Egg on FaceBeleaguered and battered by the press, by career industry pundits and — mainly — by its own customers, TheLadders recently convened a war council to round up industry “leaders” to defend its flagging reputation. But this little event quickly blew up in TheLadders’ face, and now it’s leaving egg all over TheLadders’ leading apologists, who are beginning to look like paid public relations flacks rather than industry leaders.

TheLadders paid these folks “T&E” — travel and expenses — to attend the meeting in New York. Then it wined and dined them, and plied them with sugared-up stories about its business model, its phenomenal growth plans, and how it’s changing the world of job hunting and recruiting for the better.

TheLadders fed them a load of bullcrap, gave them some Kool-Aid to wash it down, and then deployed them back to the field, to spread the dung around the Net in a desperate effort to put down the surge of highly-vocal customer dissatisfaction with TheLadders.

But not all the “leaders” swallowed the KoolAid or played along. HR consultant Mark Stelzner says he was skeptical about the event, but accepted the T&E and attended anyway, but only after he pinged his list to get its take on TheLadders:

“The results were shocking to me but may not be to others. I received over 800 messages in less than two weeks… and not one of them was positive.”

Aroused all the more by these reports, Stelzner attended the event and decided to put his list’s concerns to the test. But he quickly found himself relegated to “a corner table” after he started asking tough questions about TheLadders’ business model — and its practices.

Stelzner’s report on the meeting (Climbing All Over TheLadders) quickly triggered the first of TheLadders’ T&E Mercenaries, Josh Letourneau of Fistful of Talent, to take the first shot at Ladders’ critics with TheLadders: More Cirque Du Soleil Than Evil Empire. (Stelzner says that virtually the entire bullpen of the HR blog Fistful of Talent was in attendance.)

Among Letourneau’s targets were Laurie Ruettimann (The Cynical Girl), who recently explained, in her no-frills style, why The Ladders Is The Single Biggest Piece Of Crap, and yours truly (TheLadders’ Marc Cendella: Burying the Pig).

The “event” was already paying off, and battle lines were being drawn. Letourneau set the tone, disparaging bloggers who have published Ladders’ customers complaints as “sheep,” and reporting that, “TheLadders truly cares about their perception among us HR Pros and Recruiters.” (Later in his own thread, Letourneau complains about the “personal innuendo” he’s been subjected to by “the sheep.”)

Though she didn’t post on the topic, Alison Green (AskAManager) quickly took LeTourneau to task in a series of comments on his blog:

Wow. This misses the point altogether.

The issue isn’t that they charge job-seekers. Lots of people charge job-seekers, from job coaches to resume writers. Who cares? If people are willing to pay for a service, great.

The issue is that they LIE to job-seekers and engage in fraudulent business practices. They claim they offer a service that they don’t offer. I would bet money that a lawsuit is in their future, and it will be well-deserved… It’s disappointing to see writers sent on an expenses-paid junket and then turn out posts like this one.

Jeff Dickey-Chasins (Job Board Doctor), had already piled on in late January, amplifying the complaints of Ladders’ customers in Is it ever ethical to charge the job seeker?

Another thorn in TheLadders’ side, Matt Youngquist (Career Horizons), had already published P.T. Barnum &, discussing what TheLadders’ customers have been screaming about: fraudulent promises and advertising:

They not only claim to sell you access to a pipeline of hidden leads, but also claim to “filter” these leads in a way that will save you lots of time and ensure you’re only bothered by $100K+ opportunities.  Throw some high-profile television ads and snazzy web design around this concept, and boy, it suddenly sounds like an irresistible bargain for the low, low price 0f $30-40 per month!  The problem?  These claims are bogus.

But TheLadders’ bigger headache is now coming from the public sector: Human services organizations funded with tax dollars to help the unemployed. Karla Porter is the Direc­tor of Work­force Devel­op­ment and Human Resources for a mid-size metro area cham­ber of busi­ness and indus­try and eco­nomic devel­op­ment agency in Pennsylvania. I don’t think she knew about TheLadders’s war council meeting, but had she been in attendance, she probably would have been seated at the same corner table with Stelzner, for asking the question, WTF are they smoking over at TheLadders? Commenting on TheLadders recent “pole dance” commercial, Porter says:

If The­Lad­ders thinks this is cool hip and fun then call me a prude — but as soon as I hit the pub­lish but­ton on this post I’m can­cel­ing my sub­scrip­tion, because I no longer have respect for their on the job behavior…[sic]

The last place TheLadders wants to get noticed for bad behavior is among publicly-funded jobs agencies. That’s what brings investigations by state offices of budget and management, and the attention of state attorneys general.

