A fan of TheLadders posted a comment on TheLadders: Job-board salary fraud? explaining why you should be glad to fork over $30 per month to use the service. It’s worth discussing this suggestion by itself, so I’m posting my comment to paddy s here:

By paddy s
April 30, 2010 at 8:07 pm

a lot of you are missing the point about paying.recruiters do not want to be inundated with hundreds of unqualified resumes which is the case when the service is free.your legit resume with legit quaifications is likely to be lost in all that mess. a recruiter is more likely to read a resume from someone that is serious about finding a job and has undertaken a financial commitment to that effect.also-if you are a 100k plus individual searching for a similar paying job – $30/month is cheap insurance to separate you from the lesser qualified and lower paid ranks. it is obvious,so why all the bellyaching?

The bellyaching is due to the fact that Ladders customers are paying their money but not getting “$100k plus” job listings from TheLadders.

I started headhunting in 1979. I don’t recall ever placing a candidate who paid a dime to get on my radar, so your suggestion that a person must make “a financial commitment” is hogwash.

More to your point, TheLadders claims to have tons of paying job hunters in its database. Why is a headhunter “more likely to read a resume” from the teeming hordes in that massive database?

In order for TheLadders to position job hunters “higher up” with headhunters, Ladders would have to somehow vet or confirm those job hunters. TheLadders does not do that. It does not eliminate “unqualified resumes,” nor does it ensure that its paying customers have a “legit resume with legit qualifications.” (That would be a pretty good trick.)

TheLadders cannot even deliver on its promise that it accepts “Only $100k+ talent” into its database. Headhunters have learned that the hard way, just as employers have.

Even if TheLadders could guarantee the salary levels of the people in its database,  why would I give them preferential treatment? My concern — and my client’s concern — is that the person can do the job profitably (not that they paid for my attention). What a person claims to be earning now is not a critical factor in candidate selection.

TheLadders does not ensure that a candidate is worth a headhunter’s attention, nor does it try. It can’t even ensure their salary level, any more than it can ensure the salary level of the positions it posts.

(If you want to learn how to work with headhunters, then spend a few bucks to educate yourself. Unlike questionable “positioning” in some database, the education will be yours forever.)

Do you get the point most folks here are making? TheLadders delivers no value. TheLadders has developed a reputation for dishonest advertising and dishonest business practices (read the comments from readers who continue to get billed by TheLadders when they don’t want the service, and from employers who did not consent to have their jobs posted on TheLadders).

Perhaps worst of all is the barrage of carny-barker-style e-mails TheLadders’ chief, Marc Cenedella, dumps on anyone who makes the mistake of giving him their e-mail address.

“recruiters do not want to be inundated with hundreds of unqualified resumes”

Yep. That’s what’s obvious. And that’s why good headhunters and good recruiters go out and find the people they want. They don’t sit in front of a computer screen waiting for TheLadders to ferry paying customers onto their desktops.


  1. it is clear that the bespoke service you provide working with your clients to find suitable candidates for job openings has merit. principally because you as a headhunter on behalf of a client firm will screen candidates and cull a list before presenting them to your client for consideration- were you not to do so it is unlikely you would retain your client as you would be wasting his or her time as they troll through unscreened and in many cases unqualified candidates.and of course i agree you would not get paid by the applicant because under your modus operandi as a traditional head hunter it is simply not required.you get paid by the recruiting firm.

    the online world is very different but the challenge is the same.recruiters are flocking to online sites because they get to choose from a huge pool of talent they might otherwise miss.however what recruiters have learnt is that using free online sites they get a blizzard of applications often several hundred for a single job from people not qualified but who nonetheless make the application with the hope that if they send enough of these out to as many recruiters as they can one of them might stick and be successful. thats not very efficient for the recruiter or for the genuine applicant whose reume is lost in the crowd.it is particularly annoying for recruitersgiven that the supposed comparative advantage online recruiting has over traditional recruiting is in allowing recruiters view many more qualified candidates for their job vacancies than traditional methods allow.

    hence theladders imposes a fee. this actually benefits the recruiter. theladders is able to deliver prescreened candidates in great numbers. that attracts recruiters and that attracts job postings. the fee that theladders imposes does work in keeping out what are effectively spammer applicants. again-the fee is imposed to benefit the recruiter! ultimately this becomes a virtuous circle for both sides by making the market between the two parties efficient and to the point.

    it is clear to me that as time goes on this process will become more and more efficient. as theladders grows success rates for applicants will grow and client firms will benefit from being able to choose across a larger and larger prescreened base of talent.

    nick- i’m not knocking your business model it works.equally theladders business model it works too. i take issue with your claims of dishonest advertising and dishonest business practices. where is your proof in that? why do you make such a bold accusation? are all online job posting sites the same in your mind or is it a personal vendetta you have against cenedella?

  2. @paddy s: Thanks for posting. I think you misunderstand a few things about headhunters (good ones).

    1. Screening candidates is not our chief role. Identifying, pursuing and delivering the best candidates is our role. It’s an active role. We don’t sit around waiting for candidates to appear in e-mail, on job boards or anywhere else. Any employer can do what we do. They don’t because the HR function in virtually every company blows the budget on job boards.

