Thursday, May 15, 2008

Posting a Resume on The Ladders

As part of my research on how resumes are processed online, I joined The Ladders as if I were a job seeker. I chose a free membership, although there were paid membership packages available with deluxe features I didn’t need for my research.

My experience joining The Ladders entailed filling out an online form to create my Ladders Bio, which included my resume. Following is an account of my experience.

After entering my name and email address into the required fields, I was asked to choose to either:
1. Upload my resume by using the system’s browser to search my hard drive and click on a Word or text version of my resume.
2. Create a bio by filling in a lengthy online form that involves choosing information from pull-down menus and typing (or copying and pasting) information into windows.

I created my bio both ways, for the sake of comparison.

Option #1: Upload My Resume
When I used option #1, I easily uploaded the MS Word version of my resume, but I was not given the opportunity to see the results of my upload until later in the process.

The next step took me to an online form to create my bio. Among the many questions was one that asked for “Years of Work Experience,” which had an asterisk next to it, meaning it’s a required field. if I had chosen not to answer that question, I wouldn’t have been allowed to continue with the membership. Although this made me worry about age discrimination, I entered “24 years” and continued.

Later I was asked for salary information (another piece of info I'm hesitant to give an employer too early in the game) but the question did not require an answer, so I left that field blank.

Finally I came to the page where I saw my completed bio, which is what The Ladder’s recruiters see. On the screen was my information, taken from the fields I had entered manually and from the resume I had uploaded.

In the largest window on the screen, appeared the body of my resume. It had been dumped into the field as one paragraph in Plain Text, which I could then reformat, using the space bar and the menu functions for bullets, indents, bold, and italics. The system had selected only the Experience section from my uploaded resume – it did not include the Heading, Job Objective, Summary of Qualifications, or Education sections. By the way my experience had been entered, I could tell the program was set up for a traditional chronological resume. Because I use a combination (chronological and functional) resume, I had to rearrange the text within the limits of the system. In other words, I could customize the format to my liking, but it took a little extra work.

After reworking my resume within the system, here’s what the body of my resume looked like:

1989-pres. Author and Resume Professional
Publications and TV
• Authored four books, each about 300 pages. (Alpha Books) The Complete Idiots Guide to the Perfect Resume (now in 4th edition), The Complete Idiots Guide to the Perfect Cover Letter, The Complete Idiots Guide to Cool Jobs for Teens, Get a Better Job the Lazy Way.
• Created Resumes That Work, a CD-ROM featuring interactive resume, cover letter, interview, and salary negotiation coaching. (Macmillan Digital)
• Self-published Ready-Made Resumes and Cover Letters, which is sold to job seekers as downloadable software and licensed to organizations.
• Former editor of Resume Pro Newsletter, published by Yana Parker for career development professionals.
• Featured in segments of "Career Advantage," a 26-part telecourse distributed by PBS and syndicated to colleges nationwide.
• Interviewed for national and regional TV, radio, and print media.

Resume Writing
• Worked individually with more than 1,000 clients in three-hour sessions to create personalized resumes - not boiler-plate forms.
• Wrote resumes for diverse careers and levels of employment: executive and middle management, academic, technical, and trade.
• Manage Susan Ireland's Resume Team (also called The Damn Good Resume Team), a national resume writing service.

• Presented hundreds of resume writing workshops and lectures at career centers, universities, professional conferences, and corporations.
• Former resume instructor and counselor at Alumnae Resources Career Center, which received more than 100,000 client-visits a year.
• Led train-the-trainer resume workshops for federally funded One-Stop Centers and as part of professional seminars by Yana Parker.

The small print at the bottom of the window holding the text from my resume said this window had a 6,000-character limit. My resume had a little more than 4,000 characters, so it fit comfortably within the limit. However, I can see where some job seekers’ resumes (especially two-pagers for executive management folks with lots of experience) might easily need more than 6,000 characters.

