Sales Source: The best sales blog for job hunters

Meet Geoffrey James. He writes a sales blog that will help you land your next job.

“When you go job hunting, always remember that you’re selling!”

That’s the refrain from job counselors, coaches, resume writers and HR people. I don’t buy it, because “sales” is misunderstood as a task by most people. They think of selling as delivering a brochure — or a resume — and then reiterating what’s on it to the prospect’s (employer’s) face, while they stretch a big smile across their own.

That’s not selling. Selling — and job hunting the way I teach it — is all about focus and knowledge. When you’re job hunting, true selling is about focusing on the employer and addressing what he or she needs. And then it’s about using the knowledge you’ve developed to demonstrate how you will deliver.

True selling is not about you or your product. It’s about the other guy entirely. A truly good sales pitch is all about the person who needs something.

Geoffrey James gets it, and he’s been writing about sales for a long time. He used to author the Sales Machine blog for the now renamed BNet. And now he’s moved into more exciting territory, writing the Sales Source blog for Inc. magazine online.

James teaches you almost everything you need to know about sales to address an employer’s needs so he or she will want to hire you. Start with this incredible gem:

7 Steps to Closing a Deal Via Email: He should be charging for this stuff. If you’re going to follow up with an employer about a job you want, this is how you want to structure your e-mail. James even gives you tips about what not to put in it.

Check out James’ suggestion for how to instantly draw yourself into the employer’s world before your interview starts: Forget Small Talk: How to Craft the Perfect Icebreaker. (Forget about last night’s game or this morning’s big news story.)

Then graduate to Why the “Power of Branding” Is a Myth. I’m not the only other big mouth out here who says “branding” is totally misunderstood and a waste of time and breath. Before you spend another minute “creating your brand,” consider what James suggests: Your brand is what the employer experiences after you’ve worked there for a while. Trying to “brand” yourself to get an interview or a job just reveals you don’t know where the value is.

The Sales Source blog won’t give you career advice — not in any direct way. But if you study it, you’ll realize that you can bend the ideas James offers in almost every column — to help you get in the door, to convince an employer you can do the work he or she needs done, and close the deal on a job. Sales Source is about true selling. And it’s a lot of hard work. Just like that great job you want.

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Big Brother & The Employment Industry: “All your employment are belong to us!”

Suppose that every time you applied for a job, some guy in a little room checked an Excel spreadsheet and notified the employer: “No interview for this guy. He’s a bum.”

It’s already happening.

Several years ago I published a series of articles about identity theft via job boards, including a report about’s troubling practices by Pam Dixon from the World Privacy Forum (Click, You’re Hired. Or Tracked). Later, I published a newsletter titled Does HR go too far when screening candidates? in which HR consultant Earl Rice warned that:

“…in their zeal to protect themselves and their companies, HR departments may be covering up illegitimate and possibly illegal practices. When HR outsources background checks and investigations of candidates, is HR doing its job, or is it ensuring plausible deniability while letting loose an investigative demon that systematically violates people’s privacy and feeds the specter of identify theft?”

Trading privacy for Big Brother’s social initiative

It’s a world where Facebook routinely collects and profits from massive amounts of personal information. It’s a world where people enjoy the benefits of “social networking” and just want to keep up with their friends minute-by-minute. It’s a world where Big Brother has taught people to shrug and say, “Privacy? There’s no privacy any more. My information is in lots of databases and it’s not worth worrying about it!”

It’s a world where corporate employers are covering their legal asses while you get rejected for jobs that have long been vacant because “there’s a talent shortage.”

It’s also a world where opening a financial account in your name doesn’t take much more than your name, address, social security number (SSN), and a signature — any signature. But in today’s economy, the permissions you grant to employers when you apply for a job can continue to cost you lots of jobs — and you’ll never know it.

Let’s go back to what HR consultant Rice said back in 2003:

“If you have signed one disclosure for one employer, the investigations company that did the checks will keep the information about you in their database and then just re-sell the results to their next client.”

How does this happen? HR outsources the investigations, and the third party investigations company owns the information it gathers about you. The next employer rejects you for the same reasons the last one did. Were those reasons legit?

“This total invasion of privacy beyond your wildest dreams (actually, nightmares) is outsourced. The worst part is that much of the data and information these outsourced security agents collect is erroneous.”

