Are Execunet and The Ladders Exclusive Job Boards or Scams?

Over the last several weeks there has been an active discussion in the LinkedIn group Star Jobs Professional Career Center about The Ladders.  It started with a simple question, "Anyone have positive results from ? How about their resume writing service?"  This group has over 34,000 members and has some lively discussions within the group. 

What struck me about this discussion was that as of today, there were 141 comments and only one was positive.  The comments pretty much universally said the resume service was unimpressive and overpriced, giving out generic resume advice you could get for a better value elsewhere.  Several stated that while The Ladders claims to have "exclusive" jobs that are not available on other sites, they found the same jobs, in fact more jobs, on and    Several people also commented on Execunet with the same complaints. 

One person out of the 139 comments did say he was happy with The Ladders, however, he had not found a job and it appeared he had not landed any interviews as a result of the site. 

My favorite comment is one that was posted today.  He said he had no results from The Ladders or ExecuNet and he tried The Ladders resume service (no comment from him on what he though of the result).  Then he said that several months later he sent the resume The Ladders did for him back to them for comment.  Their comment and advice was that it needed a lot of work!  That is too funny and at the same time very telling about what is going on there.  Bad enough that they trashed their own work, but worse that they didn't even bother to check to see if the person was a past customer.  That is customer service and CRM 101, check the relationship history FIRST.  Obviously the resume reviews are just being churned out with no real thought and just canned responses.   

Both The Ladders and Execunet have been around for many years and both claim to be highly exclusive membership only sites for executives earning over $100,000 per year and with experience in senior level positions.  Both sites post success stories and testimonials from happy users, however, I have never seen an statistics showing how many members actually get jobs, what the average job search time is for a member, what percentage of members are hired through their service, etc.  These stats may be available, if so I have not seen them., and have very low success rates for job seekers and I blogged about this in my blog "Why are You Wasting Your Time on and  I also blogged about JobFox in my blog "Jobfox, Exciting Concept, Disappointing So Far"  Both blogs point out that relying on these sites as your primary job search strategy will yield poor results, if any at all. 

I have always wondered if these sites were scams or for real.  I used both several years ago and I have to admit that I never landed an interview or even received a call from either site, let alone a job.  I was hesitant to blog about my experience alone, but when I saw 138 comments citing exactly what I experienced I felt it was worth posting and important to comment on. 

I welcome your comments on The and  and also welcome comments from both sites as well.

As always I wish you the best and brightest future,
Bill Grunau


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  • 8/24/2010 12:25 PM Nick Corcodilos wrote:
    Bill: Nice to see an engineer running a career site. My compliments. The industry can use the perspective. I started headhunting engineers in Palo Alto in 1979. I've written extensively about carny barkers like Jeff Taylor ( and Marc Cenedella (HotJobs, TheLadders) on Ask The Headhunter:

    You hit the nail on the head. These boards are rackets. TheLadders is the worst of them all.

    As an engineer, you probably recognize that what these racketeers are selling is not jobs but database access. But no databases that any DB admin would put their name on, because the data is crap.

    I think the root of the problem, however, lies with HR. Corporate personnel jockeys prop up these "job boards" with massive recruitment advertising dollars. Yet they reap less than 4% of their hires from any one of those boards!

    My only quibble with your post is that there's a distinction between Ladders, Monster and that paragon of the news industry, CareerBuilder on the one hand, and services like ExecuNet and Netshare. There are others in the latter category, but they are more like clubs than they are job boards. Both Netshare and ExecuNet provide extensive networking services and face to face meeting time with other members. From a marketing standpoint, these "clubs" walk more softly - they don't promise jobs. Likewise, they manually "clean" their listings. Both ExecNet and Netshare have been around since the 1980's - TheLadders is a very recent racket that's literally based on a carny-barker model. Just look at the drivel Cenedella sends out to his "members" via e-mail. (It's like being on a junkmail list and reading those 10,000-word "fliers" about get-rich programs.)

    That aside, what's important about your posting is that you hint at what's coming next. The pure job-board business is imploding and the databases are crumbling under the weight of all the garbage in them. I see investigations by state attorneys general, class action lawsuits, and (I hope) Congressional investigations. Last year alone, Monster sucked up $1.3 billion in recruiting dollars. Think about what that does to hiring in America.

    When an industry corrupts itself like that, you'll also find competitors sprouting who attempt to develop legitimate models. Check out, which claims to scrub its databases daily and to avoid anything but actual job listings from employers themselves. Time will tell whether they succeed, but I think LinkUp's mere existence validates the complaints you and I serve up about "the big boys."

    Keep up the nagging . But take a look at the distinction between the "clubs" and the job boards.

    Disclosure: I have no business or financial relationships with ExecuNet or Netshare, but I've done presentations to their members to expose the job board rackets. No job board has ever invited me to do that.

    Best to ya!
    Reply to this
    1. 8/24/2010 3:22 PM Bill Grunau wrote:
      Thanks for your comments Nick.  What I love about your blog and your comments is that you are direct and don't pull any punches.  Since you are a Recruiter, Headhunter, and have been in the business for a long time you have first hand experience and at the same time the perspective from the other side of the desk - the hiring side. 

      By the way, I referenced your blog, Ask the Headhunter, and your data in one of my previous blogs, Why Are You Wasting Your Time on and, Are You Crazy? 

      Thanks for your comments, always appreciated!
      All the best
      Bill Grunau
      Reply to this
    2. 8/13/2012 12:41 PM Lily wrote:
      Both Bill and Nick

      Thank you for your comments on The Ladders and others. Now I am going to send them to my spam file. Can you suggest some real good engineering job hunting sites for me too?

