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Thu Jul 5, 2012, 09:38 AM

5 Ways to Tell How Well a Potential Employer Would Treat You as an Employee

I have worked for well over 100 companies so far as a consultant. By about the 20th one, I could tell within 5 minutes of entering their place of business how they were to work for. Here are 5 things you can usually see during an interview or the application process:

1 - The parking lot. Are there many cars there at 7pm? at 7am? Are they the nice new cars of upper management or the patched up, worker bee cars?

2 - Look at the employee lunch or break room. Good signs: a new-ish refrigerator, tables with chairs, free coffee. Bad signs: no real break room, copy machine, fax or files in the break room, signs on the refrigerator warning employees not to eat each others' food.

3 - Look at the cube farm or work area. Good signs: high cube walls, sound absorption is effective, clean floor. Bad signs: small or no cube walls, small stations, noisy, and self-cleaning policy (dirty).

4 - The vibe. Even if you are only there for a 10 minute interview you can usually get the vibe. Look at employee's faces and body language. Don't count the HR people -- they are cheerleaders; look at the people who are doing the job you are applying for.

5 - Look at the mix of employees. Good signs: mature employees in the mix, women in middle and upper management positions, ethnic diversity. Bad signs: few employees over 30, lots of interns, lots of turn over, company owners' relatives and spouses on the payroll.

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Reply 5 Ways to Tell How Well a Potential Employer Would Treat You as an Employee (Original post)
KurtNYC Jul 2012 OP
monmouth Jul 2012 #1
intheflow Jul 2012 #2
HopeHoops Jul 2012 #3
KurtNYC Jul 2012 #10
1-Old-Man Jul 2012 #4
fasttense Jul 2012 #6
Gidney N Cloyd Jul 2012 #77
Joanie Baloney Jul 2012 #5
KurtNYC Jul 2012 #11
rock Jul 2012 #7
Lydia Leftcoast Jul 2012 #8
KurtNYC Jul 2012 #16
Mopar151 Jul 2012 #59
Demeter Jul 2012 #9
RadiationTherapy Jul 2012 #13
eggplant Jul 2012 #20
xmas74 Jul 2012 #29
RadiationTherapy Jul 2012 #31
Demeter Jul 2012 #18
zbdent Jul 2012 #84
Why Syzygy Jul 2012 #12
Gold Metal Flake Jul 2012 #14
KurtNYC Jul 2012 #17
tilsammans Jul 2012 #47
Ikonoklast Jul 2012 #15
KurtNYC Jul 2012 #25
MattBaggins Jul 2012 #38
KurtNYC Jul 2012 #43
Ikonoklast Jul 2012 #39
KurtNYC Jul 2012 #44
EC Jul 2012 #63
FloridaJudy Jul 2012 #65
druidity33 Jul 2012 #85
davidwparker Jul 2012 #74
blackspade Jul 2012 #33
Egalitarian Thug Jul 2012 #50
CrispyQ Jul 2012 #62
Mopar151 Jul 2012 #80
Deep13 Jul 2012 #19
AnotherMcIntosh Jul 2012 #21
justabob Jul 2012 #34
MattBaggins Jul 2012 #42
justabob Jul 2012 #49
amandabeech Jul 2012 #55
justabob Jul 2012 #60
Manifestor_of_Light Jul 2012 #70
Mopar151 Jul 2012 #51
SheilaT Jul 2012 #69
BrendaBrick Jul 2012 #22
99Forever Jul 2012 #23
Courtesy Flush Jul 2012 #24
Arkana Jul 2012 #26
DaveJ Jul 2012 #32
KurtNYC Jul 2012 #75
fauxpas Jul 2012 #27
Posteritatis Jul 2012 #67
LittleGirl Jul 2012 #28
DaveJ Jul 2012 #30
Ruby the Liberal Jul 2012 #35
madaboutharry Jul 2012 #36
Lars39 Jul 2012 #40
tilsammans Jul 2012 #45
Yavin4 Jul 2012 #46
monmouth Jul 2012 #78
Dawson Leery Jul 2012 #52
KurtNYC Jul 2012 #91
Dawson Leery Jul 2012 #94
Mopar151 Jul 2012 #54
swayne Jul 2012 #37
PotatoChip Jul 2012 #41
Yavin4 Jul 2012 #48
Odin2005 Jul 2012 #53
tilsammans Jul 2012 #56
KurtNYC Jul 2012 #92
tilsammans Jul 2012 #93
Mopar151 Jul 2012 #57
sabbat hunter Jul 2012 #58
Patiod Jul 2012 #61
Liberal_in_LA Jul 2012 #64
Matariki Jul 2012 #66
Posteritatis Jul 2012 #68
felix_numinous Jul 2012 #71
Manifestor_of_Light Jul 2012 #72
davidwparker Jul 2012 #73
leveymg Jul 2012 #76
Capt. Obvious Jul 2012 #79
Curmudgeoness Jul 2012 #82
thelordofhell Jul 2012 #81
Taverner Jul 2012 #83
uponit7771 Jul 2012 #89
Riverman Jul 2012 #86
Kablooie Jul 2012 #87
Incitatus Jul 2012 #88
nxylas Jul 2012 #90
BlueCheese Jul 2012 #95

Response to KurtNYC (Original post)

Thu Jul 5, 2012, 09:50 AM

1. Having a chit-chat with the receptionist will tell you a lot. They know everything...LOL..n/t

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Response to monmouth (Reply #1)

Thu Jul 5, 2012, 09:59 AM

2. +1

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Response to monmouth (Reply #1)

Thu Jul 5, 2012, 10:02 AM

3. No shit. It's like Carl in "Breakfast Club" said, "I am the eyes and ears of this institution."

 

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Response to monmouth (Reply #1)

Thu Jul 5, 2012, 10:23 AM

10. It pays to be careful what you ask the receptionist, or maybe just HOW you ask.

They are usually part of HR and they will share their evaluation of you after you leave if not sooner. I wouldn't ask the receptionist about drug tests or the owner's politics but I would ask them an open question like "have you been with the company a long time?" Just assume that the receptionist will tell HR everything that happens or is discussed.

