Why You Should Think Twice Before You Mention “Work-Life Balance” In An Interview

“I want work-life balance.”  This is a topic that comes up all the time, but what does it really mean?  In my experience it is a statement that can have unintended consequences.      

Here are some things I have heard from hiring mangers based on this comment:

  • The person is lazy

  • They are burnt out

  • They are not a fit because we all work extremely hard here

  • They have a family that will take away from work and make their hours unpredictable

The reality is that the meaning of work-life balance is different for each person, so unless you unpack that statement, you are at the mercy of the interviewer’s thoughts on the subject.  If you want work-life balance, rephrase to describe what you really mean. 

So, out with Work-Life Balance and in with What That Means To You.  Here are some examples of how simple it can be to avoid a negative impact on the interview process:

  • I am looking for a role that calls for a 40-50 hour per week commitment in the office.  When I am home I do not always want to be still working.  Occasional emails and other items are okay, but not the rule.

  • I expect to work 50-60 hours per week, but when I need to work remotely for family obligations, I would love to have that flexibility.  That will probably be a few times a month.

Rule of Thumb:

  • Make it short and to the point.

  • If a 7 year old cannot understand it, you are over thinking it.

Some people think 30 hours a week is a full load, while others think anything less than 70 is hard to imagine.  Take the mystery out of this situation and be specific.

-Written By Tim Sprangers


Changing Careers? What To Consider & Ways To Approach It.

Lately I’ve been hearing from a lot of people that they want to make a career change.  Not just industry, but their function within an organization.  For many the idea of doing this is often more appealing than the reality.  Here is the biggest barrier for most people and if you can get past that, some tips for success.

The Big Question: Are you ready to take a pay cut? 

I start here because it is typically the biggest deal breaker to change.  95% of conversations I have with people about changing careers end here because when you are used to the compensation you have accumulated over 10 years in a specific function, going back is hard (or not even an option) for most people.  Think about it, if you are making a complete career change, you are competing with entry level candidates (typically) who are willing to get paid less in exchange for experience.  Figure out how much you NEED to make if you change jobs, not just what you WANT to make. 

Before You Make a Change:

Look for ways to get some relevant experience where you are. 

-        If you work at a SMALL company, keep raising your hand and taking on more responsibilities.  When you are interviewing in the future you can point to the experiences you gained and why you are worth more. 

-        If you work at a LARGE company, try an internal transfer.  You have years of company knowledge that would provide value and a reason for them to pay you a premium in a new function.  It might not be as much as you are making now, but it could be less of a step down than changing companies.

During The Job Search:

Target companies that need your industry experience.  For example, if you have been an accountant for 10 years and want to get into sales, target companies who sell to accountants.

On Your Resume: 

Have and Objective Statement, not a Summary.  Resumes with an Objective Statement are more likely to take you further along in the interview process (initial phone screen) when you do not have the background for the role.  A summary just confirms what I already know; you do not have the right experience for the role in which you are interested.  This typically means the resume is dead on arrival.  BUT, if you tell me what you want to do, I can work with that.  

In The Interview: 

Know what you want.  Hiring managers are not interviewing you to help you decide what you should be when you grow up.  They are trying to figure out who will best help them hit their target objectives.  Even if they see potential in you, lack of focus can be a deal killer.  If you are interviewing for a sales role, talk about the other sales roles you are interviewing for, but best to leave those marketing roles you applied to out of the conversation.  By staying in your swim lane during the interview, you can keep the focus on your ability to do this role.

-Written By Tim Sprangers