You sacrifice privacy; employers buy legal protection

But while you’re giving up your privacy for certain “social” benefits (like the ability to apply for a job), employers are capitalizing on the holes you just punched in your life. Then, those same employers are buying legal protection in case you sue them for peeking through the holes. Rice reiterated that the quality of information about you in those databases isn’t the issue; insulation of employers from legal liability is the issue. Rice warned warned that an employer’s intentions could be far more complex:

“This is an industry that is almost totally unregulated. The multiple levels of outsourcing and subcontracting yield enough plausible deniability to the companies themselves,  and their clients, that abuses run rampant.”

Are employers using third parties to distance themselves from legal liability when checking you out? Who’s responsible for auditing and tracking the use and security of personal information an employer gathers about you?

Like many people, I put all this aside and chalked it up to Big Brother’s ubiquitous presence in our lives… the Internet, after all, is the Big Brother we’ve invited into our lives, choosing to accept the quirks of his behavior in exchange for all the social gifts he bears.

The little man who controls your career

That’s how I compartmentalized it all, until a reader sent me the story of his recent experience with a major American corporation with operations around the world. The reader is a 20-year veteran of the information technology field, and has more than a passing knowledge about security. Read it and decide how worthy a trade we’re making — some of our privacy, in exchange for the wonderful social gifts Big Brother delivers into our lives.

During Q4/2010, I was being considered for a position with [Company X]. Before I could be submitted for consideration to the hiring manager, the recruiting agency required my name and full SSN so that it could be checked against a database of Company X’s former employees. I decided to dig into their process.

Each agency was collecting names and SSNs within their offices in a spreadsheet, then submitting them periodically to a third-party agency via unencrypted e-mail attachment (Excel file). I went as far as to contact the individual at the third-party agency who was receiving and processing the queries.

He told me that he logged into a Company X mainframe application to enter the names and SSNs, then returned the spreadsheets to the agencies with a Yes or No indication for whether the candidates were acceptable to Company X on the basis of when and how they may have might have been terminated, or if his check could verify that they had never worked for Company X. He then combined each of the spreadsheets into one of his own so that he could independently track and verify the names and numbers he had already processed.

Me: “Where do you keep that spreadsheet?”

Him: “In my in-box in Outlook.”

Me: “Do you see any security risk in that?”

Him: “No, it’s just on my desktop.”

I was shocked.  That was when I decided to pass on the opportunity. I also informed the agency rep who had contacted me about the job that this was how it was being done, and while he agreed that it wasn’t very good, he had no way to change the process put in place by Company X.

All your career are belong to us

You worry that you’re too old, or that you lack the proper college degree or skills. But employers are rejecting you before they check any of your work credentials. Your career is subject to “judgments” far more stupid and unsophisticated than you could imagine — judgments that could well be incorrect, and over which you have no right of appeal.

In 1991, a poorly-translated warning appeared in a popular video game: “All your base are belong to us.” Today, the game ends for many job applicants before it even starts.  Your career belongs to the little man with the spreadsheet, who operates at legal arm’s length from the employer that rejected you. He works for an agency that is contracted by lots of employers to handle candidate investigations, and to notify employers whether you should be interviewed.

But, the business is not about hiring; it’s about selling and re-selling data about you whose accuracy you cannot confirm.

“The larger outsourced security/investigative companies have started keeping databases of their own. One advertises they have a database of over 1.5 million people for employers to run their candidates against.”

At the time Earl Rice contributed his commments to Ask The Headhunter, he was working for a major employer that outsourced background investigations to third parties that weren’t even in the United States. They were based in what we used to affectionately refer to as Iron Curtain Countries.

“They start with a name and phone number and e-mail address from a resume or application. Then, they cross-reference information until they get a date of birth or social security  number and go from there. When an applicant walks into HR for that first  meeting, they already may have been investigated. Never mind that much of the  data gathered may be erroneous. The ‘data’ was gathered at arm’s length, but the  employer will treat it as absolute fact.”

