Pregnant and Job Hunting? What You Need To Know
When I was about seven-months pregnant with my third child, I got called for an interview for a job that I had applied for before I was even pregnant.
Over the phone, the manager sounded very enthusiastic about meeting me, explained that I would be undergoing a “panel-style” interview, which basically meant that one manager from every department of the hospital area that I would be working for would be interviewing me (not nerve wracking at all), but not to worry too much because my resume and credentials all sounded perfect for the job.
And yet, when I strolled into the small conference room with about fifteen top-level managers and they all tried hard not to gape at my giant belly, it was hard not to feel like there was a small elephant in the room.
I didn't get the job, and of course, it's impossible to say whether to not my pregnancy had anything to do with it, but as any pregnant woman knows, job hunting during a pregnancy can be a nerve-wracking experience. So just what should you be aware of when job hunting while pregnant?
What are the laws?
The Pregnancy Discrimination Act prevents potential employers from “discrimination based on pregnancy when it comes to any aspect of employment, including hiring, firing, pay, job assignments, promotions, layoff, training, fringe benefits, such as leave and health insurance, and any other term or condition of employment.” And while, of course, that all sounds pretty good on paper, it is hard to prove without a doubt that an employer didn't hire you simply based on your pregnancy. But keep an open mind going into an interview that times are changing and not all employers are anti-pregnancy.
You have nothing to feel guilty about
For some strange reason, even after I had a job, I felt guilty “confessing” my pregnancy to my boss, like I had done something wrong in adding to our family. We still often equate pregnancy with being “unprofessional” when, really, there is nothing for you to be ashamed or feel guilty about. Yes, you may need some special considerations, and yes, you may be taking a maternity leave you're fully entitled to, but you are no less professional than any of your colleagues, so try not to blow your pregnancy out of proportion. Leslie Gelzer-Govatos was hired for a new job when she was only 11-weeks pregnant and felt guilty not disclosing her pregnancy. And yet, “I also feel like you just can't do much to protect yourself from being discriminated against because of pregnancy,” she said. “And you shouldn't have to put up with that.” The point? Don't feel the need to apologize for your pregnancy. Period.
Women do get hired while very pregnant
Surprisingly enough, many of the women I interviewed had no problem finding jobs, even well into their third trimesters of pregnancy. Like Chelsea Corbishley, who was hired as a Family Educator for a non-profit agency when she was seven-and-a-half-months pregnant. Or another anonymous mother-to-be, who was not only hired at eight-months pregnant, but also had an employer who held the position for her until after she returned from her maternity leave. “I was interviewed by three different people: two women (both moms) and one man,” she said. “None of them so much as glanced at my bump other than to ask me how the pregnancy was going and if we knew what we were having.”
Should you tell?
If you're not showing yet, are you obligated to tell the potential employer about your pregnancy? Most moms say no. The employer cannot legally ask you if you're pregnant or even if you're planning on having children soon. So if they do, realize that even that kind of question in itself is a red flag. But most of the mothers I spoke to felt it was best to keep the pregnancy out of the interview process, if at all possible. “I didn't mention my pregnancy in the interview (I was 16 weeks),” says Desiree Saige Dunn. “I waited till my 20-week ultrasound to tell them the news. Surprisingly, they were very supportive and excited for me!”
Have you ever been hired for a job while pregnant? What advice do you have for other expecting mothers-to-be?