Career Resources for LGBTQ Students

How can the career center help me?
The first step in any career search is to reflect on what is most important to you. As someone in the LGBTQ community, this means first understanding where you are in your own identity development. The Cawley Career Education Center is a space where you can ask questions about all aspects of personal career development. We provide a supportive and nonjudgmental environment and we know how often personal identity connects to career decisions. The guidelines below, while far from all-encompassing, are intended to help you make informed decisions about your career plans.

At what point should I come “out” to an employer?
It is important to know that you do NOT have to disclose at any point in the process.  This decision is entirely up to you and how comfortable you feel disclosing your sexual orientation, sex, or gender expression .  If you do choose to disclose, there are generally three opportunities to “come out” to an employer.  

  1. On your resume
  2. In an interview
  3. After you start working for the organization

To talk to someone about the best way to navigate this process, stop by or call the career center. We are here to help you every step of the way. 

What should I put on my resume?
Whether you choose to disclose your sexual orientation or gender identity on your resume depends on how comfortable you feel with potential employer having this information.  A career counseling appointment at the career center would be an excellent space to speak with a trained counselor about the question of whether and how to disclose on your resume. 

Some questions to consider:

  • Is the company you are interested in an LGBTQ-friendly organization?
  • Do you feel comfortable disclosing that you are a member of an LGBT organization?
  • Do you include previous work experiences (internships, etc.) that occurred at LGBT advocacy organizations?
  • How do you list your achievements from an LGBT organization on your resume?

Wording LGBTQ experience on your resume
Here are different examples of how you might describe your LGBTQ experience on your resume depending on how comfortable you are disclosing your sexual orientation or gender identity.

Comfortable disclosing

“Treasurer, Georgetown University PRIDE”

“LGBTQ Journeys Retreat Leader”

“Outstanding Ally to the LGBTQ Community Award Recipient”

Not comfortable disclosing

“Treasurer, Diversity Student Campus Group”

“Journeys Retreat Leader”

“Lavender Graduation Award Recipient”

Coming “out” in an interview
Regardless of whether you plan to “come out” in the interview stage, the primary focus of the interview should be to sell your skills. That said, the interview is a great time to get some clarification about how supportive the company is to the LGBTQ community. 

Questions you can ask an employer in an interview

  • “Would you say that your company has a diverse employee base?”
  • “Do you offer same-sex benefits?”
  • “Does your organization have an LGBTQ support or social group?”

Searching for Jobs or Internships 

What is an LGBTQ-friendly organization?
An LGBTQ-friendly organization is one that protects lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer individuals from discrimination in their organization. Many of these companies also help organize LGBTQ support groups and social events for the LGBTQ individuals who work for them.  

As a person in the LGBTQ+ community, what should I consider before applying to any company?
There are many employers that are inclusive of LGBTQ employees, but there are still many who are not. When deciding which company is best for you, consider what it would mean to you to work for a company that supports their LGBTQ workers. Here are some questions to help you reflect : 

  • Will I insist on working for a company that I know is LGBTQ-friendly?
  • Will I consider companies that imply being LGBTQ-friendly?
  • Would I work for a company that does not have any formal considerations for their LGBTQ employees?
  • What does working for a diverse company mean to me?

How to identify companies that are LGBT-friendly

  • The best research tool to identify which companies are LGBT-friendly is the Corporate Equality Index, released each year by the Human Rights Campaign. This report assesses companies based upon a number of criteria, including:
    • Equal employment opportunity policy
    • Employment benefits (including transgender-inclusive medical coverage)
    • Organizational LGBT competency (trainings, resources, or accountability measures)
    • Public commitment to LGBT support
  • A list of the Human Rights Campaign’s best places to work.
  • The Capital Area Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce – their website contains a business member directory to help you identify LGBT-friendly companies in the District of Columbia. 

Additional considerations before choosing an employer
• Does the organization provide same-sex partner benefits?
• Is there an LGBTQ employee resource group?
• Does the organization have at least one gender-neutral restroom?
• Does the organization sponsor or participate in activities or events that support the LGBTQ community?

Additional job search resources
LGBTConnect – an LGBT job board for anyone seeking LGBT-friendly employers
Out & Equal – an LGBT workplace advocacy group designed to connect the LGBT community through resources, events, and support groups
Out for Work – an organization aimed at aiding LGBT students transition to the workplace
Out Professionals – the nation’s largest LGBT networking organization

Additional Considerations for Transgender Career Seekers

Is it alright to use my chosen name on a resume or cover letter?
Resumes and cover letters are not legal documents. You are not required to list your legal name on either document. Think of using alternative naming options. For example: 

Option 1: legal name

Alexandra Hoya

Option 2: chosen name

Jack Hoya

Option 3: first initial, chosen name

A. Jack Hoya

Will I have to use my legal name at any point in the job search?
Unless you have made legal arrangements to change your name, unfortunately, you will need to provide your legal name for background checks, social security documents and insurance forms.  However, most organizations will allow you to use your preferred name for company contact information, email, and phone directory.  Human resource professionals are bound by confidentiality and can be a good source of information.

Dressing for an interview
When it comes to dressing for an interview, it is important that you present yourself in fashion that is consistent with the position for which you are applying. Dress professionally for the gender for which you wish to be seen as. This can also help your employer understand which pronouns you wish to use.

A mock interview at the career center is a great opportunity to practice your skills and address your concerns about dressing for your interview.

Employment Laws & Policies 

Does federal law prohibit discrimination on the basis of LGBTQ identities?
These identities are not protected classes under federal law in the same way race, sex, religion, national origin, age, and disability are. In states without laws prohibiting such discrimination, employees and applicants can be discriminated against on the basis of their sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression. 

Over 20 states and the District of Columbia have anti-discrimination laws in place to protect against sexual orientation discrimination in the workplace. However, some states only extend these protections to public sector employees. Nineteen states, the District of Columbia, Guam, and Puerto Rico have laws that protect against employment discrimination based on both sexual orientation and gender identity in the public and private sectors. The Human Rights Campaign maintains a map that describes workplace legislation by state.

Can employers create non-discrimination policies that protect LGBTQ identities regardless of state law?
Yes, many employers have their own non-discrimination policies. Make sure that the policy explicitly names “gender identity or expression” (or “gender identity”) and “sexual orientation” as protected classes in their non-discrimination policy.

How can I find an employer’s non-discrimination policy?
Search company websites or job announcements for their non-discrimination policies. You can often find these policies in the “Careers”, “Jobs,” “About Us”  or “Diversity” sections of their sites. If you cannot find a company’s policy or the language is unclear, consider calling the company and asking for a copy of the policy in writing.

How can I find information about policies that impact LGBTQ-identified persons on college and university campuses?
The campus climate for LGBTQ-identified students, staff, and faculty  varies among colleges and universities. The Campus Climate Index is a well-known resource for information about campus climate and policies that may impact your experience as a student or staff member at a university. Research campus policies and programs and services on a university’s website to get more insight. 

Do employers have to offer spousal and/or family benefits to LGBTQ employees?
Many employers subsidize all or a large portion of health, dental, vision, and other benefits for spouses and families of married employees. With the federal recognition of same-sex marriage, employers that extend benefits to spouses and families of their employees must extend the same benefits to same-sex couples. Additionally, some states have domestic partnership laws which provide the basis for some companies to provide equivalent benefits to unmarried couples who meet the state’s requirements for partnerships or civil unions.