Live to Work, or Work to Live? How to Find a Job with the Right Work/Life Balance for You
Experts say that many of us are now working more, longer, and harder than ever before. It's often presumed that while the boosts in productivity that today's demanding workplace schedules have ushered in may be good for business, they are wreaking havoc on the social and emotional lives of employees. The truth, however, is not quite that simple.
In fact, each one of us has our own unique stress threshold. For every worker who starts to feel worn down and emotionally depleted after a few weeks of double shifts, there's another employee who only truly starts to feel engaged and invigorated when the pressure's really on. According to Andrea Molloy, author of Stop Living Your Job, Start Living Your Life, if the demands of your position don't line up with your scheduling preferences, it's unlikely that you're going to be able to make it work in the long-term.
What Does Work/Life Balance Mean to You?
Just as each person has their own idea of what defines the perfect job, most people also have a unique conception of the type of schedule that their dream job would entail. Whether your idea of the perfect job is a leisurely part-time position with virtually no "on-call" expectations, or a demanding dawn-to-dusk role with lots of opportunities for overtime and double shifts, it's important that you define your unique work/life balance needs before you begin your next job search.
By including work/life balance on your list of job-search criteria, you'll be better-positioned to find a role that you can thrive in. Here are some tips to help you land the job that will be a perfect fit with your unique work/life balance needs.
Spend some time thinking deeply about work/life balance and what it means to you. Identifying your scheduling needs is one component of this, but try to delve deeper and come to an understanding of your personal stress threshold. What type of work schedule leaves you feeling tired and worn out? When do you feel most engaged and excited about your work? Use the insights you gain to focus your list of job possibilities.
Do a reality check.
After you've narrowed down your scheduling and work/life balance preferences, make sure that they are compatible with the type of work you're looking for. For example, if you're the easily-stressed type who prefers a laid-back work schedule, it's going to be very hard to find a kitchen position that meets your criteria. If you identify a potential mismatch, it may be best to go back to the drawing board and brainstorm a few alternative career directions that offer schedules more in keeping with your preferences.
Observe the team in action.
As you're gathering the names of the places to which you'd like to apply, take the time to do a little field research. If possible, pay a visit to the finalists on your list and get a first-hand look at the organizational dynamic. Is the workplace hustling and bustling, or does it have a more laid-back feel? Can you imagine yourself fitting in well here?
Bring up work/life balance in the interview.
It's great to have a list of questions prepared to ask in your interviews, and work/life balance issues are an excellent kick-off point for the discussion. Of course, it's likely that every hiring manager you encounter will say that their organization's work/life balance is just right, but try to dig a little deeper and read between the lines to get a clearer glimpse of the big picture. Does the company have any work/life balance initiatives already in place? What are their flexible scheduling policies? How does employee leave accrue, and in what circumstances can it be used?
Your work/life balance needs are as unique as your fingerprint. By pinpointing your personal requirements and then using them as a road map to help find a company that will be a good fit for you, you'll be much more likely to land a job that you'll want to hang on to for a while.