But it was only a matter of time before TheLadders got some real ROI from its T&E Mercenaries crowd. Long-time HR industry pundit John Sumser finally came to TheLadders defense today, with his ironic Who Pays? (Hey, John, TheLadders pays, for travel, beds, drinks and mercenaries.) I expected more from Sumser, because his industry vocabulary is deep and broad, so his cold-served replay of the party line developed by Letourneau and Fistful of Talent was disappointing.

The best Sumser could offer:

What I saw during the time I spent with theLeaders at theLadders was pretty instructive. The company is growing. Their ambitions are big. They know what they’re doing.

Note to TheLadders: Next time, don’t just pay Sumser T&E; pay the guy a fee, and maybe you’ll get better than this.

What makes The Mercenaries’ statements embarrassing and transparent is that none of them address the specific, documented complaints leveled by TheLadders’ own customers. While painting a pretty picture of TheLadders’ financial success, and while telling us about the big smiles on the faces of the enthusiastic and brilliant Ladders employees, Letourneau and Sumser totally ignore the challenges issued by Ladders customers and its critics. They don’t answer, just like TheLadders’ didn’t answer Mark Stelzner’s tough questions at the war council meeting.

But they have no answers. It’s all public relations poppycock and verbal 3-Card Monte. In my comments to Letourneau, I said:

Josh: I’m calling you out. You asked, “Can you elaborate? What are they lying to Job Seekers about?”

I answered your question, which now appears to have been gratuitous.

If you really have standards for public discourse, it’s your turn: Respond to the examples I gave you.

Respond to Martin Burns, who provides one of the most damning indictments of TheLadders’ business practices that anyone could [on Letourneau’s own blog]: TheLadders posts jobs without the permission or knowledge of employers, thereby causing them embarrassment and unnecessary costs. This is an ongoing practice: I have published and cited other examples of Burn’s experience.

What I’m posting is not opinion. It’s evidence provided by Ladders customers — and, in the case of Martin Burns’ company, victims. Your opinions notwithstanding, let’s talk about the substance of the complaints, and about Ladders’ practices, which clearly seem to be systemic.

I posted a comment to Sumser’s PR pabulum a few hours ago, and I reprint it here because I won’t wait for him to decide to publish it. It’s really my response to all TheLadders’ Mercenaries, who have compromised themselves as credible, objective observers of the career and HR industries:


You don’t offer any new spin on the apologists’ defense of the Ladders, but you base your entire post on the same fallacy. Paying for career help or for job listings isn’t the criticism. If someone can make a buck helping people get jobs, that’s good. And if those people actually land jobs by paying for help, that’s good, too.

The criticism against TheLadders is that the company’s practices are fraudulent. TheLadders doesn’t deliver what it charges for.

And, like the other Ladders’ apologists, you don’t address that anywhere in your post. You ignore it. You ignore the substance of all the critiques — “the noise” — that you disparage.

The rest of your post is fluff — a 3-Card Monte game that’s clearly designed to distract folks from the facts and information that many Ladders critics (myself included) have presented to demonstrate the fraud.

Your real agenda is revealed in this statement: “any publicity is good publicity. The critics may be a part of theLadders growth engine. The louder the noise, the faster the growth.”

Pure public relations flak. Because, John, not all publicity is good publicity. “Loud noise” might contribute to faster growth, but growth doesn’t prove the integrity or value of a service or of the company behind it. All it means is that more suckers are paying up. And if that’s your criterion for backing, defending and endorsing a business, well, go for it, Man.

You have not addressed any of the detailed, credible criticisms directed at TheLadders. Instead, like others who’ve been wined and dined by TheLadders, you just wrote a public relations release for Marc Cenedella.

I called out Josh Letourneau, and I call you out, too. Address the specific complaints of Ladders customers, and of employers who have been abused by TheLadders.

Yo, John! It ain’t about how much money TheLadders is making, or how clever its ad company is, or whether the investment bankers descide to buy in to this racket.

It’s about TheLadders’ customers getting screwed — job hunters and employers alike.

Maybe you’ve been wined and dined so many times that you’ve forgotten what this is all about?

Late yesterday, The Wall Street Joural reporter Joe Light called me to talk about the controversy that TheLadders’ customers have stirred up. He said he was preparing for a meeting today with TheLadders’ president, Alex Douzet. Can’t wait to see whether Douzet serves up some fresh answers, because those rotting eggs are starting to smell really bad.


  1. “The criticism against theladders is that the companies practices are fraudulent. The ladders doesn’t deliver what it charges for.”

    your obvious rage that Sumser has called you out along with your two acolytes green and ruettimann as being critics of theladders for other reasons beyond what you state is telling.You say theladders is fraudulent. Not true Nick. The truth-the uncomfortable reality for you is that theladders is disintermediating you out of the marketplace. You’re getting cut out and your reaction is visceral. Your vitriolic disparagements of theladders grow in intensity as theladders continues to grow and succeed in it’s marketplace. We need to increasingly take your missives with a bigger and bigger grain of salt.