Also sometimes an employer will use the receptionist in a test -- they make you wait extra time in the lobby and see how you react. Even if it isn't intentional on their part, how you handle that situation is huge. If you are too pushy and aggressive that is bad but if you are too much of a push over then you may seem unsuited to jobs which require you to be able to put polite pressure on co-workers or vendors.

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Response to KurtNYC (Original post)

Thu Jul 5, 2012, 10:06 AM

4. I think the parking lot tells all. Junk cars means poor overall pay

And in my entire working life I never saw a workplace in which people were paid poorly but treated well otherwise. If the cars in the parking lot are beaters, junkers, just barely running oil-belching, piles of moving dents, you may presume that either what the company does is not profitable or that it is and the fruits of the worker's labors do not pass down to them. In either event its not a place you want to work.

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Response to 1-Old-Man (Reply #4)

Thu Jul 5, 2012, 10:16 AM

6. Good point 1-Old-Man

If an employer tries every trick to pay you as little as possible, then you know he/she has very little regard for you as an employee.

Most people are so desperate for a job that they rarely evaluate an employer like they should.

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Response to 1-Old-Man (Reply #4)

Thu Jul 5, 2012, 06:19 PM

77. People also hold on to their beaters longer when they're not confident of their economic situation.

If your company's shaky or your boss is flaky you may not want to take on car payments.

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Response to KurtNYC (Original post)

Thu Jul 5, 2012, 10:09 AM

5. Good tips

I am interviewing now. I always check out the vibe (hard not to), but I love the lunchroom and parking lot ideas. I'm not sure if this holds true for the men, but I always visit the restroom while I'm waiting and you can get clues there as well. Is it clean? Are there personal hygiene products available? I also read the internal HR/company posters in most larger companies. Are they promoting events you would be interested in? Do they support green policies? Are they mainly reaffirming rules and regulations or employee benefits?

The receptionist is the first human impression, but there are many other clues around.

Thanks for the info! (And good luck to the job searchers!)

-JB

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Response to Joanie Baloney (Reply #5)

Thu Jul 5, 2012, 10:31 AM

11. Bathrooms and elevators are great places to listen

Texting has largely replaced it but some people still will say anything on the phone in the bathroom.

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Response to KurtNYC (Original post)

Thu Jul 5, 2012, 10:17 AM

7. To quote Eddie from "Christmas Vacation"

"Bingo!" - Very astute analysis.

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Response to KurtNYC (Original post)

Thu Jul 5, 2012, 10:19 AM

8. I'm self-employed now, but I temped for three years all over the Twin Cities in the 1980s, and

I'd say that your observations are right on target.

If it's a manufacturing company (rarer in the U.S. these days, I know), ask to see the plant and note if there's someone whose job it is to walk around yelling at people to "work faster" or "stop talking." Find out what the break policy is (at some plants, employees have to clock out if they want to use the bathroom), whether overtime is compulsory, and if so, how long.

Find out if the company has a "caste system." At some of the companies I worked at, the manufacturing employees had to report at 7AM, had 20-30 minutes for lunch, and no more than 1 hour total break time. (At one plant, they had one ten-minute break in the morning, 20 minutes for lunch, and nothing after that.) Meanwhile, the clerical and managerial employees had to report between 8:30 and 9:00AM, had an hour for lunch, and could pour themselves a cup of coffee or use the bathroom or stand around the water cooler whenever they felt like it.

This was standard at most companies.

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Response to Lydia Leftcoast (Reply #8)

Thu Jul 5, 2012, 10:43 AM

16. one of the jobs I had in a manufacturing entity

was really different. They made computer power supplies and much of the crew was Ecuadorian. At 10AM there was a break for volleyball and many played with great enthusiasm. It was about 20 minutes and this was California so there was a net strung up between 2 buildings. Lunch time was awesome because the food they brought from home was so good.

A lot of the crew worked 7am to 3pm or 8am to 3pm which they liked because they could be home in the afternoon with their kids. It was very nice to work there and really changed my thoughts about what manufacturing COULD be. Also worked a bike factory and a VHS tape farm where there were thousands of VHS machines all duping the same tape at once and then people had to go and manually change out each cassette. Walls of VHS machines whirring and whining. Hot and dry with that electrical smell and no windows. Cranky co-workers (with good reason). That was 2 weeks in hell.

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Response to KurtNYC (Reply #16)

Thu Jul 5, 2012, 01:52 PM

59. Great to work with a mix of cultures

The food is way better, the shop radio isn't stuck on C&W or Flush, the whole effing place does'nt shut down for March Madness, the Super Bowl or the Daytona 500.

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Response to KurtNYC (Original post)

Thu Jul 5, 2012, 10:23 AM

9. Women: Check out the restrooms

It will tell you a LOT about how women are treated.

