Dear Diary,

At eight months pregnant, I was told, We’re sorry to inform you your position has been eliminated, and your last day with the company will be April 15th. As an HR professional, I told the same thing to countless employees in the past. I never thought that one day I would be on the receiving end.  The words were life changing, hurtful and perhaps even devastating.  I was carrying my first child, and instead of looking for a dress for my baby shower, I had to look for a job.

Dear Diary,

I waddled into interviews with a confident smile and a very large briefcase, positioned to hide my baby bump. Of course, I couldn’t cover up the fact that I was about to go into labor. I just prayed I didn’t have contractions in the middle of my meeting. During this time, I learned three things about how to find a job when you’re pregnant.

Decide If You’ll Disclose Your Pregnancy

I struggled with what to tell recruiters over the telephone about my current condition. While I knew it was illegal to discriminate against pregnant applicants, I still worried about what interviewers would think when I walked in. But worrying won’t help you get a job! In fact, it could put your baby at risk. I eventually let my experiences, degrees and certifications speak on my behalf. If a company didn’t hire me because I was pregnant, it was outside of my control. Besides, that may not be the best environment for a new mom who’s adjusting to a new sleep schedule, pumping breast milk on her lunch break or finding backup babysitters. If you’re far along, it’s probably best to reveal your pregnancy–it’s not like they can’t see that you may be a new mom before you’re their new employee! The company can also plan accordingly, finding coverage while you’re on maternity leave. If you are in your first trimester, the decision to disclose is a personal one. It’s OK to wait, especially if you have yet to share the news with your friends and family. You can always bring it up if you advance as a finalist for the job.

Manage Your Time & Expectations

My energy level dipped when I was pregnant, so I had to come to terms that I couldn’t get as much done in a day that I did in the past. But that didn’t mean that I couldn’t successfully conduct a search. I set aside specific times to look for jobs. I created a quiet environment–with no TV, radio or other distractions. I also created a task list i.e. Update LinkedIn profile, network with professionals in my field, reach out to references. If the list is overwhelming, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Is there a mom in your circle who can revise your résumé? Or can friends inquire about job openings at their workplaces? On top of managing time, you’ll want to manage expectations. No one wants to take a pay cut, but that just might happen. Remember, your salary and title are temporary. And a decrease in one area may mean an increase in another. The new job may come with less stress, more flexibility and an improved environment.

Inquire About Your Benefits Package

Although it may not be the first question you ask an interviewer, you’ll want to eventually inquire about the company’s benefits package. What health insurance options are available? Is there a maternity leave policy? And do you have to work for a certain length of time to be eligible? Many companies don’t have maternity leave policies in place, so you might have to use personal days or short-term disability for paid time off.  If the company doesn’t meet the requirements for Family Leave and Medical Act (FMLA) coverage, which typically applies to companies with more than 50 employees, you may not be able to take unpaid, job-protected leave. You’ll need to know the details of time off, not only for maternity leave but also for absences connected to a sick child or a childcare cancellation.

So what if you don’t land a job right away? Look at the extended time off as a blessing in disguise. Most women on average take about three months of maternity leave. Some return to work within weeks! I stayed home for five months. Had I been working, I doubt I would have gotten so much quality time in with my baby. During that time, I scheduled phone interviews around my daughter’s sleep schedule, praying she wouldn’t wake up and cry in the middle of my call. Looking back, I wish I relaxed more and stressed less about being unemployed.

Hey DFTM Fam–Do you have any other job hunting tips? Did you look for a job during your pregnancy? 

About The Author

Ayanna Jackson
Working Mom

Ayanna is a married mom raising a 2-year-old daughter outside of Washington, DC. The human resources professional and career coach writes about how moms can successfully navigate the corporate world while raising children. She loves being a mom, because no matter what type of day she has, her daughter makes her smile and laugh as soon as she gets home. When not writing for DFTM, Ayanna serves as senior human resources professional with Discovery Communications. She's also a photographer, tulip lover and stationary addict.

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