Not Your Daddy's Monster
Aug 28, 2007
"Hey, what if we build a walled garden where job candidates and recruiters can contact each other without the noise of get rich schemes and multi-level marketing offers?"
"That sounds pretty good. But how are you going to keep the riff-raff out?"
"Easy. We'll charge 'em a high fee and tell them it's only for high paying jobs."
"We already do that. Recruiters have been complaining about our costs for years."
"No, not the recruiters. We'll charge the job seekers."
And thus was born TheLadders.com.
Why Paying This Web Site Is Okay Despite Conventional Wisdom
Job seekers are always told not to pay anyone to recruit them. Companies pay, not candidates is the axiom. That is usually darn good advice, but there are some exceptions, and this site is one of them.
Run by a couple of web recruiting veterans, The Ladders has done a good job of locking up some plum positions. Visit other job sites, especially aggregators, click the link, and you're instantly whisked away to a subscription screen. Want to know about the job? For those exclusive roles, the only way is by subscribing.
The reason that this is okay is that the recruiters (and they're almost all outside recruiters on some form of outsourced search) know the candidates are serious enough to pay for a subscription. That makes the recruiter more apt to engage.
I found myself getting in the door more often for higher paying positions, but unfortunately, the site's lack of depth meant that I often found myself considering roles that would require relocation. Ultimately, I found the one I wanted the old fashioned way -- word of mouth, networking and a timely ad on a niche site. But this was my second choice all along, and I have three months of bills to show for my efforts.
How It Works
Once you register and populate some basic demographic information, you have the chance to upload your resume data. You can then search for recruiters, positions, keywords or geography. You also place yourself in a specific category such as "Marketing" or "Operations" although you are free to switch areas at will. As with other job sites, you can set multiple email alerts based on the search criteria. Recruiters may also contact you although my experience was that this only happened a few times.
The site offers rudimentary tracking and reminders. I used my own Excel workbook with conditional formatting and tailored things to my own liking. If you don't like Excel or some simple database, you may find the site's tools useful, but I found them limited.
Subscribing is easy, and surprisingly, so was canceling. Make sure you know your subscription rollover date. If you miss that, you renew for at least another month. Nothing is quite so frustrating as landing a job and missing your rollover date by three days.
The Bottom Line, Clicks and All
This is not a site for everyone. Unless you're looking for a senior management or highly technical or specialized role, you'll do better with the job aggregators and other sites. The site claims that more than 50% of its subscribers are director-level and above and more than 80% have at least 15 years of experience.
Still, even living in a top ten metro area will limit your choices to a handful of new listings each day, none of which you may qualify for or be interested in, so make sure you have plenty of sources. No single site should be your job search's sole source.
Can you window shop here? Sure, but it's expensive. Better to sign up when you're committed to looking for a new role.
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