Option #2: Create a Bio
Once I had used Option #1 (upload my resume), the system would not let me change my mind and use Option #2: Create a bio using The Ladders online form without uploading a resume. So I created another account under an alias so I could experiment with option #2.

This experience was similar to option #1 except there were more questions to answer and the program functioned like a resume builder, asking about each place of employment and its corresponding dates (which insisted that I include months as well as years!). For some of these fields, it made sense to copy and paste sections from my MS Word document and then adjust the formatting so it looked presentable.

For both options #1 and #2, I was offered the following:
- The opportunity to preview and edit my bio, even after it was submitted.
- The option to make my name and company name "Confidential" to recruiters.
- Encouragement to pack my resume with keywords so recruiters would find my resume for relevant job openings, using the system’s keyword search capability.
- An online record of my job search activity on The Ladders that I can view whenever I want. This record gives me up-to-date info on how many recruiters have viewed my bio and who those recruiters are.
- Emails from recruiters who are interested in me as a candidate for jobs they are seeking to fill.

To summarize, joining The Ladders was not a difficult task but it required attention to detail, especially with regards to reformatting the resume once it was uploaded to the system. The good news is that it uploaded without the system scrambling characters such as bullet points, ampersands, and quotation marks in the text. The not-so-good news is that I had to spend quite some time reformatting and proofing the resume once it was in the system. This last step of reformatting opened me up to the possibility of creating errors (perhaps typos that would otherwise have been caught by my spellchecker in MS Word), which would then make a bad impression on an employer.

Since joining The Ladders about a month ago, The Ladders has been quite attentive to me. I get several emails a week – some emails contain career advice and new job listings; others are advertisements to upgrade my membership to one with a monthly fee or for one of their revenue generating services. Because I’m not really seeking a job, I haven’t responded to any of the job notices and, therefore, cannot speak to the process beyond the initial membership application.


Richard Jennings said...

I just read an article on Venture Beat about a site a new career site that doesnt use resumes but some kind os skill tags. Here's the article:

Anonymous said...

I paid to have my resume professionally written by The Ladders and buyers beware! They never delivered a resume and rip me off to the tune of $650+.

MGoBlue93 said...

I too have been scammed by the resume service on the Ladders. It all starts with a resume critique -- which will look impressive, until you realize that 95% is the same thing that everyone else receives... see this link ( for a reprint of the 95% duplication.

You'll then receive a worksheet to provide the resume writers with material. This worksheet is so bush-league, words can not do justice to how amateur and unprofessional this process is:

1. The resume critique will rip you to shreds (which is okay) -- they'll pepper the critique and future correspondence with smileys so not to hurt anyone's feelings.

2. The worksheet they send will say "Please email your old resume with your completed worksheet." Huh, don't you already have it? How did you do the critique then?

3. The worksheet will also say, "so I have everything from you in one email". Huh? You cannot attach multiple documents from the Ladders website. Clients cannot send everything in one email!

4. The worksheet might as well have been developed in crayon. There is such a mix of font sizes, styles, highlighting, tabs, and paragraph marks that it makes me car sick just trying to work with it. One would think that for $600+ that this orgnaization could put together a form with data entry fields and a consistent flow of text.

5. After you send the worksheet in, they will send you follow-up questions. They make it seem like the questions are custom tailored to your worksheet responses. They're not... the follow up questions are the same questions they send to all their clients.

When you receive your resume, you'll find that you wrote it. Yep... about 95% of the text on your $600+ resume is taken directly from: your old resume (which mind you was ripped to shreds during the resume critique), your worksheet, and your responses to the phony "follow-up" questions.

Marc Cenedella has quite a racket going... dupe people on a job search into spending over $600 for the privilege re-writing their OWN resume. To be fair, the website appears to be honest and provide a valuable service -- but the resume writing aspect of The Ladders is nothing but a SCAM!!!

Anonymous said...

mgoblue93 - thank you...I was just wondering about this since I just joined the ladders. Thanks again for the heads up!

kglaser said...

