Craigslist is a well-known website that has been available for posting classified ads since 1995. People usually use Craigslist to sell items or offer services, but employers also frequently use Craigslist to post job listings.
Because the site is popular and easily accessible, many job seekers use Craigslist to search for and apply for potential jobs, along with other major job search sites like ZipRecruiter and Indeed.
Craigslist’s Bad Reputation
While there are plenty of legitimate job listings posted on Craigslist, the website has developed a reputation of being somewhat untrustworthy. This is because scammers often use Craigslist to target potential victims by posting fraudulent listings. The scammers then steal any personal or financial information that the job searcher has included in their application. In some cases, they will even attempt to convince the applicant to send them money.
According to the Better Business Bureau, Craigslist tends to be unresponsive to complaints, so scam victims are unlikely to receive any support from the site. Reviews posted on the Better Business Bureau website support this and mention that Craigslist does little to manage scam posts. So the responsibility of avoiding scams falls almost entirely on the job searcher.
Why You Need be Careful on Craigslist
It is crucial to protect yourself and your personal information online, especially when using websites with questionable reputations, such as Craigslist. If you are not careful, scammers can steal your personal or financial information, which they can then sell to third parties or use themselves to steal your identity.
There is also the risk of untrustworthy links installing viruses on your computer.
Even more frightening scams that can put you in immediate danger involve scammers requesting to meet their victims at a private location. Job searchers who agree to meet up with these false employers risk having their money or belongings stolen or even being physically harmed.
How to Find Jobs on Craigslist
Even though the site is known for scams, it is possible to find legitimate job listings on Craigslist as long as you exercise caution.
It is easy to search for jobs by the city, state, or area you are interested in working in. Once you have identified a location, you can click on the main “jobs” category to view all of the job postings or narrow down your search by choosing a specific job category. The site will then show you all job listings matching the criteria you have selected that have been posted in roughly the last month.
Don’t forget to check out the postings listed under “gigs” as well, as more opportunities are listed there, although they are usually temporary roles.
Like other popular online job boards, you can also search by job titles, distance from a specific location, and employment type (such as full-time, part-time, contract, internship, and telecommuting jobs).
Determining the Validity of a Job Listing
When you see a job listing on Craigslist that interests you, how can you be sure it is a legitimate one and not a scam?
The first thing you should do is identify the employer and conduct your own research on the business. Find the company’s website and search for reviews that confirm that the business is real.
Once you have done this, take a closer look at the listing itself. Scammers can post a job claiming to be someone else, so you need to make sure the listing is actually coming from the company it claims to have been published by. The job should be advertised somewhere else as well, such as on another job board or the company’s website or social media profiles.
The “how to apply” should also point you to the company’s site or include a branded email that belongs to them. Be careful if the email address listed is a Gmail account or another free email server, opposed to something like firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you have any concerns about a job listing, you should tell the employer. A legitimate employer should address your concerns and verify that the posting is valid. And if it isn’t, you are helping others avoid being scammed by alerting the employer to the fake listing.
Red Flags to Look Out For
You can look for specific hints and red flags in job posts to help identify them as scams rather than legitimate job listings.
For example, you should be hesitant to trust a job posting requesting your financial information. Employers do not need this until you have been hired and they are setting up payroll.
Many scammers will ask you to wire money to them. This should always be avoided, as it makes it easy for them to steal your money. You should also never deposit a cheque or money into your own bank account and then send money back to the company. This is also a scam that could get you in legal and financial trouble.
Job listings that require personal information before you have even been interviewed are also likely to be scams.
A less obvious red flag is checking the date a job vacancy was posted. A company will likely fill a position within a couple of weeks, so you should be suspicious of postings that have been up for months. This also applies to identical or nearly identical listings that are posted frequently (every few days or even more than once per day). These posts are likely not legitimate.
And don’t forget – if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is!
How to Apply to Jobs on Craigslist
Once you have done your due diligence to verify the posting is legit, you simply need to follow the instructions in the posting for how they’d like you to apply.
Typically, to apply for the job, you will either visit their website and apply through their career portal or contact the employer by email. This email should contain your resume and cover letter unless the employer has requested a different format for your application.
