I’ve covered the sad story of TheLadders in many columns on this blog over the years. So, what’s up with this poster child of bad behavior in the career space?

  • The company’s $2,500 “We guarantee you a job” offer is long gone.
  • The front-and-center resume writing offers have disappeared.
  • Of course, a class-action suit about TheLadders’ misrepresentations about “ONLY $100K+ JOBS! ONLY $100K CANDIDATES” eliminated that ad campaign.

ladders3TheLadders’ home page used to feature links to all sorts of assets for job hunters and employers. Good, free content is how any online business succeeds today. There’s nothing on TheLadders home page to suggest there’s anything of value for anyone.

TheLadders website is now a dismal collection of five links that drive you straight to a data collection form and a subscription page. TheLadders doesn’t even pretend any more. It’s site is 100% carny-barker sales pitch, and that’s an insult to carny barkers.

There’s been nothing worth reporting or writing about TheLadders.

But a comment today on an early-2013 story I published, TheLadders sued for multiple scams in U.S. District Court class action, reveals that consumers should stay worried, and so should the courts. Nothing has really changed with this company’s M.O.

TheLadders is still all about parting you from your money by advertising non-existent jobs. I’ll let reader Steve C tell it:

I subscribed to TheLadders.com in mid June 2013 to apply for a single job which I was led to believe was exclusive to TheLadders. I found a marketing job posted on TheLadders. Although I was able to figure out that the job was with Husky due to some of the language in the posting. However I could not find that job on Husky’s website to apply directly. When I clicked on apply from TheLadders.com, it took me to their payment page. Since I was really interested in that job I decided to sign up for their best deal, a 3 month plan. After subscribing I clicked the apply link and the fraudsters at TheLadders redirect me to Husky’s website, where, you guessed it, job was long ago expired. I emailed TheLadders my concerns and basically it was an “eat crow” moment. Although their subscribe page led me to believe that this was an exclusive job, their agent “Timmothy S.” said that it was not exclusive and that it must have just expired. I promptly turned off the subscription auto renewal.

I will say that generally their email advice is OK but it is free anyway. At the time TheLadders were no longer promising that all jobs were above $100k, but they were still claiming exclusive high paying jobs. They are a scam and I would not recommend them. Use their free subscription and the google the job description to find the job. You can also look to see who the recruiters are that pull your profile and the connect with the recruiter via LinkedIn.

[Click here for Steve C’s entire comment.]

I have one piece of advice for Steve C: Don’t just turn off auto-renewal. Contact your credit card company to make sure TheLadders does not keep dinging your account for the subscription fee. You wouldn’t be the first “member” who cancelled and found — months later — that fees will still being charged to your card. “Oops,” says TheLadders.

What’s most telling about this story is the statement of the customer service rep: He admitted that the job posting “was not exclusive” and that “it must have just expired.”

It seems TheLadders customer service reps are still sliming their customers, reading from the same script that TheLadders’ customer Alishia reported in TheLadders: Job-board salary fraud? In essence, “Whoops!” and “Not our fault.”

Give us all a break, Marc Cenedalla. Pack it in.

: :


  1. Really, how is LinkedIn THAT different? LinkedIn is offering paid services to “help” job seekers find jobs. TheLadders tried (and mostly failed) to create a “country club” job board/resume bank. LinkedIn is doing much the same thing, but no one is all up in arms at them for offering paid services. As someone who works closely with many recruitment marketing vendors (including The Ladders), I can say that The Ladders (sketchy business practices perhaps aside) is a strong resource to find people because as your example points out, there are some VERY serious job seekers there. Having job seekers fund the site as opposed to employers was a different way to approach it…

  2. Nick, I first found your site due to researching TheLadders. Well done for shining a light on them!

  3. @Phillip: LinkedIn is not much better than TheLadders, but the problems are different.

    But I’m not sure what you’re talking about when you say that job seekers “fund” TheLadders. Ladders has always charged employers for access to its database. Er, the databases of every other jobs site from which Ladders scraped/scrapes job listings. The fact is, TheLadders burned both ends of that candle – it tried to charge everyone, and that was its undoing. LinkedIn is now doing the same thing, and my prediction is that this will be its downfall. Neither company gives a rat’s batootie whether anyone gets hired. It’s all about dinging those credit cards every month and keeping eyeballs on the site.

  4. So just to make sure, having a job board that ‘burns both ends of the candle’ is wrong? If you can provide a service that is worth it to both job seekers and recruiters/employers alike, great! The idea of having a job board/resume bank that you can pay to get in is fairly smart. Most active applicants are trying to stand out in a VERY NOISY medium. Creating a less noisy environment for someone to look for a job, and an environment where job seekers are fairly active, makes sense. Not sure why The Ladders is singled out.

  5. @Phillip Marquart

    Disclaimer: I’ve never used TheLadders.

    If I’m reading Nick’s posts correctly about TheLadders, it would seem that TheLadders billed themselves to only have jobs that paid 6 figures, and candidates that are already earning 6 figures.

    Their problem is that they did not do the requisite verifications on either side, yet charged people for lower paying (or non-exsistant) jobs or allowed candidates in that made less than advertised.

  6. That was their niche when they first started, and then adjusted a few years ago. So someone signing up today shouldn’t (and hopefully wouldn’t) have that belief.