Advantage Employment Industry

Employers are ultimately responsible for the way job applicants are treated, no matter how carefully they’ve instituted legal protections by outsourcing candidate rejection. But the problem job hunters face is a systemic one. There’s an entire employment industry that now relies on Big Brother and the holes you permit in your personal privacy. Privacy expert Pam Dixon boils it down:

“The business of searching for jobs online has grown from a market niche to a multi-billion-dollar, rapidly consolidating industry that relies on the eager search activities — and employment dreams — of millions of job seekers.”

Every time a job hunter submits an application through the rote channels established by corporate HR departments, the employment industry gets paid — whether a match is made or not. The job hunter loses, and the hiring manager cries about the talent shortage. Employers give the advantage to the employment industry — a mafia of consultants and contractors who bear no responsibility, because they just manage that spreadsheet.

Every time a job hunter agrees to apply for a job via Big Brother methods, rather than through a personal contact with a hiring manager, the job hunter sets in motion the wheels of an entire data industry designed to make money — not to match people with jobs. Most of the time, the job hunter gets taken down in a drive-by data attack. The little man with the spreadsheet wears a hood, and even the employer has no idea who’s driving the data base. Or where the keys are.

The IT manager who shared the story above decided to skip the little middle man — and Big Brother. His next contact with an employer was direct, and he hasn’t submitted to a strip search of his personal information. His job search isn’t easy, but he still owns his career.

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Washington Post: is no joke any more!

Gimme a break.

The Washington Post reports: finally vindicated.

Say what?

Two reseachers, UC Santa Barbara’s Peter Kuhn and UC Denver’s Hani Mansour, asked this question in a study they conducted: Do job hunters who “use the Internet to look for work” spend less time unemployed than job hunters who don’t use the Internet?

Guess what? People who use the Internet spend less time unemployed. Whoo-wee. How does this study “vindicate” or any other job board?

It doesn’t. The researchers mention once in their 36-page report, and only in passing. The Post’s reporter, Brad Plumer, makes the subject of his story and puts the name in the headline.

There’s no evidence provided by the authors of the study (or by Plumer) about what is the impact of job boards on how long unemployment lasts. The researchers merely speculate and toss out the names of two job boards — and CareerBuilder. To suggest that use of the Internet makes finding a job easier due to is like suggesting that having a car makes traveling easier — thanks to DeLorean Motor Company. And, by the way, this vindicates the Ford Pinto, too.

The reason more people are finding jobs “via” the Internet is because the Internet is a social venue where people hang out. It’s got little to do with where jobs are advertised, because most jobs continue to be found and filled through — guess what — personal contacts. And the Internet is a great place to make personal contacts.

How about we try a more robust approach to determine how the Internet really contributes to finding a job, eh? What’s up with promoting the idea that a ghost in the machine, like, is what shortens anyone’s unemployment time?

A major newspaper like The Washington Post can do better than publish an advertorial for job boards. Well, maybe not. The Post operates a job board for profit. There’s no vindication of here; just an indictment of a newspaper.

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Rude Employers: Yahoo fires CEO Carol Bartz, phones it in

You know that rude behavior employers dish your way when they recruit you, cajole you, try to woo you, impress you, and interview you — then won’t return your calls, much less decide whether to hire you?

Now it’s happened to a C-level executive, CEO Carol Bartz, who was just fired by Yahoo. While Bartz’s performance, and Yahoo’s justifications for firing her, will be debated, what’s clear is that Yahoo’s board of directors is a bunch of wussies. They fired her on the phone. (For more details, see my column on, Stupid HR Tricks: Yahoo Phones It In, and join me in the discussion.)

Gimme a break. Say what you want about Bartz’s performance at Yahoo, the former CEO of AutoDesk never “phoned it in” during her stellar career. She deserved better.

So what’s the point? The point is that Yahoo’s board just sent a loud signal to the community from which the company recruits: We behave without dignity and integrity. Don’t bother seeking a career here, unless rudeness and disrespect are high on the list of attributes you’d like in an employer. Worse yet is the signal to investors and customers: “A reputation that attracts top talent isn’t on our agenda.”

Yahoo Finance just featured an article titled, “Tech Jobs Plentiful, Talent Is Not.” Gimme a break. “While the tech sector remains one of the few bright spots for the U.S. job scene, firms are having a difficult time finding qualified people to hire, a new survey says.”