  2. Anyone can fling accusations around. People who do that lose credibility with me very quickly.

    I look at data. How many messages, comments, and so forth do we see about TheLadders not doing what they advertise? Compare that with how many of the same we see about Nick’s approach not delivering the goods. Of course you’ll see some of the latter – nothing is 100% perfect – but the difference is very obvious to me.

    And in case you think I’m just another acolyte, Nick’s basic approach is shared by Richard N. Bolles who originally wrote What Color is your Parachute? in the 1970s. It’s been updated annually ever since and has long been regarded as a gold standard in its field.

  3. You know, Paddy, there’s a difference between those of us here, on this blog, and the High Priests of HR on John Sumser’s site: Anyone can post here, including you. I welcome all dialogue (as long as it’s respectful of others who post).

    On the other hand, John Sumser’s site is locked down: Sumser “clears for publication” only the comments he can handle. He still hasn’t published the comment I submitted this morning. How can he “call me out” when he won’t let me comment?

    Like you, John Sumser doesn’t respond to the substantive complaints about TheLadders from its own customers. Like you, Sumser prattles on about how state-of-the-art TheLadders’ advertising is and how much money TheLadders is making.

    The reason HR departments across America continue to fund and prop up frauds like TheLadders is because they hire “HR Consultants” like Sumser and his ilk to “advise” them on “best practices” and “the state of the art.” To them, it’s all about the fees they can command.

    This crowd has no interest in bringing employers and job hunters together.

    If any reader of this blog wants to know why they get screwed by HR departments when they apply for a job, they need look no further than the paid advisors to those HR departments. They need to read the “business logic” of guys like Josh Letourneau, John Sumser, and the self-annointed high priests of HR.

    Let’s look at just one example of Letourneau’s whacked-out consultant-ese:

    “It would be great to see other HR Peeps buy into the basic marketing premise that people buy emotionally and then try to justify with logic. A Job Seeker doesn’t need more data, they need belief. If TheLadders, Jesus, Buddha, or a Bald Eagle help you achieve that end, there is no level of price-sensitivity that exists.”

    Say what???

  4. I just had an “episode” with Ladders. I was recruiting for a Plant Manager in Texas(a relocation) and tooling around for Texas jobs when I spotted the same job on Ladders for 100K plus/Bonus etc. None of this was true. I called my client and told him about it and he assured me the salary he gave me was correct and there was no bonus etc. Needless to say whom ever posted the job was done! So who was telling the lie? The poster? Ladders? No checks and balances. Both parties who posted that position should be ashamed for their actions. How many people applied and got sucked into the lie? I had 100 candidates at the true rate of 80-90k. What is so hard about being ethical? Nothing, absolutely nothing! They lost the account and will never be used again….I filled the job and everyone is happy! I have a new client,a referral source and a nice commission I got the hard way! I earned it! :) Shame on Ladders, shame on recruiters who post lies on their site!

  5. Nick – This is worthy of being an Op Ed in the NY Times. Rock on man…… ~Karla

  6. I’ll agree with Jane A – why pay for a monthly subscription fee at The Ladders when people can read intelligent job hunting articles via Nick’s website or the book “What Color Is Your Parchute”?

  7. Nick, my “targets” weren’t you and Laurie. That’s hilarious – my post wasn’t about you. It had nothing to do with you – lol. The post was my objective thoughts on what I observed. Laurie writes about all different matters and we agree on many, but not all. That’s life. Just because you subscribe or RSS feed a blog doesn’t mean you blindly accept everything written on it. I think they call that, “Critical Thinking 101.”

    You conveniently didn’t include that I answered both your and Allison Green’s concerns . . . but as I’ve told you before, I don’t work there. In other words, I’m not in-the-know enough to get on “the stand”. I’m not Colonel Jessup and I didn’t “order the Code Red” – lol :)

    Instead of crying and complaining and running around flailing your arms up in the air about TheLadders, I’d recommend stepping back and taking note that the organization has some redeeming qualities. Nothing more, nothing less.

    Because whether you agree with that basic premise or not, Nick, the market validates it. Bottom line: A valuation of $800M+ sure trumps the constant rants against both the organization and Marc Cenendella (of whom I’ve never met, for the record).

    So here it is, Nick: I’m calling you out. Why? Because your obsession with TheLadders is personal. You wouldn’t mention Marc Cenendella’s name 5 times a week in your posts if it wasn’t. That’s the bottom line.

    Note: To illustrate how your lens is muddied with personal distaste, you might want to re-read John Sumser’s post. It was balanced, not a ringing endorsement. As Robert Mcnamara states in “The Fog of War”: “Seeing and believing are both often wrong.” In other words, calm down, stop screaming, take a step back, and re-read Sumser’s post.

    In closing, Nick, I’ll say this: You certainly care much more about TheLadders than I do. It’s a company with some warts that I believe is trying to improve. In my eyes, they’re not the Taliban and at the end of the day, it’s a pretty fair statement.

