Sussing the Competition


My, my. Such are the times we live in. Eric Auld, a fellow with a master’s in English has been out of work for months, all the while applying for job after job after job. Then he got an idea

Man Creates Fake Craigslist Ad To View His Competition — He Was Quite Surprised

A few weeks ago, Auld had enough, and his impatience led him to create a fake Craigslist ad to see where he stood in the job market. He posted a basic ad in order to attract a wide spectrum of job seekers.

His ad read:

Administrative Assistant needed for busy Midtown office. Hours are Monday through Friday, nine to five. Job duties include: filing, copying, answering phones, sending e-mails, greeting clients, scheduling appointments. Previous experience in an office setting preferred, but will train the right candidate. This is a full-time position with health benefits. Please e-mail résumé if interested. Compensation: $12-$13 per hour.

In 24 hours, Auld received 653 responses. After sorting through every application, he found that 76 percent of applicants had previous true experience. Even 10 percent of applicants had more than 10 years of experience.

Auld created some nifty pie charts breaking down the vitals on the applicants he got for his fake job. This one tells an interesting story:

The job description does not state an education requirement. Presumably a high school diploma will get you there. Nonetheless well over half of the applicants had at least an associate’s degree, and more than 40% had a bachelor’s. The competition is fierce.

As Auld concluded: No matter how much you want this job, there are 652 other people who want it, too.

I wonder if the master’s degree is hurting him at this point. If these are the kinds of jobs he is applying for, he might be tempted to leave that particular credential off his resume.


  1. 2014-03-20 20:28:27

    obviously like your website but you need to take a look at the spelling on several of your posts. A number of them are rife with spelling problems and I to find it very troublesome to tell the truth nevertheless I'll definitely come again again.

  2. [...] new American Dream is a job. Related: Man finds outC he has 653 competitors for a single job. Could Canada join America in the housing [...]

  3. 2012-08-09 16:47:05

    The employment markets are changing. You either going to have to redefine your career or create your career. That all depends on what the economical environment is needing and how creative you are. It is not easy, a career in itself.

  4. [...] Sussing the Competition | Transparency Revolution. This entry was posted in Uncategorized by stephan. Bookmark the [...]

  5. 2012-08-09 12:32:42

    Where 'law degrees' are concerned, I think one sentence delivered by Al Pacino's Satanic character in "The Devil's Advocate" aptly describes today's legal profession: 'We're gonna get acquittal after acquittal until the stench reaches the highest heaven.' The movie is gratuitous in its exploitation of Charlize Theron's character. The perspective the movie gives of well-heeled clients, lawyers & judges is real-world & spot-on.

  6. 2012-08-09 11:39:51

    Or declare yourself disabled and get disability benefits? Seems the newest definition of disability is you cannot get a job that you are trained for. Or better yet, get some food stamps for those nice juicy steaks? The Great Ummbama is very generous with other people's money and your self esteem.

  7. 2012-08-09 11:28:28

    All will contribute what The Great Ummbama mandates and only be given what The Great Ummbama deigns they need. They can turn poop to energy to heat their homes, ingest high fibre content vegetations for a healthy diet to please The Great Ummbamama. Utopia is near.

  8. 2012-08-09 11:18:21

    Surely a nuclear physicist position would be posted at Hot Jobs. Get it? Hot...nuclear... Anyhoo they got swallowed by Monster a long time ago.

  9. 2012-08-09 11:16:04

    I agree with Ben, times are tough and people are looking for work anywhere they can find it.

  10. 2012-08-09 11:08:09

    Quite a few job sites also scrape other sites' job listings, so posting on Craigslist used to be an effective way of getting a job posted for free that then got picked up by sites that normally charge but, as Phil mentioned, those CL posts are no longer free in most markets. Another reason people may often go to Craigslist is that they know the listings are relevant to their local market, so they're not sifting through so many possibly irrelevant listings. The reality is that wherever you post a job, a post for an administrative assistant role with reasonable pay and benefits will attract a lot more applicants than a more specialized role. I don't think you'd be getting that sort of response on Craigslist if you were looking for a nuclear physicist...

  11. 2012-08-09 10:56:18

    Was just talking about this to a lady who runs a mid-size local business. She does a lot of her recruiting through Craigslist and has liked the results. However, Craigslist is no longer free. She said she was paying $25 a pop to post want ads. That's still much much cheaper than the big boards, although our site Jobster is ballpark if you buy a package of several listings at once. Plus of course with Jobster you can use tools like skills tags to quickly filter the qualified few out of the 652. Or if you're the applicant you can use personal career analytics to keep a running tally of how you're doing against the competition without even having to run fake job ad!

