“If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.”

That’s what my mother always told me, growing up.  I’m not sure, though, whether she’s updated this cardinal rule to keep in step with the times.  For example, even if I continue to refrain from saying bad things about somebody else myself, is it considered acceptable etiquette — here in 2011 — to cross-post a link from another blogger who is not quite as hung up on being polite and politically correct?

I guess I could call my mom and find out, but it’s late, and she’s probably already in bed.  So I’m just going to go for it.  And in terms of the cross-posting issue, I’m referring, of course, to one of my favorite fellow bloggers, Nick Corcodilos.  Nick continues to act as the “Ralph Nader” of the career services industry, advising job hunters on how to avoid fraudulent career sites and services seeking to exploit professionals during these difficult times.

Here’s one of his latest postings, continuing his long-running crusade against the high-profile executive job site, TheLadders.com:

http://corcodilos.com/blog/2560/whorin-around-with-theladders

Now please understand that the views expressed in the above article are Nick’s thoughts on the matter, not my own, and that he seems to take this stuff much more personally than I do.  Which is what many of us love about him.  But I think his opinion on this matter is well worth noting, since people continue to ask me all the time about sites like TheLadders and whether they’re a smart investment.  All I can say is that in the 15-ish years that the Internet has been a dominant force in the hiring market, and out of all the job hunters I know who have subscribed to this site, and similar fee-based employment services, I can’t think of a single instance — not one — where somebody reported landing an interview, much less a bonafide job offer, based on a lead that one of these “exclusive” services provided.

Sure, people have fired off resumes on occasion in response to some of the advertisements they spot via these sites.  But the funny thing is that they never seem to hear anything back.  Ever.  Which calls into question how legit these leads really are, especially the “company confidential” ones that can never be officially verified.  And an investment in this type of site seems even more dubious when you combine the quasi-empirical evidence above with the fact that a) most people aren’t willing to relocate, making it senseless to pay for job leads from all over the country; and b) the other basic question of why a company would ONLY advertise on this single website, versus running the same lead on several (freely searchable) sites as well, in order to maximize their pool of qualified applicants.

All I can say is buyer beware and to keep your guard up when you encounter any career service promising a quick fix, a magic bullet, or any sort of “hidden” or “exclusive” leads of any kind.  Especially if they contact YOU, proactively.  That’s always a huge red flag.  Sure, we should all keep our mind open a crack, just in case some terrific and revolutionary career website actually does get invented one day.  But in the meantime, never forget that you’re dealing with a completely unregulated industry, folks, and as much as it turns my stomach, I can assure you there are lots of shrewd operators out there who wouldn’t lose an ounce of sleep at night by fleecing anxious job hunters from the last few dollars in their pocketbook.

So I think Nick’s got this one right.  And if any of you out there have ever subscribed to TheLadders or a similar fee-based site, I’d greatly appreciate hearing your comments about the experience — of either the negative or positive variety.  Like I said, I have nothing personal against these sites.  They just don’t seem to deliver what they promise, from everything I’ve observed, calling into question whether it’s worth hundreds of dollars a year to sign up for them…