Should I lie to you?

Honesty has always been the best policy for me, it’s a huge part of who I am, but last year I was faced with a situation where it might actually cause me a problem.

You see, I was made redundant when I was ten weeks pregnant, leaving me with two rather scary quests:

  • To find work quickly so I could save as much money as possible for when I was on ‘maternity leave’ and would no longer have an income.
  • To find an employer that would be flexible enough to require a temporary employee that would only be with them until the summer.

It was a tricky situation and, I don’t mind admitting, I was daunted by it.

Everywhere I turned there were people encouraging me to keep quiet about my condition.

Because I wasn’t ‘showing’, friends couldn’t understand why I felt the need to tell employers up front.

Legally, I wasn’t required to tell anyone until week twenty-five so it was hinted I should wait until that point and then claim I hadn’t known I was pregnant.

One recruitment agency even suggested I wait until a role was confirmed before telling the company the truth, because at that point they cannot retract the offer.

But this just didn’t sit right with me.

I didn’t think it was fair for someone to take me on, only to be messed around in July when I would have to leave. And besides, I am a terrible liar.

On top of this, I was conscious that once I was ready to return to work after having my baby, I would be going to these same people again asking for a job.

I didn’t want to create a bad reputation for myself, I didn’t want my name to have a black mark next to it.

But as time wore on, day after day with no solid offers of work, I doubted whether I was doing the right thing for me and my child (a feeling that I am now all too familiar with).

Was I limiting my options by wanting to be honest?

Was I going to find myself unable to get work because I was stubbornly sticking to my opinion that this was the ‘right’ thing to do?

Already I loved this person growing inside of me so much, I worried about how each action I took would affect them.

I think that’s why I struggled so much with this dilemma, because there was so much more riding on my decisions now.

I became angry at myself: had I not learnt from what had happened with the last job that the only person who will look after me, is me?

Had I not learnt that it was time to stand up for myself? Time to put myself and my child first?

Truthfully, the answer to that was ‘no’.

I wasn’t going to let what had happened change such an essential part of who I am, I wasn’t going to try and get by in the world by lying and playing games.

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There was so much more riding on my decisions now.

So, did it affect my job search?

Obviously. I can’t offer any proof that it did, but I certainly got that impression.

Since leaving university, the longest I have ever been out of work is two weeks. Last year I was actively searching for a job for nearly three months.

With ten more years of work and life experience, including four years at a well known national company, you’d have thought I’d find myself offered more opportunities, not less.

The interest was there, that much is certain. One recruitment agency let me know they received unanimously positive feedback from the clients who had seen my CV.

On the whole, they were interested in employing me… once I returned to work full time.

For a temporary role to cover just these next few months though, there was not a sniff of interest.

Perhaps that says something positive about me: people want me to be a part of their organisation. But why should my pregnancy change that? Surely if they were that interested they would snap me up now?

In fairness, everyone I spoke to was kind about my situation and I think that was down to me being so honest about my condition.

When deliberating over my CV I wrote and re-wrote my personal statement several times. Did I want to tell them straight: ‘I’m pregnant but I’ll work hard for you’?

No, I didn’t want to risk that, it would be too easy for them to simply pass over my CV at an early stage.

But I didn’t want to hide it completely, so I found a compromise.

The line at the top of my CV told recruiters I had been made redundant and was now looking for work with an immediate start.

It then went on to explain that I would only be available to work until July. A short sentence that was enough to hint at a recruiter that they might want to know more.

And they did, it was the perfect way to open what could be an awkward conversation. Agencies would call me to ask about my experience and what I had done in my last role.

‘Great’, they’d say. ‘That sounds fantastic, such a shame you lost your job but you sound ambitious and keen to move on to your next role’.

‘Now Amy, it says here that you are only available until July. Can I ask why?’

I’m sure most of them were expecting me to say I’d be travelling round the world to take time off from work, not that I would be having a baby.

Every single person’s tone changed at this point. They were always very sweet, congratulating me on my happy news, but the following line became very familiar:

‘Unfortunately, the role I’ve got here is permanent but I will definitely let you know if anything comes up’.

I think there was one person who actually did follow up on calling me at a later date to offer me more work, but I never heard back from any of the other recruiters.

I don’t really blame the agencies for this. When asked to find the best candidate for a role, one that comes with the complications of pregnancy doesn’t really fit that bill.

But that didn’t make it any less frustrating, any less distressing.

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As this little person grew inside me I became more and more worried about letting him down.

 

As every day of sitting on the sofa watching Jeremy Kyle passed (okay, I admit, I liked that bit), I became more and more worried that I was letting my baby and my partner down.

Had my naivety robbed me of the opportunity to save up a few hundred pounds? Money that would be vital come July when I had to stop work and rely on my savings.

The Job Centre had advised me that in May I would be able to apply for income support, meaning I wouldn’t need to go for the fortnightly appointments.

I conceded that by then I would probably have passed the point of no return for looking for work, it was too close to my due date and even short term placements would be unlikely.

