By: Erika Lovegreen
Google Search: “new job pregnant” “interviewing pregnant” “leaving job late in pregnancy”… etc.
Throw your birth plan out the windows on this story ladies. Can you hear it? All the people telling you how crazy you are for considering changing jobs late in pregnancy. What I learned when I got offered a job nine months pregnant (you read that right), there are very few, if any, resources for those expecting who interview or land a new career.
I was happy in my well-paying advertising role when a company I never heard of sent me a linkedin message about a corporate communication management gig. Living in a small town, there are little to no corporate jobs. The message to me was surprisingly personalized about my linkedin profile and experience. As I stared down at my massive growing belly, I laughed and the thought of exploring a new job option. I politely wrote back to the person on the other end that it sounded like a wonderful opportunity, and if she had more information I would love to hear more. I was really just trying to be nice and keep a door open.
In our next message, the Director of HR asked if I would be willing to take a phone call with her. I thought, what was the harm?
My phone rang a few hours later for our planned call. What I didn’t realize, the VP of HR was also joining us on the call. I was stunned and unprepared as he began firing off interview questions!
At the end of the call, the VP of HR asked my availability for an in person interview. My heart sank. While I enjoyed every minute talking about the possibilities, all I could think about was the reaction to my pregnancy and how this could possibly happen before my due date. The stress, I thought, could send me right into early labor.
“I have appreciated the opportunity to learn more about the company and share what I could offer, but, I believe in transparency,” I said. “I must be honest with you. I am pregnant. Not early in pregnancy either. I am in my third trimester. This call has been wonderful, but I understand if this is not on your timeline.”
Without hesitation, the voice on the other end responded, “We do not have a timeline. We are looking for the right person for the job. If you are it, we would be willing to wait.”
There were so many mixed emotions after that call. I had never heard of a company responding that way. My mind raced with thoughts of insurance, timing, and the uncertainty. Despite it all, I decided to move forward with the interview. I had nothing to lose, right?
I scoured the internet trying to find anything about interviewing pregnant. All the articles I found were about job searches early in pregnancy. They give advice about how to hide your bump until you get the job offer or why you should or shouldn’t tell your potential employer. My problem, there was no hiding.
The day of the big interview I squeezed my huge, swollen feet into heels and waddled across the parking lot in my new tent sized maternity blazer I found in the back of the Motherhood store. My mind kept going to thoughts of my water breaking mid-interview.
Fortunately, the worst did not happen. When I faced the panel of potential employers, all men who were significantly older than me, I was pleasantly surprised at their reaction to me and my belly. For starters, they all congratulated me and told me stories about their children. The ice was broken with a few laughs and a strong re-iteration of how impressed they were with my resume.
Our conversation was comfortable and I became more confident as the time went on. I knew if I was lucky enough to work for them, I could really lend my skills to help them achieve their goals. My final statement to the group was that if I were to be offered a position, ideally, I would like to try to put in a two week notice at my current employer. I knew that might not be possible, but I felt strongly that it was the right thing to do.
Little did I realize, that honesty and integrity I demonstrated about my pregnancy (beyond of course having a resume that matched) landed me the job offer.
The lesson I learned from this unprecedented experience, being yourself can go a long way. If an employer doesn’t hire you because of your pregnancy, either they need someone in faster (which is not personal) or they are simply not the right company for you. No matter what, do not be afraid of the unknown. Life with a child is an unknown anyway, what’s another twist to the story?