Especially for LGBTQA Students
Resources on Career Issues for Transgender People
Recognizing that lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and questioning students and alumni may have some unique considerations in their work-related decisions, our career counselors are committed to helping LGBTQ students/alum grapple with their specific concerns and issues. As staff and allies, we strive to:
- Honor each unique interpretation of self/gender/sexuality to its fullest
- Help students/alums with what they need help with
- Make as few assumptions as humanly possible
- Approach every person with a kind heart and sincere intention
- Be open to learning / growing a little more every day.
Should I out myself in my resume or cover letter?
Outing yourself at any stage of the job search process is a very personal decision — there is no “right” or “wrong” answer.
- First, consider your own comfort level and interest in sharing your sexuality or gender identity with others. While it is important to some people to be out and visible, others prefer to be more private. Is it important to you to be out at work?
- Second, research your audience. Is it likely the organization you're applying to will look favorably upon LGBTQ-related experiences and activities? If you're concerned they will not, you can highlight the skills you developed without highlighting the organization you worked with.
How do I include skills gained through work with LGBTQ organizations without outing myself?
If you decide you do not want to out yourself on your resume and/or cover letter, there are several options for you to still convey the skills you have gained from LGBTA-related activities:
- You might choose to list the organization you were affiliated with by either an acronym or a general name such as “community organization” or “anti-discrimination organization.” However, be prepared to explain during an interview what the acronym stands for or what an “Anti-Discrimination Organization” does.
- Another option is to use a functional resume that is organized around skill areas rather than the chronological timeline of specific jobs. This allows you to highlight your skills while de-emphasizing where you developed them. Learn about functional resumes.
- You might also choose to simply omit any reference to LGBTQ organizations.
Should I out myself in the interview? Can a potential employer ask about my sexuality?
Once again, outing yourself at any stage of the job search process is personal and up to you.
- Know that you do NOT have to out yourself
- Employers can and might ask about your sexuality. (In some states it is illegal to make a hiring decision based on your answer, in others states it remains legal to discriminate against people because of their LGBTQ identity.)
- It is your choice whether you answer the question directly or not — there are many ways to redirect the conversation or dismiss the question as irrelevant to your employment.
- The best you can do is prepare for the questions you'd be most nervous about answering so that you go into the interview feeling confident and prepared to tactfully negotiate questions around your sexuality or gender.
- Mock interviews with a career counselor are a great way to prepare yourself for an interview whether you may wish to out yourself or not. Contact us to schedule.
What about special job search/career issues facing trans candidates?
There is little protection in the work place for transgender individuals, and currently only four states include gender identity in their anti-discrimination laws (CA, MN, NM, and RI) - though more are working on inclusive legislation.
- It is wise for trans people to research organizations that are not only LGB friendly but also T friendly, this includes specifically looking for gender identity/expression language in discrimination policies, gender-neutral bathrooms, and support groups for trans employees.
- Additionally, preparing for all kinds of questions will allow you to clearly articulate yourself and, hopefully, be more confident in your interview. While no amount of preparation can overcome bias, you'll increase your chances of a successful job search if you feel confident and self-assured.
- For more information on trans issues in the workplace, visit the Human Rights Campaign Transgender Work website.
What about outing myself to a networker or at a career fair?
Once again, this is a personal choice — and your choice!
Coming out to potential networkers involves many of the same issues you might consider in choosing whether or not to come out in an interview or on your resume. As stated before, researching an organization's policies and climate gives you information about the general attitude towards LGBTQ people; however, the individual you are talking to may have not hold the same attitude reflected in the policy. Consider:
- How important is it for you to be out at work?
- How safe/comfortable do you feel in the networking location? Are there allies or threats nearby? Are there resources available for LGBTQ candidates at the career fair or networking event?
- Does the organization have domestic partner benefits, non-discrimination policies, and/or support groups for LGBTQ employees? How did they rank on the Human Right Campaign website?
- Career Services hosts three annual networking events, great for all students!
How do I search for LGBTQ friendly employers?
There are several search engines designed specifically to help job seekers find LGBTQ-friendly employers. Including:
- Human Rights Campaign's Worknet
- LGBT Career Link
- Federal Globe
- Transgender Guide
- Transgender Law & Policy Institute
- Reaching Out MBA Conference
- Out For Work
Additionally, review organization websites, talk to those you trust and get referrals for LGBTQ-friendly organizations.
How will I know how safe and supportive a future employer is?
While it may be difficult to determine how truly supportive any organization is, exploring some key indicators can give you a sense of the espoused values of an institution. These indicators include:
- Domestic Partner Benefits including health and life insurance, educational grants, access to facilities, etc.
- Non-discrimination policies that include sexual orientation and gender identity/expression
- Trainings that include sensitivity to LGBTQ issues
- In-house support or employee groups, either formal or informal
- Gender-neutral bathrooms
- Positive statements from people with experience
What about finding a LGBTQ friendly geographic location?
Finding a LGBTQ-friendly location is similar to finding a LGBTQ-friendly employer, some key factors that can help you get a sense of the local environment include:
- State marriage laws and relationship recognition
- State anti-discrimination laws and policies
- Hate crime statistics
- State adoption policies and laws
- Educational policies and laws
Much of this information can be found on the Human Rights Campaign website, "Your Community" section. Additionally, many of the resources listed for finding employers include geographic information. Another fun tool that can help you think about where you want to live is Find Your Spot.
Internships and non-profit work
You might want to consider employment in the non-profit, government, or education sectors where much of the work these agencies are doing directly promotes social justice for all people, including LGBTQ folks.
Of course, it is not safe to assume that any agency in the nonprofit sector is free of homophobia, so you will still want to research the organization.
Local examples of non-profits that promote social justice for LGBTQ folks include: Outright Vermont, SafeSpace, RU12?, Vermont Cares, Women's Rape Crisis Center, Women Helping Battered Women, and the Vermont Refugee Resettlement Program, just to name a few.
Organization like these exist nationwide. An excellent resource for finding such organizations is Idealist.org. Check out their Jobs, Internships, and Organizations databases.
Internships can be especially useful to LGBTQ students seeking to develop skills in coming out in the workplace, to identify contacts who can assist with locating LGBTQ friendly organizations, and to explore options that include social justice work. Most of the sample non-profits listed above have hosted internship students and many have also had work-study students. Explore more internship options.
Last modified August 28 2012 02:25 PM