Even in an economy where many skilled workers are clamoring for a job, hiring can be a pain. Placing ads in a newspaper is expensive and often time-consuming, and the barrage of résumés followed by anxious e-mails, phone calls, and even office visits from desperate job-seekers can be overwhelming.

Susan Pierce, co-owner of Commonwealth Home Remodelers, in Vienna, Va., says she’s found a better way. Commonwealth has brought on six new construction personnel in as many months. All were hired after responding to ads placed on Craigslist.org, a classifieds website.

For an employer, placing an ad in The Washington Post, the leading newspaper in Pierce’s media market, starts at $93 and up. Pierce, who prefers to take out enough ad space to include a detailed description of the job profile, her expectations and instructions for applicants to follow, ended up paying about $500 for every ad she placed in the Post while seeking new employees. Advertisements in other print media were similar in cost.

The fee for a company like Commonwealth to advertise on Craigslist is $25 — one-twentieth the cost of a similar ad in the Post.

While it costs another $25 to renew an ad like the ones Pierce has placed on Craigslist, Pierce says she has found someone she wanted to hire out of every pool of applicants responding to an ad. “I may have gotten more [applications] if I’d put [the ad] in The Washington Post,” Pierce says, “but I got what I needed.”

Stress-Free Follow-up

In addition to lower cost, Craigslist’s system for putting applicants and employers in touch with one another removes much of the stress in reviewing applications, Pierce says.

Taking advantage of the website’s privacy options, Pierce chose not to display the company’s name or location (offering only “Northern Virginia” in the ad) or her contact details. Responses were routed electronically through Craigslist, ensuring that only applications — and not “follow-up” messages — reached Pierce’s inbox, there for her to review at her own pace.

“I did get a few duplicates,” Pierce admits of the applications she has received while hiring through Craigslist,” but [the applicants] don’t have a person’s name to harass.”

For every $25 investment Pierce has made in her company’s name on Craigslist, she has been rewarded with a successful and relatively stress-free hire. At the end of each hiring process, she can remove the ad and the stream of résumés will promptly cease.

Small wonder Susan Pierce has no plans to take out a print advertisement anytime soon.

—Mark Miller, REMODELING intern.