  8. Josh, gimme a break. You did not answer any of the complaints made by frustrated Ladders customers. You merely deflected them.

    TheLadders’ market valuation “validates” the company? If it did, Enron would still be in business.

    If you’re gonna call me out, ask me a question or issue a challenge. Accusing me of taking this personally is not a challenge; nor is complaining about my position.

    Let’s take a look at your posting on your blog:

    “Yes, TheLadders pushes the boundaries. Big deal.”

    Do your clients pay you to spin the facts to make them feel good? That’s what sent Enron execs to jail. It is a big deal. It is a huge deal. You may not take this personally, but I’ve been in this industry a long time, and I take it personally. I live and work in this industry, and when consumers who pay for services cry foul and provide evidence of bad behavior, I take that personally. I want to work in a clean industry, where facts matter, and where superfluous, self-interested consultants aren’t paid to deliver rationalizations.

    Stick around if you like, or don’t. As long as employers complain that Ladders is mistreating them, and as long as job hunters complain of fraud and dishonesty, I’ll keep watching and writing about TheLadders.

  9. Mr. LeTourneau best be careful about using “market validation” as a criteria for the worth of a company. He must have a short memory…hark back to the 2000 tech bubble burst. Lots of market validation was flushed down the crapper in that debacle.

    TheLadders is a cheap vacuum cleaner, sucking up the money of stupid people. It will work for a while but the motor will eventually die. I speak from experience…mea culpa!

  10. LeTourneau, aka “the jargonator”,can perhaps be forgiven for his excitement at being included in the group of “swells” who were the target of lobbying by the Ladders. Josh is a relatively new MBA,starting a new company focused on analyzing interal company networks. As a hopeful new up and comer, he hasn’t had his tail feathers singed yet by flying too close to folks who make big bucks by any means. Being blind to shoddy business practices by the flash of coin has happened to many of us before we matured in business. We wish Josh well and hope this is a learning experience.

    Those of us who have been in this rough and tumble business a while have seen a lot of these deals that sound good, take off like a rocket then start to stink like fish and family that have been around too Long. As they start to get bad press, have top level turnover and revenue drops it’s time to.
    A. Throw money at it fast.
    B. Either sell it or take it public, cash out take the money and run.
    C. Clean it up ,provide the product and service do what they say they do.

    It appears that the Ladders has jumped into step A. The rest will be interesting to watch. Based on past history and current events I will be surprised if they ever get to step C.

    We had used them in the past, as we do many new options that have come on the market in the past three decades. It became quickly obvious that like most of those “as seen on TV” products it was a cheap attempt to market a nifty idea that didn’t work for us or any of our associates or candidates.

    Fast forward to the abortion of a commercial. Note here to those who think any buzz is good buzz. If that were the case Sarah Palin’s big buzz would have landed her a spot as VP of the USA. Bad buzz perhaps changed the direction of this country.

    My question to Josh, John and any of the others who are /seem enamored of The Ladders, would you use something like the nasty, smut Ladders commercial to promote the image of your business? If not why promote as “brilliant marketing” any company who would?

    If your response is, “My business is different.”. I sincerely hope so. Mine is and I want no association with Theladders for just that reason.

  11. nick.

    i think john s hits the nail right on the head. uncomfortable reading for you thats for many respects the recruiting business is undergoing the same transition that the travel business underwent.the industry is dislocated and changing rapidly. many will be left behind. it may be that social networking sites like linkedin and other niche social network sites will eventually overcome theladders as much as yourself .who knows? i dont.

    However in the meantime can i ask why you wont address john’s request for you to publish your own metrics? how many of your candidates get jobs? what advantage occurs when reading one of your pamphlets/ books toward securing a do you quantify it?

    i suspect the reason you do not is that getting a job involves many factors a majority which are emotional.a large part of the service you and theladders provide is to hold the hand of the candidate and steer him/her in the right direction.that is difficult to measure in cold hard “conversion rates” and a common issue/ reality throughout the industry.

    in the final analysis nick you’re in the same boat as theladders except no one is frothing at the mouth complaining about your service while you and some others appear to make it your personal crusade to knock theladders.

    theladders has many accounts of satisfied clients and some of dissatisfied clients. same for you i’m sure. the service they offer is not much differnet from your own just a lot bigger.

    you probably would improve your own metrics if you devoted less time as an evangelist barking up the wrong tree and refocused on your business.


  12. Paddy: The distinctions between TheLadders, headhunters and my publications are evident to anyone who thinks for a minute.

    TheLadders charges fees to job hunters. Headhunters do not.

    TheLadders makes claims that you’ll land a job at a high salary level if you pay for its services. Headhunters don’t represent to anyone that they’re going to find them a job. (Headhunters work for, and are paid by, employers, not job hunters. For the n-th time: TheLadders charges fees to job hunters. Headhunters do not.)

