Whenever you have not upgraded your resume in a long time, it can be tough to know where to begin.
Toss in that you are gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender or identify as queer and you might start to wonder if you should come out on your resume and/or in the interview in some way.
Should you come out on your resume?
Rights advocates in the LGBTQ community disagree about what you should reveal on your resume. What should you do?
We don’t believe you’d find anyone who would suggest putting “I’m a queer – get use to it” in bold pink letters at the top of your resume. How to go about outing yourself the right way to a potential employer is still a hotly discussed topic.
Many people have acquired significant volunteer and work experience from obviously LGTBQ-oriented organizations. Other people struggle with how transparent they should be on their resume or job application when asked about Other Interests. Knowing what to say, and how much to disclose to a complete stranger with the power to provide a job or not can be cause for worry. It can often feel like living in the closet and being judged for who you are as a person.
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.
- On your resume
- In an interview
- After you start working for the organization
Many believe that no job is so great that it’s worth hiding who you are and selling yourself short by leaving out all the organizations you volunteered time with, just-just to hide your sexual identity. That volunteer work could have provided many skills and demonstrate your community involvement beyond the workplace showing a well-rounded individual with character.
Some feel that it is more important to get the job first, and then come out after people get to know you. “I’m here. I’m queer. I’m in the next cubicle” approach.
Others strive for a middle ground in where they list their LGBT activities on their resumes but don’t draw attention to it. They might list PFLG, HRC or NGLCC without going into additional details or spelling out the acronym. They might list the abbreviation of a student campus LGBT group and that they were the vice president such as Berkely LGSA Vice President instead of Berkely Lesbian & Gay Student Alliance Vice President. If asked about the entry it’s an opportunity for discussion to expand upon it in person versus potentially being tossed way by someone along the candidate review path who might hold prejudices. such as “vice president of gay campus group.” The rest, says Woog, is left to the interviewer. If she says, “The Rainbow Alliance –- tell me more about that,” it’s an opportunity to expand on it and judge her reaction..
Still, others hold firm that it is inappropriate to come out on one’s resume as it is to mark down one’s religious or political affiliations. We suggest talking with your both LGBT and straight close friends and family who also have a history of volunteer and community work.
As LGBTQ professionals we cannot live in a vacuum and our straight college have no problem listing their volunteer and community activities that might hint at their heterosexuality. It’s accepted.
At OutBüro we believe a resume should be honest and comprehensive. If a person has done work with GLAAD or Lambda Legal for example – and the reader even knows what these things are – certain presumptions can be made or not. We know many straight people who work at LGBTQ organizations too. Putting your volunteer work in the LGBTQ community on your resume is no different than others who may indicate they are a deacon in the church or a Hebrew school teacher on the weekends.
Why should you hide what you value and has contributed to your life, character, your local community and the community at large? It’s unfortunate that all companies do not have sexual orientation and gender identity non-discrimination policies. Luckily many companies and organizations do.
Learn if the Company is LGBTQ Friendly before Applying for a job
No matter how you decide to proceed regarding your sexual orientation on your resume, you should do your homework on the companies you intend to apply at before submitting your application. Do research on the company’s website as well as other websites listing the company is important to know as much about them and their LGBTQ stance as possible. Know what legal protections are in place in your city, county, state, and country.
Check out the HRC Corporate Equality Index for large US employers who have policies and benefits supporting LGBT workplace equality. Further, check out if the company list their open jobs on sites such as OutBüro’s Job Portal.
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?
Questions you can ask an employer in an interview
- Would you say that your company has a diverse employee base?
- Do you offer domestic partner benefits? (if not clearly stated on their website)
- Does your company/organization have an LGBTQ support or social group?
Additional Considerations for Transgender Applicants
Is it OK to use my chosen name on a resume and cover letter?
Cover letters and resumes are not legal documents. You are not required to list your legal name on either document.
Let’s say your legal name is Stephanie Smith and your chosen name is Darrel Smith. You might consider listing your name as S. Darrel Smith on the resume and cover letter.
Will I have to use my legal name during the Job Search
Unless you have made legal arrangements to change your name, unfortunately, you will need to provide your legal name for the actual job application, 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 a manner 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.
It’s your life, your sexuality, your gender identity and your career. Only you can make the choice on how out to be on your resume, in the interview or at some point after you begin working – should you choose to ever be out in the workplace. It’s your choice.