Best Job Board: Craigslist

    October 30, 2005

Craigslist wants us to know that their traffic far outstrips the leading job boards, and guess what, they also come up on top in terms of job search effectiveness, according to a Forrester Research study.

(All the boards seem pretty effective. Craigslist gets the nod slightly ahead of Careerbuilder. It’s not clear from the summary how many of the top 25 or so job boards were included in the study.)

I guess the next question for anyone in that business, and anyone interested in the rapid growth of sites like Craigslist, is “why.”

A cursory sift through the company’s history gives us a clue as to why. In 1995, when the “company” was founded, they weren’t in a hurry to make money. The idea was to make something useful, and democratic, and community oriented. A list, basically. The “company” didn’t lose the quotation marks until its incorporation in 1999. At that point, and again if you check in with snapshots of Craiglist in 2001, there was still no rush to make money. By 2005, they had mega-popular sites for many cities around the world, and still only 18 employees. By late 2005, they’re 25% owned by eBay, and the world’s largest job board. It looks like there’s plenty of room for growth in their concept, too — capturing odd, category-defying requests and queries from either buyers and sellers (no problem too small, no Long Tail query too obscure) — and putting them together.

Might even be that Google’s new auction concept, Google Base (however it may turn out), owes a lot to the Craiglist ethos.

Are you thinking your online startup needs to be more “businessy”? To make money sooner? To ramp up to 50 employees by 2007? Maybe you’re looking at the wrong things.

Andrew Goodman is Principal of Page Zero Media, a marketing consultancy which focuses on maximizing clients’ paid search marketing campaigns.

In 1999 Andrew co-founded, an acclaimed “guide to portals” which foresaw the rise of trends such as paid search and semantic analysis.