It's a tricky terrain, so be prepared.
Searching for a job is hard enough; searching for a job while pregnant is a whole other ballgame. In addition to resumes, cover letters, and interviews, you have to combat morning sickness, cravings, and the fact that your trusty blazer may not fit like it used to. And yet, those are not your biggest challenges.
Warranted or not (and they're not), the concerns and biases that surround hiring pregnant women exist, making the pregnant job search a minefield to navigate.
That's no reason to lose hope, though; many women have weathered the storm and come out on the other end with both a new job and baby in tow. You simply need to be a bit more strategic in your job-search methods. With the help of TopResume career expert and mom to an energetic four-year-old Amanda Augustine, we address some of the main concerns of job searching while pregnant with helpful tips to consider along the way.
Will pregnancy affect my ability to get hired?
Theoretically, no, pregnancy should not affect your ability to be hired. There is even legislation to prevent this called the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA). According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the PDA “forbids discrimination based on pregnancy when it comes to any aspect of employment, including hiring” and many other areas.
Unfortunately, however, reality sometimes differs. According to Augustine, “While it's illegal for a company to withhold a job offer because you're pregnant, the unfortunate truth is that many employers will consider your pregnancy and impending maternity leave to be burdensome, and will end up hiring someone else.”
Essentially, a hiring manager may be less willing to extend an offer when they expect you to leave for weeks in the near future.
This is part of why it's generally best to start your job search as early into your pregnancy as possible. Then, you will have enough time to land a role and establish yourself in the company before having to go on maternity leave — a benefit for both you and your employer.
Consider contract work
Of course, it's always easier to prevent having to endure these challenges in the first place. “Ideally, you should pause your job search until after the baby's arrival,” advises Augustine. “However,” she continues, “not everyone has that luxury.”
If you expect your pregnancy to be a major roadblock, investigate flexible work arrangements such as freelance and contract work. This will help keep income flowing and help you stay active in your career while pregnant.
There are many sites, such as FlexJobs, that specialize in contract work, freelance opportunities, and other positions that allow you to work from home. Mom Corps, a division of Corps Team, is a national staffing and search company that focuses exclusively on placing experienced professionals in fractional, flexible, and virtual positions. Even a simple “telecommute jobs for moms” Google search yields helpful resources for job opportunities.
Decide when to disclose the pregnancy
If you choose to power through with a traditional job search, when (and if) you disclose the pregnancy to a potential employer is entirely up to you. Of course, if you are in your third trimester, it may be difficult to hide your baby bump in an interview. Still, in all cases, you are not legally required to let an employer know you are expecting.
There are a few things to consider when deciding which route to take here. For instance, if honesty is an important aspect of the job or if you know that the position needs to be filled and executed urgently, it may be in your best interest to disclose your pregnancy early on; waiting until after the dotted line is signed may result in an employer feeling betrayed, which isn't a great way to start off a new job.
Alternatively, you may want to wait until you've received an offer — or even after you've begun — to avoid any kind of discrimination from creeping into your candidacy.
Whatever you choose to do, be clear on your plan before walking into the interview. This is not the kind of decision you want to make on the fly and under pressure. Our sister site, TopInterview, offers helpful tips on interviewing while pregnant.
One important reason you may choose to disclose your pregnancy after receiving an offer is to let it inform your negotiations.
Remember that when discussing a contract, salary is not the only thing on the line. Because there are multiple factors in play, there is give and take to be found. You can argue for an arrangement that will help you throughout your pregnancy and upcoming motherhood.
Amanda shares how she approached this: “I was pregnant during my last job search, although not visibly obvious yet. When it was time to negotiate, I focused on getting approval to work from home a few days a week, rather than push for more salary.”
Being strategic in the negotiation portion of your job search can set you up for an easier transition when it's time to return to work. Plus, you and your new company will then share expectations for what will happen after your employment begins.
Finding your way through a pregnant job search
Job searching while pregnant is by no means an easy feat. The unfortunate truth is that a reluctance to hire pregnant women does exist, and this discrimination is something you may have to face.
That said, many have made it through before you and landed a job while pregnant — and you can too. Whether you choose to pause your job search or pursue it at full force, staying thoughtful and creating a plan will do wonders for your chances.
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