Looking for a job is always stressful, but it’s doubly so when you’re also managing a pregnancy. You’ll be preparing for an important next stage of your life, dealing with the stress of pregnancy, and potentially worrying about whether or not companies will want to consider you as a candidate if they find out you’ll be going on maternity leave in the near future.
If you want to reduce your stress, maximize your chances of finding the perfect role, and improve your interview performance, you’ll want to follow these important strategies.
Keep the Pregnancy a Priority
This should go without saying, but your pregnancy and your coming child should always be your top priority. Too much stress can increase your risk of preterm birth, in addition to making you feel more miserable throughout your pregnancy. It’s therefore important to reduce your stress as much as possible. It’s also important to find a role and a company that will support you well into motherhood; is this a place where you can build a career and still have all the time and flexibility you need to be the parent you want to be?
Understand the Protections of the Pregnancy Discrimination Act
Under the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, it’s illegal for employers to discriminate against potential job candidates based on their current pregnancy, childbirth, or other related medical conditions. This legislation will protect you in every aspect of employment, including getting hired, getting fired, the amount of pay you receive, your job responsibilities, potential promotions, access to benefits, and more.
Of course, just because it’s a law doesn’t mean every employer is going to voluntarily follow it. They may ask you illegal interview questions, such as questions about your family status, regardless of the consequences. Or they may make a hiring decision based on personal bias, whether they’re consciously aware of it or not.
If you believe you were asked illegal interview questions or if you believe you were unfairly discriminated against, it may be in your best interest to take legal action.
Review the Limits of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)
Under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), employees are guaranteed the right to keep their position in a company after going on maternity leave (along with a number of other rights). However, to be an eligible employee under this act, the company must meet a certain size threshold, and you’ll need at least one year of experience at the company. If you’re a new hire, you won’t be covered by the FMLA.
That doesn’t mean you’re going to lose your position after going on maternity leave – but it could. You may also be protected under certain state-level policies, or the company may offer its own protections for employees.
Decide Whether to Disclose Your Pregnancy
At some point, you’ll need to decide whether you want to proactively disclose your pregnancy to your potential employer.
Depending on the situation, it may be advantageous to disclose the pregnancy. For example, proactively mentioning your current status could be a gesture of trust; it can help you start a strong relationship with your employer. Conversely, if you don’t reveal your pregnancy, it could cause trust issues down the line. This is also a good chance to tell whether this is a family-friendly workplace; if your employer balks at the idea of your pregnancy, it may not be the best place for you when you’re trying to raise a family.
One of the most important variables in your decision will be how far along in your pregnancy you are. If you’re late into your third trimester, hiding your pregnancy will be practically impossible for in-person interviews. If you’re much earlier on, it will be much easier to keep it to yourself.
If you do decide to disclose your pregnancy with an interviewer, there are a few important tips to follow:
- Be direct, clear, and straightforward. Don’t use euphemisms or beat around the bush; simply explain that you’re pregnant and that you wanted to proactively disclose this information.
- Discuss your plans for maternity leave. Are you planning on taking maternity leave? If so, what’s after that? Having a plan can assure your employer that you take this job seriously and that you’re prepared for the future.
- Frame your answers for your employer. Explain things and answer questions with your employer’s perspective in mind. What are their top goals and concerns? How can you address them?
Job hunting while pregnant isn’t especially fun, but you’re protected from discrimination under the law – and with the right strategies, you should have no trouble maximizing your chances of getting hired. As always, be prepared, make extra accommodations for yourself if necessary, and keep analyzing and improving your interview performance to increase your chances of getting hired even further.