Google “searching for a job when pregnant.” I can almost guarantee the top ten pages can be whittled down to one of two results:
A recommendation to hold off switching jobs until after your maternity leave OR
An “expert” telling you that under no circumstances should you disclose your pregnancy
Unfortunately (or fortunately?) it’s not always this simple.
Recently I was poking around on this topic. And this time it wasn’t for a client.
During the months prior I had been doing a lot of soul searching (pregnancy tends to spur this!) and decided there was a different direction I wanted to head in my own career. I loved the coaching I was doing with my clients, but I missed the face-to-face interaction and collaboration I had with previous positions. But I was pregnant so I decided to hold off on big decisions until after the baby arrived.
Then one seemingly ordinary Thursday morning I received a text from my husband. He was on his way home. He had just been let go.
Annnnd I was seven months pregnant.
I half expected myself to totally lose it. We needed the dual income…but more importantly we needed the health insurance.
Remember that idea I had about searching for jobs? Well this was all I needed to kick it into high gear.
Back to the Googling.
The recommendation to hold off on job searching wasn’t going to work. I’m fairly impatient as it is, so I didn’t need a stack of reasons to tell me it was time.
And keeping my pregnancy under wraps wasn’t an option. I was in my third trimester…with my second child. There was no hiding this belly!
More simply I had already done some pretty major work around getting clear on what kind of company I wanted to join when it was time. And transparency was something I valued in the interview process - I wanted interviewers to be candid with me and I anticipated laying all my cards out on the table.
I went all in fully expecting that being pregnant could work against me, but if it did I wouldn’t want to work at a place like that anyway.
Maybe you’ve found yourself in the same scenario - you’re pregnant and ready to make a career move. Or perhaps you’re in the midst of a job search but don’t want to hold off on starting a family. If so, ask yourself these four questions before you start interviewing:
- Am I sure that I’m not just feeling antsy because of my impending life change?
- Do I know what I’d rather be doing in my job or at work?
- Would I still end up making this move after having the baby if I don’t make it now?
- Do the benefits of leaving my job outweigh the benefits of staying during this time?
If you can answer YES to all of the above questions, it’s time to hit the job boards. As you do so….
SET YOUR PRIORITIES IN ADVANCE
You can’t have everything at the same time. Now that you’re making room for a baby in your life, what’s most important to you on the work front? Is it a flexible schedule? Is it a higher salary so you can afford daycare? Is it work that is so stimulating you won’t feel like you’re wasting the time you’ll spend away from your little one? Get really clear on these and allow them to guide you as you assess how well you’d fit within a company and role.
BE UP FRONT ABOUT IT
In my opinion, as long as you’re out of the first trimester it’s better to let them know you’re expecting than not. This doesn’t need to come up in the first interview or even the second, but I think any hiring manager would prefer to know before being blindsided in negotiation or in your first few weeks/months in the office.
EXPLORE LEAVE, BENEFITS, AND FLEX WORK OPTIONS
Now more than ever you’re going to have to think about the value of a flexible work arrangement. You’ll want to take some time off when the baby arrives and infants tend to get sick A LOT in the first year. A lot of new moms negotiate a flexible schedule so they can complete their tasks while ago maximizing their time home with the babe.
DON'T BE APOLOGETIC
There’s no need to apologize for being pregnant. Don’t think it, don’t say it. Embrace who you are. We all know pregnancy doesn’t make you any less qualified.
NEGOTIATE LIKE A BOSS
If you’re offered the position, negotiate just as you would any other time. You might feel like the company is “accepting” you right before you have to take a leave of absence, but hey they already know that and still want you! Stick to the priorities you set. This is the easiest time to set what the standard will be in the future.
As for me - I was offered and accepted a position with a firm that I see myself with long term. I started four weeks before delivering my son and still was able to take 9 weeks off. While I would have had more time off had I stayed put through maternity leave, I’m personally thrilled that I can rejoin a team that I know rather than gearing up for another life shift so soon after having a baby.
It’s not the right move for everyone, but it’s definitely not impossible. Looking to kick-start your search with a partner? I’d love to talk it through with you!