As a result, the advice most career authors give is this: Go ahead and look at the ads now and then, but don't spend a lot of time on it. Put most of your efforts into seeking out the jobs in the "hidden job market"--the ones that never get posted and are filled by people known to the hiring manager.
Having said all that, because I got my first publishing job through a newspaper ad, they still have a place in my heart. I've been looking at the Sunday classified ads in the Indianapolis Star every week for about 15 years, whether I'm looking for a job or not. It helps keep me abreast of new companies and the ones that seem to have constant turnover. Granted, it used to take a lot more time when the section was 75% bigger than it is now. But there are still sometimes interesting nuggets of information to be gleaned.
For example, in this week's ads, I found that
- The Lafayette Journal & Courier is looking for a copy editor.
- The Indianapolis Star is looking for a commerical print coordinator, a media designer, and freelance magazine reporters (for their supplementary publications).
- DRG, a magazine and book publisher in Berne, Indiana, is looking for a "Knitting Editor."
You might be tempted to laugh at that last one. I mean, are they looking for someone to edit books about knitting? Or are they looking for an editor who knits? Or both? But in all seriousness, I can name you five people right now who are editors who knit. Some of them even blog about it. It's not really all that far-fetched: Both editing and knitting take patience, attention to detail, good eyesight, the ability to follow set standards, and creativity. And in the end, you can wear what you make when you knit.