Problems at work? Need advice? Our agony uncle – and readers – have the answer
• Need help? Email Jeremy at email@example.com outlining your dilemma
Should I tell my dream job employer I’m having a baby?
I have been looking for a new job since January and have finally been offered my dream job, which is hugely exciting. I have not yet accepted because I am waiting for the contract. However, I have just found out that I am in the very early stages of pregnancy.
I am on a three-month notice period, which I hope I will be able to shorten, but this of course can’t be guaranteed. If I have to work out my long notice period, I will only be at the new job for around four months before I go on maternity leave.
How do I tackle this with my future employer? I don’t want to anger them before I’ve even started. Should I be upfront and say I can’t take the job for the reasons above and hope that they still want to offer it to me?
Equally, is it really a good idea for me to start something new at this point in my life, even if I have every intention of going back to work after the baby is born?
By the sound of it, this is your first baby. And as a great many women have testified, whatever they may believe before the event, they can never be absolutely certain how they are going to feel once they become a first-time mother. At the moment, you have every intention of going back to work after your baby is born, and you probably will. But don’t completely rule out the possibility that your overpowering instinct, at least initially, may be to stay with your child. And that’s an instinct that has to be followed.
I’m not suggesting that you should share this uncertainty with your potential employer; just that you bear it in mind. Because in every other respect, and before you sign that contract, I think you need to come absolutely clean. It won’t be welcome news for them, of course; but the alternative hardly bears thinking about. What would the management at this dream job make of someone who had deliberately chosen to keep such information to herself until the contract was safely signed? It would be clear evidence that you didn’t trust them. The damage to your relationship could be permanent.
I’m afraid only you can answer your final question: is it a good idea for you to start something new at this point in your life? My own instinct is that your delight in this highly desirable job should and would carry you through. But if you think there’s a serious chance that you would not be able to give it your all, you should say so now. At least it would make your decision a simple one.
• Make it clear that you’re extremely keen on the role, but are hesitating to accept it because you’ve just discovered that you’re pregnant and you’d like to discuss how that would work from a practical perspective. Their reaction will tell you a lot. If it’s a big company they’ll be used to covering people’s duties while on maternity, so it may be less of a problem than you think. IceandIndigo
• You are under no legal obligation to tell them until 15 weeks before your due date, so over five months into pregnancy. When you do tell them, it is illegal for them to treat you any differently. Remember most women do not tell even friends and family until after their 12-week scan. It’s early days; take your dream job and expect to be treated within the law. Congratulations – you have nothing to feel guilty about. Primaryrebecca87
Caught between trying to move up – or moving out
I’m a member of the management team in the local office of a multinational. After a restructure, the post of country manager became available. There was one other candidate and I was unsuccessful, though I was told by HR I was a credible candidate.
The company is struggling and there is a mountain to climb to get it back on track. I am hugely involved in this and have been praised for my strong contribution since the country manager appointment three months ago. However, I want to move my career on. I feel my choice is either to get credit for the turnaround if it happens (but as a member of the three-strong support team my contribution will be difficult to identify); or leave – but there are limited opportunities locally at the level I need to move to.
I have spoken to my new boss about a title change or a specific significant responsibility that can give me experience at a higher level, but three weeks later have heard nothing.
How can I move forward? I’ve been at this company for 17 years and, given its financial situation, the European board (who know little of my contribution) may not be unhappy to lose a perceived high-cost staff member.
You probably don’t need to be told this, but my first reaction is: whatever you do, don’t bluff. By the sound of it, your bluff could very easily be called, and then there’s no going back.
But you should be better informed than you seem to be about alternative local opportunities. You say they are limited; I’m sure they are, but you only need one. I sense you’ve made no serious effort to investigate the market let alone apply for anything. If I’m right, then you should. In any internal negotiation for increased responsibility and reward, it’s absolutely essential that you know the strength of your hand (or lack of it). You don’t even have to make explicit reference to other companies; your whole confidence and the conviction with which you present your case will be affected by your knowledge that there’s another world out there and you have every reason to believe you could be part of it. Your company will sense if that confidence isn’t there.
Furthermore – and I don’t want to scaremonger – your company is struggling. They’ll be more than usually reluctant to pay anyone a penny more than they have to. After 17 years, they may well believe they can take you for granted. So it’s not just for bargaining purposes that you should make yourself more aware of other opportunities. You may well need to apply for one.
• There is nothing to stop you applying for suitable jobs if they become available. That will at least let you gauge how attractive you are to other employers – do you get called to interview, short-listed, or just ignored? You have a stronger hand with your current employer if there is another offer on the table. The risk otherwise is that they will perceive you as discontented, and you will be sidelined. moneyallgone
• Your manager has only been on this post for three months. Given this short time, they would only promote you if this had been agreed beforehand or at a higher level. It hasn’t, because the European board does not know you. So bide your time. Bring up the issue next year during a performance appraisal. Write your own job description and explain to your boss how much your role has changed. Aranzazu
For Jeremy’s and readers’ advice on a work issue, send a brief email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please note that he is unable to answer questions of a legal nature or reply personally.