    The Ask The Headhunter website, this blog, and the newsletter are free. None of them claim you’ll find a job if you read them.

    The PDF books I sell offer advice for a fee. They don’t promise a job. They claim to make people think.

    I don’t publicly advertise or promote my headhunting services anywhere. I don’t advertise jobs or candidates at promised salary levels. TheLadders does. And TheLadders lies about it.

    My services, and the services of any good headhunter, are 180 degrees different from TheLadders. There is no comparison. Unlike Ladders, which gets paid up front and does not refund money, contingency headhunters get paid only when a client hires a candidate, and the placement is guaranteed – or the client gets a refund.

    Meanwhile, the leadership of TheLadders hides behind its paid shills.

  13. Nick,

    The distinctions are changing. Just because you say it’s wrong for job hunters to pay for advice and other services does’nt mean you are right. Why should’nt a headhunter charge a candidate for job seeking services if it makes the process more efficient?

    The PDF books you sell offer advice they don’t promise a job. Does theladders promise every candidate a job? Of course not.just because things have been done a certain way does not mean they should not change. Change is good. The Internet brought us job boards and the next iteration will be online recruitment specialists ( increasingly segmented and specialised) that charge both candidate and employer.

    Many others besides theladders already do. the fact is that if you have to pay for something you are bound to take it more seriously( think of why people hire personal trainers to get fit -it helps them to get fit)-consequently employers who use job boards are not inundated with scores of rubbish resumes that are not germane to the job offered -thats good for the employer.for the candidate Paying provides a measure of exclusivity and hence an advantage. Remember we are talking about us$ 400 per annum for executives Looking for work and used to earning +us$ 100 k . That’s not a bad deal at all and is why no one should be surprised at how many clients are signing up for theladders services


  14. My oh my! Just a not about charging money upfront to seek a position for a candidate. It was a common practice when recruiting became fashionable( so to speak), it then became a serios issue when States became aware of many in the business were taking monies and doing pretty much nothing for it. Not to say all recruiters were so ill behaved, yet the consumer neede protection. The laws were changed to protect candidates from such practices. In most states it is illegal to charge an upfront fee. A fee yes, AFTER a placement and provisions made for a full or partial refund if the position ends before 10 weeks. Up sprang services offered for no fee or client paid fees. Which in my mind is the way it should be. The fees from the client themselves should more than suffice one’s financial goals. If not, perhaps you are not charging enough or you have the wrong clients. Most clients understand the hard work that goes into finding the right candidate and are assuming you are not charging on “both ends”. I think if they knew, your fee structure would be impacted pretty darn quickly. There seems to me to be something slightly “pigish” about that fee structure. Just my own opinion.
    Perhaps no one promises a candidate a job, and well they should not, however when a site openly declares their jobs and their people are 100k caliber, that is what one should deliver. 100% of the time or change your focus publically. No one can assure you a 100k candidate, that would be the clients decision. Yet, a job board CAN assure 100k positions by due dilligence. It is most unfair and reprehensible to take one’s money and allow them to assume that each job they peruse is 100k, when in fact often times they are not…and that IS a fact. Perhaps a class action suit might shake them out of their staunch defense of their distorted business practices!
    One more thought: what in the name of good advertising is that awful new ad for Ladders about? Who are they targeting? I could not imagine anyone of such …well, demeanor coming into my office! Good Grief! Humourous? NOT!

  15. LOL! sorry NOTE… not not :) get a spell check Nick LOL!

  16. Paddy: Read Lynda’s Feb. 10 post above.

    Read Martin Burns’ post on Letourneau’s blog (Burns is an employer):

    My biggest complaint – and I’ve had to deal with this from the hiring side – is when people would call to ask about a job they saw on The Ladders, or to follow up on an application they’d made. I’d have to explain to them that we didn’t list on The Ladders, that the job had been closed for months (in a few cases, for over a year), and that the job paid well less than six figures. The best part? They’d get mad at _me_, claiming false representation – “why would you tell The Ladders that this job pays more than six figures?” I’d have to explain – again – that The Ladders never called us to verify, that we didn’t list the jobs there, etc.

    That’s the topic on this thread: TheLadders posts lies, not jobs. If you have first-hand evidence that these accounts are not accurate, feel free to post it. The distinctions are not changing – they are becoming painfully more problematic for TheLadders.

    By the way, I’ve never wined and dined the folks who post on this blog. They think for themselves.

  17. Here’s another little cake for you Paddy.

    We posted a job on the Ladders in 2007. Salary range 185K base + bonus VP level position. We got seeral responses to the posting. As these candidates were interviewed it was determined that none of them were making over 75K. So x the claim by the Ladders that they only have over 100K salary range candidates. Maybe we got the ones who ended up in the commercial, who knows.

