I was recently asked by our new Sales Manager about tips for posting employment ads on Craigslist to hire a Sales Professional for our business. Having run a national real estate investing business that was constantly looking for real estate agents, mortgage brokers and other professionals to work with and having posted quite a few ads on Craigslist looking for those professionals, I thought I would share with you some of what my experience has been.
What about posting frequency?
First of all, to share with folks that are new to Craigslist and to remind those that are already familiar: it is extremely important to be listed near the top of the results page so you need to relist your ad as frequently as allowed by Craigslist’s terms of service.
What to include in the ad?
Next, here are some tips about what to post in the ad: first of all, having ads that have website addresses, in my experience, will tend to decrease your response rate.
Exceptions abound with that generalization though as having a link to a large, publicly traded company could actually improve response rates. For most small business owners running ads to hire for a sales professional will likely be better served by running their ad with minimal information about the company name.
There was a time when I included my telephone number in employment ads, but I have since stopped doing that for a number of reasons including people calling without actually reading about the job and I’d spend time repeating what we included in the description. Removing my telephone number, actually increased response by email.
Once you get in touch via email, immediately try to get them on the phone (especially if they are going to be doing telephone sales).
Build your relationship on the phone at that point.
How about the compensation?
Should you include how much the job pays? How much about the job compensation should you include? Well, here are some generalizations: for sales positions, if it includes a base salary (which our jobs typically do not), you will tend to increase response by including that. You may find that you get a larger number and a different type of person replying to those ads: someone looking for any job that has a salary and not serious sales professionals. If your sales job has some type of variable pay schedule like a commission only position, I would prefer being careful not to over-promise. Over-promising on pay will boost response, but at a huge cost in reputation and very likely a huge cost in keeping great people around long term.
What type of response might you expect?
In a mid-sized city (approximately 100K population like my city of Fort Collins) from posting a single ad in the sales section you might get one response each time you post the ad. Sometimes you won’t get any responses. In very rare cases you might get two responses. You will not be overwhelmed with responses posting an ad for that type of ad.
With a smaller response, we can and should really focus on really connecting with candidates that you’d actually want to work with to show them they are part of a small team that really is committed to helping them succeed.
To summarize, when posting ads for hiring a sales professional on Craigslist, I recommend shying toward the side of under-promising to keep a reasonable chance of keeping people after they inquire. I would not include a website address or a phone number in my ad for most cases. I’d be more likely to include a phone number than a website address though. However, I would want to get on the phone with a candidate that looks promising as soon as possible to start building a relationship. I’d also keep reminding myself to have patience… getting one or two responses per post is reasonable in most cases.
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