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Craigslist Job Ads – Maximize Response and Project a Positive Company Image


Recruiting with Craigslist Job Ads

It is simple to create good craigslist ads, however many companies still utilize poorly produced ads, which generate lower level response and create a poor company image.  With the overwhelming use of craigslist by hourly/entry level, blue collar and other non executive job seekers, combined with the low cost to advertise; Craigslist is the obvious choice for companies hiring this type of worker.  But putting a less then great ad here, is basically broadcasting a poor image for your company to all that view it.  In most cases with small to medium sized businesses, this equals more “hits” on your site then the company website gets from all other areas while ads are running.  With that in mind, why not use this cost effective medium to maximize your ad response, and to project a positive company image?  Below are factors to help make both happen:

Ad Frequency / Producing Lifecycle of your Ad

With the manner in which craigslist ads fall lower and lower on the list matching your jobs criteria, you have to understand the true “lifecycle” of your ad.  It is far less than the 30 days your ad is actually buried on the craigslist site.  To gauge your ads lifecycle, look at the job area for the category you are using, and figure the time between most recent ad shown and the oldest ad visible on opening page.  That is one measure of the ads true “Producing Lifecycle.”  Another is to go to the overall JOBS category, and enter in the basic job title you are advertising for.  Again measure the time between most recent and oldest on the page. To divide further into what is the “high performing lifecycle” of your ad, do the same time measurement but only measure the top “fold” of the first page.  The top fold is everything you can see on your browser without scrolling.  To continue to get good results from your ad, you have to Repost/Pay for a new ad to coincide with the end of your ads true lifecycle.

Understand the mentality of a Craigslist Job Seeker

A craigslist job seeker steps into a place where there are job opportunities being shouted to him/her from all directions.  They are looking for something that grabs their interest, catches their eye.   To begin, they are only looking at the very important Titles of the ads, as that is all that is visible at first view.  When they do open an ad, they do so knowing there are a zillion other ads to look at.   With this in mind, the below are some tips to help maximize your craigslist ad dollar.

Headlines / Titles of your Ads have a Big Effect

On Craigslist, at first view all the job seeker views are the ad headlines.  This is the first step, designing a headline that will be noticed and opened.  The manner in which the titles are listed in Craigslist, longer titles are easier to pick out of the crowd.  Shorter titles get lost in the crowd.  The title is one place on your craigslist ad that using the maximum number of allowed characters is best.  You will be surprised at the difference a title can make in the ads performance.  Experiment with different titles and track their performance on the same ad.

Grab Readers Attention / Immediately Engage

Within craigslist, the goal of your ad should be to grab the reader’s attention, and immediately engage them off the craigslist site.  As far as grabbing their attention, nice graphics, simple, not too much text all work.  I have seen ads with three simple lines and a link to the company website in which to apply that are great.  You do not necessarily need graphics, but they do work.  Quick hitting, with a Call to Action is what you want.  You do not want overly wordy job description type ads.

By immediately engaging the job seeker, you are taking the lead in the race to hire the best candidates.  And with Craigslist, you need to immediately engage the applicant or they will be working somewhere else by the time you do, and you will be stuck with looking at applicants of inferior quality that have yet to be hired.

These candidates are online, thus an online application process is far better than making them call a phone number.  Likewise the “reply to” function on craigslist does not engage the prospect, as they remain on the CL site.  Linking your website or specific job application to your craigslist ad enables you to get the applicant off of craigslist, and engaged in your application process.

When you do link to your website, make sure you make it easy to find the job the prospect is looking to apply for.  This is not the place you want to put up road blocks and obstacles for applicants.  If you make it frustrating to find the actual application, you will lose many of these potential employees who will just go back to the job search.  If you are not linking to the actual start of the application for this position, it should be to a page where this link is readily available.  Having the application for this position anything more than one or two clicks away will cause a leak in your applicant pool back to their job search.

Use simple HTML tags and Link Images on your Ads

It is easy to use simple graphics in your craigslist ads and simple html to format your ad so that it catches the eye of the viewer, and presents a positive image of your company.  Yet most companies do not use images in their ads, nor do they use simple formatting for bold, italic, larger text, bullet points, etc.  Stand out by using these simple tags. See http://www.craigslist.org/about/help/html_in_craigslist_postings/ for details.

Overly Wordy Ads have same effect as Charlie Browns Teacher

When an ad is opened and it is basically a long wordy job description, this is not doing anything to help catch the prospects attention.  You want quick hitting ads with fewer words, and a clear and present Call to Action for an effective ad.

Timing of Ad Placement

The best timing of your posting depends upon the worker you are looking to hire.  If you are hiring a closing bartender who gets off work at 3 am, an early morning post is not going to be in prime position when this person wakes up, has some coffee, and gets on their computer with a yawn at 3pm.  For business hours jobs, I like to post craigslist ads as early as possible in the AM on weekdays, and usually do not post on Fridays, as the response is noticeable lower.


As recruiters of entry level, contract, or hourly workers, knowing how to market your jobs on craigslist is a skill every recruiter needs.  Craigslist is quite simply the one ad source that if used properly, will far out shadow all other ad sources available at a very cost effective rate in comparison.  It needs to be part of the advertising mix for all companies successfully recruiting these types of workers.  Using the tips here will result in you maximizing what should be the highest yielding source in your job advertising arsenal.