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Response to Demeter (Reply #9)

Thu Jul 5, 2012, 10:36 AM

13. How? In what manner is restroom upkeep gender specific?

I mean, I suppose I may be able to think of one of two things, but I am curious what you have in mind.

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Response to RadiationTherapy (Reply #13)

Thu Jul 5, 2012, 10:57 AM

20. When I worked at IBM...

...I was giving my sister a tour of the site. She stopped into a bathroom, and came out amazed because it was properly stocked with free tampax (no vending machine). Apparently, this was very unusual. (As a man, I would never have known this.)

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Response to RadiationTherapy (Reply #13)

Thu Jul 5, 2012, 11:18 AM

29. Is it clean (both genders),

are the bags in the small trash in each stall emptied out regularly, are hygiene products available, even if it's just a machine.

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Response to xmas74 (Reply #29)

Thu Jul 5, 2012, 11:27 AM

31. I figured it had to do with access to and appropriate disposal of hygeine products,

but because it wasn't stated, I wondered if there was more to it.

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Response to Demeter (Reply #9)

Thu Jul 5, 2012, 10:51 AM

18. Having never seen the men's room, I cannot speculate

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Response to Demeter (Reply #18)

Thu Jul 5, 2012, 08:16 PM

84. No tampon machines in the men's rooms where I've worked ...

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Response to KurtNYC (Original post)

Thu Jul 5, 2012, 10:35 AM

12. tag

for later read. ty

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Response to KurtNYC (Original post)

Thu Jul 5, 2012, 10:37 AM

14. KurtNYC, did you author this?

Or do you have a link to the source?

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Response to Gold Metal Flake (Reply #14)

Thu Jul 5, 2012, 10:45 AM

17. I wrote it. This is the only place it is published so far.

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Response to KurtNYC (Reply #17)

Thu Jul 5, 2012, 12:42 PM

47. A terrific list. Thank you!

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Response to KurtNYC (Original post)

Thu Jul 5, 2012, 10:38 AM

15. The next-to-last company that I worked for had management consultants come in to run a seminar.

The owners, upper management, supervision, and store level management attended for a three-day fairly intense learning experience.

The people putting on the affair were really good at what they did, especially the lead who developed the seminar. He knew what being a manager of people really entailed, that we were dealing with people, not things, and that everyone cannot be treated in the same manner as different things motivate different people.

I learned that the dynamic between employee/employer does not need to be an adversarial one, there were better, more efficient ways for management and employees to meet their goals.

Anyway, at the end of the course everyone had very nice dinner and was enjoying a drink. I was with the people in my working group when the seminar lead approached us.

He congratulated us on our work, told us that he enjoyed working with us as we seemed to 'get it', unlike so many other management types at other firms.

Then he shocked the pants off of us.

He came right out and said that there was no way the the owners of the company would allow us to implement what we had learned, as the owners were firmly convinced that the only way to motivate people was through fear, intimidation, and threats.

He then went further to say that the company wasted their money having him and his team come in, although he said that this was not an uncommon happenstance.

He then advised us to seek employment elsewhere, as he saw that the company was headed toward a cliff unless they drastically changed at the top, but he did not see that as ever happening.

And he told the people at the top who hired him the very same thing he told us.


He was also 100% correct in his prediction.

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Response to Ikonoklast (Reply #15)

Thu Jul 5, 2012, 11:12 AM

25. That is rare. I have been on teams that told management that they were wrong

and it doesn't go well usually.

The usual order of events for consulting goes like this: 1) upper management reaches a conclusion, 2) they gather facts to support that conclusion or hire consultants to pretend to investigate all options and then reach the conclusion from Step 1. 3) they have a board meeting where all these gathered (cherry picked) facts are presented and then they hold a vote and affirm the conclusion or goal from Step 1 formally.

Another version is management perceives that employees aren't playing well together and in their minds the problem could not possibly be THEM so they make everyone who is 2 notches below them or lower attend a retreat or paintball or team work lecture by some golf pro or football star.

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Response to KurtNYC (Reply #25)

Thu Jul 5, 2012, 12:15 PM

38. Worked for a failing grocery company that was decades behing the competition

in regards to computers, software, registers, gift cards rather than paper gift certificates. They spent 100Ks for a consulting firm that did the usual crap of changing department names, supposedly combining a few sections and moving a few managers around. Not a single persons daily routine changed in way at all.

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Response to MattBaggins (Reply #38)

Thu Jul 5, 2012, 12:24 PM

43. If they would have just paired you guys up and blindfolded one out of each pair

and then had you walk each other around the parking lot it would have built a lot of trust between team members....(I'm kidding).

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Response to KurtNYC (Reply #25)

Thu Jul 5, 2012, 12:15 PM

39. The ownership believed that the regurgitated pablum fed back to them by upper management was

the reality on the ground instead of upper management just looking out for their own asses, and could not for the life of them understand why things on the shop floor were the exact opposite of that shared delusion.

I firmly believe that ownership felt that the consultants would just be a rubber-stamp for their business practices when the exact opposite was true; the consultants felt that it was their job to educate, improve, and change things starting at the highest levels of the company which would then filter down, making it into a real team effort instead of individual fiefdoms with varying degrees of loyalty to the top.

Ownership did not take too kindly to being told that *they* were the actual problem, all else paled in comparison to that fact, so their response was to never speak of the seminar again.

We all pretended that it never happened when Boss Man was within earshot. We all discussed the ramifications of what we were told amongst ourselves.

