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Working at Hot Topic — Reviews by Employees

Learn what employees have to say about Hot Topic pay, work/life balance, care potential, job security, and much more by reading our anonymous employee reviews.

Reviews of Jobs at Hot Topic

4.2Rating Details
Category
Pay3
Respect5
Benefits3
Job Security4
Work/Life Balance5
Career Growth3
Location5
Co-Workers5
Work Environment5

From Canton, Ohio — 08/26/2010

I've been working at Hot Topic for over a year now. I was hired last year as a seasonal Sales Associate. I had been wanting to work at Hot Topic for a long time, and all of the employees knew me already because I went into the store at least once a week. You could say I was ecstatic when I got hired. I was aware that as a season, I would probably lose my job after Christmas. But, I knew that some seasonals got kept. So I completely stepped up my game, busted my ass, and when my SM told me they wanted to keep me I literally jumped on him and gave him a hug (we're all very friendly with each other, so it wasn't weird or anything). I have had a decently pleasant experience working there thus far, with the exception of a few hectic days, or those days when you just don't really want to be at work. No matter where you are, it happens. But I wouldn't trade my job for any other one. I can wear what I want, have piercings, dye my hair any color I want, and most important, everyone accepts me for who I am.

PAY: This is the only thing I don't like about this job. I've been surviving on minimum wage for the past year, which isn't that big of a deal, because I'm still in high school and my mom pays for most of my stuff. Still though, I buy most of my clothes, all of my CDs, and a large chunk of my car payment. I also don't get very many hours... I've been there a year and I still sometimes get those weeks where I only work one day. It's kind of a bummer. I actually wished I worked more, not just for more money, but because I like being there.

RESPECT: I feel very respected while working. None of the management has ever talked down to me, or anything of the sort. Nobody has. We're all very friendly with each other, like I mentioned before, and it's almost like we're a sort of family. We're all very comfortable and get along with each other. It's one of the things I like most about this job. I like my coworkers better than my own friends.

BENEFITS: I'm only a sales associate, so I don't get any benefits other than a 20% discount off of music, etc. and a 40% discount off of everything else. I get most of my clothes at Hot Topic, because of my awesome discount. A lot of my money just goes back into the store.

JOB SECURITY: For me, it's good. I was a seasonal, and after being terrified of being let go, I got to stay. Plus, I do what I'm supposed to do (it's not hard obviously), I listen, I go above and beyond, and I am fairly certain that I will never lose my job.

WORK/LIFE BALANCE: Wonderful, considering I usually only work 3 days a week maximum. However, I usually get scheduled on weekends which kind of sucks, but I'm a loser that usually has no plans anyway. (: To be honest, work is my favorite place to be.

CAREER POTENTIAL/GROWTH: I have no idea. I plan on staying with Hot Topic for a long time, because I like it there so much, and I'm hoping that after a few years I would maybe be promoted. But like I said, I really don't know.

LOCATION: I have never been to a mall that didn't have a Hot Topic, which is sweet. The one I work at is 10-15 minutes away from my house. Very convenient. Most people live near a mall.

CO-WORKER COMPETENCE: I love all of my coworkers. They're all some of the most wonderful people I've ever met. We get along very well. The sense of family between the people I work with is the best thing about this job in my opinion.

WORK ENVIRONMENT: Again, this is awesome. Hot Topic is a lot of fun, and just a great atmosphere.
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3.9Rating Details
Category
Pay2
Respect4
Benefits4
Job Security4
Work/Life Balance4
Career Growth4
Location5
Co-Workers4
Work Environment5

From Ohio — 08/08/2010

I have been a sales associate for Hot Topic for over 2 years and I can say that my experience thus far has been very favorable. I can't comment much on managerial treatment since I have never been an ASM or SM, so I won't go into detail about those positions.

Pay: The pay is probably the worst thing about this job. Was hired on for minimum wage, and only get one 25-cent raise per year of employment.

Respect: I have never felt disrespected by a coworker or higher-up. Respect is a virtue with this company, one that we pass on to our customers at all times (unless we get a REALLY crappy customer, but could you blame us then?).

