Before you sign your life away...


Team Member/Troll
Jun 16, 2011
And some people hoped that this would go away...

Full disclosure, I was (as so many others I see posting here) an ETL hire straight out of college, and turned frequently to this site for tips and advice prior to taking the offer and donning my red and khaki.

Although there's already a surplus of positive, encouraging posts for the fledgling ETL, I thought I'd throw my hat into the ring and offer a little well-founded advice for those about to take up the "Executive" mantle...
Here’s a fun little Reality Trip for you...

So you just graduated, the economy (especially for recent college grads) is brutal, and, apart from a bunch of sketchy insurance agencies and reps from Enterprise-rent-a-car, the only positive, interested (and, let's face it, young and Caucasian) people at your college job fair were decked out in red and khaki. Heck, they even gave you a stuffed dog!***

"Wow," you say to yourself. "I DO love shopping at Target, and I WOULD describe myself as an energetic person who loves a challenging, ever-changing environment. Plus, they're interviewing EXECUTIVES*gasp*! At last, someone who acknowledges my intellectual value after four years of college! Where else could I rise so high at the age of 22? I should definitely give it a try!"
You fork over your resume, smile nicely, and walk away thinking how cool it would be not to have to wear a suit to work every day. Though you've never worked retail, it really can't be *that* hard (after all, lowly high school grads do it). Anyway, you'll be an executive! Leave the grunt work to the peons while you eat lunch in the boardroom.***

You (being the eminently employable superstar you always knew you were, if only those other jobs in your field of study had given you a chance, instead of babbling about "skill sets" and "hiring freezes" during your interview) are thrilled and excited to get a call-back from the good people at the ol' Bullseye. You suit up, ace a few interviews, and before you know it, there's a call back from a perky young thing in HR gushing about how great you were, offering a princely salary of 43-47K a year, and droning on and on about something called on-boarding (also, she seems really psyched, and has heard lots and lots about how great you are). In this economy you'd be a fool NOT to take it- after all, you've got student loans to pay, and your parents are already talking about turning your old bedroom into a workshop for those idiotic ship-in-a-bottle things your dad's obsessed with. Go for it.

That's when you run a quick google search for things like "Executive Team Leader salary" or the like, and after messing around with for awhile, you will stumble across this forum;

Sure, there might be a couple of Debbie Downers trashing their ETL, or bemoaning the inexperience of the fresh-out-of-college managers they're saddled with, but hey- none of it seems to apply to you-you're way too smart and motivated to fall prey to the pitfalls some of these well-meaning TL's (whatever the hell those are) have outlined and trapped you for, and you scoff at the lazy parasites who resent working twelve-hour days six days a week. Go ahead, take that offer, what's the worst that can happen?

You show up for Target's Business College, and realize there are a disconcerting amount of other new college grads your age. "Gee," you think, "Target must be expanding at a crazy rate to need this many new ETL's. And they just said this is the fourth one they've run this year. Working for such a rapidly expanding company is going to be so incredibly Awesome!" Plus, the second those fat paychecks start hitting your BofA student checking account, that iPhone you always wanted will be yours for the taking!

It is kind of funny though, you've never really wanted to work in Soft-lines (your econ textbooks didn't really prep you for it), but they've just told you that's what your new job will be. Couldn't they have just told you that, originally what you were applying for? Those girls over there got HR, and that kid next to you got AP (which sounds kinda Paul Blart, Mall Cop-esque, but still cooler than selling jorts to elementary schoolers), and now he's nauseatingly full of himself about it. Forget him, you'll be fine, and anyways (they tell you) everyone rotates every so often so you'll be able to learn every part of the building. You'll be fine.

And then you get into your store. Everyone's really, really nice, and although an unsettlingly large number of your new co-workers will grimace and say "what, another one already?" when you introduce yourself as a new Exec in Training, ignore them. Focus, instead, on learning how to learn the processes you'll need in your new job; tagging along with the other execs, and realize that you couldn't possibly learn everything in the meager six weeks corporate allots for this sort of thing- your entire time at Target will be an ongoing learning experience!*** And get to know the members of your team really, really well as they'll be the ones who'll be watching your back and helping you through this great process.***

Never mind that, as time goes by, you're starting to come to the unsettling realization that an "exec" is really Target-speak for "assistant manager (you)," "team leader," is "supervisor (who, again, and this is unsettling, knows more about doing your job than you could possibly learn in two years and either a) resents you because you make 15K a year more than they do due to your fancy college diploma or b) HAS a diploma, is struggling mightily to convince the indifferent, twenty-something execs above them to put through that promotion, resents the fact that 85% of current ETL hires are now straight out of college, and is woefully unaware that your fellow execs snicker about their ambitions behind their back)."

