After reading my posting about how to get a job on Craigslist, my buddy Danny Kay sent me a link to illustrate what employers do wrong. I was amazed by the example that he sent me from the New York edition of Craigslist:

We seek a talented, highly motivated & resourceful individual skilled/experienced in web and print design.
Minimum 1-2 years professional experience and examples of work done are mandatory for all applicants.


  • Degree in Graphic/Web Design with minimum 2 years of Web/Graphic design
    experience with both print materials and web site design/development.

  • Exceptional portfolio that showcases solid conceptual, color, layout graphic design skills as well as fully functional web projects.

  • Proficiency in Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, Adobe ImageReady and Macromedia Dreamweaver.

  • Solid experience with hand-coding HTML, CSS and basic JavaScript knowledge required.

  • Experience in InDesign and/or QuarkXPress and good understanding of requirements, specifications and concept of the print production design.

  • Experience with Macromedia Flash and action scripting is a plus.

  • Must be a highly self-motivated team player, able to work independently and with direction as part of a team.

  • Work on PC based platform.

  • Supervisory experience.

Compensation: Commensurate with experience.

First, let’s analyze the compensation. I bet it pays $15-20/hour based on the line, “Compensation: Commensurate with experience.” This is recruit-speak for “we think we can hire someone great for peanuts, and we’d rather hire cheap, lousy people than expensive, good ones and risk screwing up our out-of-touch pay ranges.”

Second, let’s examine the desired qualifications. I don’t think that even The Russell Brown of Adobe would qualify for this position:

  1. Proficiency with Photoshop, Illustrator, ImageReady, Dreamweaver, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, InDesign “and/or” QuarkExpress, and Flash. Only the kids of John Warnock who were suckled at the breast of Adobe could know all these applications.

  2. “Exceptional portfolio,” experience with graphic and web design plus familiarity with print production. Sounds like someone who’s been in the business for twenty years to me. But how hard could it be to master these skills?

  3. “Supervisory experience”—so in one to two years the successful candidate has learned those applications and processes as well as supervised people? In my first two years at Apple, all I did was carry Mike Boich’s (the first Macintosh software evangelist) bags.

Oh I almost forgot, the candidate should have gained all this expertise while using the PC-version of applications. What self-respecting candidate is going to admit that? What candidate is going to want to do this kind of work on a PC?

This job posting is fundamentally flawed. It casts far too big a net, so it will intimidate or exasperate the little fish (ie, people starting their careers), and the big fish (ie, people who truly qualified) either aren’t reading Craigslist or will smell a rat: “Compensation: Commensurate with experience.”

This is my advice:

  • Use the right tool. Craigslist might not be the best place for senior positions and for senior candidates at established companies. Better places are, Creativecircle, and I.D. However, it is great for contract work and entry- and mid-level positions.

  • Write honest job descriptions for honest job titles. Don’t try to entice candidates with promises of greater responsibilities or opportunities than is true. And don’t delude yourself: If the cat drags in over-qualified candidate, are you really going to expand the job?

  • Match the job and the background requirements. If you have an entry-level job, then write entry-level specs. If you have a mid- or upper-level job, then write more demanding specs such as five or more years of experience. Unfortunately, most help-wanted ads contain unrealistic demands for the position.

  • Sell. Almost every help-wanted ad focuses on buying, not selling—that is, the qualifications that candidates have to meet and the fences that they have to jump over. However, in the war for talent, this is ass backwards. This ad, for example, should mention things like “award-winning shop,” “work alongside famous designers,” “interesting projects for Disney, Apple, and Audi.”

  • Give young people a break. In the past of great employees are managers who gave them a break. Maybe they didn’t have the ideal educational or work experience—for example, an ex-jewelry schlepper. What’s more important than what’s on screen is what’s in the mind, soul, and attitude of candidates.

By the way, if you’re a wunderkind and want to apply for this job, go for it. $20/hour can add up.