Benefits: Employee discount is 40% off all merchandise and 20% off CDs, DVDs and electronics. This has been very helpful to me in saving money on clothes shopping. All employees also have the opportunity to have their ticket price for concerts reimbursed by the company, which is an INCREDIBLE perk, especially if you pay upwards of 30 bucks for a ticket. However, associates don't receive any healthcare benefits, like the managers do.

Job Security: If you are competent and do your job to the best of your potential, then there is no reason this company would have to let you go. In 2 years I have never seen someone fired unjustly from my store.

Work/Life Balance: If you are an associate, you don't have to worry about this job cutting into your social life. Beginning hours are between 5-15/week; after 2 years with the company I work between 20-25 hrs/week.

Career/Growth: I have been told I'm next in line for the keyholder position in my company after 2 years. I've heard through the grapevine that if you possess the skills and the motivation, it's not hard to be promoted to ASM or even SM, but beyond that is much more difficult.

Location: I believe almost all Hot Topic stores are located in malls, making them a very convenient place to travel to seeing as malls are everywhere. My drive to work is about 15 minutes.

Co-Worker Competence: This is something I have been pleasantly surprised by in my time with the company. If you are hired on and then exhibit some of the following behavior - stand around not doing anything, stand and talk to another employee all day, ignore directions, don't interact with customers, are disrespectful to customers and coworkers - you will NOT stay long. Period. The managers in my region are very good at weeding out crappy employees and they never stay more than a couple of months.

Work Environment: The single best part of working for this company. Hot Topic has an extremely laid back atmosphere and shockingly, the majority of customers I've had have been not only tolerable, but very friendly people whom I can have a real conversation with. Obviously, HT is one of the only major clothing retailers where employees are allowed to have visible piercings and tattoos, wacky hairstyles, and are allowed to wear virtually anything, provided it's not offensive. This has been a major perk of working here, as I have a tattoo on my arm that can't be easily hidden without wearing long sleeves. The coworkers are generally very cool; as I mentioned before, employees with attitudes don't stay long in my region.

If you're looking for a part-time job in retail that isn't challenging, boring, exhausting, or drama-filled, I highly recommend Hot Topic. If you are looking for a job that pays well and provides many hours, look elsewhere.
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4.3Rating Details
Category
Pay1
Respect5
Benefits5
Job Security5
Work/Life Balance5
Career Growth4
Location5
Co-Workers4
Work Environment5

From Orlando, FL — 05/25/2010

I started as a seasonal sales associate and was store manager after like 4 years. I stayed on as an SM for a year before getting a higher paying job closer to home.

Its easy to get promoted up to the SM level, beyond that not so much.

I liked everyone i worked with and the few awful people that were ever employed there never lasted more than a few months from associate to DM level they were quick to get the bad eggs out of power.

The pay is AWFUL, i made $13 as a store manager. BUT to be able to wear whatever you want, listen to music all day, and never have to deal with shitty customers. Not to mention the sense of family and loyalty is unmatched. It was worth it.

I now make almost double and live within walking distance of my current job (as opposed to the 60 mile round trip i was driving) but have to wear a uniform to work and deal with shitty customers and i often regret leaving hot topic.
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3.1Rating Details
Category
Pay2
Respect5
Benefits4
Job Security3
Work/Life Balance2
Career Growth4
Location3
Co-Workers2
Work Environment4

From TX — 10/10/2009

To start off i'm a newly PT Assistant Manager at HotTopic, working in the company for just over a year.

Pay- Sales Associates, the pay sucks. Minimum wage. But, when I did got my yearly raise (as a S.Assoc.) I got 40cents more. The other sales associates who started off near me only got 11cent raises? But that's considering how HARD I work. Now we'll see about my new raise when I get it (i'm still in training for my ASM)

Respect- It's actually very good. Both our Loss Prevention and District Managers are really nice. Some of the most happiest people, kind of makes you think they're on crack. Haha. Now in my store some of the managers are hypocritical about crap, annoys the hell out of me. But over all every one gets the respect.

