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Career Resources for LGBTQ Students

As a student or alum who identifies as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, or Queer, you may have questions about your job search that your straight and cisgender peers may not.  Below  are some resources that may aid in your career development process

How do I use my preferred name?

You may wonder whether to use your preferred name or the name on you were given at birth when submitting a resume and cover letter. There is no right or wrong answer, because resumes and cover letters are not legal documents. It’s fine to write the name you use even if it does not reflect the name on your government-issued ID.  However, documents used for background checks, social security, tax or insurance paperwork should have your legal name on them.

Here are a few ways you can address a mismatch between your resume and other legal documents:

  • Include your first initial of your legal name, or your full legal name with the name you use in quotes. For example, M. Lydia Robinson or Michael “Lydia” Robinson.
  • Use the name on your government-issued ID and disclose your gender identity and name later in the hiring process or after an offer has been made.
  • Write the name that you use if you are comfortable coming out early in the hiring process or if you are already acquainted with the hiring manager or recruiter.

What about professional attire?

Choosing what to wear to professional meetings, interviews or networking events can be particularly challenging for queer and trans job seekers.

The decision to dress according to “traditional”, cisgender norms or to wear clothes that allow you to express your gender identity may vary over time and from interview to interview, depending on your personal comfort level. Your knowledge of the particular employer or industry may inform your decision.

Ideally, wear clothing that makes you feel confident. If you are interviewing or networking in a conservative, corporate environment, you may consciously choose to dress in gender normative attire. For organizations that are more liberal, and particularly those that have shown they are LGBTQ-inclusive, you may feel comfortable wearing clothes typically associated with the gender with which you identify. Or, you may choose to dress in gender-neutral or androgynous clothing. This is a personal choice and will be impacted by your own level of comfort as well as your research on the particular employer or field.

Is this a company I want to work for?

Factors to consider when evaluating whether or not you wish to work for a particular employer include:

  • work content
  • professional skill development
  • opportunity for advancement
  • cultural fit
  • LGBTQ-friendly environment

While it may be difficult to determine if the employer is truly safe and supportive, you can ask about the following indicators for insight into the organizational culture. While it may be difficult to determine if the employer is truly safe and supportive, you can ask about the following indicators for insight into the organizational culture. In addition, it may be hard to ask these questions in an interview. Doing preliminary research may help you find your answers. For more help schedule an appointment with a Career Coach today

  • 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
  • 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) statement in job description
  • Positive statements from people with experience at the company

The Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index is a useful tool for identifying LGBTQ-inclusive employers.

Campus Resources

  • Out in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math This group is an association of students at the University of Utah who are interested in STEM fields as well as part of the LGBT community.
  • Queer & Trans Students of Color The Queer & Trans Students of Color student group is a collective of students housed within both the LGBT Resource center and the Center for Ethnic Student Affairs. QTSOC is a body of student-organized, student-run and self-governing of folx from various intersections of race, ethnicity, (a)gender, (a)sexuality, class, ability, and religion.
  • Queer Peers Queer Peers is a program set up to provide support to people within the LGBTQ community and those questioning their sexual identity, and also provide information to all people about LGBTQ issues.
  • Mentor/Mentee ProgramThe mentor program pairs students who are coming out and exploring an identity as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender, with other individuals who are more knowledgeable and self-accepting of their LGBT identity. Mentoring helps people develop a positive LGBT identity by providing a supportive relationship, accurate information, and a safe person to talk with about coming out concerns
  • Students For Queer Art Resistance and EducationUniversity of Utah students using art, activism, and advocacy to make space for LGBTQIA folks on campus and in the community.
  • University of Utah, LGBTQ Resource Center The LGBT Resource Center provides a comprehensive range of education, information and advocacy services, and works to create and maintain an open, safe, and supportive environment for LGBT students, staff, faculty, alumni, and the entire campus community
  • CESA serve's all students on campus by providing safe spaces for everyone to meet, study, and interact with advisors who care.
  • Office for Inclusive Excellence Recognize that our institutional goals—to promote student success, develop and transfer new knowledge, engage communities to improve health and quality of life, and ensure long-term economic viability—can only be achieved when individuals commit to fostering inclusive excellence.

