How to Look for Work When You’re About to Become a New Parent, with Emily Lamia

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Find Your Dream Job, Episode 371:

How to Look for Work When You’re About to Become a New Parent, with Emily Lamia

Airdate: October 26, 2022

Mac Prichard:

This is Find Your Dream Job, the podcast that helps you get hired, have the career you want, and make a difference in life. 

I’m your host, Mac Prichard. I’m also the founder of Mac’s List. It’s a job board in the Pacific Northwest that helps you find a fulfilling career.

Every Wednesday, I talk to a different expert about the tools you need to get the work you want.

Find Your Dream Job is brought to you by TopResume. TopResume has helped more than 400,000 professionals land more interviews and get hired faster. 

Get a free review of your resume today. 

Go to macslist.org/topresume. 

You’re expecting a new baby. Congratulations! 

You’re also looking for work. How do you juggle both parenthood and a job search? 

Emily Lamia is here to talk about job searching when you’re about to become a new parent.

She’s the founder and owner of Pivot Journeys.   

Her company gives you the strategies and support you need to find meaningful work. And to empower you to be inspired, engaged, and effective on the job.

She joins us from Portland, Oregon. 

Well, let’s get going, Emily. What challenges do expectant parents face when looking for work? 

Emily Lamia:

Yeah, I wish I could say that “Oh, it’s no problem at all, and it’s just like any other job search, Mac.” But I think we all know that that’s not the case, unfortunately. So there are, you know, a variety of challenges. You know, I think the first kind of challenge is just recognizing that, wow, your life is about to change. There are a lot of new things that are gonna be happening for you, new needs that you have, new priorities, and so figuring out where work fits into that and your life becomes a bit of that first challenge. Right? That just deciding what you’re looking for, how work and life combine together, and what that ideal position is gonna allow you to do with your new family. 

And then, unfortunately, we’ve got these other challenges that I think we all know exist, which is the unconscious bias, the actual conscious bias that happens, and sometimes outright discrimination for people who are expectant parents and who are showing up to job interviews pregnant and sharing that they are expecting a child. So, unfortunately, we’ve got some of those big challenges. 

Mac Prichard:

How do those challenges differ for men and women? 

Emily Lamia:

Yeah, what’s so interesting about this is that while both men and women feel, you know, a lot of challenge and anxiety about making sure that they can find a position that works for them, that’s flexible, that allows them to enjoy time with their family; the truth is that women face many more challenges when looking for work and with growing and developing in their work. 

You know, there’s been a lot of research done shows that when women have a child, their earnings take a hit, which lasts for their lifetime, and those hits actually increase, and they have more challenges, in terms of that salary, the more they have children.

Men, it’s actually the opposite. Men see a jump in pay when they have a child, and they see a jump in pay when they add children to their family. 

So, in terms of some of the just, you know, career growth and trajectory, and pay, some of those challenges are way more difficult for women. I will say that, you know, I do think for all parents, no matter your gender, there are challenges around how you figure out balancing work and looking for work that is going to fit into this version of your life that you have, sharing too much too early, or feeling like you know what is allowed to you benefits-wise. Men and women face those challenges definitely equally. 

But, of course, the pregnant person is the one that often ends up bearing the brunt of a lot of that unconscious and conscious bias for sure. 

Mac Prichard:

What do you say to listeners, Emily, who think, if they’re either pregnant or they’re about to become the father of a new child, employers won’t hire someone who is pregnant or offer leave to parents who have a new child? Is it even worth doing a job search if those are your circumstances? 

Emily Lamia:

That’s such a good question, and it’s such a personal question for folks. I’ve worked with people who are in really bad situations with their employer, and they have to get out, and so, you know, and that happens, you know, whether or not you’re expecting a child or you’ve got other personal needs that are taking your attention as well. So I think that there’s a personal decision to be made as to whether or not those trade-offs are worth going for at a certain time. 

But I guess what I would say is people do hire folks who are expecting parents. People do hire pregnant women. They do hire folks that are about to take a maternity or paternity or parental leave, and there are ways to negotiate these things. I will say that for many of the folks that I work with, they decide that the best option is to wait until they are able to have that new baby and make some flexible adjustments to their schedule, and then start to look. 

