How to look for a job when you're pregnant
Knocked up? Yay! Congratulations! Found yourself
job seeking at the same time? Not necessarily so great.
Looking for work while pregnant can be
particularly daunting. I know. I’m doing it now. You don’t know how potential
employers will react to the news and whether it will affect your chances of
getting the job. On top of that you’re probably tired from making a human all
day and a little bit stupider than usual.
Job seeking ads stress to what should be an
amazing time in your life, so you probably want to think twice before leaving a
position if you don’t have to while pregnant – and why would you want to lose
your leave? But if you find yourself in this situation, when do you tell a
potential employer? During the interview process? After an offer has been made?
After you start work?
It’s against the law in Canada to not hire a
woman because she’s pregnant, though there’s really no way to prove that’s the
reason you didn’t get the job. You’re not obligated to tell them anything about
your family situation at any stage and they’re not allowed to ask. Still, you
might feel morally obliged. I do.
How to handle it depends on how pregnant you
are. Though things can go wrong at any stage, in the first 12 weeks, when your
chances of miscarriage are highest, and you haven’t even told your friends yet,
you might feel weird, even superstitious about mentioning it.
New York career coach Roy L. Cohen
says, “If it’s not showing, then a candidate owes a future employer no
disclosure. Unless, you are in the unique and highly enviable position of a
senior executive like Marissa Mayer, as a member of the rank and file, the
information will almost always be used against you.” Mayer is, of course,
the new Yahoo! CEO who made news for getting hired during her third trimester.
Sara Sutton Fell, CEO and founder of Flex Jobs
adds, “You don’t need to disclose your pregnancy until you want to. It’s
important to feel out the company culture and get a chance to meet with your
potential supervisors, hopefully during the interview process, before deciding
when to disclose. I do think that once you’ve been offered the job and are
discussing terms, it’s a fair time to bring up your impending maternity
Do keep in mind, however, that an employer will
be grateful for the information, even if you’re not showing, and the truth is
that they might resent you later for putting them in a situation where they
have to work around your parental leave and for what might be viewed as
dishonesty, regardless of what the law says.
It will get to a point where it’s hard to hide
and if you don’t bring it up, you’re like the elephant in the room…sorry…I
mean IT’S like the elephant in the room. OK, honestly, I feel like I need to
tell because I don’t want people to think I’m just fat.
So, if you do bring it up, do so by outlining
your plan. Sutton Fell says, “Have a plan in place for maternity leave so
that the employer knows you’ve thought ahead and you are committed to the job.
How long will you be out for? Will you be available for weekly check-ins or
some at-home work? Having a good idea of your timing and when you’ll be back to
work can ease a new employer’s mind.”
The reality is that having a family can change
your career trajectory and the way your firm views your promotion potential, no
matter how much the media tries to convince us otherwise.
Cohen says “In large part, in industries
that are viewed as “male,” such as law firms, investment banks, hedge
firms, consulting firms, where all professional employees are on a standard
track, pregnancy takes women off that track and out of sight. It also is often
viewed by their male – and surprisingly some female – colleagues as
inconvenient. It increases their workload. When women take time off or
establish boundaries around their availability, they are less likely to be
viewed as candidates for promotion.”
You can manage that perception by
“messaging your commitment to the firm,” he says.
“That involves making sure everyone – your
boss, your peers and subordinates – knows that you remain committed and
connected to the firm. That message happens before you leave and while you are
away. The kiss of death is to go MIA during maternity leave. You need to stay
connected, to weigh in occasionally on matters, attend important meetings by
phone and participate in conference calls. I am right now working with a client
whose boss, a senior admin person, left three months ago and will return by
yearend. All hell has broken loose and she has been completely disengaged.
Everyone is angry at her and feels abandoned.”
Don’t let pregnancy to ruin your career and sour
your colleagues against you. Sure, they say motherhood is “the most important
job in the world,” but it doesn’t pay the bills. Your actual job does
that. Good luck. Now go have a nap. You’ve earned it.