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What to look for in an employer Expand / Collapse
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Posted Sunday, July 22, 2012 11:18 AM


Mr or Mrs. 500

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Comments posted to this topic are about the item What to look for in an employer


Best wishes,

Phil Factor
Simple Talk
Post #1333518
Posted Sunday, July 22, 2012 11:23 AM
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"There are, of course, the classic general danger signs such as a fish-tank in the foyer, and a flagpole outside."

Flag poles are quite common in our area of the country (South) - so I don't know what the basis for something like this might be. [and it is rare to see the confederate flag outside of rural areas, we just fly 'old glory' and our state flag]. Most of the rest of your points I would agree with - but not this one.



Post #1333521
Posted Sunday, July 22, 2012 2:10 PM


Mr or Mrs. 500

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I don't know the origin of this saying, but it comes from accountants. The third bad sign, according to the legend, is a car-park full of expensive lease cars. Why flagpoles are bad I don't know, but the last time I visited a company with both the fish-tank and the flagpole, it was out of business within six months. Maybe it is different in the Southern States


Best wishes,

Phil Factor
Simple Talk
Post #1333534
Posted Sunday, July 22, 2012 3:35 PM
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I always scope out the parking lot as well. Hard to tell whether a vehicle is leased or not but if there's clearly a large number of older vehicles, especially inexpensive models I judge it to mean that there is a disconnect between how management is valued and the rank and file is valued. One place I worked also had a separate lot for management. The lot for the rest was five minutes away, unpaved and filled with cheap cars. Bad sign.

Trying to determine the ratio of women to men in the office is a pretty good indicator too. An office with an even balance (especially in each work group) I believe will work better than groups that are overwhelmingly male or female. I think that just having members of the opposite sex nearby keeps people on their best behaviour. I have seen it work and the lack of it fail to work.

I'm curious about the fish tank though. Never heard that one so I'll keep an eye out.
Post #1333540
Posted Sunday, July 22, 2012 10:17 PM
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Hey guys, I have some noob questions.

What is "fish-tank" and "flagpole" term means?
Post #1333592
Posted Monday, July 23, 2012 1:18 AM
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"There are, of course, the classic general danger signs such as a fish-tank in the foyer, and a flagpole outside."


When you work for the government the danger sign is the absence of the flagpole!
Post #1333621
Posted Monday, July 23, 2012 1:55 AM


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My local Cafe where I get my real coffee in the morning just put in a fish tank under their counter. I hope they don't go out of business!


I think one sign of a bad place to work is one that's rife with nepotism. If the Boss's son or daughter is also of senior rank and in line for the "throne" then run a mile.
Post #1333627
Posted Monday, July 23, 2012 2:05 AM


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What I look for is a challenge. My last employer, though the people were warm and friendly and the environment was OK, was in the managed services business - providing outsourced IT support to multiple customers. Consequently I was encouraged (as the DBA) to be reactive to issues, rather than proactive. Any attempt at proactive measures (implementing source control, standards, even performance alerting) was robustly denied on commercial grounds. 'Is the customer paying for this? No? Then it's a no. Cheers anyway.' After 8 months I had had enough and moved onto a more challenging role.

I think things like the flagpole / fishtank (not sure of the significance of this?), decent coffee, good environment etc. are important but nowhere near as important as the core of the work. I've worked on trains and buses, in a crowded study, on hotdesks, in cafes and pubs (bars for you merkins) and I find I can normally be productive anywhere. When I worked for one large company (rearrange the letters BMI) I didn't even have a permanent office - I was free to roam the country, working where I wanted to (home, office, cafe) providing I turned in the work.

Now I work for a small dev shop. It's an OK environment - good coffee, open-plan, small staff turnover - but it's the opportunities I have to develop and implement best practices and develop my skills in areas in which I'm weak that mean I'll stay here for as long as they want me.


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Post #1333629
Posted Monday, July 23, 2012 6:01 AM
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Perhaps it's minor, but for me a big one would have to be if they were using dual (at least) displays or not. After a decade of having two monitors at two different companies I refuse to go back, so if they didn't already have them that would definitely be something I'd be asking about.
Post #1333721
Posted Monday, July 23, 2012 6:37 AM
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One of the best interviews I had included talking with the various users I would be working with on a regular basis. This helped me understand how much the company cared about delivering the right product to our users. The job was for a Reporting/Database Analyst and I loved working for that company and I would have retired there; but I moved to another state.

One of the worst interview I had included a question on the phone that went like this "Are you a hard worker?" Ummm no, I'm lazy but please give me the job! I have had onsite interviews where I took certification exams, other types of test, etc. It's not the greatest assessment tool, but it's alright. I prefer when the company has their own testing environment as opposed to using a Certification Exam (since I don't work with XML all those questions were annoying!).

I've also had interviews were the person on the phone asks a ridiculous question for which one would have had to memorize the text book and then tells me I'm wrong and tells me the right answer afterwards. Needless to say, I rejected going for the onsite interview. One humiliation is enough right?

Another thing to look for is to see if you keep getting repeated questions from different interviewers. This tells me that there is some communication breakup somewhere in the chain. When I run interviews, I make sure that the entire team has the set of technical questions we will review and then we tell each other which questions were asked. That way when we want to ask a similar question we ask for more depth.

It is also a good sign when the interviewers are relaxed and may ask some informal questions or have a sense of humor. You never want to work in a place that is run like a concentration camp where the death penalty is issued for smiling!

My two cents!
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Post #1333746
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