But overall, I would say that the most important thing is to actually just focus on the job, the meat of the job, and what you’re excited about, and what you offer to a company. And that’s the case again, you know, I’m sure, Mac, this is no surprise to you. It’s just that no matter what your situation is, focusing on the role, what you offer, what you bring, the accomplishments that you can transfer, and the enthusiasm for the mission. That’s the stuff that employers are really gonna care about, and so I wouldn’t, you know, count yourself out in a job search if you have a lot of value you can offer to companies and if you’re really passionate about making a change for whatever reason. 

Mac Prichard:

It’s great advice, and it’s advice that is often offered to people who aren’t expectant parents. Think about what you offer and the difference you can make for an employer. Why is that especially important for expectant parents to keep in mind? 

Emily Lamia:

You know, I think, and again, like you said, Mac, no matter what type of job search you’re in or what your personal situation is, employers have a need to fill a job to achieve certain goals for their company or organization. And at the end of the day, they’re most concerned and interested in having conversations about how you can help them achieve their goals. 

And so when you make the conversation about, well, what are the benefits you offer? And, tell me about the culture. And what’s the flexibility like? That changes the conversation to then that employer saying, sounds like this person is more interested in what we can do for them as opposed to what they can do for us. And ideally, we don’t want that to be the case. Right? 

We want to wow them so much with your abilities, your expertise, all of your accomplishments that they say, wow, this person is exactly who we want on our team. Oh, bummer, we’re gonna have to wait a little while to get them. Or, oh, we’re gonna have to give them some time off, you know, for this new child that they’re expecting, but it’s gonna be worth it because I’m hearing all of these great things, and their enthusiasm and excitement for the job. So that’s gonna be worth it. 

Mac Prichard:

You mentioned discrimination. It’s a fact against expectant parents, particularly pregnant women. What legal protections exist for expectant parents, Emily? And how have you seen workers take advantage of those laws? 

Emily Lamia:

Yeah, I wish I could say that we, you know, in the United States, have a lot more legal protections than we do. I wish that paid leave was something available to more people. Sadly, only twenty-five percent of U.S. workers get paid leave. Fifty percent of folks only have less than six weeks. So, we have a long way to go in this country. 

The legal protections we do have, though, first of all, there’s the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, which was an amendment to the Civil Rights Act of the mid-sixties, and the Pregnancy Discrimination Act happened in the late seventies. Basically, that prevents discrimination in hiring, firing, pay, promotions, all of that kind of stuff. And so, that’s kind of the biggest legal protection that a pregnant person is gonna have on their side. Of course, it is only applicable to organizations that have at least fifteen employees, and, of course, I’m sure a lot of people listening to this currently or might be looking at employers who have less than that. 

So, that’s one piece. Another really commonly known protection is FMLA, Family Medical Leave Act, which was passed in the early nineties. That basically guarantees that an employer has to keep your job for twelve weeks. But unfortunately, you have to have been in the job for at least twelve months, and the employer has to have at least fifty employees. So, again, it’s not universal coverage. 

And any of these things don’t even, you know, allow you to necessarily continue to get your full range of salary. Even the states that have passed Leave Acts, you know, which I think is only about eight or nine states, and actually, Mac, our home state of Oregon, which is a very progressive state, we actually will have paid leave. But it doesn’t go into effect until a year from now, in September 2023. 

So there’s still a lot that’s, you know, a lot of work to be done in, you know, making the legal protections, and just the ability for expectant parents to manage work and be able to continue to pay their bills, manageable. You know, some of the things to think about in terms of those legal rights are they really vary by state and city. So, you want to check out all of those things specific to where you live and keep in mind that, you know, when you hear the term paid leave or, you know, these Family Medical Leave Acts and stuff, it doesn’t necessarily aways apply to you.

Mac Prichard:

Well, I want to take a break, Emily, and when we come back, I want to talk about the steps that expectant parents can take to get the job they want. 

So, stay with us. When we return, Emily Lamia will continue to share her advice on how to look for work when you’re about to become a new parent. 

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Now, let’s get back to the show.

We’re back in the Mac’s List studio. I’m talking with Emily Lamia.

She’s the founder and owner of Pivot Journeys.   

Her company gives you the strategies and support you need to find meaningful work. And to empower you to be inspired, engaged, and effective on the job.

She joins us from Portland, Oregon. 

Now, Emily, before the break, we were talking about how to look for work when you’re about to become a new parent, and you’ve got a set of tips that I want to walk through about how to do this. 

