Responding to Help Wanted Classified Ads

The chances of finding a job via advertisements decreases as the job level or pay scale gets higher. Although people do find jobs through printed classified ads, statistics indicate the number of jobs filled through this method can be as low as 10 percent.

Job seekers often feel they are making a concerted effort to find work when they put long hours into reading and responding to classified advertisements. Many people take refuge in the paper chase, thinking it’s less confrontational. But calling or visiting potential employers is more likely to be successful. Be sure to utilize all the available job search options presented here – don’t limit yourself to the want ads.

Classified ads can be found in the following:

  • New York Times (Print and online editions)
  • Wall Street Journal (print and online editions)
  • Government publications
  • Local newspapers
  • Professional and trade publications
  • University publications

If you plan on spending more than a few minutes looking at help wanted ads, you should learn to distinguish between two main categories of advertisements.

Open: Open announcement ads are the most common form of employment-oriented classified ad. Organizations are often required to publish open job announcements to comply with Equal Opportunity laws. Open advertisements include such information as the company name, job description, and how to apply.

Blind: Blind ads describe job openings but don’t indicate the employer’s name or address. The addresses listed are usually post office boxes. There are legitimate reasons why employers may post blind ads: They may want to fill a position not yet announced within the company or to reduce the number of responses to the advertisement. But sometimes these ads are used by employment or sales agencies to create a pool of names. Approach blind ads with caution.

To respond to advertised openings:

  • Either answer the ad when it first appears or wait as close to the deadline as possible to get your materials placed on top of the stack.
  • Be sure to meet the closing date or you may be disqualified.
  • Send only concise and neat materials since you may be competing with as many as 1,000 applicants.
  • Follow up on particularly attractive openings by calling and asking to speak to someone about the position. polite persistence pays off. It only takes a little research to find out who the contact is in a blind ad. The names of box holders at the U.S. Postal Service are available to the public and can be obtained with a little assertiveness.
  • Respond to ads if you have 50 percent or more of the skills described. The job description usually represents a company’s “wish list,” but there’s no guarantee they’ll find anyone with 100 percent of the listed qualifications.
  • Keep detailed records of the ads you have responded to. It may be several weeks or months before the position is filled.
  • Beware of ads that make inflated promises (e.g., “opportunity of a lifetime”). If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Cover letters

When sending out your resume, especially in response to advertised job openings, should you include a cover letter?

Some employers throw away any resume submitted without a letter, while others throw out the cover letter because it’s not necessary.

No matter what the employer’s policy, a well-composed cover letter communicates the message that the job is important to you. You are not going to be penalized for including a letter, and sometimes it can make a positive difference.

When writing a cover letter, pay careful attention to the employer’s needs—the more personal the tone of your letter, the greater the possibility of receiving a favorable response. A good letter sets the stage for a good interview. Always use quality stationery that matches your resume. You can view example PDF files by clicking on one of the following links:

Sample Cover Letter #1

Sample Cover Letter #2

Or you can also visit our Sample Resumes Page.


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