Maybe you've heard the news: Marissa Mayer, an executive who has been climbing the corporate ladder at Google was just named as Yahoo's new chief executive. What seems to be even bigger news: She is pregnant (it's a boy) and due Oct. 7. Reports indicate that she let Yahoo's board know about her pregnancy at the end of June; they first contacted her to discuss the position on June 16. It's great that this superstar from Google was able to land a big new job while expecting, but what about the rest of us? It's hard enough to try to find work; are you out of luck if you are pregnant?
Allison O'Kelly, founder and CEO of Mom Corps, a national flexible staffing firm dedicated to connecting progressive employers with professionals seeing flexible work, believes all women have an opportunity to job hunt successfully while pregnant, even if their positions are a very far walk from the corner office.
The key to success is communicating your skills and competencies first: Convince the hiring manager that you are the best fit. Once you've gotten over that hurdle (usually in the first interview), O'Kelly believes pregnant job seekers should disclose their situations. She explains, "When you're looking for a job, you're starting a relationship. You don't want to begin that relationship by not disclosing your pregnancy. Be honest and explain that you are prepared to take on the job and fully expect to return to work after maternity leave."
How should you broach the subject? Once you know that you want the job and have made a good impression, O'Kelly suggests opening a conversation with the hiring manager; explain that you are pregnant, when you are due, and your plans for how it would impact your job. Make a clear case to convince the employer you are committed to maintaining the position after the baby is born.
It's not out of the question to explain that you, or your family, require your income. You may also note how important it is for you to maintain your career or job because you enjoy what you do. Since your plans for after the baby is born are a touchy subject, the employer will not want to ask about child-care arrangements, but you can bring it up if you already have plans in place. You may also describe how you've successfully managed a leave in the past.
O'Kelly explains, if you are able to quickly and completely address the employer's concerns, you may quell any hesitations. "The less of a big deal you make it, the less overwhelming it will be for the hiring manager."
The bottom line: You don't need to be a superstar candidate to land the job while pregnant, but, as in every situation, pregnant or not -- you do need to be the right candidate.
Once you have the position, it's all up to you to set the tone. Be sure to keep communication lines open between your boss and colleagues. Co-workers will be wondering how much of your work they will have to pick up, so make it clear how you plan to make your leave as easy as possible on everyone.
"Tell your employer your goals and plans for when you return. If you'd like to go for a promotion, be sure no one is assuming that you won't want a more responsible job after the baby comes. Talk about your goals -- if you want to move to a promotion down the road, say so.
O'Kelly reminds us, "Your actions are more important than anything when you come back to work. You need to be on top of things if you aspire to a better job. Maybe you do need to step aside and try to arrange some reduced hours initially. Many employers will make flexible arrangements for valued employees; they'd rather keep you on board than have to hire and train a new employee." But, once you are back to work, if you don't want to be "mommy tracked," and have everyone assume you are more focused on family than work, be sure your actions demonstrate your commitment to work and show that you are ready for that next challenge.
Miriam Salpeter, owner of Keppie Careers is a sought-after job search and social networking coach and speaker who inspires job hunters and entrepreneurs. She is author of Social Networking for Career Success and 100 Conversations for Career Success.
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