from AIRS, Oct. 18, 2000

Community Spirit
By T.J. Ripley

For some time now recruiters in the San Francisco Bay Area have recognized the value of advertising at craigslist - a popular local online community. After all, earlier this year Forrester Research rated craigslist as the most efficient job recruiting site on the Internet for its ability to generate the highest number of qualified candidates for the least amount of time and money.

But recruiters outside the Bay Area can now take advantage of craigslist as it expands into ten more communities across the country and around the world. More about those sites in a moment.

Craigslist began six years ago as a simple mailing list to keep people in the area informed about interesting local events, but it soon evolved into a heavily-trafficked Web site that seeks to foster a human community on the Internet. It is a site where you are just as likely see an announcement about a self-defense class or a carpool opening as a posting of a resume or job opportunity. People use it to address their everyday, real-world concerns such as finding an apartment (in the housing section), a used computer (in the sale/wanted section), a date (in the personal ads), a weekend activity (in the event section), or a community project with which to become involved. It provides a way for people to find out what's going on, to feel included and to have a voice.

From the outset, craigslist has been about connecting people, not about technology. One look at the Web site shows you that craigslist isn't about flashy technology or eye-catching design. There are no banner ads, animated graphics or newsfeeds here. In fact the site has a decidedly retro look; the homepage is a dull gray containing simple tables of traditional blue text links.

For your purposes, the resume and job sections are the most important areas to examine.

People post their own resumes here; the listings are not gathered from other sources or existing resume banks. The postings are displayed in reverse chronological order rather than by profession or industry. For this reason, you'll want to search through the listings by keyword. On the community's homepage enter a term (such as Flash or business development), set the dropdown menu to resumes and click the search button. The job section is the only area of the site that charges a fee for advertising - $75 per job per category. The category listings are well organized and cover a full range of industries and fields, from finance to retail, from sales to education and from medical to legal. There are even job listings for non-profits, which, in keeping with the community spirit of the site, are always free. Again, there's nothing fancy here, all ads are in plain text format without corporate graphics. But despite the plainness, the site succeeds.

Currently all job postings at the ten new craigslist communities are temporarily free. These include Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, Portland, Oregon, Seattle, San Diego, Washington DC, Melbourne and Sydney.

The content at these sites is not as extensive as it is in the original Bay Area craigslist; each site needs to develop a sense of purpose, trust and community. But as word spreads about the sites and more people turn to them, their value will increase. And even if you don't find a candidate there right away, you might find a technical event to attend, an apartment to rent or someone who wants to buy your used car.