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What are some red flags to look out for when asking about work life balance? ETA: Is the work-life balance really that bad in consulting? I'm seriously considering moving from an internal role to a consulting role because (1) it'll help me break into a cybersecurity role from sysadmin role (2) get away from a toxic coworker who I absolutely dread working with when I have to and just takes a toll on my mental health.

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If they blatantly state that working over xyz hours raises a red flag. That usually means that it's common to work xyz hours. "Unlimited overtime" is usually a red flag (sadly). Ultimately though, it's hard to say - in the consulting world, it's all project based - each project could have a different WLB. Though be prepared for at least 45 hr work weeks. And do your best to find a project that's steady and full time. I know a lot of folks who've been stuck on "part-time" projects that ended up being around 30 hours a week. Had to do 2 of them and are now working ~60 work weeks.

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If you’re interviewed by future team members, not the managers or HR, they are often the ones to ask. They will likely be more candid and realistic. For my current role I outright asked what the expectations were for weekend and evening work. Other than the defined oncall policy, it was clear that any substantial work over the normal working day (more than an hour here or there) could be taken back at another point as time in lieu. This was a big green flag, as any company that expects long hours couldn’t afford to give that time back. The move from internal to consulting was a bit of a shock at first - dealing with client during IR can be pretty intense. But I don’t regret it, the experience gained will stand me in great stead for the future.

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