah Jones and I have a hypnotic effect on consumers.”

4.  The talents and job experiences have nothing to do with the job I advertised.

I wouldn’t mind hearing from people who had been bank tellers and lab technicians if they said things like, “I have always wanted to do the job that you have posted <be specific here by naming the job.>  As a bank teller, I learned to be precise and timely;  as a lab technician, I learned critical thought.  While my work experience does not specifically relate to the position of <name job here>, I have the creativity, mental agility and desire to this well.  Please give me a chance to interview, and I guarantee that I will impress you with my abilities.”  If I ever received a response like that, I would certainly listen to that person.

5.  They list a lot of brief jobs.

Short-term jobs could be positively interpreted if the job seeker plainly said why they left the job.  These days, I don’t expect people to stick with a job long, but I do have to wonder when I see a young person with lots of short-term jobs.  Saying that you left for a better opportunity or that the company was closed down could be mitigating circumstances. 

Those are a few of the easy mistakes to knock out.  Here are a few things that might help you get a job.

1. Add, “References available upon request.”

No one EVER says this, but it’s so easy and it makes you look confident and supported by those who know you.

2. Customize every response that you send out.

Sure, it might be a waste of time, but you’re wasting every moment if you don’t.  The only job you’ll ever get is one that corresponds with the lack of thoughtfulness that you exhibit with your response.  You’ll be the perfect body to plug into a routine job that requires no imagination and very little thought – and you’ll be paid that way.

3. Show enthusiasm.

The most memorable hire I ever made was a guy who came in and gave me a slideshow about my company on the first interview.  He put a lot of work and enthusiasm into that interview, and he knew what he was talking about.  Most people think, “I’m not going to work that hard before I’m getting paid,” but he showed why he deserved to be paid.  I hired him on the spot.

Convince yourself that each job posting to which you respond is the only job you have ever wanted.  Show that level of enthusiasm so that you can get to the interview and decide whether the job is really up to your standards.  Once you’re invited in, you can research the company and show up armed to the teeth with ideas, insights and questions. 

Much of the time, it’s not possible on Craigslist to know even which company you’re talking with.  The postings are junked up with fake recruiters, scammers, HR people and temp agencies – and the whole process can make you very cynical about the next real opportunity.  However, if you respond as if every posting is from another scammer, you’ll never have a chance to get the job you deserve. 

From what I’ve seen, the competition is really pretty thin.  If you can spell-check and write a decent letter, you’ve got a good shot at a job.

Published in: on March 24, 2009 at 2:29 am  Comments (1)  

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One CommentLeave a comment

  1. You know, I completely agree with you. But truly, the problem with the letters you receive and resumes you’re pelted with, is the people attached to them.

    The older I get, the more discouraged I am by the auto-pilot zombies parading as humans. They’re just bodies; the brain enables the body to exist but they don’t really. Why? The mind is gone. There is no passion for anything. No drive.

    Excep for the dollar. But you see, the dollar they seek is the dollar that robs them of being. It’s just a means of trade. There has got to be more to this life than a mean.

    I’m rambling. Ill elaborate another time.

    My point is simple. Great post. It’s nice to see that there are still great minds out there.

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