LGBT Students and Alumni
The following is designed to assist you with decisions regarding sexual orientation as it relates to job searching. If you want to discuss these or other career related issues further, you can make an appointment to talk to a counselor at the Career Center.
The extent to which you incorporate your sexuality and gender in different aspects of your life is an individual decision which may change based on situational circumstances. For some individuals, being out is a part of who they are. Others may view their sexuality and gender as only a small part of what defines them as a person. Consider the following questions:
- Are most of your friends, peers and support networks LGBT?
- Are you active in any LGBT organizations?
- Do you enjoy going to LGBT events?
- Do most of your friends and family members know that you are LGBT?
- If you have a partner, is he or she out in most situations?
Based on how you answered the above questions, consider how out you want to be in your job search and once you are employed. If you agree with the statement, "Being out is who I am," you'll want to target LGBT friendly companies. If the statement, "Sexual orientation is only a small part of what defines me as a person; I prefer to be selective with whom I tell and don't tell" sounds more like something you'd say, you may choose to lean toward LGBT friendly organizations but keep your other options open too. Finally, the statement, "I am not comfortable sharing information about myself" might fit you the best. In that case, you might choose an environment where you can maintain your privacy.
Remember, no matter what your decision, it is yours to make...and you can always change it in the future.
When researching companies to assess their level of LGBT acceptance, you can start by looking at their non-discrimination policies. Do companies include sexual orientation and gender identity in their non-discrimination clause?
You may also want to check if companies provide domestic partner benefits and whether or not they have an active LGBT employee group. The Human Rights Campaign offers information on LGBT friendly companies. In any job search it's important to research the organization prior to applying for a position.
When deciding whether or not to be out on a resume, job application, or in an interview, it's important to do what's most comfortable for you. Some individuals may choose to use their resume as a way to screen out non-supportive employers, and therefore may explicitly list their experience with LGBT related organizations. Others may prefer to disclose their sexual orientation or gender identity once they are hired, if they choose to do so at all.
There are ways to list your skills and experiences while still not naming the organization with which you worked, for example:
- Disguise the fact that it is an LGBT group. Instead of writing out "Queer Alliance," use "QA" -- but be prepared to explain in an interview what QA stands for.
- Describe the nature of the organization rather than naming it. For example, if you coordinated all of the publicity for your LGBT organization, you may represent this with an entry such as "Marketing Coordinator for an anti-discrimination group."
- Consider a skills/functional resume format which allows you to emphasize your strengths and skills without necessarily disclosing where you gained them.
No matter the approach you take, remember that employers often ask questions about items listed on your resume. Your level of disclosure in answering is up to you, but it's important to anticipate the types of questions you might be asked in an interview and practice your answers.
If you choose, you can use the interview to further assess the organization's policies and climate. You may decide to ask the following questions:
- Will my partner be covered by my health insurance?
- Will I be legally supported if I am harassed?
Or you may choose to be more discreet and rely on your own research to get information about the company.
Coming out on the job is an ongoing process and there's no one right way to do it. Even if you disclosed your sexual orientation or gender identity on your resume or in an interview, that information will not necessarily be passed on to your coworkers or supervisor. When considering coming out on the job:
- Assess your readiness.
- Perform at your best - focus first on the job at hand and establish yourself as a professional.
- Conduct a trial run - chose someone you think you can trust to be accepting, and come out to that person first.
- Have no expectations - if you hope for the best but don't expect a specific reaction, you will probably be better positioned to respond to whatever happens.
In the end, your level of disclosure is your decision and should be what is most comfortable for you.