    In December of 2010 three years after this posting ran for two weeks before we removed it (we thought). two resumes were forwarded to us from the Ladders. Weird, we had not been to their site in three years for any reason. I contacted the candidates to let them know that the job was filled in 2007 it had only been posted for two weeks and removed. One of the candidates said it was truly weird because he had not used the Ladders before and had no idea how they had gotten his resume and further he was not looking for a job and had not applied for this one.

    Maybe they are developing another brillant twist to their business model. Maybe recruiters and employers have to pay them first to post then pay them to take the job down.

    We discovered that over half of the resumes shown on the site were years out of date. When contacted by an internet search after not responding to emails through the Ladders, some had changed jobs twice since they had paid for the Ladders, had cancelled and had not paid anything in years. They Thought it was wothless and were irritated that their resumes were still visible on the net possibly to their current employer. A pretty risky position for a non job seeker to be put in by anyone. If i did that as a recruiter i woulld be open to law suit not to mention being an unethical creep.

    Those would be a few of the reasons we dropped the Ladders. Lately my inbox is full of offers from them for a discounted license and the loss leader Passport offer. No thanks. That normally happens when companies are desperate for business. I don’t snipe from the weeds, i sent them a note expressing my disgust at their obnoxious commercial, assuring them they could not pay me , much less give me anything to ever use their job board.

    John seems to opine that the “weirds” in the commercial are desperate to please the boss. I see desperation but based on the offers and the trips to NY it seems to be coming from the Step Stool that used to be The Lsadders.

  18. nick

    there is to be sure going to be a cock up here, a screw up there for theladders just as in any other business. mccartt and burns illustrate two examples. the company should apologise to them.

    however that is no reason for you to paint everything the company does with the same cannot hold out to ransom an individual or a company for honest mistakes that occur-unless of course you have an axe to grind which clearly you and your acolytes do.

    all this hand flailing hysteria leads me to believe that there is more to your remonstrations than meets the eye.

    as for the commercial im LMAO. all the negative commentary off your blog only serves to illustrate what a successful advertisement it is. everybody’s talking about it especially yourselves!
    what sweet irony!


  19. In the immortal words of any third grade teacher. “Im sorry doesn’t make it right.”

    A mistake is an inadvertant act or an act that causes an unintended consequence. When the same act happens over and over to hundreds of people it is not a mistake. So perhaps the apology should be, “Gee i’m sorry you are smart enough that you didn’t buy into our con game”

    As to negative commentary proving up a successful ad campaign. As the former business manager of a TV station i can assure you that is totally wrong.
    The number of ads that were pulled off the air when the complaints started coming in or the company started getting complaints are legend. Case in point. Groupon is publically apologizing for it’s ads because they were misunderstood and offensive.

    I received a call from a station manager here yesterday. He wanted to know what this mess was and who the hell is the Ladders. He has been receiving calls from parents and business people objecting to homo-erotic commercials running in prime time and during sports events. They are considering pulling the ads due to the content and the scheduling. One can only hope that this is happening in other markets.

    The Wizard of Oz got a lot of press. That was what it took to expose him as a sham. When the otherwise bright people in the recruiting ranks started their watered down commenting after the big trip it has simply served, along with the low class commercial, to hopefully pull back the curtain to expose the wizard and his sham.

    I rest my case. It’s up to the jury of public opinion at this point. Perhaps this outcry will start the investigation into the Madoff/Enron of recruiting and job search.

  20. For the record Paddy Whack, i don’t know Nick, have never met him or spoken with him on the phone. We have exchanged several emails in the past few days. Most due to a technical problem that was giving me a 404 error when trying to access the site.

    I may become a fan as i feel much the same way Nick does about cleaning up the filth that pollutes our industry.

  21. Nick,

    Waiting for my “wine and dine” and maybe a little “homo-erotic” advertising…. ;)

    Way to spin ’em up, dude!

  22. I’ve run into instances where coupon sites will compete with one another by hiring staff to copy coupons from other sites to post on their own for free for a specific “introductory period.” Imagine the surprise of the business owner when he begins to receive dozens of coupons from random and unfamiliar businesses. It happens quite frequently and the originating sites have to issue cease and desist notices on a continual basis. It sounds like, from what you have described, this is a similar situation. Forcing qualified candidates to pay to find a job when they likely need to conserve their resources is tacky. If they want to be taken seriously they should require the businesses to pay to post jobs (as do most career sites) and perhaps a fee for placement by screening candidates who post resumes and apply to specific postings. However, I can understand why they don’t want to act as headhunters if harvesting data, even if completely inaccurate, is cheaper. While this may not be the case, it seems to be the core issue from what is described here. I’m not a lawyer, but I’m fairly certain the originating sites could have a case if they were to find data harvesting to be true.