Also, "team member" stands for "blue collar workers who now (despite your working similar jobs in high school and college and knowing what it's like to make $7.25 an hour) either shamelessly defer to you as if you, who as a lofty EIT, represents the corporation in all its red and khaki glory or openly scorn your lack of aptitude when it comes to building plan-o-grams and running peppy, large-scale "Huddles" (seriously) where you inform the workers on the floor just how great, in your limited experience, they are, while try to make them care how much the store made or missed its projected numbers that day, and remind them of the importance of safety on the job. You'll be surprised by how many, indeed DO actually care, but don't let that throw you. Follow the lead of the other execs, who will faithfully document, commiserate with, and record the Team Member's complaints and opinions on their jobs, then shamelessly bash them during the weekly executive meeting to the STL as lazy troublemakers who are lucky to be employed at all [In all seriousness, I'm not joking here. That was verbatim, and it happens all the time].*** {What? You mean all this time that I'm getting paid to input data, somebody is... Nevermind.}

As for your STL, that mythical, god-like creature who rules the building with a firm but loving hand, embodies your highest aspirations in the organization, and acts as a surrogate parent/mentor/fearless leader to the teeming masses laboring under them, learn from their example. You are a leader in the building with the potential to be so much more (an STL) and everything you've done with your life up until now has been in preparation for ascending to that lofty post. When they approach you, take a deep whiff. Smell that? It's success. Forget the eighty billion other execs in your district ahead of you in line for it- Target's a meritocracy, and you could easily be bringing home the big bucks in a few short years. You're already on the right track (remember, you are an awesome college grad).

In fact, forgetting things as you go forward will be key to your survival. Forget that the previous eight [again, I'm dead serious. EIGHT] execs to train at your store were termed (the lovely Target euphemism for "fired in tears") within a few months of finishing their own business college, forget the fact your fellow execs always seem to be poised on the brink of nervous, physiological, or physical collapse, and often go into hysterics when told the DM is coming to walk the store, forget even that 45K a year isn't really all that much per hour when you work 55+ hours a week [again, this is dead serious, 55 hours isn't a cruel joke people made up for this forum, and often entails getting up at 2AM to unload a truck at 3]. Even forget the fact that the friends who stuck out their job search a little longer than you did are making 40K to work forty hours a week, 9-5, and get weekends and holidays off, plus benefits similar to your own with the added benefit of a soul. Forget that the whole work/life balance that friendly recruiter touted to you will really consist of work/thinking and stressing about work, as the job involves numerous factors outside your control, but are still your fault (other jobs have this too, but not to the extreme you'll experience).

And forget that the corporate culture with it's "feedback" orientated culture is really a laundry list of your perceived and real defects not only as a leader, but also a human being and will be heavily documented in the likely event of your termination. You know those "wins" and "opportunities" the store has? You have them too, and from your first feedback session on, they will not change. Embrace them- you'll be speaking to your flaws as an individual for the rest of your time at the company, however brief that might be.

Forget all that. Take that on-boarding material, sign your offer, and enjoy your time as an ETL at Target. I know I did.
Your soul will be returned to upon leaving the company.
Your humanity will not.
I'm glad you saved this, who originally posted it?
It was an actual post from a former ETL giving an unvarnished view of their short time with Target.
I remember a yr when we had 3 EITs at once. One never finished, another quit during his first rotation because of the effect that stress was having on his health & the 3rd quit shortly after he moved to his store.
It totally blows my mind that Target hires people fresh out of college, with zero actual retail experience and places them in management positions.

Although, I've seen the same thing happen elsewhere.

I once helped a girl I knew get a job with the company I was working for and then found out they were paying her $3 an hour more than they were paying me, to do the exact same job, only in a smaller, lower volume store.

The reason?

"She has a masters degree."


Her first ever in her life retail job, making $3 an hour more than me came to an end when the DM walked in on her sitting in the middle of the sales floor, crying hysterically...

The stressing about things that are beyond your control but are still your fault is also not unique to Target.

That's more like, welcome to management.
That old post is so accurate it is not funny. Full disclosure myself, i was NOT a college graduate, but joined from a different retailer. During my years, i had a lot of success, but then it became clear, no degree, aging, and it became amazing how things out of my control, i became accountable, and the little stuff that eventually became coachings.
There was a time i would promote target to anyone, now after seeing what happened to me and others in identical situation with identical backgrounds, with the same end result.
Honest and integrity is something that is a trait the leaders seem to find not important. When i was put on a final, my stl, actually smiled and enjoyed the conversation.
No i do not fit the mold of an etl, but the results and commitment were always there.
Anyway, i did find out the grass is greener on the other side. After the final, i sent out one resume, and then had 3 interview, and a new career (out of retail).

My respect for Target is gone, although i still shop there to show support for the team members, and still hate Walmart.
i will keep my eye this site, to try and redirect those heading into hell.
Simply sounds like someone who couldn't cut it is all. It's not for everyone, but if you apply yourself and know how to lead, your golden!
Simply sounds like someone who couldn't cut it is all. It's not for everyone, but if you apply yourself and know how to lead, your golden!

This is absolutely BS, and clearly someone that has never worked at Target.

