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Career Considerations for LGBTQ+ Identifying Individuals Webster University I Career Planning & Development Center

Information and website links have been provided as a convenience for users and the Webster University Career Planning & Development Center (CPDC) is not responsible for the contents of any linked site. This resource is not a comprehensive list.

Students who identify as LGBTQ+ encounter specific considerations in their career development. Find resources and tips below on various topics.

Overview

  • Coming Out
  • Researching Employers
  • Networking
  • Employee Protections
  • Using Preferred Names
  • Sharing LGBTQ+ Related Organizational Involvement
  • Professional Attire
  • St. Louis Area Resources

Coming Out

You can determine your own values and comfort level in terms of how much you disclose or if you are out to employers. You may disclose information at various points in your career whether that is listing LGBTQ+ advocacy involvement on your resume, asking questions about policies in an interview, or sharing information after you have been hired into a position and get to know your colleagues. Some people may not feel the need to be out at work or feel it is unsafe while others would not consider working at an organization that isn’t fully supportive of LGBTQ+ employees.

Researching Employers

Conduct research online by exploring company websites, reviews, social media, and news articles. It can also be helpful to connect with mentors or other LGBTQ+ professionals through alumni or personal connections, professional organizations, etc.

As you research employers, consider some of the following questions:

  • Are there employee resource groups?
  • Are there clear non-discrimination policies posted on their site or employee handbook?
  • Is inclusive diversity something that is valued by the company? Included in their mission/values/initiatives?
  • Do they provide benefits for partners?
  • Are there supportive policies for transgender individuals and their healthcare needs?
  • Does the organization visibly support LGBTQ+ employees, causes, and/or organizations?

Check the company’s social media and website to see if the company seems to be inclusive of the LGBTQ+ community in their marketing, whether they sponsor or donate to LGBTQ+ focused events or causes, track metrics for diversity initiatives and workplace climate, advocate for inclusive public policies, integrate diverse perspectives in their leadership and boards, etc.

During an interview, information may be shared about company values or policies pertaining to diversity and inclusion and/or you might get asked diversity and inclusion focused interview questions. Other companies might discuss relevant policies and resources when they offer you a position or during the onboarding process after accepting the position.

Use the resources below to explore companies that are noted for greater inclusivity.

Networking

Networking can be a useful way to learn from others and identify organizations that may be a good fit for you. It can often be most helpful to get information about a career or a company by speaking directly with people in those roles. LinkedIn, personal connections, LGTBQ+ chambers of commerce, professional organizations, and other networking groups can all be great ways to find individuals who have navigated similar career challenges. Read more about finding Networking Contacts and Making the Most of LinkedIn.

Professional Associations

There are professional associations focused on the LGBTQ+ community in particular professions (e.g., NLGJA The Association of LGBTQ Journalists) as well as committees or subgroups within larger organizations (e.g., American Psychological Association Division 44: Society for the Psychology of Sexual Orientation and Gender Diversity). Search the websites of professional organizations that are most relevant for your field to determine what resources are available. Local events and groups may be found on sites like Meetup and EventBrite. Find some examples of LGBTQ+ professional organizations below.

Additional Networking Resources

Employee Protections

Legal protections against discrimination have historically differed by location. The Supreme Court ruled in June 2020 that employers who fire an employee based on their gender identity or sexual orientation are in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. Read more about this ruling at Lambda Legal. Find resources below to investigate relevant employment law in your area.

Using Preferred Names

Consider how you will introduce yourself so that you are consistent across your application materials, email signature, voicemail, etc. Resumes are not usually considered a legal document so you can use your preferred name. Some people choose to list only their preferred name, use initials, use quotations to indicate their preferred name, or use their legal name and share their preferred name with employers at a later point in the job search process. For example, formatting your name might look like one of the following:

You may need to use your legal name in certain situations like if they require it on the application or for a background check.

It may be worthwhile to have a conversation with your references if you have changed your name recently so that your preferred name and pronouns are used consistently throughout your application.

Sharing LGBTQ+ Related Organizational Involvement

You can decide how much you choose to share any experience working or volunteering with LGBTQ+ related organizations or advocacy groups. Many individuals will list their involvement and detail their role like they would any other experience on a resume or cover letter. If you don’t feel as comfortable with that approach, you can still choose to discuss your experience in a more generalized way. For example, you might list that you were treasurer of a student organization and discuss how you managed the finances while simply stating an abbreviation of the organization’s name or not specifically name the organization.

Formatting Examples

Naming the organization and mission
Removing the organization name and generalizing the information

Professional Attire

Norms for professional attire can vary by company and industry. A law firm would likely have a more conservative dress code than a technology startup for instance. Some companies may share their expected type of work attire (e.g., business casual) or you may be able to discern that information through posted policies, media, or networking contacts. In order to create a strong first impression at interviews or networking events, you want to make sure your clothes fit well, are in good condition, and follow typical professional guidelines for your field (like wearing more neutral colors, more skin coverage, etc.). Pinterest can be a good source of style inspiration for various types of professional attire. Ultimately, you want to feel comfortable and confident. Present your most polished self.

Credits:

Created with images by Peter Hershey - "untitled image" • Wokandapix - "out lgbt homosexual" • Kaitlyn Baker - "untitled image" • Cozendo - "coffee break conference women" • Claire Anderson - "untitled image" • TeroVesalainen - "business card business card" • rawpixel - "caucasian charity community" • Fatima Akram - "untitled image" • skeeze - "gateway arch kiener plaza old courthouse"