I’ve covered TheLadders many times here. But no matter what aspect of this racket I look into, the next experience always reveals a bigger scam. It seems TheLadders latest racket is with Google…

Today a public radio station contacted me about appearing on a show they’re doing. I always ask media folks how they found me. (That’s also a good thing to ask when you get recruited — it helps you develop your network if you know which nodes are working well.) The producer at the station found me when she Googled “headhunter npr” (for National Public Radio).

So I checked the search term. What did I find at the top of the paid Google results for “headhunter npr”? www.TheLadders.com/Headhunter. Curious, I clicked.  I was taken to a Ladders page titled:

“Looking for headhunter npr? Join Now and Start Your Next $100K+ Career.”

Say WHAT? What does TheLadders have to do with headhunters or NPR? So I tried something. I Googled “headhunter abc.” Guess what comes up in the paid results?

“Looking for headhunter abc? Join Now and Start Your Next $100K+ Career.”

Well… then I couldn’t resist.

“Looking for headhunter dogmeat? Join Now and Start Your Next $100K+ Career.”

“Looking for headhunter scam? Join Now and Start Your Next $100K+ Career.”

“Looking for headhunter to steal your money? Join Now and Start Your Next $100K+ Career.”

Try it. Google “headhunter [anything, except bad words]”.

TheLadders is not a headhunting company. It’s a job board that lies in its advertising, lies to its customers, smiles at you and asks for your business. Google oughta tighten up on the misleading ads it lets advertisers run. I guess Ladders doesn’t mind paying for such clicks…

“Looking for headhunter kaka? Join Now and Start Your Next $100K+ Career.”

It’s in there.

****UPDATE Oct 12, 2009: Either TheLadders or Google itself has killed the generic “headhunter [anything]” search result. Wonder why?


  1. Worked for “headhunter moron,” which fits, but I had to use Internet Explorer. Wouldn’t work in Firefox with Adblock Plus. I sometimes forget what an ad-laden cesspool the real internet can be.

  2. Not sure who’s worse…Google (the pimp) or The Ladders (the whore). Marc Cenedella (sp?) is sure a piece of work. He makes Dick Cheney look like Gandhi.

  3. I quit the ladders about a week ago. And what a surprise I got when all of a sudden my job search agents starting sending job descriptions that more closely matched my criteria.

    Having spent a year using the site without one response from a resume submission, and absolutely no calls from recruiters, I know that theladders is worthless. So I paid $30 for emails from Marc, but I learned a great lesson for relatively cheep. If you have to pay for access to a job, it’s BS.

    It also led me to ignore an offer from Hal James who, for $4995, would spend 30 days getting to know me, and then introduce me to the hidden job market. He would help me target my search, yady yady… What made me skeptical was the 3 people that called me to set up a phone appointment with Hal. While Hal and I were on the phone, someone else from his office called. After the 45 minute discussion, Hal tried to use the hard close on me. I told him that I didn’t make any $5K decisions without discussing it with my wife. He attempted to say that executives were decisive and should be able to make decisions without input from your spouse — RED FLAG. Needless to say, I decided against using his “service”.

    Keep up the good work Nick.

  4. Does anyone know anything about Hal James and a company named ACT? Supposedly based in NYC, but I found that it was an executive office suite with one person in it and I paid them $4900 to “get a job”, which Hal told me normally occurs within 30-90 days. It’s been that and I haven’t received one call.

    Thanks Jeffrey

  5. Jeffrey,
    If you paid that person (“Hal James”) for a service never rendered and you have a proof of money exchange, there are several things you can do: private litigation (through a small claims coart – where you live), contact IRS, check BBB and if your correspondence was via emails/web sites one can legaly report it as Internet crime to the FBI (check their web site). The time is crucial here, the longer you wait the smaller is your chance of getting your money back.

  6. I’m not defending this, but it says more about paid Internet search than it does about Ladders. The links at the top are paid for and it’s common practice for companies to bid on terms that are somehow related to the service they offer and to to use the “looking for xxx” technique. In this case the search term was “recruiter”. It’s marketing, pure and simple.

  7. Run far away from Hal James aka ACT aka Executive Options aka fresheffort.com. They scammed me out of $4900 and I’m still trying to get my money back. Talking to an attorney now…

  8. Ditto Gary G. Got csamed too. I lucked out in that I was able to bargain the BUM !@#$%& down to $2900.00. Still trying to recover that money from my credit card company. It has not been easy. Stay CLEAR of this place.

  9. Yeah…they are a definite scam and if you have given them your card they keep running through until you tell them to stop. I don’t know how they did this as the expiration date on my card changed from 5/12 to 5/14 this year…they billed me on July 7th this year….soooo how did they get around that….they said the fine print allowed them to go ahead and charge me. AND they had to make the assumption the date changed without contacting me..ABSOLUTELY….SCAM in the first CLASS!! Usually a company will not do that but instead will send you an email that your card has been declined….due to changes (the expiration date)….at least reputable companies do. I will have my bank change my CC number and effectively eliminate their ability to automatically deduct it from my card. Oh and by the by….I make over $250 K, employed for the last 5.5 years and am in demand as a Sales Manager, fielding about 3-4 calls per month from headhunters…..in 2.5 years I NEVER received a call from anyone at the Ladders or the companies I applied to about the 35 or so different jobs. What does that tell you?

  10. @KG: “kaka” is in the title of this posting. That’s what Ladders’ behavior tells me.