A reader considers letting someone else fill out all those pesky job applications, in the January 12, 2021 Ask The Headhunter Newsletter.


job applicationsWhat do you think of the new app Apply4Me? It fills out your job applications for you. My question is, how could anyone else, let alone an app, know how best to present my profile for an application?

Nick’s Reply

Let’s take a look. This service (it’s not an app) is offered by TheLadders, a jobs site with an interesting history that led the company into federal court a few years ago.

“Team” job hunting

The idea here is that, if you pay TheLadders for its premium service, a “team” will fill out all your job application forms for you. (There is no indication whether there’s an extra fee for filling out your forms.)

You can check it out for yourself, but here’s the pitch:

“Apply4Me is a full hand-off [sic] process – you submit your information once and we do everything for you.”

“The service was created by Ladders due to the high number of professionals surveyed who were frustrated by the ‘time-consuming’ and ‘repetitive’ nature of the job application process.”

“With one click, our team fills out job applications on corporate sites for you, saving you a ton of time.”

“I am automated”

What happens if an employer’s application form asks a question that the Ladders team cannot answer? They say they’ve got it covered. The application they submit on your behalf includes an admission that it’s all “automated” and that you were not involved — even though it’s in the first person:

”I’m using Ladders Apply4Me to apply to the jobs I’m most interested in. As this is an automated system, please follow up with me directly for any additional questions at [email address].”

If you’re the employer, how do you react to that?

“One-click” job applications?

TheLadders has offered some equally interesting services in the past. As we noted earlier, these offerings led TheLadders into federal court.

Job search is a time-consuming task that I’m sure we’d all like to pawn off on someone who will do it for us — with just “one click.” But you’re right. Someone else doesn’t know how to present you better than you do.

Is this a good idea that will help you get a job? Have you encountered any other such “job search help” services that “will do it all for you?”

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  1. @Nick, Thank you for your update on Ladders. I read the link above on ‘interesting history which noted the founder’s name as ‘Alex something something’.

    The emails I receive from Ladders are signed by Marc Cenedella, Founder

    I recently deactivated/deleted my Ladders account after a year of their daily email nagging to sign up for Apply4Me and its shallow written blogs. I have no malice towards Ladders or Marc Cenedella.

    After spending precious time reviewing their website, reading their blogs, reflecting on their ‘services’, my instincts nudged at me: False Promises playing into the emotions of the unemployed which will only create a Fake Future! (BTW, as a sideline, I thought to share and remind everyone: Be aware that most employers, in today’s paradigm, embrace the ‘Employment at Will’ employment contract. This caveat is a telltale sign that everyone has to advocate for their own right to make a decent living)

  2. @Bernadette, “everyone has to advocate for their own right to make a decent living”. Well said! My late father (a journeyman machinist and WWII era man with two patents out with Minneapolis Honeywell) used to preach that to me, and I thought he was full of it. Now at 63, I see he was spot on right. The sins of my youth! At will employment is a nefarious thing, IMO, but anyone who’s that slothful to have a dubious service, or for that matter anyone else (unless you’re physically or mentally challenged) fill out your employment applications, well that shows how twisted, weak, and failing our society has become.

    • @Antonio, Thank you for understanding my comment. In addition to the False Hopes that online job websites including the infamous Glassdoor and Indeed — there’s another sinister industry within the employment realm — Remote Job websites. An example: I signed on to 10 Remote job sites that were written, touted as the top best 10 websites for remote jobs.

      After hours and wee hours of due diligent research, the worldwide demand is Software Engineers, Data Scientists, et al. Well, I was looking for a simple job of Customer Service and spent much time on the http://www.freelancer.com website. I agreed to sign onto their membership platform after the free month expired. Freelancer’s business model allows the job seeker to bid on the seller’s posted jobs. (100 bids per month as a member). Every night until 2 AM! I was bidding on every research-virtual admin-customer job postings. Then I noticed similarities in the seller’s description. I received several offers on my bid, delivered on sample work, then was ‘Ghosted’. Freelancer’s policy notes that the job seeker and the seller communicate only within their portal. Well — I complied with one seller — who sent me an INVOICE to pay him for the job in anticipation of future work. I was beyond baffled. So I reported these experiences to Freelancer’s customer service — only to be spanked with words that I must comply with their (Freelancer’s policy). Thus, another lesson learned with a Narcissistic Remote Job platform!

      • @Bernadette: The problem is that the unregulated employment industry has become a racket of epic proportions. It attracts shysters who know how to dangle a carrot to entice you off the edge of a cliff so they can profit from your bones.

        • @Nick, You are a man of Integrity. Your truthful comment on the Employment Game, made me cry!

      • @Bernadette,
        Wow! Your bold account goes to show the magnitude of just how malevolent employers are becoming.
        My late father, while a capitalist, had deep disdain of what he called “predatory capitalism”. I share his sentiments. He also referred to job hunting and interviews as “fishing expeditions”.
        You, I, and many other workers, and/or job seekers, endlessly hear there’s a skills shortage, lack of loyalty (a two-way street you employers!), lack of a work ethic and soft skills, yada yada. But these very high tech shenanigans
        and work at home scams (remote work) you describe have created an atmosphere of distrust and disdain, let alone an adversarial atmosphere. Employers, from my personal experience and observation, are more focused on eliminating said workers/job seekers from the playing field, than they are finding the proper fit, then developing the proper fit.
        I feel your‘s (and many others) angst and anguish with job seeking, and often subsequent toxic work cultures we all can face. Been there, done that.
        On a personal note I’ll share with you.
        I’ve been conducting a clandestine job search, on and off, for the past two or so years, as my mom & pop employer of 8 years now has become progressively more dysfunctional, and is spinning around the drain. While I’m grateful for being employed (having both a full-time and a part-time job), I’m weary of the glistening toxic culture in my day job.
        At 63, I’ve given up on finding new suitable employment, and have focused my efforts now on networking for a retirement exit strategy in 3-1/2 years, that is if I’m not forced to kick the fan down the road sooner, or my employer folds before then. Poor planning on my part, and lots of set backs, means I’ll be working until I can’t. Mind you, Bernadette, I’ll be still working, but I sure won’t be working for my current clown show.
        I wish you well, for whatever it’s worth, in finding suitable employment. I don’t envy anyone in that predicament.

