A Six-Figure Job Guaranteed--Or Your Money Back?

Last Updated Jun 29, 2011 10:20 AM EDT

Give us $2,500, and we'll get you a six-figure job. That's the promise made by the new Signature program from theladders.com. And if it sounds too good to be true, well, there's a saying about that. Unless you have $2,500 to burn (actually, $2,495), you'll want to be very careful before taking them up on their offer.

The Ladders is a job board that specializes in positions paying $100,000 or more. Now it's claiming that its $2,495, six-month coaching service will get you a job offer worth at least $100,000-or your money back. But what if it's for a job you don't want or couldn't take?

Every successful coach, of course, requires a motivated trainee. If you're not motivated, The Ladders has a bunch of stipulations to make sure you at least act as if you are. To be eligible for the guarantee, you have to attend seven sessions with a career coach, complete an evaluation, and, after the first 60 days, apply to six 'well-fitted' positions a month. If you still don't get at least one offer for at least $100,000, The Ladders will refund your money.

Moving to-or from--Peoria
Here's the first catch: What, exactly, is a "well-fitted" job? To qualify as well-fitted, The Ladders says a job has meet your goals in three of these five criteria:
  1. Location
  2. Industry
  3. Contact
  4. Skill Set
  5. Function
So, as I read it, if you're living in Atlanta, and a job in your industry, using your skill set, comes to you through a contact in Anchorage, you're expected to interview for it, and, if successful, pack up and go (or forfeit your $2,495).

Some people, especially those who have been out of work for a long time, may be perfectly willing to do that. It seems they're also the ones least likely to be able to front the money for this program. That being said, I once interviewed an HR manager who was trying to find jobs for about 200 people who had been laid-off from her company's New York offices. Any of them were welcome to keep their jobs if they moved to the company's Midwestern headquarters. If they moved, they could keep their New York salaries. I lived near New York at the time, I knew roughly how much this woman made, and I saw pictures of her house. To me, it seemed like you could live like a king on a New York salary in this part of the country. And out of nearly 200 laid-off people, how many applied for jobs at headquarters? Last I heard, exactly two.

Playing the Odds
Still, if you're willing to move to-or from-Peoria, consider what Susan Adams, writing for Forbes.com, has to say about Signature before you fork over your money:
  • The Ladders approves "selected" participants to be part of the program. Those may be the ones who already have the best chance of finding a six-figure gig. Career-changers need not apply.
  • The Ladders CEO, Mark Cenedella, says the Signature program can reduce the amount of time you need to spend job-hunting to four hours a week. Adams thinks that's unrealistic.
  • The Ladders claims Signature has a 90 percent success rate so far-but 75% of those in the pilot group already had a job. And we all know it's easier to find a job if you have a job.
Then there's the fact that when Adams asked to interview a successful participant in Signature, her arrangement for an exclusive about the new service was hastily cancelled. Make of that what you will. Or better yet, read Cenedella's blog post about the service, and the rather pointed comments from job-seekers.

Do you think $2,500--up front--for a good-paying job is a fair deal, even if that job's in another city? Or is it too risky and expensive for someone without a job?

RELATED Image courtesy flickr user Mykl Roventine
Kimberly Weisul is a freelance writer, editor and editorial consultant. Follow her on twitter at www.twitter.com/weisul.
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    Kimberly Weisul is the co-founder of One Thing New, the free email newsletter for smart, busy women. She was previously Senior Editor at BusinessWeek, responsible for all coverage of entrepreneurship and for launching BusinessWeek SmallBiz, a bimonthly magazine. She is also a freelance writer, editor and editorial consultant.

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