Rachel Cooper is a writer and creative based in Kansas City, Missouri. She's also cofounder of Read Poetry, an online platform and community dedicated to modern poetry and its role in today's society.
No matter the reason you’re looking for a new job, it’s a truth universally acknowledged that job hunting while pregnant can be riddled with uncertainty. There’s no reason you can’t find a better gig, though. Whether you’re a new mom or you have another child on the way, here are some tips for finding a new job to make the transition easier.
What to Look For On The Job Hunt
First off, you want to be mindful of your schedule. Between doctor’s appointments, job interviews, and keeping your current supervisor happy, you’ll be juggling a lot. To help stay organized, make a list of must-haves you’ll need from your prospective employer. Maybe you’d like a shorter commute or want to be closer to a good daycare. No matter your wish list, you’ll want to vet employers before and during the interview process.
Do your best to research the health insurance and benefits offered by your new employer. Do they offer the coverage you need? Do they offer maternity leave? Unfortunately, many companies don’t have an official paid leave policy for parents, so check to see if the organization will cover you under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). FMLA usually only applies to companies who employ over 50 people, and oftentimes company policies require you to work up to a year or more before you are eligible for maternity leave.
The Job Interview
You’ve landed an interview or two, and now comes the tough decision—to disclose or not disclose your pregnancy. Unfortunately hiring discrimination against pregnant women isn’t always easy to detect.
First, know that because of the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, you are not obligated to tell the hiring manager that you’re pregnant, and it is illegal for them to discriminate against you. However, it is worth noting that it’s harder to prove you’ve been discriminated against if you’re not an employee; that’s an unfortunate reality prospective hires deal with.
According to Career Builder, employers typically have two main concerns when hiring someone who is pregnant:
How much time will you spend out of the office? Usually hiring needs are immediate, and between doctor’s appointments and maternity leave, managers might be concerned that you won’t be able to provide the company the support they require.
Will you be committed to your new position? Hiring and training someone new is a time-consuming and expensive endeavor. The person interviewing you may be concerned that you will decide not to come back to work after your maternity leave is over.
While some people argue there is no reason to disclose your pregnancy during an interview, others argue for transparency, but the bottom line is it’s your choice. You’re only obligated to share what you’re comfortable sharing.
What to Say If You Decide to Disclose Your Pregnancy
Perhaps you’ve decided to disclose your pregnancy to the hiring manager. What next?
To ease the concerns mentioned above, career advice expert Amanda Augustine, who is a mother herself, suggests preparing yourself for questions that might come up in an interview, such as the timing of your maternity leave or how you’ll make sure your work is covered while you’re gone. She also says that reiterating your enthusiasm for the job and your dedication to a long-term career at the company is helpful.
In the grand scheme of things, maternity leave is a brief moment in time compared to the time you’ll spend working for your prospective employer. Reminding hiring managers of this and then shifting the conversation back to your qualifications is a helpful way to reassure them that you’re the perfect person for the job.
Advice From Women Who’ve Done It
If you’re new to this, know that you’re not alone and that there are many women who have successfully secured a new, dream position while pregnant. To read stories from real women who’ve done it, check out this story from The Cut.
And remember that it’s your body, your child, and your career, so don’t be afraid to ask the tough questions and to keep hunting until you find the perfect position.
What Employers Can Do To Help
As an employer, you want the best possible talent working for you, regardless of parenthood or pregnancy status. According to Ovia Health, at any organization, it's likely that a quarter of employees are either thinking about starting a family or already have one, and when those employees don't feel supported and turn elsewhere for better job opportunities, it costs an average of 33 percent of their salary to replace them. The two most important things you can do to recruit and retain parents and parents-to-be at your company are to:
Make sure candidates know that your company has a family-friendly culture and supports the working parents that help make your organization great. Share specifics about how your company culture is awesome, talk about the ways you prioritize work-life balance, and provide materials about all of your benefits, including maternity & family benefits.
Actually have a family-friendly culture and support working parents! Offer great maternity & family benefits, flexible scheduling, and make all of your employees feel supported and empowered to achieve their work and life goals.
Ovia Health works with employers to help them create supportive workplaces that encourage everyone to grow their families and their careers, including programs for employees to help them navigate working parenthood, pregnancy at work, and more—making job hunting (and job-having) a better, more supportive experience for parents.