From Central Maryland — 12/16/2009
I was an Executive Team Leader (ETL, or Assistant Manager) at Target, recruited fresh out of college.
Pay (+5) : I've got to say, during a time when the economy was just about to fall out under everyone's feet, Target was good to me. As a 23-year-old graduate, they offered me a salary just under $50,000 a year, when friends older than me who had graduated the year before were struggling in the low $20k's.
Respect (+4) : I wouldn't say I ever felt disrespected by anyone at Target except for A) the small handful of disgruntled team members (hourly employees) and B) one or two fellow ETLs who were just old and miserable. My STL was a hard-driving, results-oriented individual, but he/she never disrespected me. On the contrary, he/she was very helpful and tried to motivate me to improve my career in management.
Benefits (+4) : As a manager, I worked full-time with salary, and I was eligible for benefits almost immediately. The only reason I did not give this category a +5 is because sometimes the copay for basic services seemed too high (a routine dental cleaning cost me $150 - $200 out of pocket), as if Target could have sprung for the next better package, but opted to save some money.
Job Security (+4) : Again, I almost gave this a +5, but I feel that Target, regardless of what they might claim, does display favoritism, depending on what store you're in and who is in charge. Luckily for me, I was a favorite (at least during most of my tenure there). However, if you are targeted (no pun intended) by your STL or other ETLs as a poor performer AND/OR just not liked personally, they have a way of doing what they call "performance managing" you out. Ever receive a coaching or counseling at Target? Did you do everything in your power to change your behavior or performance to fix it, only to receive the "next step" in corrective action a month or two later? Guess what. That's because one of your bosses, or your boss's boss, had it out for you from the get-go. In my experience, I saw this happen 90% of the time because of attitude. If a team member or team leader displayed a crappy attitude, expressed disrespect or disdain for ETLs or fellow team members, etc, one of the ETLs or the STL would bring that person up in a meeting. Eventually a coaching would be given for not being fast, fun, and friendly. Even if that person tried to change, typically the ETL or STL who delivered the original coaching had been personally insulted or embarassed by the team member and held a grudge. When an ETL or STL holds a grudge against you, they will watch you and wait for you to make the same mistake again. You can be good for 29 days, but if you make a mistake on Day 30, you are getting taken to the next level of corrective action. Long story short, I call this sort of behavior by management into question when it comes to job security. If you're well-liked, you can have a nice long career at Target.
Work/Life Balance (-3) : It's retail. Now I understand not having too many vacations off, and I understand managers working rotating weekends. But the biggest problem I had with Targets work/life balance was the 50-hour weeks for ETLs. On countless occasions my coworkers and I would discuss how we felt that we could manage our team and do our jobs during a standard 8-hour day. If you're an ETL and you are breaking your back 60+ hours a week, you are doing something wrong. Not Target. An effective manager knows time management, and if you stay busy, an ETL can get his/her work done within 40 - 45 hours a week. Add to that the fact that I had an unfortunate 45 minute commute to work each way, and all the sudden it seems my workday is in the ballpark of 12 hours.
Career Potential (+2) : Similar to the job security section, I feel that if you are well-liked by your STL and DTL (store- and district-team leader), you can and will grow at Target. If not, you will be stuck in your store for another 18 - 24 months. I will say, however, that Target does have several areas in which a manager can grow. Human Resources, Assets Protection, Logistics, Operations, Distribution Center management, Safety, HQ in Minneapolis, Investigations, and those are only the ones I know about.
Location (0) : This all depends on where you live and where you want to live. In my experience, I spent the whole of my career at one store, and I absolutely hated the location. To begin with, it was far from my home. I passed three other Target stores in my district on the way to work every day. On top of that, my store was in a rural area and had a team that had been there forever. These people were not receptive to change and did not accept me as a young professional with a college degree very happily. However, I was friends with other ETLs in the district who seemed to be thrilled with their coworkers like they were an ETL Dream Team. Definitely wish I had that...
Co-worker Competence (+1) : There were about six other ETLs in my store. Two of them were very smart, helpful, friendly, and good at their jobs. A third was all of the above, but he quit because everyone used him as a scapegoat and he was burned out. Poor guy. Finally, the other three were pretty arrogant and, although they knew their jobs (because they were over 40 and had been in the same position for the last twenty years), they were unwilling to help and enjoyed seeing the young newbies make mistakes, crash, and sometimes burn.
Work Environment (0) : I kept this at 0 because this depends entirely on your position, location, mental outlook, team members, coworkers, bosses, and a whole slew of other factors. For me, it was neutral. For every good day, there was a bad day. For every great day, there were two disastrous days. So maybe -1 is a better description for my experience, but I'll stick with 0.
If you can, work as an ETL. Try it. If you like it, great. It's a decent gig, but don't stay if you get too worn out.