Archives for deciding between a family and a career

How to Find Out if a Company Has Work-Life Balance without Seeming like a Slacker

Business by Richard Stebbing of Flickr

Business by Richard Stebbing of Flickr

Sometimes the next level of fulfillment that my clients are looking for is comprised of more free time to spend with their family. If Glassdoor doesn’t provide clear answers on how flexible a company is willing to be, the only other way to find out is to ask. If you ask another insider, someone not necessarily involved in hiring you, you might be able to ask more direct questions and people may feel free to be more candid. However, if both of those options are dead ends, the only option left is to find out during the interview process.

Having the interviewer acquire knowledge about your marital or familial status can put them in a precarious position. These types of questions are illegal for them to ask because they are not allowed to discriminate based on the interviewee’s status. Even for an interviewer to find out by you telling them directly opens them up to potential discrimination liability.

Another risk of acquiring about a company’s work-life balance policies is that you might be perceived as though you are someone who wants to play or rest more than work. Some generations are very susceptible to this perception. So, this week I offer you questions that you can ask a company to determine how flexible they are without seeming like a slacker.

What do you do to keep your employees happy and engaged?

What does the average workday look like for three different people on your team?

How has working here made your life better?

I pride myself on being a dynamic person; the experiences I’ve had outside of work enable me to bring even more value to my work. Do you feel like you have a dynamic workforce? And what do you do to nurture that?

What is the best way for an employee to ensure that they are making the most of their 9-5, if those are in fact the expected hours?

 

Your interviewer may perceive you to be very smart at asking questions, or, if they are really perceptive, they may see what you are getting at. Ultimately, a company would want to promote that they value work-life balance, if, in fact, they do. All employers may not understand the importance, so if it is important to you, take accountability to find out. If you feel that a potential employer resents this line of questioning, consider that resentment good to know and move on to the next company. You do not need to settle. Work-life balance, career fulfillment, and a good income are all attainable.

 

I almost toured with Kings of Leon

Harpers Ferry circa 2007

Harpers Ferry circa 2007

I’ve been in the same band with the same musicians for 13 years. Amy and Anthony D. joined Harpers Ferry in 2000, which was the same year that I met my husband, Tim. I was finally gaining confidence as a singer. I found my voice. But I also found the love of my life. My aspirations of stardom and life on the road had waned.

So a couple months before Tim and I were engaged, when a creepy little manager of a less-than-known-to-me band came into a small Irish restaurant and bar on the back end of King of Prussia and offered me the chance to go on tour with his band, I passed.

I felt like a traitor to my band even sitting with them, since the manager was trying to tell me that his band was a “real” band. They were selling out arenas in Europe. “Okay, so what are they doing here?” I didn’t ask. But we did confirm that the dates coincided with a show that they had done in Philly, so they were probably on their way to their next show. We also later confirmed that this band, Kings of Leon, was indeed selling out arenas in Europe and, what do you know, happened to be the “next big thing,” as the creepy manager had proclaimed.

In the corporate world, you are expected to have at least 48 hours to consider a serious job opportunity, perhaps up to a week if you have to relocate. In the entertainment industry, it’s speak now or forever hold your peace. Though I had humbly turned down the offer that night, I took his number and called him several days later. After I had time to think about it, I considered myself foolish for eliminating that possibility for me. After all, how many people would DIE for that opportunity, whether the band was on their way to US fame or just performing to European crowds of 30,000. By that time, he was probably like, “What chick from what bar? That was five cities ago. Moving on.” I never got a call back.

I told myself that I was at peace with this decision. I had a job that I’ve finally loved in recruiting. I had a boyfriend I was sure would be my husband. I had a band that I loved like a family and enjoyed playing with.

I recently finished the book Lean In, by Sheryl Sandberg. There is a chapter on how women scale back there career ambitions years before they have to in anticipation of a future family. Lucky for one of my clients, I learned a lot from this decision. She started a new job a couple weeks ago, and is expecting. When she came to me, she highly doubted that in her “condition” she would be employable by anyone else. However she could not continue to work under the current extensive travel conditions of her job, and future potential was limited by a recent acquisition. Though she is finding that on-boarding in a new job while growing a human being inside you is duly exhausting, as Sheryl Sandberg explains, when she returns from maternity leave, she will return to a job that she loves and that fulfills her.

I will always wonder, “What if?” When I hear Kings of Leon on the radio, I will always feel a little haunted. I do consider that the choice was not really between going on tour and staying in recruiting, but rather making a huge career move with a lot of risk, and starting my family. Because I know that my decision led to two beautiful children and hundreds of clients since then who have improved their careers and their lifestyles for the better, I consider that choice a miracle–maker.

Point being, don’t limit your opportunity by what you think might happen in the future. LEAN IN as far as you can for as long as you can.