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How TheLadders.com scam works (corcodilos.com)
86 points by ecaron on May 11, 2011 | hide | past | favorite | 31 comments

The Ladder's preys on the illusion that there are such things as "$100K+ jobs," when in fact there are truly just "$100K+ employees." Someone either does or doesn't have what it takes to add enough value to warrant that salary. People who can bring more than 100K in added value to a company probably don't need to use a site like the Ladders to get a job.

I agree, but it's still hard to add $100K as a McDonald's server - clearly, some jobs make it easier to add that much value than others.

Surely that goes for employees at any salary level be it $10K, $100K or $1000K?

The whole concept of charging job seekers for access to listings is just ridiculous. Anyone who falls for a scam like that deserves to lose their money and time. As a hiring manager I would never advertise on a site that charges candidates.

Any job seeker who is worth 100K+ won't pay the subscription fee anyway... their listings show the location and often the company name, even to non-paying users. It doesn't take much effort to figure out how to go find the actual posting directly from the actual company.

I've heard that the actual business model behind theladders is that they sell access to companies to see / search the database.

Here's one of their internal sales presentations (to corporations):


Due to the monthly subscription fee they've gotten candidates that self-select out of the junk that you find on HotJobs, CareerBuilders, Monster, etc.

Most job sites do this, including LinkedIn, Dice, Monster, etc., and they charge a lot for it. $1,000/month to start in the case of Dice and about half that for a limited search on LinkedIn. Makes sense from a recruiting standpoint in one sense--if the candidates are truly $100K+ material--but my suspicion in this case is that candidates are more likely folks who want to make $100K+, think there may be an easy way to do it, and are willing to pay for it.

It's my impression that people who command a 6-figure salary generally don't need help finding work. Reading this reminds me of the "work from home" infomercials they show at night. "For an nominal fee, we'll help you make $5-$10K/month!" And it seems like those infomercials, the only people making money are the ones who own the company.

TheLadders was present at the NYC@Boston startup event a few weeks ago, which supposedly had to turn away some companies interested in being there. I'm surprised the people running the event would let a company like this recruit.

They seem to employ a several dozen developers in NYC: http://www.cenedella.com/job-search/photos-of-us/

I wouldn't think a giant job and resume board needed this many people to run.

A Lisp/functional programming meetup group I sometimes attend is hosted by The Ladders. Their offices are actually really nice and look like it'd be a great place to work for a developer. It's awesome of them to let us use their space and equipment; I know nothing of their business practices, however.

I interviewed there about 4 years ago or so when I was about to graduate.. I think they had just been over a couple of years old and were hiring a developer or two to work on some back end stuff as well as JavaScript .. I could not follow up after the final intws because of some health issues.. but at that time, they had some interesting people working for them that were nice to talk to .. It was the same exact office as in the pictures but definitely no where close to that many people in there

I'd say they'd need a lot of people answering phones, a good couple lawyers (looks like they'll be expanding their legal team soon), lots of marketing and sales folks (churn must be a problem) and a couple programmers. I'd be surprised if it takes more than half-a-dozen to write page-scrapping robots and keep a job board site.

OTOH, as was pointed out earlier, it looks like a chaotic, noisy environment. If you have that kind of environment, you may need to multiply your team size by 1.5, at least.

edit: from http://careers.theladders.com/ it looks like they are using Java, Spring and are fully enterprisey buzzword compliant (only missing an Oracle RDBMS). If that's the case, you can multiply your team size again by a factor of 3.

edit 2: talking with a colleague from another company (they do a lot of Ruby stuff) I could confirm that our two-week sprints (we do mostly Java in this cell) are too long for them. Your iteration time varies according to the tools you use.

That is a lot of people... Yeah I don't quite see how you need that many...

Looks like it would be very noisy too, headphones a must.

This is how you typically run a 'sales & marketing' office in NYC, by being open. Just surprised to see devs that are in that mix.

On the other side of the coin, just add "computer programmer" to your resume, send it off to the investment banks, and enjoy your "$100K+ job". It's not a scam when both parties consent.

Job listings rarely include salary information. I don't see anything wrong with them guessing that certain jobs are above $100K.

So if the job title is "VP, Technology", it seems logical to include it in their site. The example in the way-too-long article is "Marketing Manager". Managers can make over $100K.

I don't see why he's so worked up by this. Except maybe they compete with him.

You wouldn't see a problem with them copying a job listing from your site, that originally had no salary info on it, and them slapping a guessed salary on the copy of the listing they show to their users? The users aren't told the salary they are looking at in the listing is a guess.

The author of the blog post is a head-hunter. Since the Ladders is disrupting head-hunters, he's not exactly an impartial participant in this conversation.

That is the longest assassination piece I've ever seen. The gist of it is probably true -- that the Ladders copies postings from other sites and does not verify whether all its jobs pay >$100K, despite advertising to the contrary. But that whole point could've been made, verbosely, in two paragraphs. This post is literally 8,000 words.

Agreed. Once it started getting redundant, I glanced over and realized my scroll bar handle was quite small and still at the top...

I've still got my fingers crossed that one of this summer's YC startups is a tl;dr generator:)

I do see the irony in mentioning that on a post I submitted, but it could use the love of an editor.

If you turn it on in the OS X services preferences you can do Safari-->Services-->Summary

Here's what I got:

This seems to be the heart of TheLadders’ method of doing business: TheLadders itself is the source of inappropriate job applicants that waste a company’s time and money. Without consent of the employer, TheLadders takes its job descriptions, tags them with inaccurate salary ranges, and induces its subscribers to apply for those jobs.

Not bad.

That's pretty good.

... I think I'll start running it on my email drafts before sending them out.

You could validate the idea first by copying posts into word and using the "AutoSummary" feature and then pasting back the result.

I have the impression that the author got somewhat frustrated by the lack of impact his previous ten-or-so pieces made. So he's now trying long-form.

Does stuffing so much content in there give it any additional SEO value? I'm not well versed in SEO, but that's about the only thing I could think of.

Not really, but people like to think it does. Also the Panda update led many to believe they need a 2000 word article minimum. Which is just plain wrong.

What is Panda update?

The recent update that Google made to their ranking policy that was supposed to dis-incentivize link farms, auto-generated and content-free sites and search engine spammers.

You know, they copy job listings from other places. And they don't ask for permission!

I'm not suprised TheLadders scrapes results from other sites. Otherwise their database would be almost empty. Hardly can you find an employer willing to disclose salary and say this job is paying 100K and more.

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