No kidding. I hear Yahoo’s HR department is crying, “Talent shortage!” But who wants to work for a bunch of rude wussies, to whom “phone it in” suffices for “executive action?” Go ahead, laugh your ass off. What goes around, comes around. Trouble is, when companies start doing it to C-level execs, that’s a clear sign it ain’t gonna get any better.

Tip to companies that operate with integrity and treat people with respect and dignity: You have no competition when recruiting and hiring.

Message to “the talent” out there: Those good employers are out there. You’ve just gotta look harder today.

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Running On Empty: TheLadders folds up its shell game

Today TheLadders folded up its shell game and announced that it’s just another job board.

Just last month, TheLadders’ announced its highly-exclusive “Signature” service: “guaranteed job offers” for “qualified” $100k+ job seekers — for $2,500. Then the “Executive Jobs” company started offering its “Premium Service” for just $15.

In a press release titled “TheLadders: Now LinkedIn’s number one competitor,” TheLadders says that it will now take anyone’s money, at any salary level, to provide the same services as, HotJobs, CareerBuilder and every other jobs database.

“[TheLadders] will soon be available to all motivated job seekers looking for the next opportunity to move their careers forward.”

It’s not clear who is the bigger sucker: TheLadders’ executive customers, who thought they were paying for exclusive job listings. Or Ladders’ public relations firm, Allison & Partners, which is now grappling with a Tiffany’s wannabe that has opened a bargain-store basement. Or the media, which happily air these Ladders commercials in their editorial content. Or employers, which have been funding this “exclusive” shell game for eight years.

Since 2003, TheLadders has been playing games with $100k+ job seekers, charging them $35/month for access to supposedly $100k+ jobs, and billing employers for access to those same people. There’s plenty of documentation showing that TheLadders’ database is full of drek, both on the applicant side and the job side. Recently, employers revealed that TheLadders scrapes jobs from companies’ own websites, inflates the salary levels, and publishes them for sale to its paying members. When companies that aren’t even Ladders customers complain, TheLadders leaves the fraudulent listings in its database. Employers get stuck processing applicants to those dishonest job listings.

TheLadders does not deliver “ONLY $100k+ jobs” or “ONLY $100k+” job candidates. It never has.

It’s a well-known customer service dictum: When two or three customers make complaints, a company should worry about the many, many more who don’t take the time to complain publicly. What then of the teeming hordes of Ladders customers who swarm and post complaints every time an article or blog post appears about TheLadders?

The shell game couldn’t go on forever. Now TheLadders is just another job board. But the problem for Cenedella’s business plan is that, CareerBuilder, and HotJobs don’t charge people to look at their job listings.

Nonetheless, TheLadders gamely tries to keep up appearances:

“According to a Harris Interactive survey, 43 percent of $100K+ job seekers who changed jobs in the past year utilized TheLadders.”

Maybe Harris Interactive is a sucker, too. “Utilized?” What does that mean? People who signed up for TheLadders’ free trial since 2003, and who’ve wanted to get out, complain they’re still stuck in the database. Ladders CEO Marc Cendella won’t stop sending them his e-mail “updates” no matter what they do to get off his list. But Cenedella’s intent all along hasn’t been to offer useful advice in those e-mails. It’s been to keep his defunct “list” alive for public relations purposes — and Harris Interactive, a respected market research company, has now put its good name on this shell game. (I challenge Harris to disclose all the data and details behind the 43% claim.)

One wonders, what does the $100k+ customer think of all this, while paying for exclusivity and access to jobs at the highest levels? My prediction: Those who are still paying will stop. They should take note: A common complaint from Ladders customers is that terminating those monthly, automatic credit card payments to the company is not easy.

Coming fast on the heels of $900 resume-writing services and the $2,500 “Signature” program, the newly-discounted $15 “Premium” memberships and jobs at all salary levels reveal a company that’s thrashing, incapable of finding its market.

Clearly, the claim that “43 percent of $100K+ job seekers who changed jobs in the past year utilized TheLadders” is bullshit. If it were true, TheLadders would not be admitting failure, dropping its claim of exclusivity — and its prices.

In the dust surrounding TheLadders’ demise, the simple truth remains: Most jobs are found and filled through personal contacts. The development of sound relationships required to pull this off take a lot of time and a lot of hard work. Trusted contacts who’ll refer you to good employers can’t be paid for — they are cultivated through shared experiences into a circle of friends. Learning The Basics of job hunting isn’t difficult. But there’s no shortcut. You can’t buy a job offer.

