Those god-awful ads for TheLadders

Just in case, you’re one of the fortunate few who haven’t yet seen TheLadders‘ latest ad, here it is for the sake of discussion:

Isn’t it the most off-putting, juvenile ad you’ve ever seen? How could a supposedly premium professional, executive job search site conceive of, or more likely approve of, something so crass and decidedly unprofessional? In the not so distant past they used a slightly different approach (“When you let everyone play…nobody wins.”). The tennis ad still wasn’t a work of genius but it communicated their unique value proposition none too subtly – a smaller playing field greatly improves your odds as a job seeker unlike what you’ll encounter on the free for all sites, Monster, Careerbuilder, etc.

Whereas the latest ad encourages the 6 figure+ crowd to thump their chests and applaud themselves for being “big talent.” I admit, I was probably the last of my circle of peers to join the 6 figure club (much to my chagrin) and if I saw this ad while still making under $99,999, I would be too put off to join once I crossed the threshold. Is anyone naive enough to equate big money with big talent anymore? Furthermore, is 6 figures really an appropriate demarcation by today’s standards, particularly in the large urban centers that are most likely the target market? It’s barely enough to eat in the NYC area; in fact it’s embarrassingly reminiscent of Dr. Evil’s misguided notion that $1,000,000 was still worth a lot of money in 1997.

They have a slightly less off putting ad out right now, “Chairs” which features game hunters bypassing those wobbly, wholesale swivel chairs in favor of a plump, leather executive chair. Never mind their ineffective advertising strategy, I started to question the value of their service altogether. Thus far, I’ve found employment a variety of ways:

•1st job at an international freight carrier – NY Times ad
•2nd job at an international freight consolidator – hired by a customer of company #1
•3rd job at a dotcom startup – Career Fair advertised in the NY Times
•4th job at a respectable textbook publisher – NY Times ad
•5th job at an equally respectable publisher – hired by the company that bought out company #4
•6th job at a Big 4 consultancy – ad
•7th job at a Pharmaceutical ad agency – Industry specific recruiter
•8th job at a large, North American retailer – ad
•9th job at an international ERP company – Recruiter’s ad on the DMA website

Notice that most of them were free, save for the Sunday Times which I would’ve bought regardless of whether I was job hunting or not. Now I’ve been a paying member of TheLadders since April 2008 at $30/month which brings my total investment (tongue planted firmly in cheek) to $300. To date, I’ve only gone a grand total of 1 (one) interview through the site. It was for a VP position where the interview lasted all of 30 minutes. I invite you to draw your own conclusions as to the caliber of companies using that site.

Now excuse me while I go unsubscribe, unless anyone out there can provide a single compelling reason to continue?

4 Responses

  1. Most of my positions as an attorney have been a result of casual and inadvertant job interviews. For one, a senior partner and I happened to be having drinks next to each other at a bar near my law school and I was offered a job after a brief conversation and a couple of drinks. The current position resulted from getting to know a senior partner of a FL firm who would come up to wine and dine people from my department at AIG in NY. I wonder how I will get my next one….

  2. I think that ridiculous, fire-breathing monstrosity of an ad speaks for itself – or should I say “roars” – by its strangley loud but surely unintended insistence that anyone who wants to be the least bit efficacious in their job hunt should unsubscribe from their service and run for the hills!
    Run before its tastelessly tacky and cartoonish commercial crushes your professional profundities and your effervescent brainchild, too!!

  3. I’m with you, Neha…I’m thinking, “This is the best they could do? For the $$ they spent?”

    I’m not stretching the truth here…my 15 year old daughter is big-time creative and she could have done a better job than this.

    Anyway, TheLadders is coming under a lot of heat today – check out these twitter search results:

    I think they need to belly up to the table and do some explaining.

    Great site – keep up the good work!

    Dennis Smith

  4. Sonia – Thanks for visiting. You must share more of your uber networking techniques!

    M3 – I rarely get that turned off tv commercials but TheLadders really outdid themselves, didn’t they? If anything, I’m more inclined to use plain ol’ vanilla Monster than ever before.

    Dennis – Thanks for visiting. I took a look at your twitter link and that was the nail in the coffin for TheLadders! I’ll invest that $30 a month in data services for my new BlackBerry instead 🙂

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