Craigslist Job Hunting: Two Key Workarounds

Craigslist Job Hunting: Two Key Workarounds

Today our guest blogger is Matt Youngquist. Matt is the President of Career Horizons, serving Northwest individuals and organizations dealing with the unique challenges of job hunting and employment transition.  Matt is a recognized expert in the field of career coaching, job hunting, and professional employment counseling.  You can follow him on Twitter @mattyoungquist.


As I’ve stressed to quite a few clients over the years, anybody looking for work today should consider Craigslist as one of the absolute top sources of published opportunities they check on a regular basis.

Surprised by this?  Do you associate Craigslist more with used cars or tracking down garage sales?  If so, let me point out the two key reasons why the site is such a unique and important job resource:

  1. Almost every company uses it in their hiring efforts today, especially small-to-mid-sized companies, since the price of running a job listing on Craigslist ($25) is a tiny fraction of what it cost to run job leads on other sites like, CareerBuilder, etc.
  2. Additionally, and just as importantly, Craigslist (unlike other job sites) has never let its leads get picked up by aggregator sites such as or; so with Craigslist, you typically find a “pure” pool of listings you won’t see mentioned anywhere else

But here’s the rub.  The Craigslist search interface is remarkably crude and unsophisticated.  Not only can you not construct precise searches using the common “Boolean syntax” rules supported by most other sites, but Craigslist doesn’t even have an automatic “alert” feature you can program to send you new matching leads each day — unless you count RSS feeds, which are tricky to use if you’re not familiar with them.

Luckily, though, I’ve recently found workarounds to both of these issues.  So whether you’re an existing client of mine or merely a casual follower of my blog, I wanted to share these tips, since they’re likely to save you a bunch of time and aggravation in the job-finding process.

With regard to Craigslist not offering automatic “job alert” functionality, I’ve discovered that you can now use a free third-party site called to set up daily alerts on Craiglist — to find job listings that fit you or to get notified about anything else on that site (camera equipment, used furniture, etc.) you might be seeking!  Visit the List-Alert page, and you’ll see a simple interface where you specify WHAT you want to find on Craiglist, the section of the site you want to search through (e.g. Jobs, For Sale, Housing, etc.), and the geographic location you’re targeting.  Enter these parameters, hit the “create alert” button, and you’re in business!  You’ll start getting any matching leads to your search sent to you automatically via e-mail each day.

As for HOW to search properly?  Again, Craigslist doesn’t allow you to chain keywords together in the same way as most other sites on the Internet.  For example, you can’t use the standard Boolean “OR” command to link keywords of interest together.  Without this functionality, you’re forced to run a whole bunch of separate searches for jobs in sales, business development, account management, marketing, and the like.  Recently, however, I finally wised up and did some research around this issue, which led me to discover that you can actually use a different character — the “vertical pipe” symbol “|” — to provide the “OR” functionality.  Hallelujah!

Given this “breakthrough” discovery (ha ha) I’d now advise many of you to set up an automated daily job alert on Craigslist that looks something more or less along these lines:

Search that finds anything related to sales:
sales | “business development” | account | territory

Search that finds anything related to software testing:
“software testing” | “software quality” | SDET

Search that finds project, program, or product management jobs:
(manager | management) AND (project | program | product)

Search that finds senior financial openings:
CFO | controller | (director | VP | vice | chief) AND (finance | financial | accounting)

Search that finds mid-to-senior-level marketing positions:
CMO | (marketing | advertising | brand | branding) AND (manager | director | VP | vice | chief)

Definitely note that when running these kinds of searches, though, you’ll usually want to check the option box (on either Craigslist or List-Alert) that limits your search to job titles only— so you’re not combing every word in the full body text.

So there you go.  Mystery solved.  For years, I’ve been wondering why Craigslist didn’t permit more advanced searching, but as usual, it turns out that the site just marches to the beat of a slightly different drummer!  Hope this tip helps you find some great employment listings for yourself, with a minimum of muss and fuss…

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3 thoughts on “Craigslist Job Hunting: Two Key Workarounds

  1. Every job I’ve applied for through Craigslist has been phishing of some kind. Usually I get an e-mail response, very polite and seemingly individual, directing me to an online application. The application wastes an hour or two, then directs me to a paid credit check site. It may be just because my field is one that makes an attractive hunting ground for scam artists, but I don’t bother with it anymore, quite enough people have my personal information thank you very much.

  2. Sorry but just down recently. Been using it for some time for job alerts on Craig’s List.

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