Despite Lawsuit, TheLadders Created an Innovative Job-Matching Model

Find job keyboardJob board TheLadders is being sued in federal court. The class-action lawsuit against TheLadders alleges that the job-matching service is a scam, that TheLadders marketed itself as a premium job board where job seekers could pay for access to premium jobs. Specifically, that by paying for access to TheLadders, job seekers would have access to exclusive jobs that paid more than $100,000. The lawsuit claims that TheLadders fails to meet these claims and falsely claimed to offer only high-paying jobs.


Now, let me start by saying I am a fan of TheLadders. I was a fan of their site prior to September 2011, when they were focused on $100,000-plus jobs, and I’ve been a fan of their site since they opened the site to a wider array of positions. I am not a legal consultant (or anything even close to one), so commenting on the legitimacy of the lawsuit would be silly. You can read more details about the lawsuit if you’d like. While I know little about the law, I do know a fair amount about job boards, and for that reason I am sad this lawsuit will surely stagnate the evolution of job boards.  

I say this, because while the success of their implementation can be debated, TheLadders was onto something when their model was based on job seekers paying a fee and recruiters using the site for free. This is backwards from how sites like CareerBuilder, Monster, and Indeed currently operate. These major job boards make money on the recruitment side of the relationship. TheLadders flipped that—which, if you take a moment to ponder, makes complete sense from the standpoints of both job seekers and recruiters.

Why wouldn’t you pay to be a member of what it essentially a job-seeking country club? By paying a membership fee, you are investing in your job search. Thus, I would presume, taking it more seriously than some job seekers or at least providing more incentive to be an active participant. Plus, by paying to be a part of this country club, you are saying to recruiters and companies that YOU ARE LOOKING FOR A JOB! This is an obviously brilliant idea that falls short with most job boards and resume banks. Recruiters sort through applicants and resumes with what level of success? How many times do recruiters passively source a candidate through a resume bank or LinkedIn only to learn they recently took a new position?

Take the healthcare industry, for example. Roughly 33% of hires in healthcare are sourced from job boards, yet it takes (on average) 75 resume-reviews to equal one hire. This signifies a huge area for improvement and increased efficiency, but instead of having innovative job boards and resume banks—where job seekers are invested and involved in the process—we have sites like Monster, where little to no engagement and investment from job seekers is the norm.

TheLadders has fought against their reputation as a scam since the organization’s inception. I could ramble on regarding this topic, but I think part of TheLadders’ poor reputation in the eyes of job seekers is because the job-matching service passed much of the responsibility onto job seekers instead of employers. The reality of the job market can be rather harsh, so the blame goes to the job board. But TheLadders’ model does make sense. Could it be more effective? Sure! But if I were a job seeker, I would rather pay to exist in a country club away from the regular riff-raff that exists on other job boards, and make myself more easily identified by recruiters. Whoever has the technical expertise to design that will definitely be onto something.

Post contributed by Phillip Marquart

Follow me on Twitter @TheDataNerd or connect with me on LinkedIn.

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