Guest post by Lauren Newton, Recruiter for Facebook NYC.
In the early spring of 2016, I found myself unexpectedly looking for a new job. I’d spent the past almost-two-years working at one of the fastest growing digital media companies in New York. Though our company was ~10 years old, we still found ourselves in an incredibly “scrappy startup” environment. We worked tirelessly with very little support, but we really did love what we were building.
The lack of support started to really bring down morale, so I decided to start paying more attention to the opportunities that I came across. A few weeks into my search, I found myself unexpectedly pregnant and I immediately resigned to putting my job search on hold. I pulled myself from a few processes to avoid having the awkward “By the way, I’m pregnant!” conversation if an offer were to come through. Interviewing is exhausting to begin with, so pair that with morning sickness and first trimester fatigue…I couldn’t do it!
As a recruiter, I’m a huge advocate of “always taking the phone call” – meaning, even if you’re not an active candidate, never turn down an opportunity to network with people in your industry. Take the phone call, meet up for coffee, etc. Connections are good to have! And so, while I put my job search on hold, I did keep having great conversations with some folks.
In early October, I got a phone call I never thought I’d get. In fact, I reached out to several folks just to make sure the opportunity was legitimate. There was an opening at my absolute dream job and they were actually interested in interviewing ME for it. This job was such a dream that I never even brought myself to apply to it—Imposter Syndrome is a real thing, y’all. It was like the stars aligned… except, I was very pregnant and very much showing. Following my own advice, I took the meeting – I also wore a poncho & strategically held my purse in front of me to try to cover my ever growing baby bump. Don’t judge me! I wasn’t trying to lie about being pregnant—I just wanted to avoid any potentially uncomfortable moments for both myself and the interviewers.
My interview felt like one of the best interviews I’d ever had! I was on cloud nine about how well it went, but was quickly brought back down to earth. I was seven months pregnant: how could I start a new job and then almost immediately go on maternity leave? As soon as I got home, I rang the hiring manager and spilled the baby-beans. I let him know that it just wouldn’t be fair to the team for me to leave so soon after starting and that I totally understood if they couldn’t consider me anymore. Note: it is illegal for an employer to deny you employment because you’re pregnant, but let’s be real: a lot of employers could always disguise their “no hire” reason with something that is legal, just to get out of the situation. The hiring manager thanked me for my honesty and complimented me on my integrity and told me the team would likely reach a decision in a few days.
After the “few days” turned into about two weeks, I was pretty sure I didn’t get the gig. I didn’t expect to get the job anyway, but I was still disappointed that I was missing out on my dream job. It felt like something that would only come around once and to be honest, I was heartbroken and even a bit resentful. Then on the day after the Election (which I was even more devastated about, but I digress…), I got a phone call: I. GOT. THE. JOB. I got the job! At now almost-eight months pregnant, I landed my dream job at one of the biggest, most influential companies in Tech.
The next few weeks were a whirlwind. To my current company’s surprise, I resigned—at first, they thought I was going on an early maternity leave (#NOPE). I flew out to California for training, and then back to New York to start my new job—all at 9-months preggo. To say it was exhausting would be an understatement, but was it worth it? Hell yeah. I don’t think I’ve ever been so proud of myself in my career.
The two major takeaways from my personal journey to landing my dream job are really quite simple. As I mentioned before, always take the call. You have no idea what opportunities can come of a simple phone call or a quick coffee date with someone ‘in the industry’. Secondly, be true to yourself and your integrity. My skills and background definitely got me the job, but I’d be lying if I said my integrity didn’t seal the deal. Sure, I could have shown up to training with big pregnant belly to everyone’s surprise. Instead, I put my team’s needs first before I even got the job and to me, that says the most about a candidate.