Monday, November 17, 2008

Does Craigslist Really Work?

Three months ago, without a job, I moved to a new city. I am intelligent (despite deciding to move without a job) and presentable. I have an undergraduate and a graduate degree from respected universities. Granted, I majored in my mother-tongue, which qualifies me for nothing in particular, but it does mean I have a killer vocab and know what-the-heck to do with a semicolon. I figured I am as smart as your average bear, so surely I could find at least an office job answering phones and making copies, right?

Wrong! Wrong, wrong, wrong.

What I hadn't considered was how incredibly frustrating job hunting online would be. Prospective employers don't want a phone call or office visit. They say just send your resume in an email, which sounds easy (if easy means anonymous and ineffectual).

For the moment, I will leave and alone (although this is an altruistic move neither has afforded me). Nope, today I will aim and fire my ire at Craigslist is positively brilliant in theory. For a fee (or no fee at all), anyone can post an ad for almost anything (digruntled wives take note: craigslist doesn't tolerate ads for hitmen), but barring murder and prostitution, anything.

I, at first, thought I hit the job ad motherload. According to the list, offices all over town needed an "intelligent, personable receptionist to direct clients and answer phones." I dove right in. Ads were vague but I wasn't picky. I sent off 5-6 resumes a day with friendly, professional coverletters tailored to each posting.

Three weeks and 40+ resumes later, nothing. No "thanks for your application, but I hired my cousin" or "we will be reviewing resumes and will make a decision by March 2010." Nothing. Wait, that's not true. I did receive three automated responses from the grammatically challenged James who informed me that "applicants are required to post they resumes first." The third time, I emailed back to the job that "me resume is posted." Okay, so I totally understand why I didn't hear back on that one.

But, that still left more than 40 active resumes out there...somewhere. One particularly dark day, I looked out the window to see if the electronic ghosts of my resumes were quivering in a pile on the back lawn. They weren't. I am almost sorry. At least then I would have known where they landed and why I had yet to get a response. Eventually my coverletters became more creative and my resumes shorter (what Master's degree?) and still nothing.

So, I decided to cast a wider net that included freelance writing gigs, you know, where my creative coverletters might be appreciated. Nope. Nothing. I keep checking the back lawn just in case.

So here's the question I pose to anyone out there who is using, or ever has used, craigslist to job hunt. Did it work? How on earth did you do it?

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