The smarter ones immediately made their plans to leave, many left that year for greener pastures, I was gone inside of two years.

Those with more invested in the firm, longer years of service and senior level management...most of them went down with the ship.

And I just love the Rah! Rah! type of motivational bullshit, it is amazing to me how many supposedly intelligent people, successful people, pay a ton of dough to have some sports star who's never done anything other than hit a ball really well tell them how to run their business.

Astounding.

I met Franco Harris that way, nice guy, huge hands, didn't know beans about management, but told us some great football stories.

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Response to Ikonoklast (Reply #39)

Thu Jul 5, 2012, 12:36 PM

44. I hope those consultants got paid well

because that to me is the ethical thing to tell a client. There are plenty who just talk to management, take notes and come back in 2 weeks with a pretty PowerPoint version of what management said at about $2,000 per slide.

In some consulting firms they talk about the "HRS" (which is stands for "highest ranking suit") or they have a euphemism for it. The basic law of consulting is that you can do great research, know you are right, make a strong case for some kind of change and get agreement from 90% of the company...but if it isn't what the HRS wants to do then it was all for nothing, AND you might not get your whole fee.

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Response to KurtNYC (Reply #25)

Thu Jul 5, 2012, 03:56 PM

63. Just like on "Undercover Boss"

most of those bosses come away with the wrong lessons, if they wanted to improve leadership/employee relations. They come away with preconceived results.

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Response to KurtNYC (Reply #25)

Thu Jul 5, 2012, 04:20 PM

65. The order of events I've seen

1) Management conducts an anonymous employee satisfaction survey. The results are that morale stinks.
2) Management orders the employees to form groups to come up with suggestions as to how working conditions can be improved.
3) The groups come up with some reasonable, inexpensive, and easily implemented ideas
4) Management ignores the ideas and continues to do whatever it damned well pleases.

Of course, I've mostly worked for governmental organizations, but that seems to be SOP in every one.

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Response to FloridaJudy (Reply #65)

Thu Jul 5, 2012, 10:29 PM

85. I work for a successful food coop...

that is EXACTLY how it went with us. We decided to talk to the UFCW (United Food and Commercial Workers) and though it's not final yet, it looks as if i might be a Union worker in the future!

More in an upcoming OP , depending on whether we're voluntarily recognized or have to file for an election.



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Response to KurtNYC (Reply #25)

Thu Jul 5, 2012, 05:25 PM

74. ... and before you know it, you're fighting a war in Iraq.

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Response to Ikonoklast (Reply #15)

Thu Jul 5, 2012, 11:48 AM

33. Sounds like the multi-national that I worked for up until last year.

I had been there for 10 years and management practices had just gotten progressively worse, both at the local office level and at corporate HQ.
Even with the management siminars (some even done in-house) on understanding and motivating employees, there was pervading culture of dismissive and uncaring supervisors.
Passive aggression, veiled threats, and willful ignorance was the rule.
It made for a painful work environment, especially since it was so unnescessary.
I could have been a great place to work.
Since I got canned, it has apparently spiraled further down the toilet, so leaving has turned out to be a blessing in disguise.

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Response to Ikonoklast (Reply #15)

Thu Jul 5, 2012, 01:12 PM

50. I've got to know, which firm was this? It sounds very familiar to me. n/t

 

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Response to Ikonoklast (Reply #15)

Thu Jul 5, 2012, 03:10 PM

62. Owners like this tell themselves this:

"the owners were firmly convinced that the only way to motivate people was through fear, intimidation, and threats."

But I suspect it isn't so much that they really believe people are motivated by that, it's more that they get off treating people that way. Assholes.

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Response to CrispyQ (Reply #62)

Thu Jul 5, 2012, 07:58 PM

80. Damm Straight....... n./t

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Response to KurtNYC (Original post)

Thu Jul 5, 2012, 10:55 AM

19. good to know nt

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Response to KurtNYC (Original post)

Thu Jul 5, 2012, 11:04 AM

21. Good points. A couple more if you are being hired as an executive.

 

Many such employment relationships (if not all) are back-loaded with promises of bonuses and deferred compensation. A basic question is what are the odds that such compensation will be collectible?

1. Does the company want you to work without a written contract? Oral agreements are not businesslike. In addition, unless you are being hired by a family member who you can trust and who will continue to have control over the company or influence after you come aboard, oral agreements are next to worthless. Written agreements with ambiguous provisions, and provisions subject to conditions and take-away clauses, are also next to worthless if the provisions are important but unenforceable.

2. To what extent do those in hiring positions have long-term relationships with their spouses. And, if you can determine it, to what extent do they tolerate infidelities? Those who tolerate infidelities and cheat on their wives, for example, will seek to benefit in unfair and unexpected ways at the expense of lower-level executives. If they want you to work with such persons without a written contract or a written contract with provisions which are arguably unenforceable, recognize that the position is a short-term or temporary one and, at a minimum, get a signing bonus. The bigger the signing bonus, the more that they will be committed to you. If they won't give you a signing bonus under any circumstances, that will show you your potential standing in the company.

3. To what extent have the executives that you have come into contact with played team sports? Look at the situation and make a guess. Basically, what are the percentages?

4. To what extent does the top executive or executives rely upon MBAs? A reliance upon MBAs indicates, for example, a desire for charts and graphs.

