Career Corner: Job Search Tips for LGBTQIA Identifying Students

Ashley Rizzotto works in the Office of Career Development with current undergraduate students, graduate students and alumni to ensure the confidence and success of those she meets with.

Feeling comfortable in your workplace can be instrumental or detrimental to your ability to be successful. The expression of your sexual identity — especially if you Identify on the LGBTQIA+, or Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans*, Queer/Questioning, Intersex, Asexual/Ally, spectrum — as part of your authentic self can sometimes bring about questions or concerns when writing a resume or conducting the job search. There are no right or wrong answers or rules, only what is right for you. Here is a starting point of strategies, ideas and tips to work through some of the challenges you might face as you navigate the process of finding your next job or internship.

Check out the company’s Corporate Equality Index

The Human’s Rights Campaign has developed the Corporate Equality Index (CEI) as a “tool to rate American businesses on their treatment of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender employees, consumers and investors.” These ratings look at corporate policies and actions towards the LGBTQIA+ community to inform their score. Companies including Twitter, Univision, HP Sustainability, Groupon and Walt Disney World grace the top of this list as employers that advocate for LGBTQIA+ equality within their organizations and amongst their consumers. Using this index is one of many ways to conduct research that will help in your decision-making process.

Ask questions during your interview

For times when you apply for jobs that are not featured in the CEI, the interview is a great time to advocate for what you need in the workplace. To figure out if they are an LGBTQIA+ friendly space, consider asking about diversity and inclusion initiatives within the organization.  This questions can include: “Can you tell me about what diversity looks like here?”; “What do you like about the culture?” and “How do you see the employer’s non-discrimination policy in action here?”

Interviews are a time that you should be yourself, testing the waters with the questions above can help you determine what you want to share as you express your ability, motivation and fit for the job you are interviewing for.

Locations can matter

Along with assessing the workspace, paying attention to the geographic location can inform if where the job is located is right for you. Research state regulations and commitments to diversity, as well as opposing legislation. What are the state regulations regarding discrimination?  What is the employer’s commitment to diversity? Has the employer been formally recognized as LGBT-friendly?

Do I have to disclose my sexual identity in an interview?

You are never obligated to provide private information regarding your sexual orientation. In fact, according to Business Insider, it is illegal by state and federal government for employers to ask about “national origin, citizenship, age, marital status, disabilities, arrest and conviction record, military discharge status, race, gender or pregnancy status,” which encompasses sexual identity and orientation.  

Other things that you may find helpful to research while conducting your assessment are:

  • Non-discrimination policies that include sexual orientation and gender identity/expression
  • Company trainings that include sensitivity to LGBTQ issues
  • Organizations that participate in PRIDE
  • Availability of gender neutral restrooms
  • In-house support or employee groups, either formal or informal
  • Sponsorship of or participation in LGBTQ community activities
  • Participation in recruitment events specific to LGBTQ candidates  
  • Equal Opportunity Employer (EOE) statements in job descriptions
  • Positive statements from people with experience at the company like those found on Glassdoor.com and Indeed.com

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