Benefits-Good

Job Security-Pretty much "If you're lazy and a rude " YOU'RE GONE. The way we look at seasonals are "Would you be willing to spend minimum 5hours a day with this person?" Also, if you are a really hard worker and show it, if you slip up and have mistakes...they are likely going to keep you. I've been on work-probation and i'm still going strong.

Work/Life Balance- Now I don't know about A.S. yet, but, as a sales associate...whew... ridiculous. On a weekly bases I would cover minumum two shifts for people. I don't see why they won't fire these people!! I'm a full time student in college and don't need that crap. Hell i've even taking shifts at other HotTopics.

Career Potential/Growth- Obviously GOOD. I've been a SalesA. for over a year and i'm being promoted to ASM skipping Keyholder over others. I'm also comming from a busy store to a very slow store.

Location- Hot Topic is everywhere. I work about 30-40minutes from home. 9miles approx.? I don't mind. Now i'm transfering to one right by my house, 5mins? 0.5miles? Haha.

Work Environment- Very good for S.A. We joke A LOT at work to make the hours go by. We are very open to all types of people and welcome new people to the team with open arms (literally haha) Our customers range from all types of people. Though we spend so much time watching ALL OF THEM since they ALL STEAL. Our shrink was 3.2% Wtf. We are a high volume store. WTF. Ugh. ANYWHO. Very nice. But I agree with the others about the mechanizing. And all the stress on managers. I've just started my training for ASM and my mind is flustered with numbers and crap. SO MUCH, and i'm a little slow at that stuff so...yah. Also this job is a great birth control, gotta hate these kids that try to steal and talk crap to you.

But one thing that always annoys me with specific coworkers is this idea I read out of a Chuck Klosterman book.
'You ever talk to someone who doesn't know nothing? You ever talk to someone who doesn't know nothing except music?'
....I love music, but I like talking about other things. Life, fat cats, the specific noise a queef sounds like....those things as well. Haha.
Right now, I love my job. Lets see in a few months when I transfer and get settled in aye?
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3.8Rating Details
Category
Pay4
Respect4
Benefits5
Job Security4
Work/Life Balance2
Career Growth4
Location4
Co-Workers4
Work Environment4

From Orange County, CA — 07/10/2009

I'm a Full Time Assistant Manager for Hot Topic in Orange County, CA. At one point in time my review would've been much better, and I'll explain why it's not below. Most of my ratings apply mostly to management, so keep that in mind when looking through my review. Ratings would be significantly higher if I was simply rating from a sales associate perspective.

PAY: I've basically been told by District Managers, etc. that because we "get to have tattoos and piercings and dress the way we want" that our pay may be lower than other retail stores. It's kind of a cop out to me, but you learn to accept it. Sales Associates are hired at minimum wage, very rarely more than that unless the store manager knows the person, etc. Management pay varies by store volume and location. I'm currently paid more at my location than someone of my position would be simply because I transferred from a busier store.

RESPECT: As a sales associate the respect in this job is excellent. I've only worked in management for this company, but at the 3 different stores I've worked sales associates have always been treated with respect.

BENEFITS: Benefits at this company are better than you'll find at most retail stores. Full and Part time managers are eligible for Dental, Medical, Vision, and Life. Keyholders are not eligible for benefits but for a very low amount per paycheck they can receive TeleDoc. Another reviewer was more comprehensive on this section so I'll leave it to them.

JOB SECURITY: Management, Keyholders, & Regular Sales Associates have pretty good job security. Another reviewer said that if you are fired you are performing badly, PERIOD. This is pretty close to true, however there are some exceptions which vary by management. Seasonal Associates are not always so lucky.

WORK/LIFE BALANCE: Great for sales associates and even keyholders and part time management. Awful for Full Time Assistants and Store Managers. I have close to no life outside of work. 40 hours a week (I've worked more at other jobs, but typically with a set schedule so it didn't seem as severe), split days off, varying schedules, texts and phone calls from co-workers asking questions, etc. Closing shifts are swing which takes up most of if not all of your day. Opening shifts are the best to come by but seem to be few and far between.

