How We Fall Into the Work-Life Balance Trap

Posted on March 10, 2015. Filed under: Career Management, Consulting/Contracting, Executive Job Search, International Job Seekers, Job Market Trends, Job Promotion, Job Search Tips, Personal Branding |

use-mobile-tech-to-achieve-a-work-life-balance-con-3054-768x432-mainOh boy…I’m going to do it again. I’m going to trample over some sacred ground, crushing a few spirits along the way, kicking up dust, ruffling feathers.

[Well, I hope my 5%-ers are not so easily flustered. (As for the other 95%, well, it is what it is.)]

I’m going to discuss the holy grail of today’s world of work: work-life balance, and I am going to suggest there is a big trap surrounding it that many professionals fall into.

Yes, I said, “a trap.”

Now, I know what you might be thinking…something like:

I’ve always put everyone else first. I’ve slaved away at this job and that only to be poorly treated. I’ve sacrificed too much family time for the sake of work. I never want to make these mistakes again!”

I’m not suggesting you do. Nor am I suggesting that you become a pushover.

I am suggesting, though, that in your quest for these things you can’t lose sight of what the market really is: in need of dedicated service to keep it profitable, to keep us all profitable.

I know, I know: We live in a world full of capitalistic greed! But just like how you want what you want, the same is true for the marketplace. And if you’re not careful, you’ll miss this and make future career decisions in an unrealistic bubble.

“But money isn’t everything,” you cry!

No, but profitability is. Without it, markets collapse. And when that happens, we collapse. And so does all this talk about work-life balance. (Not very sexy to hear, I know…but true!)

Listen. We have to protect the careers we’ve built (mainly because we care so much about our families). And the best way to do that is to understand what the market is saying/doing and make sure that you are presenting as a profitable employee who provides a much-needed service first.

In other words, offer benefits (not just features), and then you can receive benefits in return.

All to often, we try to leverage our “features” (aka, our credentials and experience) as deserving of whatever type of work-life balance we want. But features, as impressive as they might be, don’t make life better just because they exist. They must be leveraged to benefit the companies/industries we serve.

And that is where the disconnect often lies.

If you don’t understand how your company truly benefits from the service you provide, and you cannot articulate that, other than to say, “I’ve been around a lot and I have seen a lot and I have impressive certifications, so I deserve to work more flexibly,” then you will likely find the rest of your career a frustrating prospect.

(And if you think your actions speak louder than words, and they should just “know” all the benefits you provide, you most likely need to think again. Contrary to popular belief, in the world of work at least, actions rarely speak louder than words. You must speak up.)

But if you can say, “I leverage my stellar experience by solving X problem for my industry on a regular basis, which results in X improvement,” then you’ve moved out of the trap into a much better position for receiving the benefits you want, be it work-life balance or whatever.

Sounds simple?

As a technical career strategist, I can tell you that the inability to see the difference here is the #1 issue most professionals are facing out in the job market today, regardless of age, level of experience, job title, and so on.

And it’s too bad, really, because they go into the job search pitching the features and not the benefits. (And not without cause, mind you, as every job posting description you’ll ever read is features based [lists of credentials and experience wanted]. The problem is that most hiring is benefits based [how will you make leadership’s lives better?]. Companies are made up of people, like us, who say one thing and do another.)

So think about what you say and do when it comes to your career. Is it service first?

Get that right, and then work-life balance can be a true discussion.

 

Stephen Van VreedeAbout Stephen—-

Stephen Van Vreede is not your average IT/technical résumé writer. He provides career strategy and concierge job search solutions for senior (15+ years) (ITtechExec) and up-and-coming (NoddlePlace) (5-15 years) tech and technical operations leaders. Stephen and his team focus on building simplified, targeted, and certain career move campaigns, be it an external search or an internal promotion. He is co-author of UNcommon with career development leader Brian Tracy (out June 11, 2015). Contact Stephen directly at Stephen@ittechexec.com or send him an invite at https://www.linkedin.com/in/stephenvanvreede. To see whether Stephen and his team are a good fit for you, take their free (and anonymous) 1-minute compatibility quiz, Is the ITtechExec Approach a Good Match for You? Also, feel free to take his complimentary resume self-assessment quiz, How Certain Can You Be About Your Technical Resume? You might be surprised by what you find out!

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