12 Warning Signs You'll Get Overworked and Underpaid by an Employer

With another jobless recovery at hand, it is tempting to accept any position offered to you. But there are 12 kinds of companies you don’t want to work for. Here are the warning signs:


1) Beware of companies that call their employees “associates” or “team members.” This is a cheap way of making them feel valued without paying them.

2) 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.

3) 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 and they don’t need you anymore.

4) 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.

5) 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 and probably have enough friends–it is a cheap way companies try to look generous.

6) 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. After a few months you’ll be writing signs too.

7) Beware of companies who say they prosecute resume errors and demand drug tests before they’ve even hired you. They’re afraid of sneaky employees because they’ve created sneaky employees. P.S. They also have elaborate security systems.

8) Beware of companies whose ads ask you if you want to “be your own boss” and say you must have a dependable car. You’ll be demonstrating cleaning systems in half empty subdivisions.

9) Beware of companies whose ads say they are seeking “an aggressive self starter” who “works well in fast paced environment.” They’re too cheap to hire enough people–and know it.

10) Never answer an ad with the headline “students, homemakers, retirees–need extra cash?” even if you are a student, homemaker or retiree. The pay is so low, your income qualifies as “Extra cash.”

11) Beware of human resource officers who want to talk about their “outstanding benefits” instead of salary. Not only is the salary low, these companies actually consider paying your social security a benefit.

12) Beware of interviewers who divulge secrets or personal information about other employees at the company like divorces or health problems. Tomorrow they’ll be talking about you…

Martha Rosenberg is an investigative health reporter. She is the author of  Born With A Junk Food Deficiency: How Flaks, Quacks and Hacks Pimp The Public Health (Prometheus).

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