Separating the Wheat From the Chaff

Effective October 22, public swap-meet Craigslist.org will start charging $25 per recruitment ad in Boston, San Diego, Seattle, and Washington, D.C.

The company says the impetus behind this fee is intended to improve quality while eliminating repeat or poor-quality postings.

The company says $25 is less than 1/10th of what national job boards and newspapers charge for less effective ads. The company says it expects this “negligible” fee to deter “overposting, spam, ‘get-rich quick’ schemes, and other quality issues we’re seeing on the job boards for these four cities.”

This follows a move back in 2004, when the company instituted a similar fee in New York and Los Angeles. In 1998, Craigslist added a fee to post jobs in San Francisco, which currently runs $75 a pop in that city.

Though the company won’t publicly disclose how much ad revenue it generates in New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco, there have been estimates it’s as high as $10 million a year. In fact, a study released in 2004 said Craigslist has cost San Francisco area papers up to $65 million in help-wanted ads.

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Will this new fee system only encourage recruiters to look elsewhere when posting job listings, perhaps on the newly created MySpaceJobs (powered by SimplyHired) or other smaller sites? In addition, if this fee comes to other cities soon, some question their reliance on Craigslist.

“I would be less likely to post if they started charging,” says Jennifer Hobock, associate of strategy and human capital at RSM McGladrey in Schaumberg, Illinois. “However, there are some circumstances when you need to cast a wider net. But I would be much less likely if there were costs associated with it. It might force me to be a little more creative and search for sites that do offer free posting opportunities.”

Finally, the company says its “Gigs” categories will remain free; this is a collection of smaller projects, odd jobs, and openings for personal attendants and other domestic help.

Craigslist operates free-ad sites in 320 markets worldwide, according to Classified Intelligence.

Elaine Rigoli has nearly 15 years of experience managing content and community for various B2B and consumer websites. Elaine has written thousands of business and technology articles and has been quoted in The Wall Street Journal and eWeek, among other publications.

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