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Great advice from The Lawyer Whisperer

June 27, 2016

Is it ok to look for a new job while I’m trying to get pregnant? My country (Canada) allows for a 1-year maternity leave and I might feel guilty if I started a new job and then went out on leave right away.

Julie Q. Brush

Your decision on whether to switch jobs while also trying to get pregnant will hinge on a careful analysis of several factors that are unique to You. There is no simple “yes” or “no” answer that governs this question. So as your next step towards a decision, contemplate the following issues:

How Happy Are You In Your Current Role?

What is motivating your interest in finding a new job? Are you bored? Have nowhere to climb? Don’t like the culture? Dislike your boss? Want to make more money? Afraid of getting fired? What are the things you like about your current role? Are you generally happy or are you miserable? Take inventory of where the needle sits on your work/happiness barometer. Remaining in your current role and taking the 1-year maternity leave is most certainly the path of least resistance. So if things are generally ok where you are now, staying might be the preferred choice. However, if you are miserable, your health is suffering and/or you can barely last another day, leaving will carry much more weight.

How Well Can You Deal With Change?

A new job…and a new baby? That’s material in the change department. And even though these are happy changes, any type of change…positive or negative creates stress. So assess your ability to successfully manage and cope with this kind of change all at once and pinpoint your appetite for tackling such a situation. If change is tough for you, you may want to think twice about biting off more than you can chew. In addition, if you can’t get pregnant right away, you’ll be in a new job while you continue to try, which could present its own set of challenges. A new job will be stressful. That stress could negatively impact your pregnancy efforts, which in turn will create more stress and affect your performance in your new job. If you have strong coping mechanisms and handle change/stress fairly well, this dynamic won’t rock your world.

How Confident Are You In Your Ability To Get Pregnant?

For many women, achieving a successful pregnancy takes time. Factors such as age, history of infertility, past/current length of time trying, other health issues, stress etc. play a significant role in achieving a positive pregnancy. So the length of time it may take will impact your decision whether to make a career move now or wait. Nobody has a crystal ball and can predict when you’ll get pregnant, but the factors above and help you generally gauge the timeline of your journey and risk of flight so soon into a new role.

Play Out Your Fear.

Your biggest fear is that the news of your pregnancy shortly after beginning a new job will be met with anger and frustration. And will produce a negative impression about you…as a person who lacks courtesy and consideration. So…how do you feel about this potential wrath when taking into account the benefits of making a move now? Would you do anything to mitigate the negative reaction? If so, what would it be and would it make you feel less guilty about the situation? Playing out your worst fears can help crystalize your situation and provide the clarity you need to make a more confident decision.

Put Yourself In The Position of a Potential Employer.

Consideration requires one to consider the other person before taking action or making a decision. So do just that – and put yourself in the position of a potential employer. Close your eyes…and imagine that work is piling up and you need to hire a great lawyer for your team. The pressure is on to find a teammate who is smart, outgoing, responsive and an all-around great colleague. Now imagine that after a good deal of time and blood, sweat and tears you land your rock star and finally breathe easier knowing that you now have the relief you need. Next, shortly after your new lawyer joins the team, she announces her one-year leave. How do you feel? What if you learned that your colleague interviewed with you knowing she would take the one-year leave soon after joining your group? What might your colleague do or say to lessen the negative impact on you? By putting yourself in the shoes of someone else, you receive a valuable perspective that can benefit your decision making process.

The answer to your question is not easy or clear-cut. Only by carefully contemplating the questions and statements above will the acceptable path for You be unveiled. Your concern about this issue now demonstrates your thoughtfulness – not only of your predicament…but also of a predicament that may face your future employer. It’s a virtuous beginning that if carried through in like manner…will reach a virtuous end.

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