Job Advice

No such thing as work life balance?

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August 25, 2009

Jack Welch, former Chairman and CEO of General Electric and icon in the American corporate world, recently said in a speech at the Society for Human Resource Management’s (SHRM) annual conference, "There’s no such thing as work life balance."  Now, this quote may sound a little more harsh than Welch intended as he went onto say, "There are work-life choices, and you make them, and they have consequences."

While I think Welch was referring to folks who are really looking to climb the corporate ladder and become an executive with a Fortune 100 company, his words definitely bring up a good point when it comes to job hunting in our current economy.

While we all seek some sort of work-life balance, it is important NOT to bring this up in the very early stages of the interview process.  I recently had a candidate who was eliminated after the first interview not because she didn’t have the right technical skillset (she was actually a perfect match for the job), but she asked about working from home in the first interview with the hiring manager.   

So when is a good time for you to address work-life balance?  If you happen to be working with a recruiter, then it is a great question to ask him.  Executive recruiters are much more likely to have the "inside scoop" on their clients’ work environment.  If you are not working with a recruiter, then wait until at least the second interview until asking any direct work-life balance questions.  When you do ask the question, make it more of an open ended question.  Some examples include:

  • What is a typical work week in the office?
  • Does the job have a busier season?  If so, when is that time of the year/month and what can I expect?
  • Does your company provide resources (i.e. cell phones or laptops) to enable employees to stay connected outside of the office?