My Thoughts

Is that job parent friendly?

People ask me all the time how I decide if I can do a particular job while raising kids as part of a dual income family.  It’s tough – and as you all know from my personal story – even I don’t get it right every time.

You have a new job offer and you’re wondering if you should take it.  Your current gig affords you a decent work life balance, but you’ve done the same thing forever, or you have no chance of moving up, or you don’t love the work.  The new job seems exciting and the paycheck is more substantial to boot.  But how can you tell if that new job is going to be parent friendly?   Run through this checklist:

  1. Find out as much as you can about your future manager.  Look them up on LinkedIn (but not too many times – they can see who viewed their profile).  Check on Facebook to see if they have a family and interests outside of work.  Your manager will make or break your experience at any company.  Make absolutely sure you meet your manager as part of the hiring process and that you feel comfortable with them.  When you join a new company he or she is your only advocate, most of the time, until you can build up your network.  As a parent, you’ll need to schedule doctor’s appointments, parent teacher conferences, and time off during major holidays.  You may want to work from home on occasion.  You can only ask for all these things (and not internally freak out) if you feel comfortable and supported by your direct manager.
  2. Get the real scoop from your friends (and other parents that work at the company).  Preferably in your future group or job function.  How are other parents coping at the company, and particularly, how are those coping that work with your future management team and manager?  This is the only way to find out the truth about what it’s like to really work for the company.  Find out how much of the company is comprised of parents vs. singletons or empty nesters.  Ask if they know of anyone that’s been promoted while on a flexible schedule or after returning from maternity leave.  How do people react if you need to work from home one day because you have a sick child?  These are important things to know, and sadly, they are some of the hardest to find out.
  3. Analyze the job description.  Are words like 24 / 7 connectivity, “always on”, global business partners, and available to work evenings and weekends requirements of the position?  That could mean that your time away from the job is not your own, and that’s extremely difficult for anyone with children to tolerate repeatedly.
  4. What was the interview process like?  Did your interviews run on time, and smoothly?  Did your interviewers seem stressed out and in a rush to get back to their jobs?  Did you receive emails at odd hours from the company (the recruiter, the hiring manager)?  Were you asked to interview late in the afternoon (post 4pm) and not by your request?  These are signals to what your future job may be like.
  5. Once you have an offer, ask the company to connect you with some people that have been able to (successfully) take advantage of some of the flexible work programs.  Companies will share that they have a number of flexible work programs, but very few employees actually take advantage of them.  And even fewer still are considered high achievers or promotable if they do.  Find out right now before you take the job so you’re not pigeonholed after.

There is no sure fire way to know for sure; you may see some red flags and still decide to switch for other reasons.  But considering these 5 things will help you know if you know what you’re getting into before you jump.

Have Kids, Will Work

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