Should I reveal that I’m pregnant before accepting a job?
In this special Making Sense edition of Ask The Headhunter, Nick shares insider advice and contrarian methods about winning and keeping the right job, on one condition: that you, dear Making Sense reader, send Nick your questions about your personal challenges with job hunting, interviewing, networking, resumes, job boards, or salary negotiations. No guarantees — just a promise to do his best to offer useful advice.
Question: I’m looking at a great job with a really great company. However, I’m in the early stages of pregnancy and I’m concerned about how to handle it. I know it’s illegal to discriminate against pregnant women, but let’s face it — it happens. Should I risk rejection by telling the employer about my situation up front, or should I wait until I am settled in the job then lower the boom, but risk alienating my employer? I am only nine weeks along and can probably hide my condition for quite a while after they hire me.
Nick Corcodilos: Pregnant women can work, and employers can manage a work schedule when a baby comes. The challenge is to plan together.
My advice is to interview and win an offer on the basis of who you are and what you can do. (But don’t jump at an offer just because they make one. Think ahead. Please see “It’s the people, Stupid.”) Then, just before you give them a decision, be responsible and let the employer know you’re going to need time off when the baby comes. It won’t be so easy for them to rescind the offer at that point, and you’ll learn a lot from their reaction, too.
If you plan to return to work after the baby comes, say so and provide details about the schedule you’d like to follow. Be ready to make a commitment. If they are surprised that you didn’t disclose your pregnancy before they made the offer, but they’re still eager to hire you, that’s a good sign.
If they get really upset about it, I doubt you’d want to work there. They’re not going to be very supportive of a working mother. If you want to take legal action at that point, it’s up to you. I’m not a lawyer and this isn’t legal advice. My job is to optimize your chances of getting an offer and of having a good relationship with your employer if you take the job.
Having a baby is your business. Your ability to do the job properly is the employer’s business. “Tell ‘Em What They Need to Hear” — do it honestly, but don’t skew the odds against yourself imprudently. How you handle this is a sign of your integrity. And how the employer handles it reveals theirs. My advice is to act responsibly without putting yourself at a disadvantage, and to hold any employer to a similar standard.
Dear Readers: Have any of you encountered this situation, either as a pregnant job seeker or as a hiring manager? How did you handle it?
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