It’s always hard to find a new job.
Sometimes it’s hard because you have specialized skills, and the right job is just not always available.
Sometimes it’s hard because you don’t have enough experience, or you’re making a career change.
And, sometimes, it’s hard because you’re pregnant.
No one wants to job hunt in the middle of a pregnancy, but nine months is a long time and needing to make a change can occasionally be unavoidable.
If this is the situation you’re in, here are three things you need to know.
1: The Law Protects Pregnant Women
The Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) is a federal law that prohibits employers from doing a variety of things, including firing you because you’ve become pregnant, rejecting you as an applicant because you are, or might become, pregnant. The PDA also requires employers to offer you reasonable accommodations such as altered work schedules, permission to sit or stand, permission to work from home, and more.
While the PDA is specific to pregnancy, the more broad-based Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) also covers some aspects of pregnancy, including medical issues. If you need an accommodation that is not covered by PDA, it may be covered by ADA.
2: Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell
Most of us know that it’s illegal for an interviewer to ask you about personal situations such as pregnancy or other medical issues, how many children you have, whether you’re married, and more. Yet we’ve all sat in interviews and, in an attempt to break the ice, talked about our home lives. Maybe it’s prompted by a picture of your child on your phone, or maybe it comes up in a conversation about work schedules and flexibility.
While your interviewer cannot ask you about your children (current or future), they can ask you about restrictions on your ability to travel, for example. It’s easy to fall into accidental oversharing. Your best bet is to keep things factual and professional. If you’re asked about any restrictions you have, you can share the what without the why.
For instance, if you are pregnant and know that in six months, you’ll have a travel restriction, you can give dates when you would not be able to travel without sharing why.
3: The Belly-phant in the Room
But what if it’s OBVIOUS?
What if your baby bump precedes you into the room? The short answer is that you still don’t have to disclose it. It’s still illegal for the interviewer to ask about it.
No one wants to have something that might be a roadblock to finding their dream job. But remember that being pregnant is incredibly common. Most organizations are looking to hire and retain people over the long term, not just for a few months. And at some point in that long term, any woman might become pregnant. You’re looking for an employer that supports every employee as a whole person, not just a cog in the wheel from 9 to 5.
Most modern employers have policies to support their workforce, including flexibility, paid time off, and more.
While it may seem like you are going to be pregnant forever, it’s a temporary condition. Smart organizations are looking for talent for the long term. So as you walk into that interview, focus on what you can bring to the table, steer clear of providing details about your personal situation, and know that the law is on your side!