T3 – Where are they now? The Ladders edition!

Remember The Ladders (they go mostly by “Ladders” now)? You know the website where you could search 6-figure jobs that no one else had access to! Founded in 2003 as a job board members-only site where they guaranteed every job listed on their site had a starting salary of at least $100,000 or more.

It started off really well, they found an audience of people who actually wanted to make $100,000 or more! Who knew!? The HR bloggers and influencers were not fans. Why? Remember what started to happen around 2005?

The great recession was beginning to happen. Charging candidates a monthly subscription fee seemed a business model where you were taking advantage of people who were the one group of people you shouldn’t! Those desperately seeking work.

Since the end of the great recession, you’ve virtually heard nothing from Ladders. I’m guessing many of you are surprised to hear they are even still in business, and most of you will be more surprised to hear they’re thriving!



What happened during the recession? Netflix. Spotify. StitchFix. Etc. Membership model ‘exclusive’ service industry came into vogue in a big way. Ladders 2003 was ahead of its time. Ladders 2017 seems to fit right into what most people like.

Sure you might not be willing to pay for access to six-figure jobs and work at upgrading your own career, but your neighbor is. Just like you pay for Spotify, but your neighbor is fine listening to the commercial version. We are in more control of our lifestyle buying behavior than ever before.

Ladders of 2017 actually seems to fit right into the candidate management behavior of today, and the consumerism of today. In 2005-ish, they didn’t seem to fit, and it’s why so many in our space worked to discredit what they were offering to candidates.

The goal of Ladders has also remained the same to organizations. Eliminate unqualified candidates to companies and recruiters. Candidates only see jobs that match their background and skill sets. Candidates can’t freely search the entire database of jobs, only those jobs that they’re matched to.

Ladders also made some changes. Still, a candidate member model that allows all recruiters to view candidates and contact all candidates for free, and post jobs for free. Ladders now offers “Indeed” type sponsored jobs for recruiters, and the ability to contact candidate members outside the system for upgraded subscriptions.

Ladders also spent a ton of resources developing their own content publication. Career-minded content and development for mid-career candidates that are in management and executive roles, and those looking to move up into those roles.

I’ve been hearing some rumblings around my network that The Ladders was alive and kicking, and actually doing very well. The original founder of The Ladders, Marc Cendella, came back as CEO after being away for a while, and that certainly helped get them back on focus.

It seems like Ladders is the one job board-type organization that is focused differently than every one of their peers. Ladders is paid by candidates (for the most part) and thus what they do is shaped by taking care of who their true client is. While recruiters and organizations can clearly take advantage of some great talent, Ladders continues to focus on their members (candidates), and find that refreshing.

In the 2017 candidate market Ladders looks to be another tool we probably need to go back and take a look at. I’ll tell you some of your recruiting peers are already doing this and finding some great talent!

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