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Response to AnotherMcIntosh (Reply #21)

Thu Jul 5, 2012, 11:57 AM

34. your number 3 works for all levels

The team sports thing is interesting. Many moons ago, I was working in a busy corporate chain restaurant. We had a huge wait staff- 50-60 waiters, including a core of really good ones and other not so good ones. I got it my head one day to do a very informal, completely unscientific survey.... I asked everyone if they had played team sports growing up. Almost to a man, the people you wanted to work with, the ones who actually did their share of the work and helped out if you got in a bind played team sports. The lazy, whiner, "do I have to?" people did not. It was fascinating. That may or may not hold up in a larger sample, but it was interesting in that time and at that place.

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Response to justabob (Reply #34)

Thu Jul 5, 2012, 12:20 PM

42. I would take that with a grain fo salt

Many of us couldn't make the sports team. To small or no skills kept us from playing. I would actually view it the opposite of you as I have still have a less than stellar impression of jocks.

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Response to MattBaggins (Reply #42)

Thu Jul 5, 2012, 01:04 PM

49. absolutely

That is why I mentioned about not being in any way scientific, and interesting at that time/place. Also to clarify, I included YMCA soccer, peewee football, little league, t-ball etc, not necessarily varsity team/jock competition. I don't necessarily like those guys either.

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Response to justabob (Reply #49)

Thu Jul 5, 2012, 01:29 PM

55. Perhaps you would consider non-sports group activities for your list.

As one poster has already mentioned, some of us aren't athletic, and some of us are older females who had no chance to play sports.

I played in the marching, concert and pep rally bands for years, and I spent 3 years working hard on school plays. Both activities required groups of folks to work together to reach a goal--putting on a concert or getting a first rank at competitions for the band, and getting great reviews and filling lots of seats for the plays..

Many girls were involved in band and plays. These activities are not as intense as sports as frequently, but I think that they are worthy substitutes for athletic for many people.

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Response to amandabeech (Reply #55)

Thu Jul 5, 2012, 01:52 PM

60. that actually came up at the time

and we talked about it. Band, drill team, and some other non sport groups were mentioned, and spawned a good conversation about what is a "team". Track, tennis, golf, swimming (exception relays) are all individual and not the same as soccer, football, basketball, band, etc. You are right, any activity that requires group effort and coordination to make the whole work better should be counted. It is really an interesting subject.

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Response to amandabeech (Reply #55)

Thu Jul 5, 2012, 04:52 PM

70. Yes, I played first violin in high school orchestra.

That takes an extreme degree of cooperation and concentration and practicing. Split-second timing as far as watching the conductor for entrance cues and tempo.

I hated PE, hated sports, because I was small (Yeah I am still five foot two, forty years later) and there were large six foot tall jockettes that picked on me, hit me in the head with basketballs and tried to kill me literally, at red rover. Besides, I refused to participate in softball or anything that meant I might jam a finger or break a finger. I have small bones which means I could not hit a volleyball without bruising myself, or having my entire forearm turn red and hurt.

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Response to MattBaggins (Reply #42)

Thu Jul 5, 2012, 01:19 PM

51. Might be more instructive to see who has participated in any team or group activity since high scho

Even then, the quality of experience can vary widely.

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Response to justabob (Reply #34)

Thu Jul 5, 2012, 04:50 PM

69. And some of us were female in the distant dark ages

when there simply were no sports for girls.

I also think that at least some of the time those who play team sports learn that it doesn't matter how you win, it only matters that you win, so what you do to others to win is okay. Lie, cheat, steal, it's all for the purpose of winning. If those attitudes are brought over to the workplace, then watch out.

Also, speaking as a female from the pre-female sports days, men of my era assume women have no idea how to get along just because the didn't play team sports. Not necessarily true.

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Response to KurtNYC (Original post)

Thu Jul 5, 2012, 11:06 AM

22. Bookmarked

Thanks for the tips!

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Response to KurtNYC (Original post)

Thu Jul 5, 2012, 11:09 AM

23. What's a job?

I seem to remember them from some point in my past, about 4 decades worth. I lost count of how many apps I have filled out and resumes I've submitted. How exactly does one actually get inside a place of employment to "Tell How Well a Potential Employer Would Treat You as an Employee" anyway? They don't even acknowledge my apps except on a rare occasion.

It sure would be nice to have a choice who to work for. Crap, it would be nice to have any work at all.

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Response to KurtNYC (Original post)

Thu Jul 5, 2012, 11:11 AM

24. #5 struck a note

I recently retired from a civil service job. It used to be a decent job. When I was in my early forties, people still called me the baby of the office. It was common to see workers in their fifties, though rarely sixties.

More recently, the staff has been transformed into an all-young, all-female crew. I can't explain the exodus of men from the job, but I know that the youth factor relates to the high turnover, and very few workers say they want to stay long term. When I was hired, they required two years of related experience. Now they can't find experienced people to take the job, so almost all new hires are hired as "trainees" at a lower pay scale... then there was a salary freeze that prevented them from getting bumped up after they had worked there for two years.

Honestly, the job wasn't that bad, but the recent decline foretells some serious problems in the works.

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Response to KurtNYC (Original post)

Thu Jul 5, 2012, 11:14 AM

26. #5 isn't necessarily an indication of a bad company.

At the last place I worked for I was only 23. All my coworkers had a minimum of 10 years on me. It was hell.

Now, I work with a population where almost half of it is younger than I am--and I'm 27. And I love it here--the atmosphere's chill, there's barely any restrictions on internet usage (which is awesome during the quiet times), and I work for a guy who's personal friends with Sen. John Kerry and Rep. Richard Neal--and he was in the fourth row at Obama's inauguration.