      • @Bernadette,
        To add insult to injury, I read an online article the other day by a former HR Manager who’s now yet another “consultant”.
        In the article about At will employment (true story) she actually said that quitting a job without a two week notice could result in legal prosecution that could include fines and jail time. LOL!! I nearly wet my paints laughing. The kicker was she dead serious.

  3. Well a slightly more common scandal of sorts is where contracted recruiters are being paid by companies for submitting completed forms from job applicants whose interest they have solicited. Recruiters have tried to disguise this as ‘headhunting’ when calling candidates (eg “Hi – I saw your cv. I am ‘recruiting’ for etc”) so that those candidates are following exactly the same process as any other candidate but with the misconception he/she is being advocated for the position by the recruiter. So the candidates is doing work on behalf of the recruiter for free, will get nothing back (not even an update) whilst the recruiter gets a fee for doing nothing. Companies are deluded where a recruitment campaign cannot find suitable candidates, they choose to use recruiters to try and find people to fill in more clunky forms rather than provide a shortlist of suitable people.

  4. I can see employers taking offence at job seekers who outsource filling out job applications on websites that are most likely outsourced themselves by employers. How dare they play the same game!

    • Agree with you Chris, but the job seeker’s approach should always be “what will help me get a good / better job” and not “how do I fix the job market and tell employers they are wrong”.
      It’s fine to point out unfairness or bad practices by employers, but at the end of the day each person (job seeker or employer) is responsible for what he/she will tolerate.

      While Nick gives us good insights into the workings of the recruitment market and where problems lie, his advice has always been practical in helping to recognize and circumvent the bad practices.

  5. I think employers will find an automated application fit only for the trash bin.

    • I’ve been waiting for someone to point out that employers use automated solicitations for job applicants.

      • Nick had a post about this topic as a work of speculative fiction a couple of years ago, and now it is coming true. It really is not much of a stretch to write a script that will scrape online resumes to auto-fill applications to complete computer-generated job postings. No humans need be involved in the employment process again.

        Soon, you will be hired and fired without even knowing about it, but you will find your job prospects diminishing as your reputation decreases. When you actually apply for a real job in person, the HR department will reject you because you will have a history of switching jobs so quickly. The only way you will know you even worked at a company is when you get the W-2.

  6. My first thought was that there is a signature part of every application online where we attest the information is correct. What if the application is filled out erroneously by such a program and the employer eventually finds out and fires you for falsifying the application. And what if the employers algorithm is set up to reject non-applicant attestations? You are out and you won’t even know why. Not that you would if you apply for yourself but using this service seems risky to me.

    • “What if the application is filled out erroneously by such a program and the employer eventually finds out and fires you for falsifying the application”.
      All the more reason to steer clear of this type of approach. Then again, in over 40 years of being in the workforce (excluding teenage period jobs), I’ve seen and heard of numerous embellished resumes and applications, and I’ve only seen one person get terminated, and that came as no surprise.
      Turning over something as critical as filling out a job application to a complete stranger who has no skin in the game is about as useful as a park bench in hell.

  7. Even though employers are reviewing your resume with BOTs and AI apps, they’ll, as Lucille says, deep six something coming in via a fill-it-out for you app.
    Looks like its a case of what goes round comes round. Employers automating receiving applications and resumes, and applicants automating the dispatch of same.
    Soon my app will be talking to your app.

    If job searchers follow the ongoing advice of this newsletter, filling out an application is just a final pro-forma admin procedure after you’ve sold a hiring manager of bringing you aboard. No automation needed.

    AS to filling out applications job seekers need to remember that one important part of their effort should be research. And laborious and mundane as it may seem, a company’s application process and forms provide useful information…to you. is it simple or complex? does it document demands e.g. you MUST provide salary information? or is it reasonable and flexible. Does it provide you with contact information? It will tell you something about the company that may be good to know.

    If you skip gathering info like this, and turn this over to an app or a 3rd party, you’re peeing into the wind. And wasting your time, while risking advertising to a potential employer that you don’t give a shit about them. And while so doing, giving your info to some 3rd party, who you can bet, is collecting the information for themselves.

    So save your energy for block and tackling your way to a conversation with a hiring manager where you talk shop after which he/she decides to bring you aboard. Much better to have the hiring manager ask you to fill out the application. which provides the info to get you into the payroll and benefits system.

  8. The Ladders is just the latest in selling this type of service to job seekers. I have been in the industry since 2001 as a resume writer and career coach. Since I started – and still today – ResumeRabbit offers this service to job seekers. This is nothing new. I have seen many such programs marketed to job seekers over the years, with the companies soliciting resume writers to sell the services to their clients for a financial kickback.

    Note, the Ladders is again offering free resume critiques through their partner, Top Resume.