Finding a “Family-Friendly” Company
If you discover that you do need two incomes in order to maintain your current lifestyle (or grow into one that better accommodates all of you), you should first lay aside any guilt you might be feeling about leaving the baby to go back to work. Then dust off your resume, pull out that suit, and brush up on your interviewing skills.
Once you're at the interview, you should be familiar with the new “ground rules.” A potential employer should never ask you very much about your family life. Questions like “Are you very involved in your child's activities?” or even “How many children do you have?” can be borderline illegal for a potential employer to ask, since these types of questions can often lead to discrimination.
For instance, if they ask you how many children you have, and your answer is five, they may be weighing the costs of your medical benefits in relation to those of a single, non-parent job applicant. A company that makes its hiring decisions based on these kinds of criteria is in violation of the Equal Opportunity clause.
Not all companies operate in a discriminatory manner against parents, but you'd be surprised how many still do it subtly. Once employed, it's important to discuss any discrimination concerns with your human resources manager. The Family Medical Leave Act provides some protection for employees with at least one year of eligibility.
Because the “family friendliness” of any company is hard to judge from the outset, you might do well to ask a few questions at the interview stage:
What kinds of policies do you have regarding family emergencies?
Do you have on-site daycare available?
Is flex-time an option?
Make a Visit
Take a look around at any company with which you interview. Ask for a tour, and make mental notes of how many folks have pictures of their children on their desks; whether there is a daycare room; and how many young, single people you see milling around. If you notice that most of the employees appear to be young and single — and travel frequently — you might do well to consider applying elsewhere (unless you're willing to travel frequently yourself and the child care is already in place).