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Response to Arkana (Reply #26)

Thu Jul 5, 2012, 11:36 AM

32. I agree, #5 seems anti-small business.

I work for a small business and they have lots of relatives but I'm fine with it.

And if I'm not supposed to apply for a job just because people are all younger than me, then I'm in big trouble.

OTOH, I'd actually worry about a business with a bunch of old people there, like there is no path to retirement.


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Response to Arkana (Reply #26)

Thu Jul 5, 2012, 06:06 PM

75. What I was trying to get at was more in the vein of "do people stay" or "does the company

rely on getting lots of energy out of young workers" (and burn them out in the process).

You were the only employee who was in their 20s -- that had to be awkward.

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Response to KurtNYC (Original post)

Thu Jul 5, 2012, 11:15 AM

27. Re: Cubes

Interesting stuff. #3 struck me as odd, though... I've spent a good part of my career in a cube farm, and in my experience high walls are more stifling and isolating; low walls encourage collaboration and camaraderie.

We just lowered the walls in our cubeland a couple months ago, and our support team offered positive feedback on the move.

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Response to fauxpas (Reply #27)

Thu Jul 5, 2012, 04:42 PM

67. It probably depends a lot on the type of company, too

If my last job had cube farms, low walls would mean people would hover, interrupt, or (if they could reach it) rifle through my desk more while nagging about things. There were days where I couldn't go two or three minutes in a row from seven until five without people barging in to do at least one of those, and I was in an office with a door.

The fact that I was in a role in that company where I'd actually be able to get stuff done better while relatively isolated didn't make dealing with all of that easier, mind. Oy.

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Response to KurtNYC (Original post)

Thu Jul 5, 2012, 11:16 AM

28. excellent summary

I've forwarded this to my husband while he continues to look for another position. I used these tips and prefer to 'interview' the company that is interviewing me because it's 40 hours or more a week of your life so they need to fit your profile (of needs) too.

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Response to KurtNYC (Original post)

Thu Jul 5, 2012, 11:20 AM

30. Employers try to hide everything about them.

These days it seems most job ads provide minimal information about the employer. Forget about ads providing salary info. I mean, who needs to know the salary before applying for a job?!?!? Ads often do not even say who the employer even is!!!

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Response to KurtNYC (Original post)

Thu Jul 5, 2012, 11:59 AM

35. Another - If possible, meet with who will be co-workers or those working for you.

After being interviewed by 7 (!) members of the management and c-level team, I was offered a position to implement a new company-wide application. One of the first questions out of my mouth was to ask how the decision to purchase this application was made. I was assured that it was a collaborative effort, that end-user input was taken into account and that it was not a top-down decision.

Upon receiving the offer letter, I asked for the opportunity to meet with some end users to clarify some things before accepting.

Turns out that this was not only a top-down decision, but the software had been given to the company as an incentive to purchase something else. In doing a quick needs analysis, I realized that it would only accommodate 80% of what they currently had and would require either extensive customization or massive amounts of paper trails to do what was already automated inhouse currently.

As with any implementation, sales is a key component to user acceptance, but in this case, management wanted to wash their hands of that piece and put it on someone else so that no one had to take responsibility for the unhappy employees, eventual turnover, or a failed implementation.

I took these concerns to the CFO (hiring manager), who was thrilled that I was "astute" enough to pick up on that dynamic and "thorough" enough to ask for those extra meetings to flesh it all out.

Suffice to say, I declined. Within 6 months, I received 'profile change' updated from LinkedIn that indicated that both the HR Director and CFO had resigned and moved to another company. Lesson well learned.

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Response to KurtNYC (Original post)

Thu Jul 5, 2012, 12:03 PM

36. This one is the biggest red flag of all...

".... company owners' relatives and spouses on the payroll." RUN DON'T WALK!

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Response to madaboutharry (Reply #36)

Thu Jul 5, 2012, 12:17 PM

40. Or groups of people in the company that are family members,

but not related to the owner. A family member recently worked for a company that had, say group A...where everyone was related to one another, group B....where everyone was related to one another, etc. Very difficult atmosphere in which to work. Don't know what the owner was thinking of to hire that many related people.

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Response to madaboutharry (Reply #36)

Thu Jul 5, 2012, 12:37 PM

45. So true!

working with company owners' relatives = workplace poison

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Response to madaboutharry (Reply #36)

Thu Jul 5, 2012, 12:42 PM

46. Robert Wood Johnson, Co-Founder of Johnson & Johnson

Forbade his heirs from ever having any management role in the company. He thought that the company should be run by professionals, not family.

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Response to Yavin4 (Reply #46)

Thu Jul 5, 2012, 06:25 PM

78. My Aunt was secretary to Col. Johnson...n/t

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Response to madaboutharry (Reply #36)

Thu Jul 5, 2012, 01:22 PM

52. True.

From experience of myself and many others I know, too many smaller firms give preferences to their family members, even if they are unqualified for the job.

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Response to Dawson Leery (Reply #52)

Fri Jul 6, 2012, 08:28 AM

91. In my experience you can wind up in the middle of a family fight, daily.

There are long-standing sibling rivalries, and bottle necks that form when family members are passive aggressive or just plain incompetent. One exception was a ski resort which was family owned that I worked for. The father and his first 4 kids were in charge and the kids had different divisions -- operations, advertising, hospitality. They hired competent people and let them do what they were paid to do. The business ran well and produced mega profit. They had dozens of grandkids who were surprisingly well behaved in spite of the money and the fact that they could do almost anything they wanted every day at their family's ski resorts, hotels and restaurants.

