There has been a spate of articles recently about TheLadders – specifically, how the site is a bad deal for job seekers. To wit:
Or how about this?
What does TheLadders do to enhance anyone’s job hunting prospects — especially C-level executives? Virtually nothing, nada, zippo, zilch. This most flagrant faker among the job boards, which pretends to be exclusive and “$100k+”, is the source of hires less than 0.07% (yes, that’s percent) of the time, among employers polled. (Source: CareerXroads survey, p. 19) - Nick Corcodilos
What’s the problem? Isn’t TheLadders (or, for that matter, JobFox) just like Monster or CareerBuilder?
Traditional job sites make most of their money by charging employers – for job postings, resume database access, site advertising, custom emails, and other types of services. In essence, they sell access to the job seeker. That’s why these sites spend a lot of time promoting and advertising themselves – they need the job seekers to keep their employers happy.
TheLadders and other ‘candidate-pay’ sites are different – they turn this revenue model on its head. They charge the job seekers to access the jobs and employers. Seems like a hard sell when the majority of sites offer job and employer access at no charge, right? The candidate-pay sites claim that their jobs are not available elsewhere. Sometimes they will offer additional services as part of the ‘membership’ fee. (Of course, that doesn’t mean they don’t charge employers – they usually do, just not for job postings).
The ultimate ‘promise’ made by candidate-pay sites, then, is access – you’ll be able to reach jobs and employers that you simply can’t reach elsewhere.
So what is the case made against TheLadders by Nick and Laurie? Simple – false advertising. In fact, you can find most of the jobs elsewhere. Also, TheLadders makes an additional claim – ‘only $100K jobs’. As someone who has subscribed to the site in the past, I can tell you that – at least during that time period – this claim simply isn’t correct. I found numerous jobs under $100K (as has Nick and many others).
Enough about TheLadders. This raises a bigger question: is it ever ethical to charge the job seeker for access to jobs and employers?
Yes. If the site is truly offering something of real value to the job seeker, then I think it isreasonable to charge. Note my qualification: “something of real value”. For example, perhaps the site screens each job posting it allows on the site, verifying the company, offer, and qualifications. Or perhaps it provides a private forum where job seekers and employers can interact. Maybe the candidate gets discounts on insurance, services, and the like. What is offered will depend on the seeker audience.
As a job seeker, I have used sites that really did deliver value for the money I paid them. And, as I mentioned above, I have used sites that didn’t deliver value. I promptly cancelled the latter.
So, kudos to Laurie and Nick for telling job seekers about sites that don’t deliver on their promises. And kudos to the sites that do deliver on their promises.