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Getting Around the Web in Weighty Ways

Dear Joyce: I’ve made two unfortunate job choices and want to avoid a third misstep. Before I take my next position, I’d like to check with present or former employees who would really open up with what it’s like to work for a particular company.

, R.D.

I believe in the theory that when you want to know what to expect from nonadversarial but opposing troops (employers and recruiters on the other side of the desk), talk to one of their generals.

That’s why I contacted Barbara Ling, a four-star expert in new media recruiting. Industry insiders agree that the exuberant consultant, author and seminar (riseway.com) trainer really “knows her stuff.” I don’t want to waste space detailing Ling’s impressive digital background , see her Web site , but, for openers, the super-wired employment guru speaks Unix.

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Ling suggests that when you want to hear what employees say about their companies, you check into the employee message boards (nearly 43,000 postings) on Vaultreport.com (vaultreport.com). You click on the publicly traded companies or industries listed and read behind the scenes.

The Vaultreport.com comments I read ran to the negative side, often with rude language. As you might expect, the best zingers come from former employees:

An ex-employee warns that a famous airline recruits for one job, then switches you to another, less-desirable position.

A former employee of a national news service grumbles that the company is 20 years behind the times in technology, has unskilled management, pays poorly and suffers from morale bankruptcy.

A woman who worked at a name-brand brewery says the place is ruled by burly and mentally impaired frat boys, and that it’s a hotbed of testosterone and male inferiority complexes.

Another lead from Ling to go behind company scenes: “Visit Yahoo messages (yahoo.com) and search by company name , Microsoft, for example.”

Sometimes you can mine info nuggets by creatively using city Web sites. Ling points out that USAcitylink (usacitylink.com) connects you to hundreds of smaller as well as large cities.

And you could, of course, visit newsgroups and ask if anyone has a report to give on a particular company.

(But when you’re applying at a small or privately held company, you may have to revert to low-tech methods of digging under the surface.

You remember networking , a process of asking around until you find someone who can speak to your issue, or perhaps you can manage to show up at noon or after work at a restaurant or watering hole where the company rank and file hang out.)

Barbara Ling’s Web site (barbaraling.com) is an interesting place to visit. Her “Learn the Net” feature is marvelously helpful for those

who are a half-day late in the Internet race. And within the “Learn the Net” department you’ll discover an amusing link to Clich & #233; Finder , 3,300 searchable clich & #233;s.

Dear Joyce: Have you ever heard of hiring two people in a package hire? What do you think about this?

, A.W.T.

Other than husband-wife teams for ventures like club management and the intact teams so popular in software development, I’m not aware of twin or group hiring.

One well-regarded consultant on the West Coast is pushing the idea, noting that twofers may be a good response to tight labor markets. Maybe so. Package hires would solve the trailing spouse problem or distress at leaving a good friend behind.

But I think that a company has to be desperate to do it , too many built-in problems, such as one employee quitting and dragging the other out the door, too. From the job seeker’s viewpoint: I’d consider being professionally joined at the hip with someone only if relocation was required and I feared loneliness at a new place. Thumbs down.

Send career questions for possible use in this column to Kennedy at this paper, or E-mail her at (jlk@sunfeatures.com).

& #352; 1999, Los Angeles Times Syndicat

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