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 “executive resume” appetizer business (with a side of free critique) didn’t exactly take off.
- The promises of “$100k+” jobs that turned into… NOT.
- CEO Marc Cenedella’s e-mails to his list — which it seems no one can get off of once they sign up for that free trial — are the laughingstock of the career industry.
- Cenedella’s claim that he’s got 4.5 million subscribers… with the exception of those who are trying to get off that damned list… How many of them actually earn six figures?
- Cenedella’s claim of 60,000 jobs in his data dump… How many did he scrape from employers’ websites without permission or knowledge? How many pissed off employers can’t get TheLadders to take those jobs down after how much begging? And how many of those jobs have been defunct for over a year?
- Cenedella’s claim that 28% of all people earning six figures use TheLadders… There’s that damned list again…
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.