At least once a week, I get asked 'should I sign up for the Ladders?

I keep meaning to answer it and haven't yet. But then I saw that in today's post, Laurie, aka The Cynical Girl, vents about the Ladders business model, reminding me that I still haven't addressed the subject. She has this message for job seekers:

If you are a job seeker and you want to earn $100,000 or more, don't throw good money after bad. If you are willing to spend some cash to find a job, skip The Ladders and invest in a great job coach or career advisor. You need someone who can help you optimize your search. Email me and I will give you the names of my friends who will help. Also, don't be a dumbass.

And as she goes on to say, the jobs posted on The Ladders are also available on other job boards such as LinkUp.com - entirely for free!

She's right about The Ladders but I don't blame you for considering using them. Let's face it - very few of us know how to look for work. We leave college and we get a job, and then somehow we keep getting jobs. We apply to ads in on the Internet, we hand out resumes to people we know, an old boss calls us up and offers us a position ... the years pass by and somehow we muddle through.

But muddling through is all we were ever doing, and when the economy tanks and there are fewer jobs to go round, we suddenly find ourselves clueless about which way to turn. No wonder then that so many people are willing to sign up for a service like the Ladders, or get taken in by a fake 'resume critique' from Job Fox. We don't know any other way.

This is a subject that's on my mind a lot lately as I'm writing a self-study course to help job seekers navigate the unfamiliar waters of a job search. It's not finished yet, but Laurie's 100% right that there are other options. A good career coach can help you work out a clear job search strategy, and also provide structure and accountability as you work through the process. If you can afford the initial investment, it will pay you back in a very short time.

If you can't afford to spend money on a coach, research the free job boards and use those. Then spend the rest of your time reading career advice blogs and books to learn all the other techniques you could be using to look for a job.