Craigslist Job Hunting: Two Key Workarounds

As I’ve stressed to quite a few clients over the years, anybody looking for work today should consider Craigslist as one of the absolute top sources of published opportunities they check on a regular basis.

Surprised by this?  Do you associate Craigslist more with used cars or tracking down garage sales?  If so, let me point out the two key reasons why the site is such a unique and important job resource:

1) Almost every company uses it in their hiring efforts today, especially small-to-mid-sized companies, since the price of running a job listing on Craigslist ($25) is a tiny fraction of what it cost to run job leads on other sites like Monster.com, CareerBuilder, etc.

2) Additionally, and just as importantly, Craigslist (unlike other job sites) has never let its leads get picked up by aggregator sites such as Indeed.com or SimplyHired.com; so with Craigslist, you typically find a “pure” pool of listings you won’t see mentioned anywhere else

But here’s the rub.  The Craigslist search interface is remarkably crude and unsophisticated.  Not only can you not construct precise searches using the common “Boolean syntax” rules supported by most other sites, but Craigslist doesn’t even have an automatic “alert” feature you can program to send you new matching leads each day — unless you count RSS feeds, which are tricky to use if you’re not familiar with them.

Luckily, though, I’ve recently found workarounds to both of these issues.  So whether you’re an existing client of mine or merely a casual follower of my blog, I wanted to share these tips, since they’re likely to save you a bunch of time and aggravation in the job-finding process.

With regard to Craigslist not offering automatic “job alert” functionality, I’ve discovered that you can now use a free third-party site called List-Alert.com to set up daily alerts on Craiglist — to find job listings that fit you or to get notified about anything else on that site (camera equipment, used furniture, etc.) you might be seeking!  Visit the List-Alert page, and you’ll see a simple interface where you specify WHAT you want to find on Craiglist, the section of the site you want to search through (e.g. Jobs, For Sale, Housing, etc.), and the geographic location you’re targeting.  Enter these parameters, hit the “create alert” button, and you’re in business!  You’ll start getting any matching leads to your search sent to you automatically via e-mail each day.

As for HOW to search properly?  Again, Craigslist doesn’t allow you to chain keywords together in the same way as most other sites on the Internet.  For example, you can’t use the standard Boolean “OR” command to link keywords of interest together.  Without this functionality, you’re forced to run a whole bunch of separate searches for jobs in sales, business development, account management, marketing, and the like.  Recently, however, I finally wised up and did some research around this issue, which led me to discover that you can actually use a different character — the “vertical pipe” symbol “|” — to provide the “OR” functionality.  Hallelujah!

Given this “breakthrough” discovery (ha ha) I’d now advise many of you to set up an automated daily job alert on Craigslist that looks something more or less along these lines:

Search that finds anything related to sales:
sales | “business development” | account | territory

Search that finds anything related to software testing:
“software testing” | “software quality” | SDET

Search that finds project, program, or product management jobs:
(manager | management) AND (project | program | product)

Search that finds senior financial openings:
CFO | controller | (director | VP | vice | chief) AND (finance | financial | accounting)

Search that finds mid-to-senior-level marketing positions:
CMO | (marketing | advertising | brand | branding) AND (manager | director | VP | vice | chief)

Definitely note that when running these kinds of searches, though, you’ll usually want to check the option box (on either Craigslist or List-Alert) that limits your search to job titles only — so you’re not combing every word in the full body text.

So there you go.  Mystery solved.  For years, I’ve been wondering why Craigslist didn’t permit more advanced searching, but as usual, it turns out that the site just marches to the beat of a slightly different drummer!  Hope this tip helps you find some great employment listings for yourself, with a minimum of muss and fuss…

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9 Responses to “Craigslist Job Hunting: Two Key Workarounds”

  1. For future reference, you guys can also use websites such as searchtempest.com,which searches all of Craigslist by city. Another way to get around this hindrance is to set up an RSS feed using Google reader. This way you don’t have to always go to the website to search for jobs.

  2. Incredibly useful tool to save time when working with the archaic Craigslist! Thanks Matt!

  3. Tony: Thanks for chiming in and I’ll check out that tool you’ve built!

  4. I was laid off by EDS/HP two years ago and also found Craigslist invaluable, but struggled with the clunky, limited interface – so I built myself an aggregator and I think it exemplifies simplicity in searching ALL of Craigslist. Please have a look at http://www.TotalCraigSearch.com

  5. Andrea: Great post — thanks — and another great “workaround” for a frustrating Craiglist search limitation!

  6. Another thing that frustrated me about Craigslist searches was the location specific aspect. It usually makes sense that you would know where you wanted to work but I’ve had clients who were willing to move for the right job and didn’t want to search every city board on Craigslist. I finally learned to do a Google search on the site which will search across all the postings for all the cities. For example:
    site:craigslist.org “marketing director”
    to turn up all of the posts for a Marketing Director in any city.
    Thanks for the tips!!!

  7. Reblogged this on Gnozzo Knows and commented:
    Good read on Craigslist & Job Hunting.

  8. Thanks, Matt!! Once again, you save me valuable time. Love it!!

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Craigslist | Notes From the Job Search - January 31, 2012

    […] blogged about it a couple of weeks ago, and included some tools to make it easier. Check it out here. This entry was posted in Career Horizons, Craigslist, links, reference, research. Bookmark the […]

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