For many, sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression are integral pieces of their identity. Understanding where this fits in the job search process is crucial for the LGBTQIA+ community. The workplace will likely be very different from the university setting full of LGBTQIA+ student organizations, activist groups, and non-discrimination policies.
Here are some suggestions as you start your job search.
- Carefully evaluate the position for which you are applying, the company and state policies (LGBTQIA+ employee groups, domestic partner benefits, non-discrimination policy) state policies, and climates of the workplace.
- In addition to the workplace, research the geographic region where this job may take you. A healthy and accepting environment outside of the workplace is just as important for the LGBTQIA+ community.
The University Career Center and the Center for Sexuality and Gender Diversity collaborated to offer helpful resources addressing the unique issues impacting the career planning process for LGBTQIA+ students:
Coming out at work
- When and how should you come out at work? Only you can determine when and if it is appropriate to come out in the workplace. Before/during/after an interview? These are questions that can only be answered once you have assessed the company or organization to which you are applying.
- What has been your involvement within LGBTQIA+ activities and the LGBTQIA+ community? Are a majority of your friends, support networks, and peers involved in the LGBTQIA+ community? The strength of your identification and levels of past commitments within the LGBTQIA+ community may help you decide whether or not to come out at the workplace, and how visible you want to be.
- Coming out is a process: it happens in stages. Your attitude and comfort level are likely to change throughout your lifetime. Each time you change positions or jobs, you will most likely re-evaluate your feelings about being out.
- If you've been active in a LGBTQIA+ group, how should you document this on your resume? Those who feel strongly about being out sometimes use their resume or cover letter as a way of "screening out" non-supportive employers. For those who do not want to be "outed" early in the job hunt, a simple strategy is to not include any reference to LGBTQIA+ organizations or affiliations.
- You may choose to focus on the skills and accomplishments you developed rather than the affiliation. You could list the LGBTQIA+ organization as "Anti-Discrimination Organization," and then document your duties and skills gained during this experience. Some people may choose to use the acronym, LGBTQIA+, or the name of the group, Pride, for example.
- No matter how you document your participation in a LGBTQIA+ organization, be prepared for questions in an interview. If you have decided to be out, you can respond with a simple description. If you have chosen not to be out, you may want to refer to it as an anti-discrimination organization and then focus on the skills or achievements you have as a result of your work.
- Being prepared for the interview is crucial - regardless of sexual orientation! Make the decision ahead of time whether or not you will come out during the interview. The interview is your time to determine if this position/employer will be a good fit for you. Take the time at the end of your interview to ask about diversity initiatives, staff development workshops, etc.
- As with any interview situation, the key to dealing with issues of sexual orientation is practice, practice, practice. If you are startled by an interview question during an interview, you may appear unprepared, embarrassed, or unsure of yourself. Take advantage of mock interviews at the University Career Center, and schedule individual appointments with a career coach to help you determine your approach.
- Non-Discrimination Policies. The first place to look for information about a potential employer is their non-discrimination clause. This policy is usually prominent in any promotional materials regarding employment. If often begins with "XYZ is an equal opportunity employer, and does not discriminate based on race, gender, age," etc. Look to see if sexual orientation is included in their statement.
- State regulations regarding discrimination. Several states specifically include sexual orientation in their employment non-discrimination laws. Human resource professionals and employers are well versed in the law.
- Domestic partner benefits. Many employers, particularly large companies or organizations, currently extend to domestic partner benefits that have traditionally been offered only to spouses of employees. Although information regarding domestic partner benefits is often very easy to find, it may not be discussed until you are offered a job, when benefits are typically discussed.
- LGBTQIA+ employer groups. Some major employers may offer formal or informal LGBTQIA+ groups. Formal groups are authorized and supported by the employer, informal groups are organized by the employees on their own time. Human resource professionals can tell you whether the employer has such an organization and provide contact names.
- Consortium of Higher Education: LGBTQIA+ Resource Professionals - Includes job and internship listings for college and university positions.
- Lamba Legal - Internship listings for LGBTQ students interested in law, education and public affairs, and development.
- GLAAD - Career, fellowship, volunteer and internship opportunities at GLAAD including social media, web, and Spanish language media internships.
- Global Experiences: International Internships - Global Experiences offers LGBTQIA+ international internships in Dublin, London, Paris, and Sydney every season of the year. Domestic internship opportunities in New York City and Washington D.C. are also offered.
- LGBT Career Link - Search for jobs, learn about employment at diversity-friendly companies, network, and explore a variety of careers.
- National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC) - Business advocate and direct link between LGBTQ business owners, corporations and government. Search for companies and organizations in the geographical location that interests you. Also provides internship opportunities for students.
- Transgender Job Bank - TJobBank is the first and only employment site designed specifically to bring employers and transgender professionals together. Although the site is open to all job seekers, and employers, their focus is on finding employment for transgender professionals.
- National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association - Internship and scholarship listings for LGBTQ students interested in the field of Journalism.
Rights & Workplace Equality
- Human Rights Campaign - Offers a variety of resources including best places to work, top law firms for equality, and a corporate equality index.
- Out & Equal: Workplace Advocates - Out & Equal Workplace Advocates is the pre-eminent national organization devoted to the LGBTQIA+ community in the workplace.
- HRC Laws and Policies Map – The Human Rights Campaign Laws and Policies map provides information on which states and regions are most accepting of LGBTQIA+ individuals.
- Corporate Equality Index – The Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index rates companies across the country on their policies and practices related to LGBTQIA+ people.
- Coming Out in the Workplace as Transgender – The Human Rights Campaign provides suggestions and things to consider when making the decision to come out or not at the workplace.
- International Laws Protecting Transgender Workers – This resource from the Human Rights Campaign addresses international laws protecting transgender workers and provides outside resources that may be useful.
- Transgender Equality – Know Your Rights – A helpful resource that spells out your rights in various employment sectors as well as in legal and community settings.
- National LGBTQIA+ Law Association - The national LGBTQIA+ Bar Association has the largest group of LGBTQIA+ law students in the country. This organization holds an annual career fair called the Lavender Law Career Fair where students can interview and connect with top law firms, corporate legal departments, government and non-profit agencies.
- National Organization of Gay and Lesbian Scientists and Technical Professionals Inc - Professional organization empowering LGBTQ individuals in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Resource provides education, advocacy, professional development, networking, and peer support.
- Out Professionals - Out professionals is the nation's leading LGBTQIA+ non-profit network that offers a job bank as well as professional development and networking opportunities.
Need help? Call 785-864-3624 to request an appointment with a career coach at the University Career Center.
The information provided above was created based on the information provided in the article "Sexual Orientation and Career Decision Making" by Joyce M. Stern & Steven Langerud.