Another was a family that owned 2 high end restaurants on the East Side of Manhattan. Their IT specialist (owner's daughter) insisted that Gateway computers were in some way very different than other Windows desktops of the day. She was sort of superstitious about how the LAN worked and would have us all re-boot (and count to 30) if something didn't print from the shared printer. But the worst of it was the screaming fights between family members.

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Response to KurtNYC (Reply #91)

Fri Jul 6, 2012, 07:15 PM

94. This happened to my cousin a few years back.

He found another job with similar salary, though the insurance was not as generous.
Still, he could not work productively in such an environment.

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Response to madaboutharry (Reply #36)

Thu Jul 5, 2012, 01:28 PM

54. You're not wrong.........

You're gonna be lower in tank then the rats in the shithouse, compared to FAMILY. Speaking of family, if they use one bathroom and another fetid swamp is for "help", that's a VERY bad sign.

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Response to KurtNYC (Original post)

Thu Jul 5, 2012, 12:09 PM

37. This is a MUST for everyone especially the unemployed. Cars in the Parking lot are KEY!!

 

If the cars are less than what you like on a normal basis, you should move on and try to find something better. I have NEVER been at a company where when the cars were good, the pay wasn't good.

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Response to KurtNYC (Original post)

Thu Jul 5, 2012, 12:20 PM

41. Good tips KurtNYC.

Thank you.

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Response to KurtNYC (Original post)

Thu Jul 5, 2012, 12:44 PM

48. As for #5, I Call Those Companies, "Logan's Run Shops"

No one over 35. Those kind of companies are hell to work for.

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Response to KurtNYC (Original post)

Thu Jul 5, 2012, 01:25 PM

53. I feel fortunate that I have an awesome boss, right now.

And we are both in our late 20s, we we just click very well.

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Response to KurtNYC (Original post)

Thu Jul 5, 2012, 01:38 PM

56. I had the good fortune to work for some employee-friendly firms

The bad news is, as a current jobseeker, I'm spoiled. I can spot the red flags immediately.

BTW, I've found it to be true that the best companies were either based outside the U.S. and/or in very competitive industries, where attracting good workers and compensating them well gave the firms a distinct edge over the competition.

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Response to tilsammans (Reply #56)

Fri Jul 6, 2012, 08:37 AM

92. I like those companies too

the ones that know that if they pay 10-20% more they will get the best employees and it will be more than worth the extra expense.

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Response to KurtNYC (Reply #92)

Fri Jul 6, 2012, 11:03 AM

93. So right!

They actually care about attracting and RETAINING the cream of the crop. You know you and your contributions are valued.

Problem is, with all the mergers that have gone on over the past 20 years, so many companies lack true competitors. So there's little incentive to treat employees well anymore.


Thank you, Republican Party.

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Response to KurtNYC (Original post)

Thu Jul 5, 2012, 01:42 PM

57. #3A

Surveillance cameras in work areas. (I'm not foolin') Tools and supplies locked up. Hazardous chemicals./cleaners/waste stored improperly or dumped. Poor lighting, ventilation, temperature control.

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Response to KurtNYC (Original post)

Thu Jul 5, 2012, 01:45 PM

58. a couple of these

go out the window when working in a big city ie Manhattan

1) no parking for buildings in Manhattan, so no way of telling who is there early/late
2) due to costs per sq ft of rental space, most companies do not have full blown break rooms, but will have a refrigerator, coffee machine.
3) most will have small cubes with walls, although some have adopted open floor plans, but those that have the managers/directors don't have offices either.
4) works no matter where you work
5) depends on the company. if it is a company that is orientated towards younger people, then it is more likely you will see younger employees.

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Response to KurtNYC (Original post)

Thu Jul 5, 2012, 01:57 PM

61. Kurt - great article!

All good ideas.

I freelance, but occasionally interview for full-time work. My SO drove me to a morning interview near Princeton so he could check out a local record store.

I came out and he said "before you say anything, I don't think you should work there."

"Why not?"

"Because sat and drank my coffee and I watched the people going into work after I dropped you off. They all looked like they were heading off to a salt mine. So unhappy. Not one smiling face."

"Well, you called that right. They were awful."

Just looking at the employees arriving to work: are they chatting and laughing, or heads down, shoulders slumped?

.

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Response to KurtNYC (Original post)

Thu Jul 5, 2012, 03:58 PM

64. good tips.

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Response to KurtNYC (Original post)

Thu Jul 5, 2012, 04:37 PM

66. 6. If the interviewer cries when you ask if they get depressed in their windowless office

it's not a good sign.

I was interviewing at Real Networks a year or so ago (I know, I know - they still exist?) and after 4 hours of interviews in a building that seemed like a prison complex I couldn't help blurting that out when the interviewer asked if I had any questions. The guy's eyes actually teared up as he tried to answer that. Needless to say I'm not working there.

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Response to KurtNYC (Original post)

Thu Jul 5, 2012, 04:48 PM

68. #4's definitely a big one

I just finished working at a company that was - by design - in crisis mode all the time.

Everything was critical, urgent, missing something would be a disaster, we just committed in writing to the client that we'd have this done in an hour, etc. etc. etc. People would actually delay passing on assigned tasks (or changes to tasks!) to people further down the chain like myself in order to cause additional stress, because the owner believed that stress is fun and makes people work better. "Get her done now" was one of the most common statements in the building, right next to "drop what you're working on and do this instead."

