So, how do you interview when sporting an apple seed or watermelon under your best blue suit? In other words, how do you navigate interviewing while you’re pregnant?
Depending on how far along you are, you’re probably afraid your protruding belly is the first thing interviewers will notice, immediately assuming you’re not up for the responsibilities. Clearly, you need a plan — one that takes into consideration the best for you, the baby bun in the oven and the potential employer.
Analyze Current and Future Lifestyle Needs
For now, make sure you meet your duties and obligations as you conduct the job search and attend to your own needs. Do you have access to a flexible work schedule and an ability to meet your duties? Remember, you need to make it to doctor’s appointments and everything else that comes with being responsible for a tiny human.
Think about what you need in the interim, and don’t sacrifice your needs — your honesty will make you a better employee now and in the long term.
You also need to think about your future needs. Be especially honest with yourself here. Do you want a job close to a daycare? Is the ideal situation a work-from-home position with a helpful nanny? Is the traditional 9-to-5 more structured and stable for your growing family? What benefits and income do you need?
Maybe your hope is for a job with to-the-point duties and a short commute home. These questions help you outline your plan for the next few months and for the months after your baby arrives.
Consider Your Coverage
Your top consideration must be what coverage you need to maintain your health and the baby’s health before and after delivery. What coverage do you have now? Can you get Medicaid if other options are limited or nonexistent? What coverage does the employer offer?
Don’t forget the importance of maternity leave. Unfortunately, America falls far behind the rest of first- and even third-world offerings as the only developed nation without a paid leave policy, leaving companies to advance antiquated policies by making their own.
Mothers may access leave with the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), established in 1993, but it only offers up to 12 unpaid weeks of leave and job protection to people who choose to take it. For this privilege, your employment history with the company must include at least 1,250 clocked hours within a year before leave starts. Some companies offer leave policies for already expecting mothers — so don’t panic yet. Just be aware.
Start the Search Process ASAP
Your baby won’t wait for you to get a job. The earlier you are in your pregnancy, the more time and energy reserves you’ll devote to the process.
Still, early pregnancy comes with the joys of odd heartburn and backaches, and other not so pleasant side effects. Simplify the job search process by using technology to your advantage: Apply to jobs using your smartphone, polish up your LinkedIn account and grow your professional network through social media. Remove questionable material and comments from your social media accounts to maintain a professional image.
When you start the process early, you will feel less stressed and “exposed” if your pregnancy hasn’t started showing yet, leaving both you and the person doing the hiring free to focus attention on your skills, and not your belly.
Deciding If You’ll Disclose Pregnancy
Bias clearly exists toward pregnant women seeking a job, as well as moms-to-be who are currently employed. Employers may ask prying questions to get you to reveal your pregnancy. Of course, all this is not only illegal, but unhelpful to mothers who want to do their best on the job and at home.
Even when employers view themselves as objective and modern when it comes to pregnancy, there may still be tinges of bias through their assumptions. Employers think you’re on board and will do your best now, but you may change your mind and quit later, leaving them high and dry. The candidate search is expensive for the employer, and they’d need to do it all over again.
Ideally, your passion and experience should demonstrate your dedication, and you can use these to your advantage to reassure employers. Eyebrows will raise if you come into an interview appearing to have a full basketball under your shirt, even if you try to cover up. At this point, you may consider disclosing your pregnancy, but it’s not required. These are a few of the scenarios and options you may face when considering if you should disclose your pregnancy.
Focus on Your Skills and Position
Pregnant or not, the job search itself is still cut and dried. Focus on your skills and strengths during the interview.
Direct prying questions back to your proven experience and what you bring to the table as a professional. Practice your storytelling abilities, and come prepared to answer behaviorally focused questions with the STARR method.
- Situation: Explain the situation by describing the scene.
- Task: Describe the goal or task you faced.
- Action: How did you handle the situation?
- Result: What was the outcome? How did your actions affect or direct the result?
- Reflection: What did you take away from the experience? Would you do anything differently?
When you feel lost or stuck, ask open-ended questions about the position, work culture and company history.
Remember, others who take FMLA do it for medical reasons. Life happens, and so what if you’re unavailable for a few months? It doesn’t mean you won’t return to work fully prepared and committed to doing your job, especially when you’ve proven as much in the past.
Being pregnant while job searching is not ideal, but the biggest life changes force you to look at what you want to do with your life, for yourself and your family. Consider this situation as an opportunity to do just that and emerge as an empowered pregnant professional. Now, go nail that interview, mama!
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