After enduring eight years of caustic customer complaints, TheLadders has folded up its shell game. TheLadders is in its death throes, lying by the online roadside, gasping for a new business plan — because TheLadders is running on empty.


Looking for a job in America: Got a flashlight?

I couldn’t make this stuff up.

A sales director with over 20 years’ experience managing sales teams pays $50 to send out 500 job applications on his behalf. The guy’s wife’s beauty salon receives the resume and calls him for an interview. He didn’t know it, but his “job hunting agent” also submitted him for jobs as a receptionist, manicurist and fitness coach. Then he’s befuddled when a district manager from Krispy Kreme calls about his job application.

A U.S. executive pays $98, which submits his resume for C-level jobs at porn companies because the team in Visakhapatnam, India that’s handling the job search doesn’t know what “XXX” and “adult entertainment” mean.

A guy in Washington, D.C. pays JobSerf to submit job applications on his behalf to land a job in finance. He gets a call from a company about a job selling playground equipment.

These people are looking for jobs — where?

Sanjay Dasgupta, head of the JobSerf team in Visakhapatnam, says his U.S. clients are to blame. They’re not clear about what they want, so JobSerf sends their resumes to inappropriate employers.

They’re laffing their asses off in India. Maybe this is outsourcing revenge.

A guy in Houston used MyJobHunter to send out so many resumes to the wrong companies that a recruiter who received his resume chewed him out. The guy’s comment? “I’d rather have too many submissions than too few.”

These stories are all reported in The Wall Street JournalThe Unemployed Worker’s New Friend: Outsourcers.

“Occasionally, the sheer abundance of job applications some clients send can spin out of control, forcing the services to cut them off. MyJobHunter’s service was once slowed by a customer who set his parameters so  wide that he applied for more than 20,000 jobs, said Lee Marc, CEO of eDirect  Publishing Inc., which owns MyJobHunter. ‘They’re like junkies,’ said Mr. Marc, who once had a customer apply to  10,000 jobs in a week.

Looking for a job in America: It’s a good idea for an outsourcing business in India, because there are a lot of dummies in America.  But if you sign up, ask for a flashlight, because it’s a long and winding road in there.

(What’s perplexing is that The Wall Street Journal exposes the underside of “paid job-hunting help” by reporting on two-bit companies like JobSerf and — yet avoids the big kahuna in the pay-for-jobs rackets: TheLadders. Well-known for greasing the media channels, TheLadders slips through yet another investigative column about employment practices in the world’s leading business journal. Maybe it’s The WSJ that needs the flashlight.)



TheLadders: A lipstick pig’s death rattle?

TheLadders just keeps rooting around in its pen for scraps of executive job-board revenue. But this looks like a death rattle. There’s all the posturing:

The gimmicks have run out, and this pig still don’t hunt.

But today TheLadders CEO Marc Cenedella announced a new source of funding for his beleagured operation on CNBC’s Sqawk on The Street: Guaranteed job offers. (I thought Simon Hobbes was gonna pop a vein in his neck, his head was spinning back and forth so hard in disbelief.)

Yes: Guaranteed job offers. For $2,495, Marc Cenedella will get you a job offer (never mind for how much or for what job) within six months, or refund your money. Oh, you have to qualify for the service — TheLadders can’t do this for just anyone. But 90% of the suckers who sign up should get their jobs, says Cenedella.

This is the salve Cenedella offers to last year’s suckers. The ones that have been waiting for a “$100k+ job” after handing over $35/month for the past… how many months?

For years, TheLadders has been charging desperate rubes $35/month for access to a data dump that customers and employers alike complain is corrupted with jobs scraped from unwilling employers’ websites, jobs that pay far less than the promised “$100k+,” and long-defunct positions that employers and recruiters say never paid $100k to begin with.

You can read Cenedella’s announcement in his daily missive, titled “A job offer. Guaranteed. Or your money back. Introducting  ‘Signature’.Or, you can get the real story by skimming over a few choice comments from his customers, which are posted on the same blog.

One commenter nails what’s happening: Cenedella is acknowledging that his $35 service doesn’t perform as promised.

