Then TheLadders diversified. It got involved in the resume-writing
business. Hey, it had a "$100k+" audience. Who better to soak
for expensive resume-writing services?
At first TheLadders coaxed its market by contracting with independent
professional resume writers to actually do the writing. But once this
resume business was launched, TheLadders dumped its stable of
professionals and started recruiting "writers" the same way it
recruited customers -- indiscriminately. (I know: They
tried to recruit me.) Soon I started getting stories from
disgruntled resume clients complaining that TheLadders wouldn't let
clients talk to the "resume writers" about their $900+
resumes. Then I heard from the resume writers TheLadders dumped. They claimed the operation shifted from professional staff to greenhorns.
By this time it seemed TheLadders even had shills
writing advertorials masquerading as articles in publications like Investor's
Business Daily. (I know: A flak named Gary Stern interviewed me
then misrepresented my comments in his "article.")
TheLadders' behavior led recruitment-industry bird-dog Joel Cheesman,
aka Cheezhead, to suggest the company was being fattened up for sale.
I agreed (TheLadders:
But always in the forefront was TheLadders' boast that it was all
about $100k+ jobs for $100k+ people. And that's where the crap hit the
fan. It was clear to me from the start that a business trying to operate
on such a huge scale could not possibly police jobs and postings. So on
December 3, 2007 I called TheLadders and asked about posting some jobs.
(I recorded the call.) I said I was a headhunter and I wanted to post
jobs I was trying to fill for my clients.
How would TheLadders ensure the jobs I was posting were really
$100k+? TheLadders' agent replied:
"We'll just basically ask you when you're sending us the
information when you're posting a job, what's the base salary, bonus and
equity range. We have a Recruiter Relations team that's going to help
you put up any posts. Whatever post goes up there's an 8 to 24 hour
waiting period to make sure it meets our criteria."
And what if I was not willing to divulge the employer I was
representing? How would they make sure the job was legit? Answer:
"There's a confidential option so no one will see it."
It was simple and clear: I would not have to divulge who my client
was or prove the job was really $100k+ or even that it existed.
How would I know I was getting top-notch, $100k+ candidates?
"A couple ways we qualify. We actually charge our candidates to
come on the site as well. So right off the bat we know they're a little
bit more serious about their job search because they're willing to pay a
fee to help them out. We also know they're in the proper income
See? It's simple. If they're willing to pay to use TheLadders,
they're likely to be $100k+ candidates, and good ones at that. This
seems to be how TheLadders qualifies everything -- job hunters,
employers, job postings. If someone is willing to pay, anything goes.
The doo-doo was so deep I couldn't help but stir harder to see what
other crud would come to the top.
How does TheLadders know these people are in the proper income
"Not the proper income bracket, but I know that they have enough
money that they're willing to use our service. So those are the two kind
of initial qualifiers."
In other words, TheLadders was faking it big time. I suppose extensive
research suggested that people with more money are bigger suckers. I wanted to know
more, and TheLadders' rep was on a roll.
I asked him to explain how they checked out job candidates to
ensure they were $100k+. (A caution: If you're a truck driver, you
might not want to read any further, lest you get so worked up you drive
your rig right up to TheLadders' front desk... Can I ride shotgun?)
"When a job seeker comes to our site, they are sent to a group
called Community. Community will sit down and not just take their money
and run. We'll ask them to submit a profile or a resume or bio. We'll
look at their history and decide whether or not they're the types of
candidates we want representing TheLadders name. Obviously, as you can
see, it would be detrimental to us to have people who are not quality
all-around. There are people who try to come on who'll say, I've been
driving trucks for the last five years. It's a very admirable job, but
we'll say, Thank you very much, you don't really fit what we're looking
for at TheLadders, so please go check out Monster, CareerBuilder, some
other site that deals with the lower-end jobs. So there is a process. It
usually takes them 24 hours to check a bio, so we do make sure we
maintain a really high level of candidates."
So where does this bring us? It brings us full circle. I've been
sitting on that December 2007 telephone transcript, waiting for clear
validation that my experience with TheLadders wasn't a fluke. Last week
a Ladders customer sent me a transcript of an online chat she had with a
Ladders representative to discuss a problem. (I still
can't believe TheLadders is so brazen as to put this stuff in writing.)
"Alishia," a Ladders customer, applied for a "$100k+
job" only to be told by the employer that the job pays $50k. The
employer told her he did not post the job on TheLadders. Irritated,
Alishia wanted to know why a job that paid only $50k was on TheLadders,
and how it could be posted by someone other than the employer.
And the putz at TheLadders replies in writing, "...we make no claims that
all of our jobs are submitted directly to us."