One last question about the current state of the workplace; so many changes have happened in offices and other workplaces since the COVID-19 pandemic. So much more flexibility in many workplaces. Do you think it’s easier for an expectant parent to look for work today as compared to, say, three years ago before the start of the pandemic? 

Emily Lamia:

You know, overall, Mac, I would say that it is. But there are new challenges, for sure, that make it a little bit more challenging. I mean, in some ways, when we think about job searching in general now as opposed to, you know, ten years ago, the number of resources that are available to us online, like Glass Door and such that helps us literally check out, okay, what are the benefits at a company? That stuff is relatively more new, and so that makes looking for jobs easier, to know what those benefits might be and what the work culture is like. 

In some ways, also with the pandemic, flexibility has been something that everybody is asking for, no matter if you have kids or not. And so, just asking for those types of benefits and understanding what flexibility looks like in an organization is something that’s become a lot less of a weird ask or a big ask. So, I would say, for people that are navigating, sort of figuring out what those benefits look like, and what it’s gonna be really like to work at a specific company, that has been easier to find out and to be able to get some concessions on. 

On the other hand, I would say, you know, I think, if you talk to any parent, you know, during the pandemic and post-pandemic, they’d say, oh man, childcare is harder to figure out. It’s more expensive. It’s harder to find. Of course, it doesn’t usually match the nine-to-five or nine-to-six work times that most of us need. So, you know, parents are having to scramble a little bit more, and parents are tired. 

So, I think that makes it a little bit harder to find a job, in some ways, that’s going to be a really good fit for just managing your work and your life, you know, really well. 

Mac Prichard:

Well, let’s talk about the advice that you share with your clients about how to look for work when you’re expecting a child. Number one on your list of tips is to know what you need from your new job. What do you mean by this, Emily? 

Emily Lamia:

Yeah, you know, I think this is the type of thing where, again, no matter if you’re an expectant parent or not, I always encourage people to think about each job in some ways being a new chapter in a book. Right? So, you’re about to finish this chapter you’re in right now and go to a new one. 

Is this chapter one where you are taking your foot off the gas and slowing down a little bit because you have other priorities in your life, like having a baby? Or is this chapter one where you’re gonna stay consistent? You want to maintain the same level of seniority or responsibility, but you’re looking for, you know, maybe a different company. Or is the next chapter one where you actually want to put your foot on the gas and step into a new role that’s a higher level, bigger responsibility, leadership, benefits, all that good stuff? 

So, I think part of it is just thinking about, okay, what do I actually want this next chapter of my life to look like? What am I expecting that my days are gonna look like? And what do I want this job to give me? 

Obviously, some of those pieces are the very technical, like how much money do I need? How much flexibility? Is there a specific type of boss I’m looking for? Is there a location that needs to be, you know, a certain way, et cetera? So I think part of this is just really doing your homework and reflection. Thinking about, okay, for the next six months or the next six years, what is this chapter really gonna look like? And what do I need from work that’s going to create a holistic life that works for me? 

Mac Prichard:

That’s a great list of questions to ask, Emily. Are there any exercises that you share with your clients to get clear about what your needs are gonna be as a new parent? Particularly if you’ve never been a new parent before. But to get that clarity about what you want in that next chapter and that next job. 

Emily Lamia:

Yeah, I think, you know, a lot of it can be just that individual reflection. One of my favorite reflections to do is to close your eyes, take a few deep breaths, and think about waking up six to eight months from now on a Monday morning. What does that look like? What are you wearing? Are you going to an office? What are you doing in the morning? At lunchtime, what are you up to? What time are you leaving the office? What does your weekend look like? All those types of things. 

So, part of it can just be a little bit of reflection on your own. But I think a large piece of it is probably talking to your partner and/or the folks that are gonna be caring for that child with you. And saying, you know, how are you envisioning what the first six months are gonna look like? What about after that? Here’s what I’ve got in mind. How do these jive together? Where do we potentially have some challenges? 

So, I think part of it is just really doing some visioning for the future, talking to the folks that you’re gonna be most closely in contact with, and then starting to do a little research and know, you know, okay, what are options for creating a work life and life life that, you know, align and fit together well? 

Mac Prichard:

When you’re doing a job search, you want to be clear about your target companies. Do you recommend making companies that prioritize benefits for parents a part of your target list, Emily? 

Emily Lamia:

That’s a great question. I do, in the sense that, look, if you know you are interested in a certain sector and there are certain companies that you know offer great benefits. Yes, like those are the folks, you should go network with. Those are the folks that you should bookmark on your job alerts to make sure the you’re seeing if and when they have jobs popping up. 