CAREER POTENTIAL/GROWTH: A lot of this depends on your Store Manager and your District Manager. When I worked in another district it was very clear that there was a ladder to climb and someone to help you climb it. In my current district all is not so clear. If your DM doesn't think very highly of you, even if he or she never sees you, chances are you're staying where you are indefinitely.

LOCATION: There are a ton of Hot Topic stores throughout the USA. I live about 5 minutes from one. However, I have to drive 40 minutes to my store everyday. You cannot always work at the location you want, and as management you are expected to be able to commute if you want to stay in the good graces of your DM. (At least here in OC)

CO-WORKER COMPETENCE: Co-Workers are typically competent here, but you get a lot of people that are burnt out and simply don't work enough. I've had to pick up a lot of slack for others and it's made be bitter.

WORK ENVIRONMENT: For sales associates, the work environment is great. Good music, nice management, typically easy to handle customers. For management, we're constantly remerchandising, emailing, auditing, processing, etc. etc. etc. to the point where the environment is no longer a cool place.
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4.4Rating Details
Category
Pay4
Respect5
Benefits5
Job Security5
Work/Life Balance4
Career Growth5
Location4
Co-Workers4
Work Environment5

From Western, WA (district 4) — 02/19/2009

PAY: The wage is very low upon comparison to other companies (and industries) within the same career management level.



RESPECT: Respect is very important to Hot Topic; respectful workplace training is a fundamental part of the initial training for all employees and is implemented and maintained company-wide. Hot Topic will not tolerate disrespectful behavior from their employees & provides every possible resource for an employee to report abusive business practices including an anonymous hotline, as well as an open-door policy that extends all the way up the ladder to Betsy McLaughlin, the CEO of the company.

BENEFITS: The benefits are amazing! Awesome discount that extends to Torrid & Shockhound.com. Low cost healthcare options for management (even part-timers!), Stock options, company-matching 401k, monthly bonus opportunities, band grants, tuition scholarships, concert reimbursement and other contests for cash & prizes.



JOB SECURITY: HT operates on the pay for merit system and this extends to their retention (and promotion) of all employees. If you lost your job at HT, it is because you were performing below standards- PERIOD. So, basically if you do your job- you get to keep it. What more can you ask for?

Work/Life Balance: I scored this low because, from my experience, it is impossible to be highly effective as a member of management without having Hot Topic consuming a lot of your free time. Do not misunderstand me, they discourage and actually prohibit anyone from working off the clock, but if want product knowledge (namely music) you have to seek that out on your own time. You are required to be an "expert" on everything HT sells, being an expert on that much stuff is time consuming! Every really good manager has no life outside of work- sad but true.

CAREER Growth Potential: The sky is the limit. If you are willing and able HT will take you to the top of the company and everyone above you has a vested interest in you and your advancement.

Location: I scored this low- not because there aren't enough locations; there are plenty. However; HT requires you to be flexible about your locations and if you are not willing to go where they need you- it is impossible to advance. You may end up working at a mall in the next town over- even though you have one down the street from your house. Also, if you want to advance past store manager you may have to move to another state and then you will be traveling all over the place.

Co-worker Competence: Most everyone is competent in their position and if they aren't it is recognized and resolved in some way. However; it is usually a long process which can really take a toll on those compensating for the person who isn't doing their job, which most often leads to frustration and low morale for those who are competent. I think this is how Hot Topic ends up losing good people- they get tired of picking up slack for other people and leave instead of waiting around for that person to get their 2nd and 3rd chances to correct the problem.

Work Environment: Hot Topic is a fun place to work and has great people across the board extending from HQ down to all the stores. The only reason I didn't give a 5 is because I think that there is a lot of stress for management, especially if you take your job seriously and want your store to do well. Managers wear many hats- they are sales people, they are coaches, motivators, planners, merchandisers, stockers, cashiers, loss prevention and sometimes have to unclog toilets and dig through trash- all while trying to make it appear to customers that they're just hanging out having fun. It is a lot to juggle sometimes.

