A Masters level graduate posted a fake job ad on Craigslist and received over 650 responses in 24 hours.
Eric K Auld, who has a Masters degree in English, posted a fake administrative assistant vacancy based in midtown Manhattan on the New York City edition of the popular free classifieds website Craigslist.
The ‘position’, which claimed it paid $12-13 an hour, got a staggering 653 responses.
Worryingly, hundreds of the ‘candidates’ were overqualified for the position. Some applicants had more than 20 years of relevant clerical experience – and applied even though the position required no previous experience.
And what is even more disconcerting is that the ‘job’ was noticeably lacking a company name and address – yet hundreds were still willing to distribute their personal information.
It all goes to show how desperate people are for a job in the US, which mirrors the global job market.
Eric shared his insights from the experiment in an exposé he named Get a Job: The Craigslist Experiment, which he initially posted online.
“I am currently looking for a full-time job, preferably in a major city, since that’s where a vast multitude of jobs exist,” he begins. "Unfortunately, so do an even vaster multitude of job-seekers.”
The aim of the experiment was to “gain a full perspective of who [his] generalised workforce competition was”. And after 653 responses flooded in, it’s fair to say he achieved his objective – although part of him probably wishes he hadn’t.
“Naturally, the results were initially devastating to a job hunter like myself,” Eric continued. “I realised that all along during my job hunt I had just been standing before a great abyss, hurling my resume in [...] and hoping that someone would eventually catch it.”
The exposé does offer a glimmer of hope, however – by suggesting a couple of ways to improve your chances in the fiercely competitive job market.
Rather than sending your application in along with another 652 and keeping your fingers crossed, Eric suggests going down the ‘it’s who you know’ route, using your connections and networking to land a job.
Milk social network sites such as Twitter and LinkedIn for all they’re worth. Eric advises connecting with organisations that interest you even if they are not advertising any open positions.
According to Eric, he was informed by HR representatives that overqualified candidates should only apply for graduate jobs that match their qualifications and experience; otherwise employers might surmise that they will quickly get bored in a mediocre position and begin to look elsewhere.