But what I probably wouldn’t do is just start to apply to all the companies that offer a certain type of benefit. Because most likely, what’s gonna happen is that then you’re applying for jobs in all different types of sectors, with all different missions, and then it becomes kind of clear, this is the case for any job seeker no matter if the reason that they’re applying is for, you know, benefits related to children. 

But the key piece is to really make sure that you get into the meat of the work and you’re understanding and being excited about the certain mission areas or the certain role and functions of those jobs. Right? I don’t want folks to apply for jobs just because they see, oh, it’s a four-day work week. 

Well, if it’s not the right type of job function for you, and the mission isn’t interesting, and/or you don’t have a connection to the type of role or the type of mission, they’re gonna look at your resume and say ah, they’re probably attracted to the four-day work week. And it’s not that they are super excited and had experience in our sector. So that might be a little bit of a waste of time in a lot of ways.

So, I guess what I would say is first, get clear on the role and function that you’re interested in playing, what that job title is. What are the types of organizations and mission areas for the types of companies that you are excited about? And then start to scan for the benefits and the, you know, the elements you’re looking for in a job, like remote work, or hybrid, you know, leave benefits, or flexibility, or whatever it is. 

Because if you don’t put those other pieces of the mission and the role first, it’s probably gonna be hard for your resume to get pulled out of the pack. 

Mac Prichard:

Another recommendation you share with your clients who are expectant parents during a job search is decide when you want to share your plans to have a baby. What’s the best way to share news with an employer, Emily? How do you recommend doing that? 

Emily Lamia:

Yeah, I mean, I think the first thing I would say is this is a really personal decision. Right? And so there’s no, you know, specific, you must do this, and this is the right or the wrong way. So, you know, I think the first thing is for many people, no matter if you’re in a job search or not, most of the time, people don’t share until you get past that first trimester, for reasons, I’m sure I don’t even need to go into. 

But when you’re in that second trimester, and you know, the pregnant person is starting to show, and it’s becoming, okay, we’re down to the wire here in the last few months, then it can feel like you are withholding information, and, you know, we want to be considerate. But on the other hand, my sort of philosophy with a lot of different types of negotiations and such is to wow them with your experience, your accomplishments, and your excitement for the job. And then, when you get that job offer, then you’re in the driver’s seat, and you get to decide how you share those exciting life updates and then what you’re asking for.

So I would probably say, for most folks, again, you know, there are always exceptions, and this is everyone’s personal choice. But if it was me, I would probably wait until I get that job offer and then share the news. I would definitely share the news before I formally accept and then, you know, start. Just so that everybody can feel like they’re excited. You know, you didn’t withhold information and try and make it seem like you had different plans, et cetera. 

But I think the best ways to have this conversation, you know, whenever you do, is to have a combination of the kind of excitement and then also share, here’s what my plan is. I know that this creates a little bit of challenge and some anxiety. Let’s talk about it. 

So some of the language I always encourage folks to use is something like, you know, I’ve got some exciting news, and I’m really excited to share it with you. I’m pregnant, or I’m expecting a child on X date, and, you know, we’re so excited for this next chapter and this next phase, and here’s my plan. You know, I’d like to go on leave this date, and I’m hoping to be out for these number of weeks or months, et cetera. And then, I’m hoping to come back on this date really ready to jump back into the work and excited for everything we’re doing. And I know that this might create some anxiety. I’m a little anxious about it too, and I want to really make sure that I’m leaving the team in a good spot before I go and that everything continues to go really well for the company and our team. Let’s talk about what the plan is, so we can make sure you and the team is comfortable with my leave plan and that I’m comfortable too, and I’m able to take this exciting next step in my personal life. 

So it’s kind of that combination. Excitement, here’s my plan. I’ve done my research. I have some ideas as to how we’re gonna make this work, and let’s talk about it and make sure that everybody feels comfortable. 

Mac Prichard:

I can imagine, Emily, that listeners hearing that advice might wonder, well, what happened next, when someone followed your tips? Did the job offer disappear? Because the employer had concerns about someone going on leave. And what legal protections do you have if you’re in that circumstance as an expectant parent? 

Emily Lamia:

Yeah, you know, I would say, in the times that this has happened with my clients, because they are often waiting to share that information, the job offer is kind of locked in, and so then, for the employer to kind of renege on that, they really realize they’d be opening themselves up to a legal issue and so that hasn’t happened. 