This new program completely invalidates “The Ladders”. It implies that regular users who were spending $35 a month had no realistic expectation of finding a job. As others have pointed out, paying $2,500 upfront for the privilege of maybe finding a job within 6 months is an absurd proposal, from a business investment point of view. If The Ladders actually did as advertised, there would be no need for Signature. This seems like a clear, opportunistic money-grab aimed at desperate, out of work people. It is very disappointing. — Seemanabe3

What does Cenedella expect his $35/month customers to do? Wait patiently while TheLadders’ staff “curates” jobs for the new high rollers?

Next, another customer suggests a double-or-nothing counter-offer:

Are you ready? I’d gladly pay $5,000, doubling your money, if the guarantee stood AND the fee is billable after the first paycheck from the new employer. Feel free to contact me at cfc3803 yahoo .com. — cfc3803

Cenedella won’t take that deal. You should pay up front, he says, because that will motivate you: “Turns out a financial commitment from the professional is highly correlated with their commitment to the program, which is highly correlated to their success.” Which in turn is highly correlated to cashflow for TheLadders while you sweat it out for six months. (You could keep working on that $35/month project in the meantime… that might work, too.)

Then one of Marc’s customers slaps him upside the head, revealing that Cenedella could use a refresher course in Harvard math:

With a so called “90% success rate”, you should not have any problems billing when the job is accepted instead of up front. And since you would supposedly refund the unsuccessful 10%, you have nothing to lose. Only scammers charge up front! — Jerry

Marc Cenedella’s problem is that he likes to pretend he’s operating a headhunting firm that works for the job hunter rather than for the employer. But he doesn’t want to charge like headhunters do — upon a successful placement. He wants the fee up front. But no worries, he’ll give it back to you later if he doesn’t get you a job offer. He’s just gonna hold that $2,495 for your benefit.

Ask The Headhunter regular Larry Kaplan is a career coach. Larry has a better idea, and I agree:

I’d spend the $2,500 on taking 50 networking connections out to a nice lunch during that 6 months — I’d get a lot more out of it.

Some quick math on Cenedella’s new program suggests that for $2,495 Cenedella will give you 16 phonecalls with one of his crack counselors during that six months. Under Kaplan’s plan, for $2,495 you can do 32 generous lunches with people who might be able to really help you. (In both scenarios, as Cenedella puts it, you must make a “commitment to the program.” In Larry’s scenario, your own lunch is included!)

If Cenedella could deliver on what he’s offering, everyone earning $50,000 and up would be employed today, because they’d gladly fork over $2,500 for a guaranteed job. And Cenedella would have competitors on every street corner, selling jobs.

But you’ve never seen that, have you? There’s a reason.

A guaranteed job for money has always been the lead-turned-to-gold alchemy of the career industry. Even the most brazen racketeers don’t attempt to sell that bill of goods to desperate job hunters.

Except Marc Cenedella. He’s already drained the snake oil tank and emptied the pockets of legions of hopeful “subscribers” who now cry fraud. Now he’s cranking up the heat.

What you’re hearing is not the promise of job offers. What you’re hearing is the desperate death rattle of a career scheme cooked up by the founders of HotJobs a decade ago.

Take a pig — a churn ’em and burn ’em job board called HotJobs. Slap some $100k lipstick on it. Let the press and the media ogle and kiss up to it as the hottest idea in the biz… and you’ve got a pig waiting to be called to breakfast at the big sty in the sky. It seems pretty clear TheLadders is in deep trouble. Or Cenedella wouldn’t be guaranteeing jobs.

No matter how long I work in this business, I still shake my head when I see $100k+ suckers get turned into bacon. Scrub ’em up, get ’em ready.


Unemployment & Poverty: A choice American companies make

Curt Landi was raised in New Jersey, near Thomas Edison’s old laboratories. Landi says he used to sneak into one of the abandonned buildings when he was a kid, and wander around, dreaming of becoming an inventor. In the 1980s, Curt and Susan Landi started their company, Supracor, in a tiny Silicon Valley office. Curt invented flexible honeycomb technology, and he and Susan fabricated samples of their products by hand in their kitchen. Curt peddled his samples to anyone who would listen. The Landis lived for years on a shoestring, and invested their lives in their business. They launched Supracor without a penny of venture capital. Today, Supracor produces state-of-the-art technology and sells it to the world.

