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Catching Up with Michael Shafrir, ‘The Ladders’ Part 2

Posted on April 1, 2008
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By Dave Mendoza, Master Cybersleuth, Affiliate Partner, JobMachine Inc.
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Q & A with Michael Shafrir (continued)

Six Degrees: What types of training are available to you and have you taken advantage of?

Michael Shafrir: “We took an incredible trip to Tokyo, Japan in September 2006. The purpose was to observe and learn from Japanese customer service experts. The Japanese have an incredible way of feeling that you, the customer, are weak and in need of their help. It’s not done in a patronizing way either. When you shop in their store, or utilize their service, or eat in their restaurant you are treated like a god. Indeed, in America we say “The customer is always right” (but don’t always act that way) while in Japan it’s “The customer is god.” We continue to take the trips (sending a new group of managers each time) at a huge expense to the company. But this huge expense is paid back every time one of our associates interacts with a jobseeker or recruiter. You can’t measure the return on investment of great customer service, but having seen our company grow from almost the beginning I can say confidently that our customer service is a competitive advantage.”

Six Degrees: Practice makes perfect, that said, tell us about your worst mistake, biggest goof, lousiest practice you thought would fly but didn’t…and how that was a learning experience.

Michael Shafrir: “I was a big proponent of recruitment advertising (banners and such). It turned out to be too unfocused on our core offering and value proposition – we exist to create direct connections between $100k+ jobseekers and $100k+ recruiters. It never really took off.”

Six Degrees: How do you personally expect to facilitate change within our industry, and/or at your place of work?

Michael Shafrir: “We place a huge emphasis on the interactions between jobseeker and recruiter. What we’ve found is that even creating that first interaction is difficult, especially if it’s a recruiter telling a jobseeker “no.” It’s a huge problem that a job application is the one application you can send where there’s no expectation of a response from either side. Think about it – when you apply to college, or a mortgage, or a credit card, you always hear back, even if the answer is “no.” Why should job applications be any different? So we’ve taken a stance against this “black hole” problem and are working on a variety of solutions, both technologically based and human-interaction based. It’s an enormous challenge.”

Six Degrees: What practice are you are most proud of developing (now or in the past) in your recruiting career?

Michael Shafrir: “A commitment to learning about our industry. Being able to talk intelligently to both internal and external clients about the latest industry trends and developments is a real plus to my career.”

Six Degrees: What are some of the frustrating aspects/obstacles to your day to day at TheLadders?

Michael Shafrir: “A dependence on how things have always been done. Working at such a fast-paced company in a relatively slow-moving industry and customer base.”

Six Degrees: What are the most common themes of strategic and/or tactical mishaps involving past or present HR/Staffing org (No need to mention who or what company) which routinely undermined staffing team moral and efficiency?

Michael Shafrir: “Applicant tracking systems that don’t work or aren’t in-tune with an agile recruiting approach. Individual recruiters not recognizing the value of a response and the negative effect a lack of response has a company’s employment brand. The number of employers that say “I have no idea” when you ask them what their most effective source of candidates is…”

Six Degrees: Given the unique stresses involved as a vendor in the staffing industry, — what inspires you as you continue in your career?

Michael Shafrir: “We get a daily report of “Hires through” – candidates who found their jobs on It’s really inspiring to see the high-level candidates at some amazing companies that made the initial connection through our site. That and the sense that I’ve been involved from a very, very early stage in building what is recognized as the fastest growing Internet company in New York (and probably in all of online recruiting). That’s really cool.”

Six Degrees: What one thing do you most fantasize doing/implementing/developing/inventing professionally that has yet to be done.

Michael Shafrir: Taking something that is a personal annoyance, problem, irritation, and building a great company to help solve that problem.

Six Degrees: Anything you want to plug?

Michael Shafrir: “Obviously, …If any recruiter or company is looking for a complimentary trial to RecruitLadder, please let me know. We always say that the proof is in the pudding and our candidates are usually able to convince the naysayers.”

Six Degrees: Michael, how are you going to change the recruitment industry. If not the world?

Michael Shafrir: “I’m going to create the first entry-level job fair where the responses are instant –3 interviews, 5 questions each, and a simple “yes” or “no” at the end. Enough with all these job applications, the waiting, and the lack of response! Once that is done, I’m going to unveil my singing talents, traveling the world performing in a minstrel show as the “Jewish Cowboy.”

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