I am so glad I read this!! I just received the critique on my resume and naturally it was "weak and ineffective". They want $645 to re-write my resume. Thanks for saving me money! Any suggestions on another reputable company to use?

Susan Ireland said...

Accolois reputable. You can read about my interview with John Younger, its president.

jim gregory said...

Another good company is I know several people who've used them and were very satisfied. Cheaper than the Ladders, too.

Godzilla said...

Wow! I am so glad I read this. I received my "Critique" in my inbox yesterday after joining the Ladders. I used a document that has earned be several interviews and jobs. I had to laugh when I was told it was weak. My rework will cost me $850.00. For that price I should receive several versions first. Then I should be able to choose what version of the resume that I want to represent me. If I am going to spend almost $1K on a resume, it better be spectacular and guarantee salary and results! I am never going to spend money on a resume when I have so many friends I can rely upon for excellent advice. No my friend, that is not wise. I realize that there may be a need to re-write my resume for a target job, but not for almost $1K ($850). That is just a ridiculous amount.

Anonymous said...

Here’s the best/worst part about I recently read an email that was sent to me by them assuring me that not only does screen the careers being posted to ensure they are all $100K+ jobs but they also screen the memebers who apply to a posting. If you submit your resume and cover letter and one of the employee resume reviewers at decides you aren’t qualified enough for a position, they won’t forward your resume on to the job posting … and here’s the best part … they WON’T tell you your resume wasn’t sent to the job posting. So you’re basically paying $30/month on the CHANCE that you MIGHT be applying to a career posting … they’ll take your money … they just might not be providing you with the service you think you’re buying !! …. TOTAL SCAM !!!

Anonymous said...

Salary is one thing, but the sheer arrogance of "The Ladders" concept, including "only $100,000 talent" is such garbage. Besides, how intelligent can one be if they need those guys to write their resume?! Anyone can research that on the net.
How about calling the site SnobSearch?

Anonymous said...

I'm a VP in Marketing and was solicited by many years ago before they started advertising. As job-seekers, we all know how uncertain it is to send a resume and have it yield results. So it should rightly make you feel that is scamming you by asking you for monthly fees to access their job ads. I remember many years ago posting my resume on their site. I can't tell you how difficult it was to unsubscribe to their awful newsletters. Basically, did not allow you opt-out which is ILLEGAL. They also do a very devious job in concealing their contact info, so you are stuck if you want to cancel your account/stop the emails like I did. I think is a scam company and I do not recommend anyone to support it by posting resumes or job ads.

Anonymous said...

The Ladders is simply filling up muy in box with upgrade solicitations. Every "match" they email me does NOT actually link to the listing but insted links directly to the "upgrade" page and I have yet to find the actual content of their listings. For that they want a minimum of $30 bucks. I have told them point blank that they are a scam and they reply with any number of form letters "justifying" their sites business model. All in all I will call them a FRAUD and a SCAM site and let them try and sue me if they so choose

Anonymous said...

Totally agree with previous comments. They play on emotions and thinking they can attract the elite with 100k+ jobs only ... look elsewhere or work with one professional recuiter locally.

Anonymous said...

this service is worthless (for everyone but Marc that is). claims are overinflated, pestering emails from so called "professionals" for resume and career services, and worst of all, the listings are recycled on a regular basis to give the appearance that new jobs are being posted.

most of the postings just take you away from the Ladders anyway to the companies career section on their website or to yet another middle man resume service like Taleo or something. what is the point other than making Marc rich? just go directly to the companies you want to work for and cut out as many people in the middle as possible.

Anonymous said...

Had I read all of the postings on The Ladders, I would not have used them. My bad. My resume has obtained many interviews and the critique offered the same battle of the ping-pong table by don't offer too much versus here it all is and hope it gets pinged in a search.

Anonymous said...

The Ladders seems to be a complete scam to me - A fascia for a Resume Writing Service.....

The advice is almost always totally inane. Where do they find the oysters to write the "advice" the give?

Anonymous said...

