Being LGBTQ+ and Navigating the Job Search Process


When considering the job search process of navigating interviews and accepting offers, everyone can feel a little trepidation. However, if you are in the LGBTQ+ community, there may be an extra layer of concern. How do you share potential professional experiences when navigating a more conservative environment? How ?out? do you choose to be in dress and presentation, if at all? And how do you know which workplaces are genuinely LGBTQ+ affirming?

The U.S. has made some great strides for LGBTQ+ inclusivity, including nationwide workplace protection against sexuality/gender identity discrimination as of 2020. However, we know that discrimination can and does still occur, and this can happen during recruiting processes. As a student, you may have experience with identity-specific organizations, such as pride organizations, and may wonder if you should include this experience in your resumes and cover letters. The general rule of thumb is to put down experiences which showcase relevant skills to the position, and presenting examples of working with advocacy issues and diverse groups is often a fantastic thing to share. However, if you are concerned that a company may not respond well to that information, you can either use more vague language (for instance, talking about leadership in an organization that prioritizes diversity and inclusion, rather than stating the spaecific name of a visibly LGBTQ+ focused group) or choose to save that experience for the job interview where you can assess how people in the room may respond.

On the topic of interviews, everyone negotiates how much of their authentic self they show during a prospective job talk. There is no wrong answer?it is illegal for interviewers to inquire about your sexuality or gender identity, however you get to choose how much you disclose and how out you are both in interviews and when integrating as a new hire. For some, presenting as visibly in-community is a mandatory part of their lived experience. For others, using caution in what they share in order to prioritize securing stable employment is more important. Neither one of these choices is morally better than the other?you get to choose, and whatever you choose is right.

Lastly, it can be helpful to explore a company?s LGBTQ+ inclusivity before, during, and after a job interview to determine if this is a space that is safe and affirming for you. Here are some signs of a potentially affirming workplace:

  • Easily visible anti-discrimination statements inclusive of sex, gender identity, gender expression, and sexual orientation on websites and applications
  • Employee resource and affinity groups, such as a QPOC group
  • Trans- and intersex inclusive healthcare coverage and transition guides for folks interested in medically transitioning
  • Gender neutral facilities
  • Positive reviews from LGBTQ+ current or previous employees

Everyone deserves to work in a space that is not only tolerant but celebratory towards their identities. If you need further resources, check out some of the links below:

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