Community and Resources

  • Equality Utah Faith based and affirming place of worship
  • ACLU Utah
  • Utah Pride Utah Pride unites, empowers and celebrates Utah’s diverse LGBTQ+ community by providing a safe and welcoming space for education, partnerships, services and events which advance our collective health, wellness and success.
  • The Trevor Project Founded in 1998 by the creators of the Academy Award®-winning short film TREVOR, The Trevor Project is the leading national organization providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) young people ages 13-24.

There are LGBTQ conferences and/or subcommittees for all industries. Check-in with your Career Coach to find ones that support your educational goals. In addition, check-out Facebook for professional pages:

How do I include LGBTQ experiences on a resume/cover letter:

You may wonder whether to include LGBTQ-specific awards or scholarships, advocacy work, or involvement in LGBTQ student organizations. Whether or not to come out on a resume or cover letter depends on your own comfort level and interest in sharing your sexuality or gender identity with others. It is a very personal decision to come out at any stage of the job search process. As such, there is no right or wrong answer.

There are questions to ask yourself to gauge how safe you feel about your experiences.

Ask yourself: is it important to you to be out at work?  Be sure to research your work environment.  Is it likely the organization you’re applying to is LGBTQ-friendly?  If you’re concerned they are not, you may choose to highlight the skills you developed but not the organizations you worked with. Is a particular activity, award or experience relevant to the job you are applying for? If the experience does not demonstrate relevant skills you may choose to leave it off at this point.

Sample Resume:

LGBTQ Resource Center                                                Salt Lake City, UT

Program Coordinator                           May 2015-Present                                                                                       

  • Organized the annual Student Anti-Homophobia Leadership Summit for 32 East High school students, conducting outreach through Facebook, New York City public schools, and LGBTQ youth organizations

Coming out in an interview:

One way to share your LGBTQ identity is to ask questions about affinity groups or employee resources that the employer offers to LGBTQ employees. Or, you may bring up your involvement in LGBTQ-related leadership or advocacy as evidence of skills and knowledge you can bring to the organization.

Both sexual orientation and gender identity are protected by state and local laws.  (Check with the Human Rights Campaign and New York Attorney General’s office for the latest information).

If employers ask you questions in which you feel uncomfortable, there are ways to redirect conversations or dismiss the question as irrelevant to your employment. For example, if asked about your sexual orientation, you can simply ask if it is relevant to the job you are interviewing for. Conversely, you may choose to bring up your identity/(ies)  to gain a sense of the company’s culture or the employer’s openness.

You can build confidence by preparing to answer the questions you are most nervous about and practicing tactfully negotiating questions around your sexuality. Schedule a mock interview with a career coach to practice!

LGBTQ Career Resources

The Human Rights Campaign maintains a list of industry specific LGBTQ Professional and Student Associations, we’ve highlighted general career resources here.

  • Out For Undergrad: Dedicated to helping high-achieving lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) undergraduates reach their full potential in their careers. Hosts career conferences in the fields of Business, Marketing, Engineering and Technology.
  • Diversity in the Workplace: A magazine highlighting diversity related news, top 50 employers, workplace issues and professional development opportunities.
  • Human Rights Campaign: Employee resources on everything from coming out to addressing workplace discrimination.
  • LGBT Career Link: Job posting site highlighting opportunities for LGBTQ people.
  • Out and Equal Workplace Advocates: Provides information regarding workplace issues and hosts annual LGBTQ workplace summit

We understand these resources may not cover all of your questions. To talk further about these resources or other topics, log-onto UCareerPath to make an appointment with the Veterans Career Coach or any available Career Coach.

Last Updated: 2/20/18