Post Your Resume
Even if you do not see any jobs that you are interested in applying for directly, you can post your resume to Craigslist so that potential employers can find and contact you.
However, if you choose to post your resume, be sure only to include personal information that is absolutely necessary for employers to contact you. Leave your home address and phone number off your resume.
You may also want to set up a new email account other than your primary one to give to employers.
Post Your Own Job Listing
If you are not interested in applying to jobs on Craigslist, you can also create your own job listing. In this posting, you can offer your services and have interested clients or customers contact you directly.
This approach works best for gig jobs, like babysitting, housesitting, dump runs, and yard work, but can also be used for more traditional jobs too.
Hiring Through Craigslist: Pros and Cons
On that note, although Craigslist is often thought of as a site for finding jobs, it can also be an effective platform for posting jobs and finding potential new employees.
Craigslist will not be the right fit for every business, but there are aspects of it that employers may find beneficial. For example, Craigslist is easily accessible, and the search feature will allow job searchers in your area to find your post quickly.
You will also be able to search through resumes posted by job searchers so that you can find the best candidates for your position and contact them directly.
It is simple to apply for a job through Craigslist, so interested applicants can easily contact your business. You can also direct potential candidates to apply through your company website rather than Craigslist if you want to customize the application process to better fit your needs.
A significant con of using Craigslist as part of your hiring process is that candidates may be hesitant to trust your post because of the frequency of scams appearing on the site, even if it is legitimate.
Depending on where you live, there may also be a cost associated with posting your job listing.
Costs of Hiring Through Craigslist
Unfortunately for many employers in the US and Canada, posting job listings to Craigslist is not free.
Employers in the US can expect to pay between $10 and $75 per job posting on Craigslist. There are also several locations in Canada where there is a fee for job postings, though you can post for free in other places in Canada.
The exact price for a post will depend on the specific area the position is located in.
If you are on a budget, there are places where you can post jobs for free to reach more audiences.
What Jobs Should You Post on Craigslist?
Because of Craigslist’s vulnerability to scams, it is best to use the site to post job listings for an established business with a strong online presence. This will allow potential applicants to research the company on their own and confirm that the post is, in fact, a real job listing and not a scam.
While Craigslist can be used by smaller, newer businesses, it may be better for these employers to post their job listings on other sites like ZipRecruiter, Indeed, or LinkedIn, where they are less likely to be mistaken for scams. However, if the job is also advertised on the business’s website, employers can use Craigslist as a way to drive traffic to their career page and reach more candidates.
How to Make a Post Potential Employees Will Trust
If you are an employer posting on Craigslist, you will want to make sure potential employees can tell that your posts are legitimate so that they will not be mistaken for scams.
To do this, you should be sure that each job listing clearly mentions the employer’s name, and you may want to consider adding additional details about the company for job searchers to see.
If your job listing mentions the possibility of an interview with potential candidates, you may consider suggesting a phone or video interview instead. It may put candidates at ease if they are uncomfortable meeting up in person for their first interview.
You should also make sure the job ad itself is professionally written, and any interactions with potential employees are the right level of formality to match the job and company.
Finally, you should resist the urge to overemphasize the benefits of working for your company too much. It might seem like a good idea to make your business appear as the perfect place to work with no downsides. However, if your job listing looks too good to be true, potential candidates might skip over it, believing it is a scam.
In short, there is nothing wrong with using Craigslist to find a job or find a new employee. But you do need to be careful.
As a job seeker, make sure you take the time to verify the job posting before submitting your application and don’t share any more personal information than you need to. If there’s a job you’re really interested in that you have any questions or concerns about, contact the employer directly and get clarification. And always follow your instincts if they tell you something doesn’t feel right.
For employers looking to hire new staff, take the time to develop a strong job ad that includes all the proper information needed, so that it doesn’t look like a scam posting. And I strongly suggest advertising the vacancy on other job boards like ZipRecruiter as well to attract more candidates and further validate the listing.
Amanda Kay, an Employment Specialist and founder of My Life, I Guess, strives to keep the "person" in personal finance by writing about money, mistakes, and making a living. She focuses on what it’s like being in debt, living paycheck to paycheck, and surviving unemployment while also offering advice and support for others in similar situations - including a FREE library of career & job search resources.