Landi’s company does something unusual: It manufactures products made from American raw materials in the U.S. and only in the U.S. — “in Silicon Valley, where the cost is enormous to do business for a traditional manufacturer.” He employs only American workers. And his company pays American taxes because all its operations are here.

At a recent business event, Landi explained the greatest threat to America’s future: Poverty. Landi issued a challenge — to every American company — that he says is the real solution to poverty and unemployment. At the start of his presentation, Landi asks executives in the audience, “Do you love your country? Are you patriots?”

By the end of his presentation, Landi lets them ruminate on the profound contradication between their answer to those questions, and the choices they have made for their companies.

“Just imagine, if technology is built here — not licensed off shore. Manufactured here. Think about it. We built China… They manufacture everything there. We manufacture hardly anything here. Imagine the opportunity — building machines, making clothing, making computers… here… American jobs…

50 million people in poverty. America needs to wake up… We need to bring manufacturing back here… Get us out of poverty. This is the answer. Not to be greedy… GE: billions of dollars in profit, and not one cent paid in taxes… Sacrifice a little profit. A little profit. Like I do. To provide jobs to American citizens here, and spread the wealth… We together can make this happen. It only takes a spark… and that’s what’s needed. It must happen, for the survival of the United States… Let us never forget that we are heirs to an American revolution.”


Your Internet Leavings: Do you leave a mess?

In the May 17, 2011 Ask The Headhunter Newsletter, a reader asks whether what we post on the Net can hurt us.

Now that I’m job hunting, I’m taking stock of things I’ve posted around the Net. I wonder if my online writing could hurt my chances of getting hired. I suppose a diligent background check could turn up things I’ve written that could be misread. I also see that certain companies have policies prohibiting their employees from publishing blogs or anything that might reflect poorly on the company. Are we supposed to keep our mouths shut and stop posting online because “Big Brother” might find it? Is it best to use a screen name and to avoid identifying myself?

Here’s the short version of my advice: (For the entire column, you need to subscribe to the free weekly newsletter. Don’t miss another edition!)

…the Net is a great way to hang out with people — there are some great discussion forums to participate in and blogs where you can comment. Done right, it’s a good way to make valuable new contacts, and a way to build a reputation.

I believe the main reason a person’s postings on the Net can create problems is anonymity. If we think we’re anonymous, we’re more likely to post stupidly. How can you seem stupid if you’re anonymous? It’s not difficult, for someone whose job is to investigate you, to map your silly screen name to a similar e-mail address, Twitter account or Facebook page, and through your online haunts, and to track it back to you.

So, don’t be anonymous. Use your real name, or don’t post. Clearly identifying ourselves helps keep us honest — and undoubtedly helps decrease the litter of Internet leavings (and the load of nonsense) on the Net.

I try to practice this not only when I post, but when I judge a posting. If a real name doesn’t accompany a posting, I give it less credence. I want to know who is behind the words. I want to know they’ve put some skin in their statements…

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…In a time when intellectual property (IP) is the real asset, why do people (and companies) want to suppress the identities of those who create that IP?

There will always be dopes who make themselves (and their employers) look bad online. But the potential to build a good, solid reputation across the Net starts with accountability. Anyone who doesn’t believe they leave a persistent image of themselves online has a lot to learn — the hard way. Those who “get it” can prosper because the Net is a phenomenal amplifier of good IP.

I’ll put this more clearly: A consistent, responsible body of useful postings on the Net identified by your real name can gain you the kind of notice that leads to good job opportunities. (Please see this old gem of an article by Susan Raskin: Mining Candidates: How top recruiters really use the Net to fill jobs.)…

…Your privacy is of course valuable. That may be why you decide to use a pseudonym. But, if you have something worth saying, and if you are thoughtful and circumspect, then I suggest you put your real name on your writings. It’s the rare individual who can be proud of the trail he or she leaves. While that trail might attract nuisances, it also attracts opportunities.

You drop stuff all over the Net every time you post a comment on a blog or social networking site. Are your leavings making you look bad? Or, do you drop gold nuggets that suggest you’re a golden goose? (Okay, enough of that metaphor.) How do you account for yourself online?