I am glad I ran across this. Here is some more fodder for buyer beware of Ladders.

I have a resume that I paid a national recognized Certified Resume writer to write prior to getting my last position. The individual is published and has done remarkable work. I also paid a reasonable price (less than Ladders wants to charge).

The result: Ladders ripped that resume - with the same types of comments posted in this string.

I advised the Ladders that it was a professionally written resume, design and content is completely subjective to the reader, and what could they do that a national recognized and published CPRW hasn't already done.

....I'll keep to my present format....

Anonymous said...

I signed up for the free stuff. Did not buy the rewrite on my resume. I read some of the BS on the web site. They made it sound like your resume was being reviewed by a pro and they would work with you to find a job. I see that is not the case.

Thanks guys

kd said...

I have subscribed to TheLadders for about a year. I am a veteran sales professional with technical account management and district sales management experience. I have been a top sales professional with solid, consistent achievements for 13 years. I paid TheLadders LOTS OF MONEY to rewrite my resume. I have NOT ONCE been contacted regarding one of their job postings in which I applied - including the postings where I am dead-on qualified. These postings cannot be real and this site is a scam and a waste of money.

Whatever flowery remarks that Marc Candella places on this site cannot substantiate the true job searchers experience.

Learn from my mistakes – do not sign up for anything on this site – I am in the process of canceling my subscription as soon as I can dig through their website to figure out how.

Evelyn Salvador, NCRW, JCTC said...

I've read the above comments and have heard similar stories about The Ladders before. The National Resume Writers' Association ( is the premier resume writing organization in the world, and it takes a lot of professional resume writing knowledge and expertise to pass their certification exam to become a Nationally Certified Resume Writer (NCRW)--the most difficult in the world.

Why am I telling you this? Because there are only a handful of resume writers (31 of us to be exact) who have passed their certification exam to date. Two of the NRWAs past Presidents (who are also NCRWs) have been the recipient of The Ladders tearing their clients' resumes apart.

After reading the critiques that bashed the resumes they created, I found that the information they provided was not only subjective, but it was often inaccurate and incorrect.

I'm going to try to be proactive here. If someone can give me Marc Cenedella's email address, I'd like to forward two things to him that will help The Ladders' prospective clients and those of us (professional resume writers) who DO KNOW what we are doing...

I have created three versions of a Resume Critique Form that takes the subjective out of the objective and WEIGHS and grades a job seeker's existing resume components against specific criteria of an excellent resume. I've shared it with other resume writers who find it comprehensive and a fair approach to critique resumes. I'd like The Ladders to use it so that this atrocity can finally stop.

Through my site, I am going to offer my Career Worksheets For All Professions product to The Ladders so that the type of comments I've read above can be eliminated insofar and their clients can receive a targeted resume worksheet that IS specific to the their profession (it covers 2900 positions).

Does anyone think that either of these two things might help The Ladders, and more importantly their clients AND the resume writers whose excellent resumes they tear apart???

Would love to hear!
Evelyn Salvador, NCRW, JCTC
Author of Groundbreaking Resume and Career Products
Creative Image Builders
P: 631-698-7777

mcc said...

Beware if you sign up with They will continue to charge your credit card even after you've asked them to cancel your account. I've been on the phone with them on three different occasions where they've assured me my account is cancelled, and the very next month the $30 charge shows up again on my cc!

I've reached the conclusion they run a scam-type operation that are probably making a ton of money by taking advantage of people this way. I guess my next step is the Federal Trade Commission.

Melissa Paulik said...

Maybe I'm the only one with a halfway decent experience with the Ladders. I did use their resume writing service prior to leaving my current position last summer. I could have written my own resume but didn't have the time. I also wanted to see what a "professional" could do. I didn't use their final product as is, but I didn't expect to. They gave me a resume that was about 90%what I wanted. I just polished up the rest so it would make sense to my target audience and to ensure that it was absolutely accurate.

