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Marc Cenedella, President and CEO, TheLadders.com

Marc CenedellaMarc Cenedella is president and CEO of TheLadders.com, an executive job search service offering $100k+ sales, marketing and finance jobs.

A former senior executive at HotJobs.com, he founded TheLadders.com in July 2003 to address what he calls one of corporate America's biggest ironies: the more successful an individual, the harder it is to find solid information about new job opportunities.

The first in TheLadders.com family of sites, SalesLadder.com, attracted a following among sales executives who found its targeted focus and weekly e-newsletter format to be useful.

SalesLadder.com was soon followed by FinanceLadder.com and Ladder.com, which specialize in the finance and marketing sectors. The latest introduction is UpLadder.com, specializing in operations, HR, technology and law jobs.

TheLadders.com places 20,000 new jobs each month for inclusion in its weekly newsletters.

Internetnews.com spoke with Cenedella about the online job search market.

Q: How is the Ladders.com different from other high-end job-search service sites?

There really isn't anyone else catering to the six-figure job market. Our model is different than other sites because it is free for companies to fill jobs as long as they are at least 100k+.

That does a couple things. First the cover charge keeps out inappropriate applicants. When Monster.com or HotJobs.com offer a position it is free for clients to apply but the recruiter then gets swamped with resumes. Recruiters say, "My God, stop posting the jobs." We were designed to solve that problem. By charging [job seekers] $25 month, recruiters don't get overwhelmed.

Q: Is that what you mean when you say there was too much clutter in the job market? How was it cluttered and how has TheLadders.com helped change that?

Yes. Because we are not charging those posting the positions, it reduces the number of applicants. Someone who makes $20,000 or $30,000 per year isn't likely going to pay $25 a month to send out resumes for jobs they aren't qualified for. We don't accept money from both because we don't want to be conflicted. It reduces the clutter.

Q: As an executive with HotJobs did you notice this niche was underexploited?

Exactly. I was senior vice president of finance and operations at HotJobs.com. In online development I got to see some great ideas and some bad ideas. Some features are really cool and there is a whole bunch of different things there, but I began to realize the $100k+ market was not served by anybody.

What really crystallized it was when HotJobs.com was sold to Yahoo and I spent six months traveling around the globe. When I came back I was getting a lot of questions from former classmates who were having trouble locating jobs. Where do I look for a VP of marketing or VP of strategy job? I realized there was a huge opportunity.

The job market is an information market just like investment and real estate. However, it is the only market in which the better off you are the worse your access to information is. If you are wealthy and looking to buy a house or investment money, you have access to information on how and where to do that. In the job market you don't. A waitress can go look in the Village Voice, but there aren't any jobs in there for VPs.

Where does the VP of sales strategies go? It is an odd feature of the market. The trouble is the positions are hidden out there and there is no place for high-end users to go.

Q: Why do these skilled and educated candidates still have trouble finding positions for more than $100k?

An interesting thing I heard over and over was they don't want to post their resumes online because their boss will find it. I'll tell people find me one professional-level person who has been let go because a resume was online. It doesn't happen. If you get fired the boss wanted to whack you anyway. If you're good the boss is going to be concerned and likely find a way to keep you.

We average 14 high-quality candidates per 100k+ job listing. If you think about it, we are a market place like eBay. Some markets are very very active and some are not.

Q: Is TheLadders.com generating a profit?

TheLadders recently secured $7.25 million in expansion capital. We are building up our team right now. Prior to that there were cash positives.

Q: What type of initial investment did it take to get the site rolling?

An interesting thing happened when I first had the idea. I went to three developers who said it would take three months and cost $30,000 for a prototype. Instead I went out and bought PHP and MySQL books for $350 bucks and built it in three weeks. The company just hired Alain Benzaken as vice president of technology to help take us to the next level.