Q: Does it really exist? And when interviewing with a company, what are some questions that you can ask to find out if they value work/life balance without making it seem that you are not a hard worker?
A: Some would say work/life balance (and specifically the word "balance") is a myth. But, to learn more about how a company views work/life issues, you should talk to employees who work there. You can get on their Web site and learn about them and their values, but this tells you what they say about it — not whether they actually live it. It will be very important to observe employees and talk to them about hours they worked, extent of travel, work at nights, work on weekends, to see how much of this is standard or how much is periodic. Anyone can work extra hours occasionally — what you are trying to learn is how much of this is regular, everyday life. In addition, observe and ask questions about the managers — do they seem to have any work/life balance or do they live at the firm? This will tell you what they are modeling for others to do.
Established Company or Start-Up?
Q: I am an engineer at a large well-known company and have a valuable and somewhat rare skill set. I know (for a fact) I am underpaid, but I have other perks and benefits and have made at peace with that. I have been approached by a start-up company that is offering more money and similar perks, but not as good. The big upside is early shares that could obviously become valuable (or not, of course). My current company knows that I am being recruited because it's a small world and secrets have a way of spilling. What are the issues I should be evaluating when considering the start-up's offer (and my current company's counter-offer, which I'm confident will come)?