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How to get a job – The Craigslist Experiment

How to get a job – The Craigslist Experiment…

I had first heard about this story a week or so ago, via our friends over at Job Search engine Adzuna and the magpie that I am thought I would also highlight this cheeky lad’s endeavours. Not that TheEmployable endorses adding fake jobs to jobs boards, but the results of adding ‘a typical’ job to a jobs site had some interesting findings – so TheEmployable thought the story was at least worth reporting…

This is Eric Auld. Not that that is your business, but Eric is the author of an article on the Thought Catalog (the full article is available there). This particular article is called Get a Job: The Craig List experiment.

To cut the story short, Eric, who lives in Massachusetts in the States, was frustrated and tired of being a job-seeking job seeker, and not knowing how to get a job. He wondered what he was doing so wrong when applying for work, in fact he wondered what everyone else did when they applied for work too. If he could pick up some successful job seeking habits or traits, perhaps he would be more successful. So, he invented a job and added it to Craigslist – which is like a local classified ads, but on the net and popular in the US.

Eric added an average paying admin assistant job, to the NYC Craigslist jobs board. He made the job advert average, for no other reason, but that this was the type of job that he figured out he was likely to get himself. And then he waited.

But Eric did not have to wait too long…Within 6 hours Eric had received 431 applications. Within 24 hours, 653 responses were sitting in Eric’s inbox. Now guilt aside at having advertised a fake job, the 653 responses in a 24 hour period is a shocking reality check. Even if this job was removed after 24 hours of being advertised – a job seeker had a 1 in 653 chance of getting that job. Eric in reality was probably not doing anything that wrong in his previous job seeking – you just statistically do not have much of a chance of getting an average job.

This is what he summarized as his findings – alongside some rather nice home-made graphics too…

According to Eric, overall, 76% of applicants had previous true experience and 24% did not – that is 74% of the 653 applicants had at least 1-2 years administration experience.

Overall, 66% of applicants held one or more degrees/certificates in higher education! 3% held a Masters Certificate.

So while there was nothing extraordinary about the average job that Eric had advertised, the results highlighted the quality of applicants that had  applied in such huge numbers within the first 24 hours.

The reality is that Eric’s experiment highlighted what most recruiters know already; that the more typical the job, the harder it becomes to get a job, however hard you try, because more and more people are available and able to do what is required within the job description. The lesson however hard it may seem to take, is that the more niche a qualification and experience you have, the more cards you hold when applying for jobs.

Eric’s Craigslist ‘experiment’ may have been false in intention, but it does make a point. 



  1. […] few weeks ago  we looked at the CraigList experiment, Eric Auld’s experience after adding a false ‘average job’ to the classified US jobs board […]

    The Google Job Experiment - October 12, 2012
  2. […] week we looked at the CraigList experiment, Eric Auld’s experience after adding a false ‘average job’ to the classified US jobs board […]

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