TheLadders: How the scam works

“The ladders is a scam, plain and simple. A class action lawsuit sounds like a good idea.”
— TheLadders (former) subscriber Robin Lynn

“I’d love to charge them for the amount of my time they wasted.”
— Employer Claire Peat, not a customer

TheLadders continues to discredit itself while suffering renewed attacks from its own paying subscribers, and now also from employers, who claim TheLadders is a scam. This article reports how job hunters and employers believe the scam works.

Recent disclosures reveal that TheLadders’s claims of exclusivity and “Only $100k+” jobs and candidates are untrue, and that it not only fails to deliver what it charges for, but that TheLadders interferes with the business of companies that are not even its customers.

UPDATE March 19, 2014Angry, frustrated customers of TheLadders who say they were scammed finally get their day in court. Federal Court OK’s Suit Against TheLadders: Breach of contract & deceptive practices

UPDATE March 12, 2013
A consumer protection class action suit has been filed against TheLadders. If you believe you’ve been scammed by TheLadders, you can join the suit by contacting the law firm that filed the complaint. More here: TheLadders sued for multiple scams in U.S. District Court class action

Among the key accusations is that TheLadders takes job listings from employers’ own websites without authorization, even after being told to stop, and that TheLadders misrepresents the salaries on those jobs so that it can beef up its questionable database of “50,000, high-level 100k+ executive positions.”

TheLadders CEO, Marc Cenedella, has admitted that 50% or more of those “$100k+” jobs are “scraped” from other online databases, over which TheLadders has no authority or quality control. At best, TheLadders may thus have no more than around 25,000 verified job listings that employers have actually posted in its database.

In the meantime, Cenedella also claims TheLadders has 4.5 million subscribers, earning “$100k+”, competing for those 25,000 “$100k+” jobs. (You do the math.)

Finally, employers have revealed that TheLadders costs them money, time and sometimes their reputations, when Ladders subscribers unwittingly apply for jobs that don’t exist or that employers never placed with TheLadders, or that don’t pay what TheLadders claims.

Frustrated employers and recruiters that don’t even do business with TheLadders say that angry Ladders subscribers blame them for misinformation delivered through TheLadders’ database, creating public relations problems.

In early 2011, TheLadders convened a public relations conference of job-board “consultants” and recruiting-industry “experts,” apparently in an effort defend itself against Internet-wide cries of fraud from its subscribers. Some of the attendees rushed home and posted glowing reviews of TheLadders’ business practices on their blogs.

The stark contrast between the intent of those bloggers — to laud TheLadders — and the resulting outrage of people who overwhelmed them with critical comments, created the embarrassing impression that the blog campaign was conducted by shills of TheLadders. While complaints from TheLadders’ job-hunting subscribers are common on the Net, the surprise on these blogs was the outpouring of complaints from employers.

The loud backfire of that Ladders public relations conference has led to new outcries of “fraud” and “scam” — this time with new details about how TheLadders does its business.

Frustrated Job Hunters

We’ve covered TheLadders extensively on this blog:

TheLadders: Going Down? | Rickety, Leads Nowhere | The Dope on TheLadders (230+ comments) | Marc Cenedella Sells E-mails: $30/month | TheLadders: Job-board salary fraud? (90+ comments) | TheLadders: A Long-Shot PowerBall Lottery Tucked Inside a Well-Oiled PR Machine (including audio from a Harvard presentation) | TheLadders’ Mercenaries to Critics: They’re good eggs! (40+ comments)

(There’s lots more if you type “TheLadders” in the search box.)

Most of these articles cite job hunters who say they’ve lost their money, wasted their time, and otherwise been screwed by misinformation and misleading advertising from TheLadders.

But the latest turn of the screw is being felt by employers, who now share experiences that suggest how TheLadders scam really works. (TheLadders’ business model is ultimately propped up by employers and recruiters that pay huge fees to access its database.)

The Scam

TheLadders promises to provide “only $100k+” jobs and candidates, but as demonstrated by Ladders employees, the company knowingly delivers jobs and job applicants that do not in fact earn or pay “only $100k+.” TheLadders claims to “hand-screen every job post,” but does not actually check those salaries with the employers that own the jobs. Read more