Is Craigslist a good Hiring Tool?

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May 1, 2014 by Paul White

Even though the Hiring topic is Jon's area of expertise, I recently assisted one of my clients in their hiring efforts.  Before I got involved my client was using craigslist and backpage to post their jobs.  In both cases the posting was just plain text, with maybe a poorly taken photo of the signage.  The venue in question is a Stripclub here in Houston.  Their goal was to get candidates for all positions, but mainly for Dancers, and Waitresses.

What are your online Hiring Options?

The first thing I did was research the various places you can post jobs online.  Some of them are FREE, most of them are not.  I wanted to determine what their pricing structure was and what their estimated traffic would be.

websitegoogle rankingcostNotes
indeed.com#1$0.25 - $1.50 per viewLasts til views are used up
Houston Chron / Monster#2$399 / month 
careerbuilder#4$419 / monthReaches people within 30 miles
craigslist#5$25 / month 
snagajob.com#6$89 / month 
houstonjobs.com#9$179 / month 
employmentguide.com#10$285 / month 
dailycougar $40 / month 

The above is the pricing structure for the paid sites.

There are also a few FREE ones I found
The nice thing is these free ones allowed me to use HTML in the ad details.  This allowed me to slip a tracking beacon into the code which would allow me to track how many people viewed the ad.  Since the beacon is an image, this tends to not be affected by the Bots, which mainly just scrub the text.

The results however were not good.

I posted the ad on April 15th. 2 weeks later we had 13 and 15 views respectively, with no applications filled out.
Basically these sites get NO traffic.  One of them even had a paid option, but considering how poorly it performed in free mode I had no faith in their paid offerings.

Craigslist Job listings have good ROI

Even though Craigslist doesn't dominate on google, they have plenty of people that browse directly to the site by name.  Unfortunately Craigslist has the reputation of being the Wild West of Online Classifieds.  We have all heard the stories of people getting scammed, or worse.  So when posting a job on Craigslist its important you make the job look as professional as possible.  The nice thing about Craigslist is they do allow some HTML to use used in your Ad.  So I was able to create a nice graphical ad to promote both the venue and the jobs we are hiring for.

Craigslist Job Posting

They are then able to click each job to visit the job specific page on our website, and then fill out our online application.  The best part is the header graphic is actually a tracking beacon.  Everytime someone views that image I am able to track it.  This allows me to see how many views and unique visitors ( by IP address ) view our ad on craigslist.

Categories Matter

Even though you would think the best category is one in which is directly relavent to your business thats not always the case.  For an Ad we ran in the food / beverage / hospitality category from April 14th til today, we have had 963 unique visitors with 1254 views.  Most of these were in the first 24 hours.  We also received more than 40 Applications filled out.  However most of the candidates did not fit our hiring criteria.

A week later I decided to switch things up a bit.  This time I listed us under the Spa / Saloon / Fitness Category.  My thinking is that chicks who work at Spas ( Or want to work at Spas ) tend to have a good sense of style, Class, and most importantly for our industry, a sense of vanity.  My thinking proved to be correct.  Although the numbers of views were about 15% less than the other category, and we only received 50% the number of applications.  The Applications we did receive were about 90% hirable.  Meaning just from looking over their information, we were able to approve them to the next step in our hiring process.

Next week I may try another category, like office / admin or customer service.  

The ROI factor

With Craigslist i was able to reach about 1000 people for $25.  or about 2.5 cents per person.  Many of these people visited our website. Joined our maillist, and possibly liked us on facebook.  Even though the quality of the candidates isn't always the best, their pricing structure for Job Ads is the lowest in the industry.  Granted in my clients case we were not hiring for 6 figure salary positions.  For jobs like that some of the other sites might make more sense.  But still craigslist is worth a try.
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