  12. 2012-08-09 10:19:27

    Craigslist is actually one of the most popular job posting sites. Small and medium sized businesses without full time recruiters use it for free job posting, and even many large corporations use it for different employment niches. Those who have problems hiring from Craigslist usually have poorly written job descriptions or go into it thinking cheap talent. Then there's job aggregators, which scrape sites like Craigslit and spread the reach of the job.

  13. 2012-08-09 10:13:32

    I've gotten my last three jobs from Craigslist (all steps up in my career), and all three employers said they get their best prospects from Craigslist, far better than from recruiters,, and other avenues. Seems you are the one that is not too savvy.

  14. [...] Sussing the Competition | Transparency Revolution. This entry was posted in Collapse. Bookmark the permalink. ← Appeals Court OKs [...]

  15. 2012-08-09 09:49:29

    That depends on how you define value subtraction. The most common graduate degree is a masters in education. Teachers get these because a teacher gets paid more if they have one, regardless of its relevance to their job performance;it's defintitely worth it. Also, when it comes to that type of degree, the vendor knows what the customer wants, and makes the purchase as easy as possible. The second most common graduate degree is an MBA. I don't know about all MBAs, but if you work in the public sector, a graduate degree can sometimes get you a raise, and is effectively a requirement for promotion above a certain level. As a result a LOT of public sector workers have MBAs. When I worked in the public sector, pretty much everyone at my level either had one or was working on it. And let's just say they weren't getting them from Harvard. Again, the vendor knows what the customer wants, etc. Then there are jobs that require postgrad degrees, such as doctor or lawyer. Law degrees appear to be rapidly diminishing in value, at least if you plan to practice law, but I've noticed at my company that if you have expertise in other areas, having a law degree too (even from a poorly ranked school) can be extremely valuable. Apart from that, unless you want to be a professor and have a PhD, most graduate degrees are a waste of time. English definitely is. Auld should probably leave the masters degree off his resume; it probably makes him look overqualified, but more likely causes the HR people to ask "what kind of idiot gets a masters in English?"

  16. 2012-08-09 09:39:00

    I'm an admnistrative assistant with two MAs who's given up on two careers due to family issues, and used "adminning" as my daily bread-and-butter since my late college days (when I realized restaurants were for the committed, the insane, and the committedly insane), when I realized that people are impressed by the ability to actually touch-type (looking at the person speaking, not the keyboard), and will assume you're worth hiring in a good market for that skill alone. Advanced degrees hurt you on the bottom rung, which is what that pay band represents in NY, but it's a distinct asset for the higher-end positions where discretion, grammar, and ability to create correspondance on your boss' behalf is an issue -- you know, the old-school stuff we used to call "being a secretary."

  17. 2012-08-09 09:34:10

    Who looks for real jobs on Craig's List? This only shows there are 653 people who can't locate work because they are not too savvy.

  18. 2012-08-09 09:18:16

    When he wins re-election The Great Ummbama will create Obama Bucks, the new post-American currency. All will contribute what they can and only take what they need. All will walk or peddle to jobs close to their assigned living quandrants and mulch their wastes in community poop tanks for mandatory weekend garden duties. The unicorns will smile.

  19. 2012-08-09 09:11:45

    Many jobs like this are done through temp agencies, aren't full-time, or don't offer benefits. No wonder he got so many responses.

  20. 2012-08-09 08:41:51

    Sounds like the start of the plot of Donald Westlake's book "The Ax". The protagonist is also long unemployed and also strikes upon the idea of posting a fake ad to suss the competition. The difference is that once he has the list of applicants in hand he systematically proceeds to eliminate the competition. A good read. Inspiring in its own macabre way.

  21. 2012-08-09 08:40:31

    In the old Soviet Union, many industrial outputs were worth less than the raw material inputs. Value subtraction. What per cent of today's master's degrees represent "value subtraction"?

  22. 2012-08-09 08:26:37

    And coming soon, a real life _The Ax_ incident.. (and the filmed version: )

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  1. [...] Sussing the Competition | Transparency Revolution. This entry was posted in Collapse. Bookmark the permalink. ← Appeals Court OKs [...]

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  3. By Lightning Round – 2012/08/14 « Free Northerner on August 15, 2012 at 12:18 am

    [...] new American Dream is a job. Related: Man finds outC he has 653 competitors for a single job. Could Canada join America in the housing [...]

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