Pregnant and unemployed. The words alone may make you want to cringe. After all, being either pregnant or unemployed could represent a stressful situation in your life. Taken together, it’s just a bit scary. All the “normal” concerns of being jobless instantly become intensified when you’re looking for a job while also preparing for the delivery of your baby. Just because it’s more complicated doesn’t mean that it’s impossible to find a job that’s perfect for you.
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Legally, a potential employer can’t ask you if you’re pregnant, nor can they consider your pregnancy when they decide whether or not to hire you.
“Women who are pregnant or affected by related conditions must be treated in the same manner as other applicants or employees with similar abilities or limitations,” according to HR Hero.
Unfortunately, your real-life experience may be a bit different. According to data released by the EEOC, pregnancy discrimination “hits virtually every industry and every geographic area of the country” — with low-wage employees especially hard hit, according to Washington Post. Whether you voluntarily left your last job or you felt forced out, starting your job search while pregnant is not an easy proposition.
So, here are a few tips that should help ensure your success in your job search:
1. Be Professional.
Your bump may seem to be the biggest “elephant” in the room (pun intended), but the job interview is about you, and your qualifications for the job. Don’t let your pregnancy intimidate you, and don’t second-guess (or under-sell) yourself.
“Behave like your normal, professional, poised, un-pregnant self,” says Zainab Zaki at Tech Cocktail. Zaki was nine months pregnant when she was hired.
2. Be Realistic.
A study, conducted by Rice University last year, examined the behavior and attitudes toward pregnant job applicants. According to the study, “Pregnant women are more likely to experience discrimination in the job search process than nonpregnant women, but they can minimize bias by addressing negative pregnancy stereotypes in the application process.”
Furthermore, pregnant job applicants who address the stereotypes (incompetence, lack of commitment, inflexibility, and need for accommodation) are three times less likely to “experience interpersonal discrimination.”
3. Prepare a Plan.
By thinking ahead and creating a plan, you’re demonstrating your commitment to the new job, but you’re also showing them something about your work ethic and competence. Even before interviewing for the job, you can imagine the basic scenarios for your delivery, time-off for leave, insurance coverage, and child care. You may not need to discuss the plan in your interview, but it’s important to consider what you need from a successful working relationship.
4. Know Your Rights.
You’re not required to tell your prospective employer that you’re pregnant when you interview, according to The Grindstone. Also, you can read more about pregnancy discrimination from the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission: “The Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) forbids 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.”
It’s important that you understand your rights, so that you can do what’s best for you and your child. It’s also important that you understand when it’s appropriate to seek advice or legal recourse related to pregnancy discrimination.
Networking has multiple benefits in a pregnant job-search scenario. You can gain insider details via LinkedIn (specifics about culture, work environment, and hiring managers). Making a personal connection within the organization will (hopefully) give you insight on whether the company will be a good fit for you, as a soon-to-be parent. Word-of-mouth referrals may also give you an edge in this complicated interview situation. You may even find a friend. After all, “employers really want people who they will bond with, who they will feel good around,” according to a study conducted in 2012 by the American Sociological Association.
Even when you carefully plan and implement the best possible course in your pregnant job search, it’s possible that you won’t be offered a job. The current economic environment has made the market more competitive and thus more frustrating for all job seekers (not just pregnant ones).
Don’t give up. You may find a job that’s perfect for you.
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