Then he drops this gem: "...we don't have a direct way of
knowing the pay range of each of these positions... we make an estimate
based on a rigid set of criteria."
We know all about TheLadders "rigid set of criteria."
TheLadders' criteria for jobs and resumes it posts are as rigid as the
load Marc Cenedella drops in my e-mail box every week, with
The chat transcript below, between a Ladders customer and a Ladders
representative ("Andy"), was provided by TheLadders' customer
and is published here with her permission. Only her last name and the
description of the job in question have been redacted.
Alishia: I have a problem
Andy: Sorry to hear that Alisha, how can I help?
Alishia: I found this job on your website: [redacted]
Alishia: and after spending time researching the company,
writing a letter and resume
Alishia: when I got a call from the hiring manager
Alishia: he tells me this position pays $50K
Alishia: and when
Alishia: I asked him why he posted the position on The Ladders
Alishia: he said he DID NOT POST IT on TheLadders
Alishia: I am very concerned
Alishia: about the time and effort and money I am spending
Alishia: using your site
Andy: Okay Alishia, I can definitely understand why you're
concerned about this and I'd be glad to explain.
Alishia: if you are pulling ads from a third party
Alishia: without verifying the salary range
Alishia: ok - please explain
Andy: First of all, we make no claims that all of our jobs are
submitted directly to us. Many of the positions on our site are
linked directly to from external job boards. Since we don't have
a direct way of knowing the pay range of each of these
positions, we make an estimate based on a rigid set of criteria.
Andy: In this case, I see that the position requires a
Bachelor's degree and five years of experience. This is well
within the experience range of a Marketing Manager who expects
to make $100k per year.
Andy: Clearly that isn't the case with this position and I thank
you for letting me know about it as I am definitely going to
remove it from the site immediately.
Alishia: omg... so you mean that you are taking educated guesses
on what these positions pay??? do you think that is what users
think who pay $30 per month to use your product - that you are
paying for good guesses as to what a position MAY pay???
Andy: These aren't educated guesses Alisia, it is information
gained through lengthy information gathering sessions among
numerous recruiters and career advisors in all of the fields we
Alishia: i understand pulling from third parties but don't you
verify these postings by calling the company or something?
Andy: The fact is Alishia that very few companies are willing to
release this information if they havent chosen to do so on the
Alishia: Well, Andy, I mean...it's YOUR tagline: The most $100k+
jobs, all in one easy-to-search site. Our mission has always
been to make your job search as quick and easy as possible. We
work hard to bring you the best $100k+ jobs around — over
25,000 a month!
Andy: I stand by that statement Alishia and assure you that we
make every possible effort to ensure that all of our positions
Alishia: I think you cannot guarantee this claim if you do
nothing to verify your information. It is totally irresponsible
to make a claim you cannot backup.
Alishia: Needless to say I am very disappointed and feel that I
have wasted hundreds of dollars using your site and will be sure
to let my colleagues know about my experience.
No matter how TheLadders tries to spin it to an irritated customer or
on its web site, TheLadders does not control jobs it sells to its paying customers. The site is not "exclusively" for $100k+
job hunters and it does not "exclusively" post $100k+ jobs.
Right there on TheLadders web site, it says "Only $100k+ Jobs. Only $100k+ Candidates."
TheLadders is lying.
There is simply no getting around the statement that, "Many of the positions on our site are
linked directly to from external job boards." TheLadders
works just like every other job board that siphons scum from the swill
pot, and sells straws to desperate job hunters who believe that for 30
bucks a month they can get exclusive access to the trough of "REAL
Just how insidious and brazen is this corrupt racket? Very.
TheLadders has "exclusive partnerships" with The Wall Street Journal and BusinessWeek
Online. These are the endorsements that prop it up. What more need a
Human Resources executive say to justify spending millions on TheLadders
Nothing has changed since I wrote about Job-board
Journalism: Selling out the American job hunter in 2003. The implied
endorsements and blessings of major business news publications are what
enables TheLadders and other operations like it to continue to fleece
job hunters and employers alike. Bernie Madoff, founder of the biggest
financial scam in history, and Marc Cenedella know one thing: If you're
going to fleece anyone, go for well-heeled suckers -- people in high
income brackets who are more likely to believe bigger lies about money
and success. (Bernard Haldane and his diaspora discovered this a long, long time
ago.) Having big-name partners like The Wall Street Journal gives new meaning to
brazen and insidious.
Thanks to Alishia for not dismissing TheLadders' marketing lies and
for demanding a high standard of behavior from companies she does
business with. Now if only America's corporate Human Resources managers
would raise their standards and stop funding and propping up yet another
online career racket -- maybe we could get this floundering economy back
on track by making America's employment system a lot more honest.
Ask The Headhunter®