      Reply to this
  • 8/24/2010 2:10 PM Tim Tyrell-Smith wrote:
    Hey Bill -

    An interesting discussion. I personally do not put ExecuNet or Ladders in the "stealing money from job seekers" category. There are definitely some sites out there, however, that do not seem to have the job seeker's best interest in mind.

    I used the Ladders for six months back in 2007 and found some good value. I got a job interview and offer from a large technology company via their site. But the other months were very slow so I can see how job seekers might get frustrated. I have not used their resume service so I can't comment there. I recommend career experts on my site that I know do a great job whether they be resume writers or career coaches. Key is to find someone you can trust.

    In terms of ExecuNet, I think membership there offers great executive-level networking and some pretty good content. I'm doing a webinar for them in October (full disclosure).

    In the end, though, I encourage job seekers to discuss membership and paid job search options with people they trust. And to give each of these a try for themselves. ExecuNet has a free associate membership and Ladders will (I think) let you go month by month. Pretty low commitments to learn for yourself whether these services are right for you.

    Job seekers are right to be cautious. But not so cautious that they miss out on some real value.
    Reply to this
    1. 8/24/2010 3:31 PM Bill Grunau wrote:
      Thanks Tim for sharing your experience.  Believe it or not, so far you are only the second person sharing a positive experience.  As I said in the blog, the LinkedIn group comments have one positive comment out of over 145 now. 

      It is important to show both sides and as your experience is very different from the others it makes me wonder why was your experience so different?  Was it your background, your diligence, or tactics, or just luck (I really don't believe in that, but I suppose it happens). 

      One of the big complaints in the LinkedIn group was that most of the jobs on The Ladders were also on and - which puts their claim of exclusive jobs in serious question.  LinkedIn show which jobs are exclusive.  It would be nice if The Ladders and ExecuNet did the same and showed some data as to how many "exclusive" jobs are listed.  Perhaps they have this information shown now, the last time I looked this data was not available or shown. 

      Thanks again for posting.  I really appreciate you taking the time to post and especially since it is a different perspective and experience.

      All the best
      Bill Grunau
      Reply to this
      1. 8/24/2010 4:01 PM Tim Tyrell-Smith wrote:
        Well I think part is that complaints usually out pace compliments 10 to 1. Just human nature. More fun to complain.

        In terms of the Ladders, I had that one success which I attributed to my ability to connect directly with the recruiter. Something I could not do on Indeed or other pure aggregating sites. But that was one of the reasons I stopped paying - because Indeed was starting to show all the same listings for free that I was paying for . . .

        For some job seekers, one success like mine can justify an otherwise poor experience. i.e. "who cares where the lead comes/how expensive it was if you can start at the new job 4 weeks sooner?"

        I don't believe in that but as a job seeker you want results even if you have to slog through a few mud bogs to get them . . .

        Really appreciate Nick's comments as well . . .
        Reply to this
        1. 8/24/2010 4:36 PM Bill Grunau wrote:
          Your points are well taken, people are more likely to complain about something than respond about what a great experience it was and I agree that if a job board increases your odds of getting a job or shortens the process it is well worth the investment.

          It would be great if the job boards would publish their numbers - something I suggested in the blog - but I suspect it would not be flattering and would likely hurt, not help, their business.  I called it death by data.  So any meaningful data is not likely to be forthcoming from any of the job board sites. 

          At the end of the day I don't think a serious job seeker can ignore the job boards, BUT I really do think a smart job seeker will allocate their time across several job search methods and not exclusively job boards - especially in this job market.

          In a previous blog I talked about developing a plan and allocating time according to the priority and probability associated with that particular activity.  For example, networking and outreach should be a high priority, responding to blind ads and long shot job ads should be a low priority.  In fact, responding to long shot ads is a waste of time for both the job seeker and the employers - everyone should save each other a bunch of wasted time and just stop applying for positions that are clearly not a fit.

          Thanks again, your comments and views are appreciated as is the dialog.

          All the best
          Bill Grunau
          Reply to this
  • 10/20/2011 2:16 PM laddercentre wrote:
    Almost 50% of the people are saying that those companies (the ladder and Execunet) are scam. They just try to blend in due to recession. However, 50% of the remaining people are saying that they are genuine. But for me to play safer, just find a job without paying a big buck just to win one.
    Reply to this
    1. 10/20/2011 3:35 PM Bill Grunau wrote:
      I have the same experience.  I know several people that swear by Ladders and Execunet, and many others that have had poor experiences.  I suspect it depends on how diligent one is in using them and how hard one works at it.  
      Reply to this
  • 12/2/2011 6:01 AM Ladders wrote:
    I think it's a case of 50/50 if you ask me. But this is a good read anyway.
    Reply to this
  • 12/15/2011 8:41 AM Tim wrote:

    I was just laid off due to outsourcing. what is the best way in your opinion to get hired? I am an vp of branding and marketing specializing online with a proven track record.
    Reply to this
  • 1/15/2013 12:05 PM Pradeep wrote:
    Thanks for sharing your experience. I know any employer would like to cast as wide a net possible to attract good talent or hire a recruiting agency. I never believed in paying any person or agency to get job referrals. These sites are major rackets and prey upon people looking for employment. Thanks for sharing.
    Reply to this
  • 3/2/2013 9:38 AM Ken Radz wrote:
    Is Execunet a SCAM? I mistakenly got on their mailing list and now can't get off it!!
    Reply to this
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