There is definitely, you know, are often some pain points for folks, and I would say, for a lot of the people that I work with, they actually wait to do a job search until they’re just back from leave. Because if they leave ahead of time and they get into a new job, they’re not afforded all of those legal protections like the twelve weeks of FMLA or, you know, the leave that they accrued with the company. They might still get short-term disability. But that’s not as much. 

And so, there are a lot of those elements that play in. But I would say, look, if you get that offer, and you share that you’re an expectant parent and you’re hoping to take leave, I wouldn’t be surprised if the company or organization is a little bit like, oh man, this puts us in a rough spot. And, you know, if it’s a good company, they’re gonna work with you and figure out how to make it work for both parties. 

Mac Prichard:

It’s been a terrific conversation, Emily. Now, tell us, what’s next for you? 

Emily Lamia:

You know Pivot Journeys, we’ve been around for a long time now, and my team of coaches and I continue to offer one-on-one coaching to folks that are navigating their next career move. Particularly for folks that are thinking about making a bigger change. So we’ll always be around to do that one-on-one coaching. 

And I would say, particularly for folks that are in interview processes, especially if you’re an expectant parent and worried about some of those questions you might get asked, we have an interview skills course that’s also available anytime online for anybody to really dig in and do some serious, rigorous interview prep for all those, you know, hard-skills, soft-skills, behavioral questions that you’re likely to get. 

And then we’re also working on some new programs that will be coming out. Workshops related to, you know, creating your career in the B corp world, redesigning your job, and more. So just check out the Pivot Journeys website, and I’m sure you’ll see some new and interesting offerings over the next six to twelve months.  

Mac Prichard:

Well, terrific. I know listeners can learn more about those services and your team and yourself by visiting that website. The address is pivotjourneys.com.

Emily, given all the useful tips you’ve shared today, what’s the one thing you want a listener to remember about how to look for work when you’re about to become a new parent? 

Emily Lamia:

Yeah, I think the most important thing is get clear on what is available to you. That research on your state laws, company laws, and potential benefits that you might be getting, and come up with a strategy for what that means for your job search. You know, depending on where you’re located in the world, you may have different options. 

And so, making sure your strategy for your job search matches those options and is really well thought through. I think that’s the most important piece and where to start when you realize that your life is about to change in an exciting way, and you want to be prepared for it and still continue to grow and develop in your career. 

Mac Prichard:

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Next week, our guest will be Kelli Thompson.

She’s a leadership and career coach. Kelli’s mission is to help women advance to the rooms where decisions are made. 

She’s also the author of Closing The Confidence Gap: Boost Your Peace, Your Potential & Your Paycheck. 

 

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, many people have considered not only quitting their job but changing occupations altogether. 

But how do you know this is the right time to give your notice and start a new career?

Join us next week when Kelli Thompson and I talk about five questions to ask before you make a career change.

Until next time, thanks for letting us help you find your dream job.

This show is produced by Mac’s List. 

Susan Thornton-Hough schedules our guests and writes our newsletter. Lisa Kislingbury Anderson manages our social media.

Our sound engineer is Matt Fiorillo.  Ryan Morrison at Podfly Productions edits the show. Dawn Mole creates our transcripts. And our music is by Freddy Trujillo.

This is Mac Prichard. See you next week. 

It’s an exciting time of life; you’re having a baby! But how do you make your next career move when your time and energy are about to be challenged? First, says Find Your Dream Job guest Emily Lamia, focus on the job you want. Just like any job seeker, determine your skills and the value you offer to the company you’re applying to. Next, Emily says, determine the benefits you need and pursue the positions that offer them. And finally, don’t let pregnancy make you feel like you can’t get hired; companies will hire the right person for the job, so communicate that you are the right person. 

About Our Guest:

Emily Lamia is the founder and owner of  Pivot Journeys. Her company gives you the strategies and support you need to find meaningful work. And to empower you to be inspired, engaged, and effective on the job.

Resources in This Episode:

  • If you’re ready for personalized help as you navigate your next career move, find out how Emily can help you by visiting her website at Pivot Journeys.
  • From our Sponsor: Find Your Dream Job is brought to you by TopResume.  TopResume has helped more than 400,000 professionals land more interviews and get hired faster. Get a free review of your resume today from one of TopResume’s expert writers.