AT&T is hiring for thousands of positions. At the same time, tens of thousands of its current
employees have been working without a contract for almost four months now, with AT&T first pushing for pay cuts and increased health care premiums. Help "make sure AT&T stays on the high road," the Communication Workers of America implores its members on its website, "providing good, middle-class jobs." And on that score, the company does have a good record.
AT&T is the largest union employer in the nation, and it has the above-market salaries to prove it. At the bottom, a retail sales consultant takes home an average of $13.40 an hour, according to Glassdoor.com. But as soon as you move into more technical positions, the average annual compensation gets impressively magnanimous:
- Analysts: $65,000.
- Senior analysts: $75,000.
- Technical architects: $87,876.
- Principal members of the technical staff: $109,000.
The benefits are "are among the best in the nation," Rasmussen says, and employees writing on Glassdoor.com agree, applauding the 401(k) match, medical, vision and dental benefits, and stocks that give a nice little dividend each year.
But this highly structured generosity has a downside, with some employees griping that raises are based more on tenure than good work. "You are union. So you're just a number," says one cable splicer in Houston on Glassdoor.com. "It doesn't matter how good an employee you are, your s****** coworker with more service than you is respected more."
And as can be expected for a company of this size (the seventh largest in the U.S. by revenue), there's plenty of paperwork and processes, with resources divvied out years in advance, according to a former product manager in Morristown, N.J., making it hard to push through your brilliant new idea with any kind of speed.
"The company is mostly stagnant, with no employees wanting to leave or change jobs," grumbles a senior manager in Atlanta, "so the job you take is the one you will likely retire from."
The fact that so many employees spend decades at AT&T seems, however, to lend credence to its many accolades. CNNMoney named it one of the World's Most Admired Companies this year, and DiversityInc called it the third best company for blacks, the fifth best company for Latinos, the eighth best company for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender workers, the 10th best company for people with disabilities, and the sixth best company for recruitment and retention.
These shiny trophies are tarnished somewhat by a stream of serious lawsuits over the past few years. Last October, AT&T settled a giant class action age discrimination suit, after refusing to rehire tens of thousands of former employees who had left the company through its early retirement programs. In May, the company paid over $5 million to a Muslim convert who claimed that she was harassed for years, culminating in her boss yanking her veil from her head.
But AT&T has made a few grand gestures of good will. It was a founding member of the 100,000 Jobs Mission, a coalition of companies that have promised to hire 100,000 veterans by 2020, and it earned a spot on G.I. Jobs magazine's list of Top 100 Military-Friendly Employers this year.
One technical consultant in Boston sums up his experience at the company: "You will know what to expect, earn a competitive salary, have a system that generally takes care of you, and have no fear of your company suddenly falling out from under you."
"The company isn't evil, and it isn't totally socially progressive," he adds. "It's a big moneymaker that also offers services."
Job seekers who are interested in this proposition can apply through the company's site and CareerBuilder, AOL Jobs' partner, which currently has 36,000-plus listings. You can stay informed about the latest openings through its talent network, Facebook page or Twitter feed. The specific qualifications or experience required to work at AT&T depends, of course, on the specific job that you want among the sprawling departments of one of country's biggest employers.
In general, however, AT&T is looking for candidates with an interest in communications, entertainment or information technology, with "enthusiasm about technology and innovation," Rasmussen says, "the latest and greatest in gadgets."
The company has plenty of resources for interested applicants (click here and here). Once you apply, you can log into the company's website to check on your status, and the most qualified will land an interview. (See tips on doing well here). According to most accounts, the interview isn't a gotcha affair; expect the standard questions, plus a skills test, and a background and drug test.
And if you're invited into the AT&T family, expect a few extra goodies, like tuition reimbursement and a discount on your next phone. Being part of an iconic company, in a growing industry, has its pluses too.
"AT&T traces our history back to the invention of the telephone in 1876 and we've collected eight Nobel Prizes along the way," says Rasmussen. "Our scientists register an average of two patents a day."
And the company has managed to stay on the high road for most of that time. At the end of July, AT&T came to a tentative contract agreement with its Midwest union members that includes wage increases for the next three years, a pension increase, more control over time-off, and a cap on mandatory overtime. The union bargaining team admitted they were "pleased."
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