While I was a member of the Ladders I actively sent my resume to recruiters and applied to a position. I did have one really great contact with a recruiter where it came down to me and another finalist.

I don't recall getting contacted by any of the jobs I sent my resume to, but I didn't use the service for too long since I found my perfect job on LinkedIn after being in the market for only a couple of months. (that was last summer before things really went south.)

I had signed up for a year and once I stopped interacting with the Ladders, nothing came of it. It's not really a service that is designed for passive job seekers. That's probably my one disappointment. It's good to keep opportunities open if you know what I mean.

Finally, what I liked best was that I didn't have to wade through all the inappropriate (for me) positions that you get when you sign up for some of the major job boards. My weekly Ladders alerts only included positions in marketing and at roughly my level of experience.

All in all, I'd give it a 7 out of 10.

All the best!


Anonymous said...

Count me among the dissatisfied. TheLadders advertised two jobs in my city, neither of which paid anywhere near the promised six-figure salary. Today they whacked me with a surprise $75 auto-renew ... and when I complained, they sent me a form letter noting that customers love the auto-renew feature. I will now set out to tell the world how arrogant and ineffective these people are.

Anonymous said...

I saw a job posting that looked interesting but, of course, you can't actually view it unless you subscribe. Instead of subscribing, I checked that company's website. Lo and behold, they didn't have the job listed. At best, the ladders is not up to date, is unreliable and is likely useless. At worst, it's a complete scam.

Suzan said...

I also got hit with the auto-renewal policy. Since I initially signed up for 3 months (I assumed one month wasn't a fair analysis of their services), they renewed for the same period! I didn't realize it until my credit card statement arrived. No email was sent to warn me. They are unwilling to charge me only for one additional month but just said they would cancel when my subscription ran out in Oct.! What a scam, taking advantage of out of work people with this autorenewal policy! If the service is so good, they shouldn't have to worry if they sent an email to inform you of the upcoming renewal.

Evelyn Salvador, NCRW, JCTC said...

Wow, Susan, I'm sorry to hear that. I'm writing because not 10 minutes ago I found out I was scammed (not The Ladders, but a firm called Money Masters, aka aka I looked at my online bank statement and was hit for $49.84 when I signed up for a $1.95 Google kit. The site and the people you speak with say they represent Google, but they actually do not.

And a year-and-a-half ago when I was going through a year-long illness, Video Professor scammed me after signing up for their free viedeo where you only pay for S&H. Each month they continued to charge me $69 to $129 for a total of close to $700! I wasn't able to check my bank account statements back then and could only recoup about $250 because they were still charging me. The sad part is they're still in business and still advertising!

I know this is off-topic, but I just wanted to put a word out there to the general public to be aware of what you sign up for and ALWAYS immediately check your monthly account statements. The one that hit me today did not say anything about canceling within 7 days (whereas I still haven't received my so-called product BTW) and charging me monthly. Since it sounded like it was from Google which we all know is reputable, I didn't even think to read the Terms and Conditions. When I asked if they worked for Google, they hung up on me (after telling me I am foolish to use my credit card online). Wow. But I've learned a hard lesson. Beware.

Evelyn Salvador, NCRW, JCTC

Anonymous said...

They have the coolest monster commercial. That speaks volumes. I proudly spend $30 for the privilege to have this firm manage my job seeking. I have been with them through thick and thin (about 5 years), confident they'll get me that job, so I can start working again!

Angie Jones said...

As a Certified Professional Resume Writer that subcontracts for TheLadders I will admit that their critique process is flawed. However, I have to disagree with regard to the quality of their resumes. They currently provide their writers some of the best training in the industry.

In order to write for TheLadders one must successfully complete the rigorous training provided by renowned industry expert "Wendy Enelow". They have also very recently begun certfying their writers through The Resume Writing Academy.

Professor said...

A Wise Recruiter once told me: "If they want you to pay money upfront to find you a job - they are going to rip you off!"

The Ladders follows exactly that example. You pay them, they give you nothing but a bill for the next payment, and a solicitation to upgrade your account to the next higher costing level.

