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How to Find Jobs Using Online Classified Ads

By Susan P. Joyce

For decades, the newspaper classified ads were one of the most important sources of leads for most job seekers. With ink-stained fingers, pens, and paper, job seekers in the past poured over the daily or weekly newspaper’s Help Wanted classified section, noted the promising opportunities, and followed up with telephone or typewriter. Not so much, now…

Now, we have the Internet which has provided us with many more options than our local daily newspaper.

Classified Job and Employment Ads

In addition to the print newspaper, we have many more options.

New Classified Ad Sources

Instead of publishing traditional classifieds online, these classifieds usually appear only in their online form, and they are a rapidly expanding force in the online job search marketplace.

The most obvious of them is, an enormously popular - and growing - online marketplace with 700 locations in 70 countries. Like most job boards, craigslist charges employers to post their jobs (it was free originally). Now, the cost is between $7 and $75 per job posting in "selected areas" in the USA, like Atlanta, Austin, Baltimore, Boston, Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego, New York City, D.C., and so on. If you're not in one of those major areas, posting a job on craigslist may be free.


Like local newspapers, craigslist is organized by location. So, pick the craigslist location closest to you to start your craigslist job search. Check out both the "jobs" and the "gigs" categories for options for you.

Because job posting is free or low cost for employers and because craigslist is so simple to use, it very popular for small and medium-sized employers to use. You will find real jobs with small employers on Craigslist that you won't find anywhere else. You will also find job postings from larger employers as well.

Within each craigslist, postings are organized into categories by industry or profession (e.g. accounting + finance, admin / office, arch / engineering, art / media, and so on). Within each category, jobs published by date in reverse-chronological order, with the newest at the top (however briefly).

Because most jobs are posted for free, some “junk” is posted and so, unfortunately, are scams. You need to be relatively cautious and skeptical about applying for jobs you find online.  Read 9 Characteristics of a Job Scam for more information.

Craigslist is self-policing through several “community moderation” methods. More than 15% of all craigslist postings are removed as a result of community input. Some cities appear to be more tolerant than others, so each craigslist location/site demonstrates its own unique personality.

See Job-Hunt’s Guide to Using Craigslist to Find a Job for more details on effectively using craigslist for your job search.

Because craigslist is so successful, other craigslist wannabe’s are appearing every day, usually just emulating what craigslist already does so well and so inexpensively.

Traditional "Help Wanted" Classifieds – Online

These days, many newspapers have put those Help Wanted ads on their websites. For the web, these are usually unique listings, specific to the location. It is worth checking out your local newspaper's website to see if they post their own classified job ads on their website.

Local businesses like dentists’ or doctors’ offices, car dealers, and apartment complexes that have always advertised in the Help Wanted are still advertising there, but probably reaching a smaller audience. Often, those are the only places you will find those particular job postings online.

Sometimes the ads are presented as un-searchable images, organized into the traditional classifieds categories – perfect duplicates of the printed paper. Sometimes the printed classifieds are converted into searchable text.

Sadly, the number of those “classic” classifieds actually being published online seems to be declining.

Pseudo Classifieds

Many newspapers, including the largest, adapted to the new competition from large job sites by outsourcing the “Jobs” portion of their website to those same employment super sites, often Indeed, CareerBuilder, or Monster. Essentially they provide a window into the existing database of jobs at a different site, quite disconnected from the “real” Help Wanted ads appearing in the printed editions of the paper.

Initially, perhaps, the rationale was to retain the value of the printed ad, which was only available to those who purchased the printed edition of the newspaper.  Unfortunately, you and anyone else using the big job site will find the same ads.  So no particular benefit to you, except perhaps the jobs visible may be restricted to those in your location.

Next: Using Job Aggregators

About the author...

Online job search expert Susan P. Joyce has been observing the online job search world and teaching online job search skills since 1995. A veteran of the United States Marine Corps and a recent Visiting Scholar at the MIT Sloan School of Management, Susan is a two-time layoff “graduate” who has worked in human resources at Harvard University and in a compensation consulting firm. Since 1998, Susan has been editor and publisher of Follow Susan on Twitter at @jobhuntorg and on Facebook, LinkedIn.