How to Tell If a Job Will Be Family Friendly

Dad at School Bus
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How would your manager respond if you have to leave work unexpectedly because of a sick kid? Do unexpected meetings get scheduled at the end of the day? Are social events with coworkers spontaneous, or scheduled in advance to allow childcare arrangements?

For working moms and dads, it's important to have a sense of the answers to these questions prior to taking on a new job — in the workplace, parents can flourish or flounder as a result of a company's family-friendly policies and behavior.

How to Tell if a Job Will Be Family Friendly

Fortunately, there are clues throughout the job application process for how family-friendly a workplace will be. From reviewing a job advertisement through negotiating an offer, get tips on what to ask, observe, and research to discover if a company is family-friendly.

During the Application Process

Start your evaluation of the job with the job advertisement: look for promising keywords such as flexibility and telecommuting. As well, look for phrases that reveal a job might not be a good fit for a parents' schedule: does the advertisement mention the need for weekend hours? And what about company culture? A "work hard, play hard" type of company might tend toward late hours, followed up by time at nearby bars, both of which aren't necessarily accommodating to parents.

As well as parsing the want ad, do some research on the company: many publications put out a list of "family friendly" companies that you can check.

Even a quick Google search of "company name + family" or "company name + parents" might reveal some interesting news or information.

Read More: Best Companies to Work For

Company websites reveal much about the support offered to parents and families. Look for details on benefits and programs. A company with a generous parental leave policy that participates in "Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day" is quite likely to have those policies in place because supporting parents is a core value.

On sites such as Glassdoor, CareerBliss, and CareerLeak, you can read reviews from employees — often frank, these write-ups reveal the company's culture, and can provide a different view than what's on the company website.

Look for Clues During Your Interviews

Always remember, the goal of an interview is for employees to find out about your abilities, and for you to find out more about the position and company culture. At the end of an interview, it's important to know if the job is the right fit for you.

If you're seeking a position at a family-friendly company, ask questions that will help you know the company's culture and attitude toward parents: you can inquire about a typical workday, ask if the position comes with frequent last-minute requests or fire drills, or query if people tend to find a good work / life balance. As well, you can ask if employees ever work from home, or if the company has any kind of flexible work schedule.

Find out ten more great questions to ask during an interview.

As you enter and exit the company's office, look around: Do you see a lactation room for breastfeeding moms? Does the company have a daycare facility? These are strong signs that the company is making an effort to accommodate parents.

Keep your eyes open for more subtle signs as well, such as kids' drawings tacked to cubicle walls and family photos. When a company has many parents, they are potentially more likely to accommodate parenting schedule challenges and have family-friendly work events.

After a Job Offer Is Made

Once the company expresses interest in hiring you, it's a good opportunity to get answers to any remaining questions you have about the company's culture, benefits, and expectations for employees.

If you don’t already know the company's benefits, you can ask: Is the health-insurance family-friendly? Does the company offer day care on site, or have any coverage for childcare? What's the flex-time policy, and do employees ever work from home? Find out more questions to ask about benefits.

If you haven't already, reach out to your network: do any of your connections, either in real life or through LinkedIn or other social media work at the company or know someone who does?

An in-person meet-up, phone call, or an email exchange can provide much insight into the real day-to-day of a company.

Research now to help prevent unpleasant surprises during your first weeks at a new company.

More on Family-Friendly Work:

How to Research Companies