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Job Search Guide for LGBTQ Students

Strategies & Techniques for Job Searching


As a lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender or queer student you may find yourself questioning how you will be accepted in the workplace when looking for a full-time job; especially if in your personal experience you have felt highly supported and accepted during your college years. Since you will be entering unknown territory when searching for a job, you will want to do your research on gay friendly companies as well as strategies you can follow that will make the transition much more successful in the long run. In addition, be sure to read "The Career Resource Guide for LGBTQ Students" for information and resources for LGBTQ students.

Being out at work.

Making a decision to come out is a personal choice that every LGBTQ individual at some point will have to make. This can be a very challenging decision and needs to be thought out carefully. Many people feel that by not coming out they are not accepting of who they are, which could lead to a lowering of their self-esteem. Others who are more private about their personal lives may feel that they would like to maintain a boundary between their professional and personal lives. There can be pros and cons to both decisions and an individual may end up changing their approach based on different situations.

If you have been an individual who has been involved in the LGBTQ community in college, you will most likely feel a certain comfort level with yourself and possess a sense of pride in all aspects of your life. This can be beneficial since you will have the opportunity to create a support group and participate in gay programming and events. Many students entering college are surprised by the acceptance and support they receive as part of the campus community. This can be quite liberating since they may not have felt this sort of freedom previously in their life.

When searching for a job you may start by speaking to members of the LGBTQ community at your college as well as checking if there’s an identified group of alumni who are willing to mentor students. There are many websites as well that can be helpful when trying to determine which organizations are gay friendly and may offer partner benefits in their overall package as well.

Where to find work.

It’s not coincidence that we find many gay communities on the east and west coast. When engaging in the job search, it’s important to identify the climate of acceptance for gays within the overall community. It’s key to check if the local and state laws prohibit against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. If you are unfamiliar with a region, it pays to check out the community and businesses close- by. In addition, make sure you check out an organization’s official policies and resources prior to applying and interviewing in an area where people may not be as welcoming and open about having diverse groups of people moving in.

How much information should I include on my resume?

As you can well imagine, deciding what to put on a resume can be somewhat of a challenge to LGBTQ students. Again, as we previously discussed, this must be an individual decision. For students who have found their place on campus within the LGBTQ community, they may want to work for organizations that focus LGBTQ causes and creating awareness and acceptance of the community as a whole. In this instance, including previous experience working with gay groups would be seen as an advantage. One of the key things to do in making your decision, is researching companies to see their level of acceptance and then take it from there.

Many employers feel that the fact that a student worked for a gay organization on campus is irrelevant and that employers are more interested in the skills and accomplishments that the student received by participating in the job. By focusing on leadership, organizational, communication and interpersonal skills you will be providing the employer that the employer needs when making an employment decision. You may term the name of the group as an “Anti-Discrimination Organization” to hopefully avoid discriminatory questions from being asked or unfair assumptions being made on the part of the employer.

Interviewing Techniques & Strategies.

Another consideration when seeking to understand an organization in regards to diverse populations, you will want to know the climate prior to getting hired in order to decide if it’s really a place where you will be comfortable working. Oftentimes people try to be something they’re not in an interview, only to find themselves back in the job market because they found the climate at the organization to be oppressive and unacceptable

It is recommended that all applicants research companies prior to an interview, but it is crucial for LGBTQ students to know the company’s policies and climate to know if this is a place where you will be openly accepted. Since being evaluated is a part of any interviewing process, even though the company shows acceptance of LGBTQ students, you will have no idea of where the interviewer stands in his/her own personal views and acceptance.

Depending on how much you have revealed on your resume, you may decide not to come out in the interview. Many people feel more comfortable waiting until they have been hired and then reveal themselves in a way that’s most comfortable for them. Focusing on the job and your skills and accomplishments will help you to avoid communication about personal information that employers can’t ask during the course of an interview. Again, you may identify questions about groups that you have participated in as merely anti-discriminatory causes on campus. If you feel comfortable during the course of the interview you may end up asking about the company’s diversity policies as they relate to ethnicity, race, religion, and sexual orientation. The best thing to do is to go into the interview fully prepared and confident in your ability to do the job regardless of any personal traits that ultimately are unrelated to the job.

Coming Out On The Job

coming out during an interview may not seem quite as intimidating as coming out to your supervisor or co-workers; after all, you will have to spend a great deal of time with your co-workers. Check for signs of diversity within the organization and notice any personal items that could indicate other LGBTQ employees working within the organization.

It's important to initially focus on the job. Learning the in's and out's of a new job will give you time to learn more about the organization and it's culture. Once you feel established and comfortable you will be able to better assess if and when you will want to come out to other members of the organization.

Although coming out may force some co-workers to avoid your company in social situations, the majority of people will most likely accept you for who you are and for the value of your work and your contributions. Again, the bottom line is that you must decide what will be most comfortable to you.

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