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I am job-hunting as a parent of a small child. My child goes to after care after school. After care closes at 6 PM. For most jobs I am applying for, the one-way commute is 30-45 minutes to the after care center. Therefore, I cannot accept a job that will require me to routinely stay at the office beyond 5:15-5:30 PM. Also, there are multiple days in the school calendar where the school is closed or there is early dismissal. Not to mention the usual times when children get sick and need to be picked up at short notice. I need a job to be accommodating of these things in time flexibility, telecommuting and a culture where a crazy amount of work hours is not expected.

I was wondering if it would be a good idea to state this in a cover letter so that if I get interviewed it would only be by employers who can accommodate these needs. Is that a fair assumption? Or is doing this a potential turnoff to most HR people and hiring managers regardless of if the company they work for is family friendly?

85

Should I state work-life balance needs in a cover letter?

Short answer NO

Your objective is to get a job, and the people who are looking to hire typically are searching for ways to thin out the amount of candidates that they speak with. By mentioning such a need this early in the game, in my experience as a hiring manager, you are hurting yourself.

Your goal is to get the first interview, you can find out more about the work flexibility and work life balance after your are further along in the hiring process.

In short, don't shoot yourself in the foot.

  • 25
    +1, but I would say the objective is to get to the interview stage. At this stage it should most certainly be discussed at some point. (I'd think in the 2nd interview round) – Stian Yttervik Oct 6 '17 at 11:27
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    Bump for mentioning OP should put himself/herself in the shoes of the hiring manager. Sorting resumes is a PITA. – Jared Smith Oct 6 '17 at 12:38
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    I'd fully agree with this unless in your field there is a plethora of available jobs, then you could add it to filter down job interviews. – Frank Hopkins Oct 6 '17 at 13:16
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    I usually wait until I am interviewing with potential coworkers to ask them "how is the work-life balance here?" Usually if a company has a poor work-life balance employees will find it hard not to accidentally gripe to you about it (my interview at uber was a good example of this.) – 2rs2ts Oct 6 '17 at 17:21
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    seriously OP, Stian's comment is an important clarification. In short, don't mention it in your cover letter, but do bring it up in interviews. – jhocking Oct 7 '17 at 13:32
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I wouldn't state the requirement in the cover letter, as it detracts from you selling your application.

I would include this when researching the company however. For example, you may want to search for whether the company offers flexible working as stated on their website, or you may wish to email HR.

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    Also, you should probably discuss it during the interview, which is the time for both sides to find out what the other wants and can offer. – sleske Oct 6 '17 at 10:53
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It seems the consensus answer is NO.

Rather than give a Yes/No answer, I will propose an algorithm that will likely (but without certainty) lead to NO.

Are you sick of the amount of time you have spent in interviews for positions that you would have loved to take but ultimately had to turn down because of work life balance? If yes, then you should probably cut down the number of interviews you go to. One way is to put that information in the cover letter.

Otherwise, you not do it.

9

I'd say this comes under the remit of discussing your working hours and how flexible they are.

It's entirely reasonable to discuss this during the interview process as it is pretty important to you.

Many businesses are flexible when it comes to accommodating parents needs, some aren't so much.

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    This answer avoids the question in the title. – employee-X Oct 7 '17 at 20:39
3

I need a job to be accommodating of these things in time flexibility, telecommuting and a culture where a crazy amount of work hours is not expected.

I was wondering if it would be a good idea to state this in a cover letter so that if I get interviewed it would only be by employers who can accommodate these needs. Is that a fair assumption?

Rather than laying out your family needs in your cover letter, you might be better served to attempt to find "family-friendly" jobs before applying.

Certain fields will be family-friendly. Teacher's assistants, for example. Some fields permit full-time telecommuting work with flexible hours. Some call center jobs can be like that.

Some jobs can be more family-friendly. When my wife was returning to work after being home with children, she looked for jobs requiring "mothers hours".

Some companies like to be known as family-friendly. They often talk about it on their company website, often in the "careers" or "work here" section. And a Google search for something like "family friendly workplaces near [my location]" could find them. And in general, smaller companies often tend to be more flexible.

And if you are working through an agency, you should lay out all of your personal requirements beforehand and let the agents filter out companies that don't meet your needs.

0

Do you want to be in charge of deciding whether the work-life balance the company expects meets your needs, or do you want the company's HR department to be the one deciding whether your desired work-life balance meets their needs?

Mentioning it in the cover letter, before any interview or offer, lets HR be in charge. Asking about work-life balance in the interview, and then accepting or not accepting the offer, lets you be in charge.

I don't know about you, but I like to be in the driver's seat.

*Unless it's an 8 hour drive and there's a bottle of Coke Zero and a nice book to read, anyway, then I'm okay being driven.

  • Why do you like to be in the driver's seat? You don't really answer your own question. – user42272 Oct 7 '17 at 4:52
-1

Another short answer: Do not bring up the topic in the cover letter or any of the interviews. The matter has zero bearing on your ability to work or the quality of work.

Only mention child care in interview if timekeeping, or work-life balance explicitly comes up. Then, ask questions, offer suggestions (and try to appear flexible, even if the situation is not): How do you accommodate your other employees' childcare needs? I heard of someone doing XYZ, would that be appropriate here?

Otherwise, if it doesn't come up in interview, then since it's a balance between work and personal life that we're talking about, this is a question to balance between yourself, HR, and the hiring manager. When you're offered a position, ask if they might accommodate a work-from-home schedule, where if you're required to work late, you do so after getting your child home and fed. This is the appropriate working conditions. (Such an agreement would also help to cover child sick days.) This is mostly to the hiring manager's decision if they want a parent on the team. The reason it becomes HR's problem is because if they're convinced to pay sufficient, a nanny/sitter could be employed to cover evenings instead.

Some combination of the above could work for you and your employer, too. E.g. Tue, Thu you get a nanny/sitter to cover evenings, but Mon, Wed, Fri you always make the drive. Predictability is what you'd hope to achieve there.

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