My Experience Advertising a Job on Craigslist
As a career coach and resume writer, I help my clients find work, change jobs and identify and pursue new careers. I have heard many horror stories about employers treating candidates poorly or disrespectfully.
It has been a long time since I have hired an employee so when I recently offered to help a client screen candidates for a newly created position she wants to fill, I had an eye opening experience.
My client is a healthcare manager in a hospital who is looking for an administrative assistant to support her. So we decided to start with running an ad on Craigslist. Like most of you, I have advertised furniture for sale on Craigslist however my experience advertising a job opening was nil until now. For $25 Craigslist will run an ad for 30 days and they make it very easy to remain anonymous. I placed the ad last Friday night and as of Monday morning, I had received over 200 resumes. As I sit and write this blog post, I have another 105 resumes waiting for me.
Unfortunately the list of things that job applicants did that impressed me is very short. The list of mistakes that were made is much longer. At the risk of appearing to focus on the negative, here are the errors candidates made:
- Did not follow instructions – I asked that anyone applying attach their resume in a Word document. While some people did this, many people cut and pasted their resume into the body of their e-mail. Others sent their resume in a JPEG or PDF file. The reason I want a Word document is so I can e-mail the documents to my client who can then open and save it easily.
- Leaving the subject line blank. This is an opportunity to demonstrate professionalism and creativity.
- Sent their resume, cover letter or e-mail with typos or poor grammar.
- Did not send a cover letter or even worse, did not say anything in their email, just attached their resume. While I did not ask for a cover letter, this is an opportunity to sell yourself and once again, demonstrate creativity and professionalism.
- Many people who did send a cover letter copied it from a cover letter template. The reason I know this is because I received the same cover letter from numerous people and it sounded like it came from a book.
- Many cover letters weren’t customized. People talked about joining my firm or company when I clearly stated that the job is in a hospital. Some people stated that they were looking for a job in customer service or computer operations when my ad stated that this is an administrative position.
- While this could fall into the previous bullet, it deserves its own bullet. Not one single person researched or mentioned something specific about the hospital or the area of the hospital.
- Very few people customized their resume either. For example one person had an objective on his resume that said: “To fulfill a position as a teacher that will allow the opportunity for growth and advancement within your establishment.”
- Which brings me to another point. Why in the world do people think that they need to sound like a cross between Shakespeare and a textbook? To Whom it May Concern is an antiquated phrase. Or how about this, “I am looking forward to bringing my well-honed Administrative skills along with my interpersonal skills internally to succeed in this which being reliable, dependable and hard working, dedicated, detail oriented with effective communication skills.” Huh?
- Sending additional documents such as past performance appraisals or lists of references is overkill.
- So many people attached their resume in their email without putting their name on the attachment or named it things like Resume one or Newest version. If I wanted to find it later, this would be very challenging given the large number of resumes I received.
- It’s a good idea to open an email account that is professional sounding. A few examples of unprofessional email addresses that I saw are: angrymom@ and stressfree222@
- Finally there were some people who applied twice in the span of a few days and others who sent different versions of their resumes with different email addresses.
I could write an entire post about the differences between a good resume and a weak one. I think I may have already done this in the past but it probably bears repeating. However, I will save that topic for another day.
Finally, I know that most people don’t expect to hear back from an employer advertising on Craigslist when they aren’t being considered as an applicant, however I feel terrible that I can’t possibly contact over 300 people to tell them this.
Please forward this post to anyone who is looking for a job. Sending a resume and cover letter is a necessary first step to applying for a job and getting an interview. It is the only opportunity for a prospective employer to make a decision about whether to contact you for a phone or in-person interview. It’s up to you to stand out in a positive way!