Many so-called experts predicted that help wanted ads would become obsolete as the Internet grew in popularity. In reality, help wanted ads are still going strong and remain one of the most important job search steps for jobs at the mid-management level and below.
Case in point: Not only am I a hiring manager, but I was a job seeker myself a few years ago. In fact, I lost my job twice in four months. Both times, I found a new job in a few weeks and both times I found my new job through the newspaper classifieds. And we’re talking here about mid-management jobs in the $75,000 – $90,000 range.
For the more rank-and-file positions, classified help wanted ads will be even more productive.
Why Help Wanted Ads are Still Used
Newspaper classified ads are used for a variety of reasons, but the bottom line is that for mid-level positions and below, they work. It’s not uncommon for me to receive a couple of hundred applications when I advertise an opening in the major newspaper for my area.
While you won’t see many Vice-President and above positions in the want ads, you will see most mainstream positions advertised. There are several reasons for this:
- They have been used for decades and everyone knows how to look at them.
- They are relatively inexpensive for the employer.
- Almost all newspapers of any size now have their help wanted ads online as well as on paper. It’s the best of both worlds.
- Help wanted ads are local. The employer knows that most job seekers will be local. As a hiring manager, I’m more likely to interview local candidates because there are no transportation expenses for the interview and no relocation expenses if I hire. Also, local candidates are usually able to start quicker.
- It’s simply easier and more comfortable to pick up the newspaper and quickly scan the employment ads. Ironically, it’s actually faster to scan a newspaper page full of want ads than it it to page through many screens to get the same information online.
Here’s the Best Way to Use the Help Wanted Ads
For almost all newspapers, you can now find the want ads printed the traditional way on paper, as well as posted electronically on the newspaper web site.
Help Wanted Ads on Paper
The instructions for searching the paper want ads are very simple: pick up the newspaper and read it! However, read it productively. Here’s how:
- Read all the employment ads, not just those in the category for which you’re interested. The reason is that job openings will many times be in a completely different section than where you’d expect. For example, if you’re looking for a medical supplies sales job, you should look in the “Sales” section of the want ads plus the “Health Care” section. You may even want to look in the “Retail” section. Go through all the want ad sections because you never know where you next job may be listed.
- Circle in red all jobs that look interesting. Don’t spend too much time thinking about it, just go quickly through all the want ads and mark ones that look promising.
- Now go back and read carefully the ones you circled in red. Cross-off the ones that now don’t seem appropriate or for which you aren’t qualified.
- For the remaining ones not crossed off, cut them out and enter them into the spreadsheet where you’re tracking jobs you’ve applied for (you do have one, don’t you? If not, visit this page for instructions). Keep the ads you cut out in a manila folder labeled “Jobs Applied For” so that you’ll know how the job was advertised if you get called for an interview.
The Sunday newspaper is where most job postings appear, so be sure to at least look every Sunday. But also check the daily edition because you never know when a job opening will first be published.
Newspaper Online Help Wanted Ads
Today, almost all newspapers have a web site and post their classified ads online in addition to publishing them on paper.
This is a real boon for the job seeker because the online help wanted ads will usually stay online longer than in print. Plus, the larger newspapers help wanted ads will frequently have good search capabilities and will often list when each job was posted.
So how do you find the web sites for all the newspapers in your area? There are several online listings of newspapers and other media, but the best one in my opinion is The American Journalism Review Newslink. It is a very well organized and comprehensive list of not only newspapers, but magazines and Radio/TV stations. It’s sorted both by state and by category to make searching very easy. This should be your number one resource for finding newspaper and other media web sites. It is also thankfully free of any advertising or annoying pop-ups.
The largest newspapers will even have “search agents” for their help wanted ads. A search agent allows you to define what types of jobs you’re looking for and then whenever new jobs are posted that meet your criteria, they are emailed to you.
It just doesn’t get any easier than this!
You should set up search agents at all the newspapers that offer them in your geographical area. However, this is not a substitute for searching the online help wanted ads on a regular (by regular, I mean daily) basis. New job postings may appear in categories you don’t have specified in your search agent.
You should print a copy of online help wanted ads that interest you. You can then apply for them one at a time. Be sure to enter them on your job tracking spreadsheet and keep a copy in your “Jobs Applied For” folder.