Looking for a job while you’re pregnant is a daunting prospect, but it’s one that faces many people on the job market. Nausea and worries about hiring discrimination make nailing the interview that much harder. Here are our tips to overcome common obstacles.
Know Your Rights
Employers can’t discriminate against an employee (including prospective employees) on the basis of pregnancy or future pregnancy plans. They cannot legally ask you if you are pregnant or base hiring decisions on your pregnancy. They also cannot ask you whether you plan to return to work after your baby is born.
You’re entitled to reasonable accommodation during your pregnancy. Examples may include schedule accommodations so you can go to prenatal appointments, or changing duties so you don’t need to lift heavy objects or go on business trips.
Meanwhile the employer is entitled to hear from you at the earliest reasonable opportunity about accommodations you require and how much paid or unpaid leave you need when the baby is born. Employers are also allowed to discipline workers for poor performance, as long as the performance issues aren’t related to a pregnancy-related condition that the worker disclosed to the employer.
You may not be eligible for maternity leave benefits, which often kick in after a minimum amount of time working in the new position. In later stages of the interview process, discuss how your prospective employer would handle your need to take time off to recover after giving birth.
Weigh Your Options About Disclosing
In the first trimester, you may be able to interview for new jobs without anyone suspecting that you’re pregnant. Even later on, phone interviews let you keep your pregnancy private until later on in the interview process. Either case comes with pros and cons:
Telling employers you’re pregnant:
- Con: You’re at greater risk of hiring discrimination
- Pro: You can address the “elephant in the room” and offer a sense of future plans (which employers naturally wonder about, but can’t legally ask)
Opting not to disclose your pregnancy:
- Pro: You can go through the interview process concentrating on why you fit the position, not your bump
- Con: Some employers may feel frustrated when you disclose your pregnancy shortly after being hired
You can make decisions on a case-by-case basis. In some situations you may feel more “professional” keeping the conversation strictly focused on business, while in others you may feel like your openness and honesty would be a positive sign for an employer.
Focus on Why You’re Great for the Job
Many articles about job hunting while pregnant paint a grim picture. Pregnancy discrimination is real, and it’s incredibly difficult to prove. With dozens of applicants clamoring to interview, it’s hard to build a case that your bump cost you the job. Fewer resources offer strategies to actually land the job–what you really want to know!
Again, even if you look like your water might break on the interviewer’s carpet, they can’t legally discuss your pregnancy with you. You have a great opportunity to give prospective employers insight into your plans. Explain what appeals to you about the job: more meaningful work, better advancement opportunities, a shorter commute and daycare center next door….Of course, read the room to decide which reason should be the first one you name, but alluding generally to how you’d balance work and family can put employers at ease.
If you’re excited about the job opportunity, let that show. Pregnancy is a significant event in your life, but it also takes up a short amount of time in the scope of your career. Guiding the conversation toward your professional skills and passions is smart in any job interview. It may also be your best strategy to show how important your work, as well as family, is to you.
Job hunting while pregnant may not have been your ideal situation, but it’s possible to line up an exciting new job while expecting. Make your best case for why you’d be a great fit, and the right employer will work with you to transition you back to the office after baby.