Hot Topic is a great company to work for. They treat their employees and customers like gold. It definitely is not for everyone and there is more to the job than what is on the surface. If you are a music snob or fashion elitist looking for a chill, relaxed job where you hang-out, socialize and act like a moron- this is not it. If you are not a goal oriented, motivated person who takes pride in their work- Hot Topic is not for you. However; if you have a passion for music and fashion and a willingness to accept all different kinds of people, music and styles and are looking for a place that will embrace your uniqueness and allow you to share your creativity this could be the place for you.

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3.7Rating Details
Category
Pay3
Respect4
Benefits3
Job Security2
Work/Life Balance5
Career Growth3
Location5
Co-Workers5
Work Environment5

From Dale City, Virginia — 12/21/2008

I worked at Hot Topic as a seasonal job, and it was the most fun I'd ever had working retail. The manager was awesome, and all of my coworkers were very accepting and open. It was a great place to work! Of course, once the season was over, I lost the job, and was very disappointed, but it was a great experience!
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4.0Rating Details
Category
Pay4
Respect5
Benefits3
Job Security4
Work/Life Balance5
Career Growth4
Location4
Co-Workers3
Work Environment5

From South Florida — 09/26/2008

I worked for this company for less than a year as an assistant manager and overall I really enjoyed it. The manager I worked under was incompetent and came close to ruining the experience for me, but everything else was great.
PAY: was normal. I came in at a higher-than-normal pay rate due to my experience.
RESPECT: everyone was respectful to each other, corporate never talked down to you, and it felt like a family which was a nice feeling to have at your "job." everyone I met in my short time at HT was for the most part incredibly nice and hard-working.
BENEFITS: for full-timers, I believe. the employee discount was very nice and the ability to be compensated for going to shows (concerts) was incredible.
JOB SECURITY: I didn't see a huge amount of turnover there.
WORK/LIFE BALANCE: as a rule, HT doesn't allow their management to work over 40 hours a week!!! Unless they specifically want overtime. such a relief after working for GameStop, who essentially forced you into working 60-70 hours a week during the holidays.
CAREER POTENTIAL/GROWTH: hard workers get recognized and move up.
LOCATION: almost always in malls.
CO-WORKER COMPETENCE: obviously, mall clothing stores that hire as young as 16 and who appeal to the tween and teenage crowds aren't going to get the cream of the crop in terms of applicants; however it's all in who you hire. Like I said before, pretty much everyone I worked with at HT were awesome, awesome people, some of which I still talk to today.
WORK ENVIRONMENT: I love it. great clothes, excellent music, and cool customers.

I loved working for this company and would do so again in a heartbeat. Just make sure the manager you are working under isn't a raving lunatic like the chick I worked with.
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4.4Rating Details
Category
Pay4
Respect5
Benefits4
Job Security4
Work/Life Balance4
Career Growth4
Location5
Co-Workers5
Work Environment5

From Strongsville, Ohio — 08/14/2008

Pay - the pay is minimum wage for part-time employees which might bother some people but is okay with me. I can still pay my bills on the salary, my only gripe is I wish there were more hours for sales associates.
Benefits - you got reimbursed for going to concerts, a great employee discount, payed fifteen minute breaks for small shifts, however the benefits like health care and paid vacation are for management.
Respect - everyone in the company respects you so long as you do your job and follow the rules. I had a lot of problems with my homelife and management's and co-workers respect didn't waiver.
Job security is okay. If you are hired on part-time and do you job right you have nothing to worry about but if you are seasonal you might not get brought on to permanent staff when the season's over.
Work/life balance is great - there was plenty of time for a life, but I do wish there were more hours.
Growth - not too much, but okay. Associates can make it to keyholder and assistant managers could someday have their own store.
Location is great. Never more than fifteen minutes from my house.
Co-worker competence - everyone I have worked with was intelligent and could do their job correctly
Work envoirnment is great - you get to meet new people and talk about music. It's less like a job and more like hanging out.
Hot Topic - I love you!
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