The fun thing is that the switch to the worst of that mindset started right after they brought some management consultants in for a couple of weeks. The place was always in disaster mode, but an extra layer of panic and urgency started showing up right after the consultant was finished.

Naturally all that stuff caused people to get frazzled and screw up things more often and so on, which of course contributed to the crises, which convinced some of the managers people were simply Throwing Themselves Into The Importance Of It All, yadda yadda argh.

I certainly don't miss the place.

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Response to KurtNYC (Original post)

Thu Jul 5, 2012, 04:53 PM

71. I really like to see my potential coworkers

and see whether they look truly miserable and study their reaction to seeing the supervisor (if possible). Sometimes I take a pause from the chatter (the person trying to BS me into taking a miserable job) and watch the body language. Then go home and sit with what I have witnessed.

There is a difference between just having a busy buttkicking day and being in a totally miserable job. People are still able to crack a smile and be real to each other. It is well worth it to take a slightly lower paying job with cool people than the higher paying job in hell.

What a great article, good advice.

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Response to KurtNYC (Original post)

Thu Jul 5, 2012, 05:00 PM

72. And those "trust exercises"?

I believe that is what they are called, where a consultant tells you to fall back into the arms of another employee, and trust that they will catch you.

Somebody here said they were participating in one of those and everybody made a total mess of things, and the consultant was seriously pissed. I am assuming nobody would fall down and trust the other employees, because they were afraid of backstabbing.

Could somebody give me more details of what happened? This sounds like fun, subverting the corporate happyface bullshit.


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Response to KurtNYC (Original post)

Thu Jul 5, 2012, 05:15 PM

73. Great post. Thanks for the insight. I've worked for a company for almost 20 years

and am thinking it is getting close to move on (advancement).

I will keep these things in mind since I have not had to deal with interviews and the like for a long time. Thanks for sharing

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Response to KurtNYC (Original post)

Thu Jul 5, 2012, 06:16 PM

76. The worst place I ever worked checked out under the above 5 criteria.

It turned out to be the worst kind of Republican law firm - not obvious by the ethnicity, gender mix, sexual preferences, clothes, cars, appearance of the partners, associates and staff. The others who worked there either didn't notice or were part of the problem.

You can't read people's real politics by their appearance. Particularly not in places like DC, Silicon Valley, and NYC, where everyone looks hip but many are fiercely loyal to the corporate culture that butters their bread on both sides. But, many of them are neoconservative social liberals who when you scratch their surface turn out to be the worst sort of economic and foreign policy reactionaries.

Money was great. Nobody stole anyone's food. I was not happy there, and soon left.

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Response to KurtNYC (Original post)

Thu Jul 5, 2012, 07:16 PM

79. Chat up the employees

See if the friendly one gossips to you right off the bat. That means you will be gossiped about when you start working there. It's an awful work environment when there's a sewing circle involved.

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Response to Capt. Obvious (Reply #79)

Thu Jul 5, 2012, 08:07 PM

82. There is a sewing circle in every company

that has more than, maybe, two employees.

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Response to KurtNYC (Original post)

Thu Jul 5, 2012, 08:06 PM

81. The company I worked for had a seminar that just made everybody read "Who Moved My Cheese?"

I got the fuck out soon after that.

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Response to KurtNYC (Original post)

Thu Jul 5, 2012, 08:09 PM

83. In tech, look for older people

 

If they still have older people, then you found yourself a match!

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Response to Taverner (Reply #83)

Fri Jul 6, 2012, 04:22 AM

89. +1!

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Response to KurtNYC (Original post)

Thu Jul 5, 2012, 10:47 PM

86. 60 and Out

More things to pay attention to:

Ask for turn-over stats - # of full-time staff 3 years ago, # now. If big drop - no upward movement - leave!

Vibe - listen as you walk thru, hopefully where the cubes are situated, if dead silence, no talking, no joking, no staff visiting co-workers - its a death trap- leave.

In the interview ask for the Company Strategic Plan - if full of bonus plan + how to succeed metrics - leave.

If the COO has an MBA - leave.

Was laid-off after nearly a decade, after turning 60 as a top mgr, while youngsters were hired the same week.

Yes was a blessing - except for the income!

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Response to KurtNYC (Original post)

Fri Jul 6, 2012, 02:07 AM

87. My company just put in a cereal bar and gave us all personal bowls and spoons.

So I guess they are a good company?

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Response to Kablooie (Reply #87)

Fri Jul 6, 2012, 02:25 AM

88. That sounds like a good idea that would benefit the company

Cereal is cheap and making sure you eat breakfast will increase productivity. Personal dishes will insure you clean up your mess.

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Response to KurtNYC (Original post)

Fri Jul 6, 2012, 06:32 AM

90. 6 - If you see a copy of the Republican's Creed, run like the wind

Sometimes retitled to the more politically neutral "Entrepeneur's Creed", a framed copy of this on the wall of a (usually small) business is a surefire sign that the business owners regard their employees as freeloading parasites who will just sit on their butts all day and collect their paycheck if not constantly micromanaged.

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Response to KurtNYC (Original post)

Fri Jul 6, 2012, 07:29 PM

95. Question about #1

Is it a good thing or bad thing if there are cars there at 7am or 7pm? I could see it as people have to work long hours, or people have flexible hours, or even people like their work enough to put in extra time.

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