    Bottom line: Forcing likely unemployed persons to pay a fee to simply apply to jobs (many of which may not even be in existence or in their pay scale, from the sounds of it) in an already tanked economy is highly predatory. My guess is that more companies would participate and pay if they knew the candidate pool they are choosing from has been prescreened.

  23. I want to add my personal experience as a job seeker – the ladders over promise and under deliver. I paid, several years ago, and was “represented” by a ladders headhunter without my approval for a position. When I complained to the ladders I was told the action by the headhunter was “OK”. I disengaged with them at that point, as I have been to the rodeo before and have a handle on the hiring process and the value a good headhunter can bring to the table.

  24. Nick,

    I commend you on your willingness to continue to allow Paddy to post on YOUR blog, I don’t think I’d be so kind.


    I can’t believe you had the audacity to complain about my grammar in a post a few weeks back. Your capitalization and punctuation use are atrocious! For your information, there’s these neat little keys labeled “Shift” on both sides of your keyboard that can be used capitalize the first word of each sentence (per good grammar rules). Your posts here on this thread are an almost unreadable mess.

  25. @Jason: As long as folks are respectful and don’t engage in personal attacks, I don’t block posts or boot users of the blog. In 15 years of running Ask The Headhunter discusion forums and this blog, I’ve never had to boot anyone.

    Defending TheLadders and critiquing the critics is part of the discussion. But sometimes things get out of hand, I agree.

    Paddy has engaged in some disrespectful personal attacks. E.g., addressing one commenter as “Billy,””Billy boy,” and “Silly Billy.” Describing him as “one slice short of a sandwich.” Telling him to, “make sure to take your medication.”

    In the past, I’ve left it to the larger community on this blog to deal with anyone who gets out of line. The social sanction is much more powerful than my own reprimand. What I’m proud of is the high standards that folks here stick to – even when badgered by Paddy.

    But I want to be clear. Just because I’ve never booted anyone from my forums doesn’t mean I won’t do it. If Paddy continues with personally derogatory comments, I will block Paddy from this forum. It’s up to Paddy, whether he or she wants to engage in dialogue, or to be nasty.

    Ask The Headhunter is about strong opinions and candid dialogue. But it’s also about respect, and about using facts to make points.

    Paddy, I know you’re reading this. Consider it a warning. Not to stop defending TheLadders, but to stop the personally derogatory comments. I don’t say that lightly. I’ve watched your posts on other blogs – you seem to post ONLY in defense of TheLadders, and to attack Ladders’ critics, and always without any evidence or facts to back up your statements. That’s your business. While I will not block any reasonable debate about the topic at hand – no matter which side someone is on – I won’t tolerate low standards of behavior from anyone, and that includes regular ranting without any basis being offered for the ideas behind it.

    Ask The Headhunter is an open forum. I don’t moderate comments before they go up. But that doesn’t mean I’ll allow someone to subject this forum and its users to regular “drive-by shootings.”

  26. As a job seeker, I paid to use theLadders once, for three months. I got nothing and nowhere. Out-of-date job postings, mostly. I don’t get how they stay in business.

  27. Jason: I was reading some comments to my partner and grimaced when I reached Paddy’s. It is hard to take someone seriously when they do not take the time to use basic rules of grammar whilst making an argument. Alas, the sad and true reality is that I have met hundreds of people who make six figures yet wouldn’t know proper sentence structure if it hit them in face. I know because editing their writing is worse than that of a fresh-faced college graduate.

  28. Nick,

    Read your post. I suggest you go back and read biilly’s and others that I replied to. threatening to block me because I’m being ” nasty” is utter hypocrisy on your part and I’m stunned. We may have our opposing views but in many other ways I have respected your contributions to this industry and am saddened by this turn of events.

    I have being respectful to the community here on this blog and have only responded sharply when responding to personal attacks on myself. I guess under your rules I’m not entitled to that. Gratuitous fatuousness as Evidenced by Lynette’s post is something I abhor and ii suspect you do too.

    More importantly it’s clear that you want to end my contribution to this blog. I’ll do you the favour and end it myself. I can only surmise the obvious as to why you really want to- you know what that is.

    What I will say is that I have enjoyed it and I wish you and everybody elae here good fortune and health. My parting thought is that I hope there will be room for all the players in this play of ours going forward to make a good living and succeed. My real worry is that social networking may make everything we discuss here moot. I hope not.

    Take care Nick.


  29. @Paddy: Since you ask, I’ll give you the particulars. These words are from your posts. If someone has posted similarly personal attacks to you, please point them out.

    Jan 18: your reasoning is unhinged.also your spelling , grammar and syntax betray the truth about your intellect.

    Jan 24: you’re one slice short of a sandwich when it comes to cogent argument. I’m greatly amused but not surprised by your fantasies of me being Marc cenedella. All the best and make sure to take your medication.