I'm a Logistics Team lead in a low volume store and always question whether the stress is worth the measly few dollars that they want to pay. I only have 3 people in my backroom on a large truck day including myself and my other two guys are scheduled till 7.45 because we don't have payroll, despite the fact RWT says backstock should be completed by 4pm that evening in the mean time I also have to follow up with my instocks team, do my business walks, leadership statuses, write reviews, PDD's and coachings, answer guest calls, Oh and by the way were having a Mutual back patting session (TL meeting) at 11 o'clock. So my ETL comes to me why is our backstock percentage not green, why didn't instocks get there task list completed, why are you not in the meeting it started 5 minutes ago, why are you still in the building 5 minutes past your shift. And that is only half of it and i'm not even joking.

I bust my balls for that place and when I explain that its because we don't have the man power to get the job done (And I know he's only joking) he says "well you need to work harder" I just want to punch him in the face. lol

I understand that he gets just as much pressure from the STL and DTL as he gives me but I honestly think these higher ups are living in a dream world 90% of the time.

It is kind of hard to lead a team, when they do not give you a team to lead to begin with.
paygrades from 2009: source: the gtc: 98cents, rock lobster, silkk01

PG3: Guest Service TM (Cashier, Service Desk); Cart Attendant TM; Fitting Room TM; Garden Center TM; Salesfloor TM; Brand Attendant

PG5: Price Change TM; Planogram TM (varies by store); Salesfloor TM (Bakery, Produce, Sampling); Photo TM; Food Service TM; Instocks TM

PG7: Logistics TM (Backroom overnight/Early AM); Logistics TM (Backroom Day); Logistics TM (Flow overnight/early AM); Planogram TM (varies by store); Human Resources TM; Guest Service Attendant (GSA); Bike Building TM; Starbucks TM

PG9: Salesfloor Specialist (Electronics, Jewelry, Entertainment, Shoes); Cash Office Specialist; Reverse Logistics Specialist; Signing Specialist; Photo Lab Specialist; Target Protection Specialist (TPS); Bakers? and Deli TMs?

PG11: Cake Decorators and Senior Target Protection Specialists?

PG13: Salesfloor Team Leaders (Hardlines, Softlines, Grocery); Guest Service Team Leaders; Logistics Team Leaders; Merchandise Flow Team Leaders; Presentation Team Leaders, Price Change Team Leaders; Bakery Team Leaders; Produce Team Leaders; Starbucks Team Leaders; Food Service Team Leaders; Deli Team Leaders; Meat Team Leaders… any other Team Leader really…

PG15: Key Carrier Team Leaders (only one as far as I know)

PG17: Senior Team Leaders

Even Numbers are the ETL Pay grades butt they start at 8 I believe…

PG8: New ETL (any position)

PG10: ETL who has moved work centers once (going from Salesfloor/GE to Logistics or HR or the other way around)… going from Hardlines to Softlines or GE to Hardlines or anywhere in between generally doesn’t count and staying in the same position usually doesn’t either! Sometimes requires and interview depending on the district.

PG12: “Senior” ETL position… requires an interview in nearly every district and reserved for the ETLs that will becoming a STL in the next couple years (probably).

If anyone has any amendments to this list or something is wrong go ahead and correct it… this is everything I think I know… its probably not perfect but I figure it’s a good start :p

added by silkk01:

I know the Senior APS position was a P15.

As for ETL' have 4...

P8 - Beginning ETL
P10 - After the first year or so as long as you are approved. Only requires you to take more classes and get approved by the DTL.
P12 - Should be ready for a store within 12 months. Need to interview for the position with several DTL and maybe a GVP.
P15 - This is actually the Senior ETL position. This is an ETL that is signed off as a STL, but waiting on the position. Must interview with DTL that are not in your area, GVP's, and maybe RVP's.
I want to see all the info on bonuses. If I ever quit or get fired, I would love to print out 100 sheets of all shite and put it in clerical.

FYI- Most ETLs don't leave b/c of they pay. They leave b/c what is expected of them vs what they are told to expect as an "assistant store manager" differ. If you like work/life balance, an ETL position is not for you.
Yes that is generally true. The thing is, most new ETLs get put into a position without any idea what they are doing. The general process goes like this...
1 - Recruited and told about AMAZING opportunity being an Executive
2 - Hired and put through "business college" where you are shown an ideal situation of the area you are training
3 - Report to your store, spend 6 months "getting to know" the team, area, your leadership style etc...
4 - Your STL tells you the area is not performing, and that is when you know the honeymoon phase is over
5- New ETL scrambles to find solutions they are ill-equipped to solve and burns out

Now, if you know what you are doing this entire thing is avoided. Depending on the area, it is possible to achieve a solid work-life balance.

Rock Lobster
Great bump, smiled and nodded the whole time I read it. I would not sell my soul to be an ETL. Would hate to get so little time with my family for a few extra bucks.
The only ETL that I see work a ridiculous amount of hours is logistics. The rest have been or tend to be clock watchers.
The only ETL that I see work a ridiculous amount of hours is logistics. The rest have been or tend to be clock watchers.

ASANTS because we have an ETL Ops responsible for backroom day, plano, price accuracy, instocks etc our logistics ETL only oversees overnight flow and overnight backroom.

He works 4 days a week maybe 12 hours a day. Comes out to 7 hours a week less than the ETLs who work 5 days a week 11 hours a day