A fool is born every minute - and someone to take advantage of those fools is born every day.

Anonymous said...

I heard about The Ladders when it first started several years ago. I checked it out and couldn't believe they wannted to charge you to use their service! THE LADDERS IS A RIP OFF. I have had 5 100K jobs in the last 20 years and have never paid a headhunter a job site. I have paid a professional resume writer, which was an excellent investment. Many of the jobs on The Ladders are Scam too. They don't really pay $100K they just say you could make $100K, but their base is $30K or less in many cases. I was convinced when I first ran into these guys that the only people that will use this service is a sucker who doesn't know any better.

Anonymous said...

I "took advantage" of the free resume critique from The Ladders. I've sent out this same resume to 3 prospective employers, which has landed me 2 interviews so far (with both those opportunities still progressing through the process) . . yet The Ladders ripped the resume to shreds and made it sound as though it was the most pathetic thing they have ever seen. So, they've lost all credibility with me and I'm sure not going to pay $695 for their "professional resume writing" service.

Anonymous said...

Good comparison of reasonably priced services at cutting-edge. I used cutting-edge, him an he was pretty good. Actually I goy mad because he really pushed me for info but now I see he was right. Oprah is his reference!

Anonymous said...

I sent my old resume to the theladders 6 months ago. It was old style, bullet points, etc. They tried to sell me the $650 resume job. I then showed it to a lady who works in my school's MBA office (top 15 school, I'm an alum). She said it was one of the worst resumes she had ever seen! She said she would teach me to do it over time, but I opted to just pay her to completely re-do it for $350 (I hate doing it). After, I tweaked it a little. Just curious, I submitted it to theladders 6 months later and told them I wrote it :). I was really expecting them to find things wrong with it and solicit me for the $650 job, but they critiqued it and said it was awesome! I was shocked, to say the least, especially since I've read all kinds of stuff bashing them and their resume service on forums, etc. Crazy world we live in, huh. What does this mean? Yes, they are a business and want your money. But chances are, your resume sucks. Have someone look at it who knows about such things and will give you an honest opinion. Don't trap yourself in a bubble that you know everything. I'm an awesome sales executive, but I knew I was weak in this area. Are you a hiring manager/ HR person? Know when to admit you need help and get it, from someone if not from

Carrie said...

Who has a sample of a resume that ladders said was awesome? I'd love to see something like this.

Sarah said...

Here’s the best/worst part about I recently read an email that was sent to me by them assuring me that not only does screen the careers being posted to ensure they are all $100K+ jobs but they also screen the memebers who apply to a posting. If you submit your resume and cover letter and one of the employee resume reviewers at decides you aren’t qualified enough for a position, they won’t forward your resume on to the job posting … and here’s the best part … they WON’T tell you your sample resume wasn’t sent to the job posting. So you’re basically paying $30/month on the CHANCE that you MIGHT be applying to a career posting … they’ll take your money … they just might not be providing you with the service you think you’re buying !!

socallivin said...

My experience with Ladders has been very positive. I am getting a lot of great references for positions and HR Managers of companies are contacting me directly with positions. This is by far the best service, no "anonymous" views and very applicable search results. I know how to write a resume and Ladders did a free review and offered improvements which I made, I did not pay for resume writing.

socallivin said...

Ladders is by far the best job search engine for me, and I have tried them all LinkedIn, Monster, Indeed, and several others, here's why:
1. NO "anonymous" views, I see who made a view when it was made
2. HR Managers of hiring companies contact me directly with positions
3. Relevant opportunities show up on my dashboard every day.
4. The site tracks all applied for positions

I am a premium member of linkedin and I am now finding that I am using the Ladders exclusively. I had an interview yesterday and several real opportunities through direct contacts with prospective employers. This is the best no-nonsense site around.

I did not use their paid for service for resume writing, but I did use their free feedback and took the advice which was a significant improvement and enough to get the phone ringing.