Hiring Employees Using Craigslist

Craigslist currently boasts over one million new job listings each month, making it one of the largest job boards in the world. It is a popular place for employers to advertise for new employees, and it can serve you well in hiring attorneys and support staff.

Anatomy of a Job Posting

Craigslist allows employers to post a basic job listing that includes a description, a photo, and contact information. If you are uncomfortable using your own email in a job posting, Craigslist lets you use an anonymous email address to which prospective employees can submit their application. Craigslist will automatically forward applications to your real email address.

Each job posting on Craigslist costs $25, and you can post to one category in one city no more than once every forty-eight hours (the relevant category for lawyers and paralegals is the legal / paralegal category; support staff jobs can also be posted under admin / office). Another way to find new hires on Craigslist is to search posted resumes under the resumes section.

Separating the Wheat From the Chaff

The good and bad news is it’s a buyer’s market. Our law firm is based in North Jersey and is considered part of the greater metro/NYC area. Post a listing here in the legal / paralegal section and you are likely to be inundated with applications in hours, and each applicant will probably send a text-laden email accompanied by a cover letter, resume, and sometimes even a writing sample. It can become extremely tedious to sift through all those emails and attachments.

If your law firm is looking for a person with specific training, skill sets, or credentials, you will still have to go through all of the submissions, but at least you can whittle the pile down quickly. On the other hand, if your law firm is looking to hire an entry-level employee, a large percentage of applicants may fit the bill. This will make the job of locating the applicants you want much more difficult.

There will also be many applicants who do not fulfill any of the job requirements but submit an application anyway. (I once had an applicant for an associate attorney position who didn’t have a law degree and his past work experience was limited to working as a sales clerk in a shoe store — you can’t make this stuff up.)

Tweaking the Job Posting

One way to pare down submissions is to make the job application requirements specific. The problem with this approach is that an applicant may have the credentials you want but may not follow your instructions.

For example, I have created job postings where I said in all caps and in boldface (with asterisks!):


Even so, many qualified applicants ignored my requirements. While it is easy to make the assumption that a person who can’t follow basic instructions may not be someone you want working for you, the other side of the coin is that it may have been a simple omission and not an indication of sloppiness.

Whether or Not to Include Compensation

If you are offering a specific, fixed compensation (either salary or hourly rate) the straightforward and most efficient approach is to include that information in the job posting. This way you are more likely to attract applicants who are looking for compensation that is in line with what you are offering, and you can screen out individuals who expect higher compensation than what you are offering.

The downside of this approach is that you might have an individual who feels they should be earning more, but decides to apply for the job since they are desperate for work. To avoid this, consider omitting compensation in your job posting and request that applicants include salary requirements or an acceptable salary range in their application. This forces the applicant to disclose how much they feel they deserve or want to be paid.

Of course, this makes more work for you, since you have to go through the applications to see who is willing to accept what you are willing to pay.

Quality of Craigslist Applicants

I have used a number of job posting websites (some paid, some free) and found that Craigslist tends to produce the same quality of applicants you will get from any other job site.

The upside to using a more general job posting website like Craigslist is that you are likely to get a larger pool of applicants. Of course, that also means there will be a greater number of applicants that don’t fit your basic requirements.

So while Craigslist hasn’t kept pace with modern website design and functionality, it will get the job done for your hiring needs. Its basic interface, low-cost listings, and wealth of potential applicants will more than likely get you the right person for your law firm—even if the list of applicants seems daunting to sift through at first.

Originally published July 15, 2015. Republished August 5, 2016.

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