You Know What I Mean?
Dear Fayza: Must you tell potential employers that you're pregnant?
Can you believe it? The long-awaited day is finally here — my advice column, "You Know What I Mean?" is finally up and running! Fueled by your questions, your drama, your dilemmas. I couldn't be happier that you're all so very functionally human.
At last, I'll be solving all your problems and positioning myself as the savvy messiah in your life! Or perhaps I'll just provide my personal insight as to how you should manage your inner maelstroms. Feel free to crown me your hero later.
I'm newly pregnant, but I've been looking for work through the past few months and starting to get several interviews. I've been considering temporary roles just to fulfill financial needs and stock up on money for baby time. This situation would be excellent — both parties win, with me fulfilling their need, while I earn the paychecks I need up to just a couple months prior to the baby's arrival.
However, one of the most perfect jobs for what I've been seeking may present itself to me as a permanent hire. When do I tell them about my pregnancy without losing the job offer (assuming it's presented)?
I'm at the stage where I can still hide the baby growth. This kind of role doesn't come up often where I live, and it's only five miles away with good pay, etc.
While I thought I was previously considering temp work as my preference, a job like this is one that I wouldn't want to pass up. I would even consider returning to work after the baby, because it is too hard to let go of such a long-term opportunity.
- Pregnant With Possibilities
As a woman, it's such a shame that we still must have these inner debates, isn't it? It's not like we're going to be incapacitated for months after we give birth, and yet, we feel like the child we're carrying is kryptonite for our careers.
Instead of being penalized, our vaginas should be awarded blue ribbons for keeping the species going, if you ask me. But you didn't ask me that, exactly.
We all know what the real question is. Would you get hired if you told the employer about your pregnancy now? Sadly, probably not.
I mean, the company can't legally penalize you for what's in your womb, of course. But it'd be easy to nix you from the hiring pool based on those grounds, no matter what reason was given for ending your candidacy for the position. You'd never know the truth, anyway.
But if you're still small enough to hide your belly during the interview process, then it's still a small enough (read: negligible) concern to your potential future company. As of now, the organization has plenty of time left with you and your bun safely baking in the oven before your belly begins to affect your work schedule.
Perhaps some will find this controversial. But remember, this is your body — not your brain, not your resumé, not your experience, not your skill set. Unless the position calls for extensive travel or heavy lifting, your pregnancy won't affect your ability to perform your job duties in the short-term — or in the long-term, for that matter.
And if this is a permanent position, as you've said, then I imagine the company is looking for someone substantial and lasting, which isn't changed by giving birth.
Sure, your impending motherhood will be an issue in the future, but so is any employee's familial obligations or extracurricular activities. Those issues surface later, during the course of employment, not during the interview process, because they have zero impact on your job performance — and they shouldn't.
Interviews are for determining whether you, not your uterus, is a good fit for the position. Besides, your uterus is otherwise occupied, thankyouverymuch.
But then again, you can't lie.
Whether you tell the company after the offer is given and accepted or once you start showing is up to you. But if they do rescind the offer after you break the news, the company subjects itself to a discrimination lawsuit. Because firing a woman because she's with child is, well, kind of illegal.
Barring a messy lawsuit, you can still glide into mamahood and back to the daily grind unscathed. Once your belly starts protruding into noticeable territory (and after you've had the chance to prove yourself a valuable asset to the company, ahem), sit down with your boss and have the birds and bees talk with him or her.
And be smart about it — have a plan of action for both your maternity leave and your return to corporate America. Your boss will appreciate your honesty and your proactive stance on what could be a dicey situation otherwise, and will appreciate you more as an employee as a result.
It's just a matter of balls-ing up later rather than sooner, but you can do it, mama-to-be. Being a career-woman and a mommy aren't mutually exclusive.