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The 13 Warning Signs of Bad Companies to Work For

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Back in the days when "webmaster in charge of bundling and streaming media" was a job description and people said "etailer" with a straight face, career counselors said the interview was a two-way street.

That if an employer had the right to ask about your job history and personal background, you could certainly ask to see the firm's business plan or financial statements.

That was then.

Today if you're lucky enough to get a real interview--not a group or phone interview if they're not oxymorons--you're not going to blow it by asking nosey questions.

Especially since you've risked your current job by telling your boss you're going to the dentist wearing your three piece suit and gold jewelry for the second time this month.

Still be on your guard for companies that call their employees "associates" or "team members." This is a cheap way of making them feel valued without paying them.

Beware of companies with morale campaigns like "We're The Best" and baseball caps that say "Reach for the Stars." Employees paid enough don't need morale campaigns.

Be suspicious of offices that are a sea of particle board cubicles with a few ostentatious glass offices. The only time you'll see the inside of a glass office under Floorplan Feudalism is when they tell you your job was seasonal.

Beware of companies whose employee parking lots are full at 6:30 AM and 6:30 PM. The cars aren't there because people love the cafeteria food.

And, speaking of food, beware of companies that offer free pizza parties and push company games like volleyball. Forced fun is not only an insult--you're there to work--it is cheaper than paying employees.

Beware of companies with signs in the employee kitchen like "Your Mother Doesn't Live Here; Clean Up After Yourself" and "I Hope The Person Who Stole My Sandwich Chokes On It." These are the people you will be working with.

Beware of companies who prosecute resume untruths, demand drug tests and have elaborate, paranoid security systems. They're afraid of sneaky employees because they've created them.

Beware of companies whose ads tell you you must have a pleasant sounding voice, dependable car or "work well in fast paced environment."

And ads seeking "an aggressive self starter," or someone who wants to "be your own boss."

Never answer an ad with the headline "students, homemakers, retirees--need extra cash?" unless you're writing a book about low wage employee abuse.

Beware of companies who push their "outstanding benefits" instead of salary--and consider paying your social security a benefit.

Beware of interviewers who tell you about another employee's divorce or surgery. Tomorrow they will be discussing your emails.

Finally, beware of an interviewer who asks if you know anyone hiring human resources people. Bad omen--even if an interview still was a two-way street.
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Martha Rosenberg is an award-winning investigative public health reporter who covers the food, drug and gun industries. Her first book, Born With A Junk Food Deficiency: How Flaks, Quacks and Hacks Pimp The Public Health, is distributed by (more...)

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