My partner and I decided that if we reached that point I would stop applying and, begrudgingly, take the benefits I was being offered.

(It turned out I actually wouldn’t have been entitled to them, but there’s more on that next week.)

Thankfully, something did come up before then, but I will never forget the self doubt that I went through at the time.

Nothing had ever made me question such a vital part of my personality as the possibility of not being able to provide for my child.

I don’t think I’ll ever forgive the people who put me in that situation.


If you’d like to hear more about my journey back to work, both before and after having my little boy, please click the ‘follow’ button which should be to the right of your screen. I’d love to have you join me for the ride. 

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34 comments

  1. Oh wow, I’m so impressed that you managed to find work, and also that you stuck to with your morals and sense of what is right. As an ex-employer I can honestly say that your honesty would have been so refreshing, and it’s such a shame that more employers didn’t value that enough offer you work. #BloggerClubUK

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  2. Wow. What a tough choice for you. It’s so hard to know what to do for the best. It must have been so disheartening for you though. I hope you’ve still enjoyed your time growing your little one! It really doesn’t affect your performance but I can see if they were looking for someone permanent, why you might get refused. Shame you were made redundant in the first place.

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  3. Glad to hear that you did find something. It sounds like a very stressful time! I completely understand why you wanted to be honest about your pregnancy and I would have felt the same – honesty always. #brilliantblogposts

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  4. I am so glad that you eventually found something. It must’ve been a horrible situation, but full credit to you for sticking to your morals and being honest. At least you can look back on that time with a totally clear conscience #CoolMumClub

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  5. Wow, this is really tough. I think I would have withheld the information about my pregnancy to be honest, but I have an enormous amount of respect for you for standing by what you feel is morally and ethically right. An employer will respect this too. Well done. I am so pleased that you found work. Pen x. #brillblogposts

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  6. This was a great read… At the end of my first trimester, I couldn’t face another day working where I was. I’d had a really difficult year and after a lot of talks with my partner, I resigned. Without another job to go to and with a total sense of fear, but that fear was better than the health risks my baby was facing if I stayed in that place.
    Four months later, I’m now working freelance and dog-sitting on the side and I’ve never been happier… My chest isn’t clamped up every day, my blood pressure has gone back to normal and I feel like I can breathe again.
    I did consider trying to find a full time new job, but as this post shows, it’s easier said than done when you’re pregnant, despite not being able to prove anything.
    Can’t wait to read more of your posts. xx

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  7. Such a tricky decision. I got 2 of my jobs while pregnant and they have been completely supportive as they are both part time. I didn’t tell them in my application but the bump was obvious at interview. #MaternityMondays

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  8. Great post. When I announced I was pregnant at work, things changed dramatically and looking back, it was definitely discrimination but I was so anxious and a totally different person to who I am now, that I just did everything I could do hold on to my job. I was ‘forced’ to leave when my son was 4 months old and although it was difficult, it was one of the best things I’ve ever done as it led me to find a great job that has done so much for me. As a result, I’ve become a great believer in everything happens for a reason. Well done for writing this #bigpinklink

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    • Thank you Rachel, means a lot coming from you! I’d love to do an article looking at other women’s experiences. There is a terrifying number of us who seem to have been discriminated against.

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  9. I’m an advocate for omission. I have bipolar I and I always disclose, after the fact. I did try disclosure before but found I also wouldn’t make it past the CV stage. #bigpinklink

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  10. How awful that, in this day and age, people STILL discriminate against things like this. Surely if you are qualified to do the job then it shouldn’t matter that you are pregnant! I bet you would have been a lot more reliable than many of the people out there who are ‘sort of’ looking! Glad to hear that it got sorted in the end. #MaternityMondays

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  11. So glad to reason you did find work eventually and I look forward to reading your post about that. I was sacked from my job when I told my boss when I was pregnant, it was such a difficult time. Lucky for me, the pub where I worked before I left to ‘start my career’ offered to have me back and I was able to work up until I had my baby. It is so awful so many women find themselves unable to find a job because they are pregnant xx #maternitymondays

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    • I really appreciate that Lucy, thank you. I’m actually deliberating over being honest for a job application at the moment… your feedback is helping me feel more confident about sticking with it still!

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  12. Wow I think you were so good to be honest. I’m sure a lot of people wouldn’t have been and I think it says a lot about your character and should have made you more employable. This is yet another example of how women suffer terrible discrimination in the workplace #MaternityMondays

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  13. Good for you for sticking to your priciples! I know I could never have lied about a pregnancy either. But it’s also a huge shame that a pregnancy was such a huge ‘problem’ for many companies when you were clearly someone qualified, and dedicated to finding work. I see that someone else mentioned discrimination, and it’s an awful part of being a woman, or having a family, that we can’t have equal job opportunities due to child bearing/rearing.
    #bigpinklink

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  14. Gosh, this sounds like such a stressful and difficult situation to be in. I think it’s very honourable that you stuck to your principles and let potential employers know your situation, but so fraustrating that it effects whether they employ you. Glad you managed to find something in the end. #maternitymondays

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