    2. “under your modus operandi as a traditional head hunter it is simply not required.you get paid by the recruiting firm”

    Say what?? The headhunter IS the recruiting firm. I have no idea what you’re talking about.

    3. “theladders is able to deliver prescreened candidates in great numbers”

    TheLadders does no screening of candidates. It claims to “check salaries” but evidence provided by both job hunters and employers on this blog proves otherwise. Ladders has many sub-$100k jobs and job hunters in its database, and this leads to wasted time and money for all parties except TheLadders, which keeps the fees regardless.

    4. “i take issue with your claims of dishonest advertising and dishonest business practices. where is your proof in that?”

    Visit TheLadders’ home page. Look at what it says about “Only $100k+”

    Then check the stories posted by Ladders customers on this blog. That’s my proof. Unless you’re suggesting people are lying.

    I have no personal vendetta against Cenedella. My ire is purely professional and based on his misleading claims. When he says Ladders delivers “Only $100k+”, then he’d better make sure it’s ONLY. No one forces him to claim ONLY. Frankly, any educated consumer should take a look at that word and walk the other way. In the meantime, Cenedella is an easy, big, fat target for any commentator who wants to talk about fraud in the career industry.

    Perhaps you should ask him why he walks around with that target on his back. (Hint: P.T. Barnum explained it a long time ago. Something about suckers…)

  3. Thanks for continuing to expose the flaws of TheLadders, Nick! As a soon to be MBA student I have really enjoyed reading your posts and understanding more about how Headhunters and recruiting actually works.


  4. Thank you, Nick, for stating the obvious when it comes to The Ladder’s fee service. A 100+ paying job appealed to me as a woman in transition. So I forwared my resume. I get nothing but emails from the same company in which I am not interested in working with, perhaps because I have not “upgraded” to the paid service? I think not.

    I was contacted by a head hunter many years ago. My career until now had beed satisfactory, good company and I fit in rather well. She did not charge me a fee. I wish I could remember who they were I need them now.

  5. Nick,

    Sadly, the folks that think they can pay $30 a month to “get to the decision makers” are the same people who buy the line that “…you don’t need to ‘pay your dues.’ You are 22 years old and have IDEAS and you only need to blog and network your way to business success…”

    Most of us learn the hard way; it’s called experience. My grandfather used to say “Everybody has to climb fools hill for himself.” I thought he was dotty when I was 26 years old…

  6. Sounds to me like PaddyS is either Marc Cenedalla or one of his minions. His rebuttal to your article is almost comically absurd on its face and full of assertions that would only be made by someone in the line of “work.”

    Nick please don’t dignify these thieving arses. And NYAG Cuomo ought to get off HIS arse, attend fewer fundraisers and go after this jerk.

  7. dear bill,
    as far as dignity is concerned you don’t have it. if all you can contribute to this argument is vitriol then you stay quiet. if you have something intelligent to say then i welcome it. otherwise why don’t you amuse yourself somewhere else. i am neither cenedella or one of his minions. i am someone however prepared to participate in an intelligent discourse on the pros and cons of theladders and other online sites like it.

  8. dear paddys,
    Every day when I get emails from the Ladders (and Jobfox) telling me I will be more visible to employers if I sign up for their services or the emails telling me my resume needs to be written by their experts so I can be more visible, I think that NOBODY is gullible enough to fall for such scams. You have proved me wrong.

  9. dear linn,
    quite how theladders is a scam please tell me. you talk about being gullible. gullible is a person who having worked in the $100k+ space and is now looking for a similar job- chooses not to stump up what is a nominal amount of money because he / she believes paying for a job listing service is wrong . i am confident that $100k+probably never applied to you. however talk about biting your nose off to spite your face! it is a ridiculous on your part to claim gullibility on anybody who has tried the pay option without having tried it yourself. you simply have not a clue what you are talking about and am clear as to why you have not found employment. your email smacks of bitterness envy and frustration.

  10. I am a recruiter and remember when theLaddders first came out. It was a novel concept (candidates pay, companies don’t), and provided me with some truly good candidates in certain industries (law, marketing). But here’s where I lost faith with them: they started charging COMPANIES as well as candidates. Their business model *doesn’t work*. Now they are no more than another Monster or CareerBuilder. Personally, I don’t feel that there is a reason for any candidate to have to pay for access to jobs.

    theLadders doesn’t function any differently than your traditional job boards. You don’t get access to “decision makers”. It’s the same recruiters who would see your resume on any other site, including their own corporate website.

  11. “You stay quiet?” Are you aware that HM the Queen is still alive? Who the hell do you think you are? Well, we know. You are either Cenedalla or a shill for him. TheLadders is a scam and we all know it.

    Either way you are discredited. But I won’t tell you to stay quiet, b/c every time you post, you show your arse even more. So please, spout off!

  12. dear bill,
    am i aware the queen is still alive? are you an english turd by any chance? or maybe you are just a plain turd. either way why don’t you just piss off. i will not in future dignify any of your rants with a reply. as this is my last reply to the drivel you post- let me say that as an amateur psychologist it is clear to me that you are an embittered small membered failure. go get stuffed you moron.