    Jan 24: Silly Billy! Please Don’t get your knickers in twist. I’m glad you’re not on any meds but my concern was sparked by your paranoia about who I really am and what my agenda is. seeing a doctor to talk about paranoia may not be a bad thing in your case and you should not get upset about taking medication for it.

    Jan 25: you’re blinkererd billy.i’m not going to bother anymore arguing with you. you see it only one way ( nick’s way).it’s all duck or no dinner for you.and by the way please dont call me an ad homo again.

  30. [test]

  31. No 404!

  32. A few people have had problems accessing this blog (getting “404 page not found” errors, but our techs tell us the problem is not on our end. If you’ve had trouble accessing the blog, please drop me a note at

    Of course, that’s assuming you can get in to read this! ;-)

  33. Good to see this post and comments back. It’s too good to have go missing. ~Karla

  34. TECHNICAL NOTE: Apologies to all who had a problem accessing the blog over the past couple of days… it wasn’t your computers.

    Without notifying me, the company that hosts this blog “migrated” the blog to a new server a few days ago. I had no idea this was being done.

    During such a server transition, it’s routine to run both the new and old servers, until the website is fully migrated. So, both the new and old servers were “serving” this blog — and depending on which server you happened to get when you clicked in, you got the current version of the blog, or a version two weeks old. This explains why some of you saw the Feb. 2 posting as the newest one. Sorry!

    Today, when they turned off the old server, the whole shebang went down — the blog was dead — because they hadn’t notified me to redirect the domain name.

    When I found out what had been done, I quickly pointed the domain name to the new server, and a couple of hours later, the blog was back up… displaying the Feb.2 version of the content!

    Now we’re back where we should be. Again, my apologies if you thought there was something wrong with your pc — it was our host service causing the problem.

    There’s a useful lesson in all this. The staff at the hosting company said they had installed the “most recent” version of the WordPress database (the software this blog runs on). That was two weeks old! They said there was nothing more they could do. I had lost two weeks worth of posts and comments! (Mind you, I had backups of my own, but restoring them would have been a nightmare.)

    So I tracked down the president of the company. Turns out they did have a current backup for the blog. The president personally got it installed.

    The lesson? Don’t settle for poor service. When you have a problem, go straight to the top. That goes double when you’re job hunting, dealing with staff in companies that don’t behave appropriately.

    (Maybe my being reasonable, though very firm, and not yelling at anyone through all this helped, too!)

  35. And there was I expecting to see another twist in perhaps the most entertaining comment thread on this blog, and it turns out only to be a service message… :(

    Still, I’m glad the blog is up and running again, and nothing nefarious was going on.

    I agree with you about the reasonableness and not yelling. I’ve had good results with that as well.

    One of the problem with yelling and carrying on is that, if you find you didn’t initially have all the facts, you have nowhere to go except into the dunce’s corner.

  36. @JaneA: Yah, you’re right! I should have mentioned that I pulled all my facts together before I called the prez of the hosting company, and laid them out as calmly as I could. And I asked for help, rather than demand it, after pointing out it was my umpteenth request. To his credit, he did the right thing. I hope his actions are a lesson to his staff, who could have saved him a lot of time if they’d taken ownership of the solution to begin with. Facts matter.

  37. [test 2]

  38. An interesting update on the Ladders free passport.
    Recruiters calling in to find out what it is are getting all kinds of double talk from the “kids” in the bullpen, then are told to go to the website where it is explained.

    Trick number 4000. Refer anyone calling in to their office to the web site so the number of hits on the site increase just after the nasty commercial ran. Voila, the hits increased so the commercial must have been well received. Just look at the increase in traffic.

    They do not miss one shabby trick.

    If recruiters and HR post just one job with the free passport we are giving them what they want.
    Go back, it’s a trick. The minute they have your website it’s on the spider list, you are a customer of the Ladders. You have just endorsed them. Your name and your company name is on their site, and if they scrape every job off the company page you just gave them a “passport” to do it, as well as the defense that since you posted one job you certainly would not object to others being flopped on there.

  39. While normally I wouldn’t comment on posts such as this, I will add my two cents on the viewpoint.

    First, there is nothing wrong, at all, with a company charging job seekers if they are providing a true value to that person and are charging under proper pretense. I have never seen Nick saying that charging job seekers for a site was wrong.

    However, in the case of the Ladders, it isn’t a question of the value they are delivering, it is a matter of what they are claiming to get job seekers to sign up. I sorry but The Ladders makes claims which are untrue in order to entice people to pay for the service.

    That, by definition is an “Act of intentional deception carried out for purpose of undeserved or unfair gain”, otherwise known as fraud. It is, what it is and there is no defending it. While The Ladders is certainly better than many of the scam boards, it is still advertising something it does not deliver on.

    I personally do not like attacking companies, but, regardless of revenue or thin-air valuation, the Ladders does not deliver on what it commits to in writing for someone to purchase the service.