Seize Your Superpower
People who identify within LGBTQ communities often navigate their career development alongside sexual or gender identity development. Despite changes in LGBTQ policy and rights, however, many people feel uncomfortable coming out at work and encounter obstacles in the workforce.
Career Services is dedicated to helping you find employment and graduate school opportunities that empower you to be yourself and move our workforce forward. Use this page to begin reviewing how “out” you want to be in the job search and in the workplace, including intentional decisions about your resume, cover letter, interview, and more.
Key Campus Resources @ UCSB
Get Hired: LGBTQ Students
For complete information on job search strategies, resumes, cover letters, LinkedIn, interviews, and more, review our starter tips to Get Hired in all careers as well as the specialized tips on this page.
Navigating the Job Search and Making Connections
There are a number of methods to getting hired as an LGBTQ-identified individual, however, certain challenges present important strategies for consideration. Navigate the journey of job searching without risking your comfort in the workplace, by following the tips below.Connecting with LGBTQ professionals can help you determine how to manage your job search. Utilizing a LinkedIn search can connect you with thousands of people, groups, companies, and jobs. When you do so, be sure to reach out to LGBTQ professionals in your industry. No matter the field, it is beneficial to Make Targeted Connections while gaining experience. These people can provide you valuable insight into the fields which you are considering, and help you mitigate challenges that arise when entering the industries.
Here are a few employment pages dedicated to the LGBTQ Community:
- LGBT CareerLink
- LGBT Professional Recruitment Events
- Pink Jobs
- Out Professional Network
- Transgender Job Bank
Try a variety of keywords for your search on LinkedIn or other platforms, including pairing LGBTQ with your desired industry.
Identifying Inclusive Work Cultures
Employees (both LGBTQ and allies) often seek companies with inclusive hiring and employment practices. Such practices can include: non-discrimination policies that discuss sexual orientation and gender identity, domestic partner benefits, transgender-inclusive benefits, organizational LGBTQ competency, and public commitment to the LGBTQ community. The HRC publishes an annual report called the Corporate Equality Index, which rates over 1,000 of the nation’s largest businesses that demonstrate their commitment to LGBTQ equality and inclusion. The companies that have a 100% Corporate Equality Index are known as Best Places to Work for LGBTQ Equality, which can be found on the Workplace Resources page from HRC.
The industry in which you are applying for jobs might be more or less accepting of LGBTQ employees than others, although you should not assume so prior to researching that specific organization. In preparation for an interview, research the organization’s official policies and resources. Contact the employee group and consult current staff regarding the organizational climate, which goes beyond the formal policies.
If your job search takes you to regions that you have not lived in or visited, research whether the work site is located in a state, county, city or community that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and/or gender identity. This will set a general tone of acceptance, or at least tolerance. There might be regional or municipal workplace groups for LGBTQ individuals, even if there may not be one for your particular organization; these associations are invaluable for networking. Take advantage of local LGBTQ networks by searching for LGBTQ centers, organizations, non-profits, and meet-up groups online.
Resumes and Cover Letters
Are you wondering whether or not to include LGBTQ-related activities on your resume or cover letter? Consider your audience and determine ahead of time how “out” you want to be.
If you are applying for a LGBTQ-related job (e.g., lobbyist for the National LGBTQ Task Force), then the LGBTQ experiences can be an obvious advantage. However, what about other types of jobs? The skills you developed as a result of participation in LGBTQ organizations are likely to be of interest to many employers, although the organizations in which you participated may be viewed with less enthusiasm by some. To help evaluate the policies and climates of various organizations and industries, conduct research prior to writing your resume and cover letter.
Once you have your research, weigh the pros and cons of including such information. If you do choose to include LGBTQ-related information, be certain to put the emphasis on accomplishments that are relevant to employers. This approach allows you to feel like your genuine self and find employers who are interested in a diverse workforce. An alternative approach emphasizes your skills, while mitigating the nature of the organization in which you developed those skills. For example you can list the organization as an “Anti-Discrimination Organization,” and then document your accomplishments from this experience.
Not every LGBTQ-identifying person has associations with an LGBTQ organization or experience. If you are applying for a position in which your identity would be related, the cover letter would be a great place to discuss your identity.
How to Identify Yourself on Your Resume
If you go by a name other than the one on your birth certificate, you might be wondering about how to represent your name when applying for a job. On a resume or cover letter, you are welcome to use your chosen or preferred name. The only locations where a legal name is required is on the application itself, forms that gather information to utilize in a background check, and payroll documents.
If you are a current UCSB student who wishes to use your UCSB email address on your application materials, but find your university-provided email address does match or reflect your gender identity, we recommend updating your email address. For information about changing your name and email address as it relates to UCSB, please review RCSGD’s Name Change page.
Coming Out at Work
Coming out to a potential supervisor and coworkers might seem even more intimidating than coming out during the hiring process; after all, you will have to spend a majority of your time with your coworkers.
During this process, look for clues around the office. Do you see any same-gender pictures or information on employee bulletin boards that imply this aspect of the office culture? Is the work group diverse in other ways?
Did You Know?
According to a Human Rights Campaign survey, 46% of LGBTQ workers report being closeted at work.
In addition to this survey, other reports indicate 50% or more of LGBTQ workers being closeted.
The coming out process is a personal choice. One approach to coming out on the job is to get to know your co-workers first. It may be an effective strategy to come out to the safest person first to build ally-ships before coming out to everyone. The coming out process can also evolve from day-to-day interactions and discussions such as answering the question, “What did you do this weekend?”
No matter your process, trust that you have many options and resources to support your success.
Watch this TED Talk from Morgana Bailey, The Danger of Hiding Who You Really Are.