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 – Monster.com ad
•7th job at a Pharmaceutical ad agency – Industry specific recruiter
•8th job at a large, North American retailer – Monster.com 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?