How can spouses balance their careers? It’s a topic that came to mind when a friend’s successful, recently married daughter started looking for a new job. If she is offered a position somewhere far from the couple’s current home, would it be appropriate for her to mention her husband (who is equally successful and in a similar profession) and ask if there are any openings for him, as well?
Even the recruiting pros I contacted were a little stumped by that question!
As executive recruiter Chris Gardner, co-founder and CEO of Artemis Consultants says, “This is an interesting topic. It makes me pause and think.”
And Nancy Halpern, a New York City-based career and executive coach with 20 years’ experience working with leaders at all levels and across industries says, simply, “It depends.
“Is she senior enough to feel comfortable asking that question? Is the company large enough that they would have multiple openings or perhaps they’re in a growth mode where they’re aggressively hiring?” Halpern asks. “It’s better not to pitch yourself as a ‘package deal,’ but rather inquire what the local job market is like and see if the employer is willing to offer job search services to him as part of her relocation package.”
Bringing up a spouse’s job hunt isn’t unheard of, but Gardner stresses that is does pose risks – including appearing as if you’re looking for that “package deal” Halpern mentions.
“Depending on how you broach the subject, it could be an effective way to help your spouse network. However, it’s doubtful I would recommend this approach,” says Gardner. “Maybe the employer would find you less attractive of a candidate because your interest in them could be directly related to your spouse’s ability to find new employment in the same city. It complicates things for the company; if they have two equally qualified candidates, they’ll most likely choose the one that has the fewest contingencies tied to them.
He also points out that many large companies have nepotism clauses that prohibit them from employing spouses and family members.
“I think most people in loving relationships are willing to do anything they can to help their loved one find a job they’re passionate about. ‘Help’ being the operative word,” he continues. “Personally, I would appreciate the help and support, but it would be important to me that I not ride my spouse’s coattail.”
If the ultimate decision is to try to negotiate a position for your spouse during an out-of-area job search, Gardner says clarifying that your interest in the position is independent of the company’s ability to help your spouse find a position is key.
Kathleen Furore is a Chicago-based writer and editor who has covered personal finance and other business-related topics for a variety of trade and consumer publications. You can email her your career questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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