  7. The Ladders COST me a job!

    A firm basically created a job around me. Very specialized skillset and background. The firm’s HR people posted the job on Monster (I learned later). It got picked up by LinkedIN and posted as a 100k job.

    In the 5th interview, I was routed to the CFO, to discuss compensation. I mentioned the LinkedIN posting of a 100k job, and they promptly tilted.

    Not only was it NEVER listed with LinkedIN, they wouldn’t pay more than 90 (although with a year end bonus, non-specified.) and expressed the view that I was priced out of their market.

    That the CFO and HR were inept goes without saying. Incentive compensation was evidently outside their experience base. Negotiation wasn’t their strong suit. There was, however, no graceful way to recover from the situation.

    Thank you, LinkedIN.

  8. @Phillip – gouging at “both ends of the candle” is not only wrong, but stupid. Someone doing that does not have customers, only suckers.

    Imagine paying real estate brokers to *look* at a house, and have them also get paid a commission. Who are they actually working for?

    Difference between Linkedin and The Ladders? Plenty. You post resumes and look for jobs for free. Recruiters pay for expanded search capability. A few people may want to pay for expanded services (I think its foolish, but to each their own), but it not necessary or, for the vast majority of job seekers, even helpful.

    Is LinkedIn great? No, of course not, and they are getting worse. However, it is a order of magnitude more useful than TheLadders.

    Please note that LinkedIn will NOT get you a job, at any level. What is does do is enable you look up contacts, see their backgrounds, perhaps find someone to introduce you, etc. I do not consider LinkedIn a job board (like Monster); it is a tool to help you find interesting people to make contact and find out about a job. I assume most jobs posted are spurious, and in best case just lead to the black cesspool known as HR.

    Use LinkedIn like Nick recommends to find people; don’t waste efforts with second degree connections or resume vacuums.

  9. So here’s a question, there are ton’s of job boards out there (monster, careerbuilder, ladders, etc). So Ladder’s looks very fishy now. Are there any considered good? What’s the best way to look for job (other than contacting a recruiter)?

  10. @Phillip Marquart

    “That was their niche when they first started, and then adjusted a few years ago. So someone signing up today shouldn’t (and hopefully wouldn’t) have that belief.”

    So, what “service” is TheLadders selling these days? How do they differentiate themselves from other websites in the same space (CareerBuilder, Monster, etc.)?

  11. @Phillip Marquart: “That was their niche when they first started, and then adjusted a few years ago. So someone signing up today shouldn’t (and hopefully wouldn’t) have that belief.”

    According to an employee of Royal Dutch Shell, TheLadders was taking job postings from Shell’s own website and re-posting them on TheLadders with fake salaries (much higher than actual) and then selling those faked “$100K+” listings to paying members who then showed up for interviews under false pretenses – only to get ticked off at Shell when they learned the salaries were not real. When Shell busted TheLadders and demanded the postings be removed, TheLadders acquiesced – and soon thereafter posted the jobs again.

    The same people are still running TheLadders. Good luck with your paid membership and TheLadders new “niche.”

  12. @jljarvis: You posted that “The Ladders COST me a job!” But then you refer to LinkedIn. Was that intentional, or did you mean TheLadders?

  13. Solid reporting as ever Nick, thanks for keeping us in the loop on all the latest developments. Have watched this all unfold with some incredulity from here in the UK. It’s illegal here for a business to charge recruiters to advertise / fill jobs AND to charge candidates to secure jobs. The general feeling in the job board industry here is that no British company could ever have been set up to operate the way that either of the above named companies operate. But being US corporations no one has the balls to run them out of town.

  14. Just want to say your article is as astounding. The clearness
    to your put up is just great and i could think you’re knowledgeable in this subject.
    Fine together with your permission let me to snatch your feed to keep updated with
    approaching post. Thanks a million and please carry on the gratifying work.

  15. I am actually amazed at the amount of negative publicity that TheLadders is receiving, because I used that website to find my last job in the Silicon Valley. I have been away from the US for the last 5 years and planning on coming back in the next year or so. The 1st website that I considered looking was theladders.com. I still have not signed up this time but have subscribed to their premium service before.

    I admit that I was feeling a bit nervous about signing up by paying a membership fee (in fact, the last time around – I signed up for a month, renewed for 2nd month and then cancelled. After that I signed up for a 6 month membership and finally got a job in my 4th month of search…through a job that I found on Ladders). I found out subsequently that the job that I applied to was ALSO posted on the company’s website. So, I did feel a bit of a letdown that I paid $100+ for my job search which I could have done for free.

    However, reflecting on this later I realize that it would not even occurred to me to look at that particular company’s website for a job posting which specifically matched my skill set. Some people target a company, some target an industry but I think for many – we target jobs that best fit our skill set in an IT company OR the IT department of any company…as long as it pays a decent amount (100K+?).

    I know I am the minority of people here that support Ladders, but at least I used it, benefited from it and thinking of using it again.

  16. I found an ad on theladders that wasn’t real clear how to apply completely. Since resume’s get truncated and a tabled cover letter loses its formatting, I emailed the company and president directly…or so I thought! My reply was from someone else stating “Im not sure who you are trying to get a hold of, but we have no affiliation with The Ladders. They continually misrepresent that we have job opportunities.”