Out on the Job: Advice for LGBT+ Job Seekers


As we all suffer through the oppressive heat that is summer in the South (and do a fair bit of coveting of our neighbor’s new top of the line air conditioning system) our attentions might have also been grabbed by social media posts festooned with rainbows and celebrations.  Historically, this time of year, across our country and abroad, is the time of Pride Celebrations for the LGBTQIAA community.  For some on the LGBT+ spectrum, Pride provides an opportunity to gather and celebrate.  For others, attendance at a Pride event or gathering serves as a stark reminder of the difficulty and uncertainty associated with being out while working or searching for a job. 

For many gender identity and sexual orientation minorities, the job search is an especially frightening prospect. Depending upon who you ask and the source you use, presently 29-31 states allow for workplace discrimination based on gender identity and/or sexual orientation (of which Alabama is one).  Simply meaning, a gay or transgender employee in the state of Alabama (and many others) has no legal protection against being fired for their sexual orientation or gender identity.  Regardless of one’s opinion on the matter, it poses a clear burden to individuals on the spectrum conducting their job search.  So LGBT+ job seekers, what do you do?

 The very first thing you want to do is research the state you want to work in or are thinking about working in.  The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) provides several effective resources for finding more information about the patchwork of discrimination protection legislation currently in effect.  The HRC’s StateMaps provide an interactive portal to discover current protections, or lack thereof, in the desired state that you are looking to work in.    You might also review their published Corporate Equality Index.  The Equality Index provides information on various employers and the protections/attitudes/culture that the organization provides for its LGBT+ employees. 

Your next step in conducting your job search is to look for information on individual employers.  You will want to determine if there are protections in place to prohibit discrimination against you, if the state does not provide them globally.  Good places to begin your searching are through corporate human resources websites, specifically looking for their policies on workplace discrimination.  If the state does not provide protections against a particular sort of discrimination it is up to the employer to disclose which groups fall under its protected class non-discrimination policies.  You may also wish to do some external investigation of the company as well.  Websites like Glassdoor will be very helpful in getting employee evaluations of a company.  Bear in mind that one bad experience is not indicative of overall workplace attitudes.  You will want to evaluate for apparent trends, not outlier experiences. 

You should also use job seeking platforms that cater to providing employment opportunities for individuals within the spectrum.  Outand Equal was one of the very first job seeker boards dedicated to help LGBT+ individuals obtain employment within friendly organizations.  Out for Work is a non-profit organization catered to helping LGBT+ students navigate the job search.  Their website contains a dedicated job posting board for positions within accepting organizations.  As well, they have information available about their annual conference (and scholarship opportunities for attendance) which can serve as an excellent way to meet accepting employers and fellow students in a safe and non-hostile environment.   

 Ultimately, the job search is never particularly easy for anyone, regardless of gender identity or sexual orientation.  However, students and alumni who fall within these particular categories may have an especially difficult search with hurdles and hoops not present in their straight and cisgender peers.  If you find that you could benefit by talking to a career counselor about this issue or others, please note that our office is Safe Zone certified and there are willing counselors to help you navigate this particular dimension of your job search.  As always, we look forward to working with you in the future.  Please check our website for our most current schedule, upcoming events, and specialized resources.  

From College to Career: 5 Tips for the Transition to Work

You’ve taken your last exam, walked across the stage at commencement, and secured a full-time job. But now what? Often, many students are so consumed with the process of finishing college that they forget that life continues once they have their diploma in hand. Here are a few tips to help you ease the transition from college to career:

Begin with the end in mind. No, you don’t have to know your entire career path that this point. But it’s important to think about what you want out of your new job.  If you know you’d like to work on certain projects or gain experience in a specific area, be sure to think about that early on -- especially if it requires specialized training or an advanced degree.

Adjust your lifestyle. Leaving college and transitioning into the real world requires a lot of change. Yes, you’ll probably have to give up sleeping until noon or watching movies all night. Your diet may change, and you’ll probably have to spend some time staying at work after hours. Be open to these lifestyle changes -- you’ll eventually develop a plan that works best for you and your experience.

Manage your expectations. One of the biggest challenges for new graduates in the workforce is their high level of expectations about their new career. From requesting a lucrative salary to asking for paid vacations throughout the year, many graduates start this new chapter with expectations that most likely will not be met. One way to offset this challenge is to manage those expectations by having honest conversations with employers, co-workers, and friends who have gone through this transition recently.

Have fun. Your transition into the workforce doesn’t have to be something you dread. All fun doesn’t stop once college is over. You’ll still be able to travel, spend time with friends, and learn new and exciting things. Take this time to figure out how to have fun while also fulfilling the responsibilities of your new job.

Utilize the Career Center resources. Although you are no longer a student, our services are still available to you. We serve alumni up to five years from the time of their graduation. You’re encouraged to continue attending special events, using our Job Search Guide, and checking out our resources to assist you in the transition from college to career. 

By Kyle Nixon 
Career Counselor
Auburn University Career Center

Last Minute Tips for Career Fair Prep

The semester is winding down and so are the career fairs. It is not too late to take advantage of this great opportunity to have employers come to campus to meet with you to discuss internships and full-time positions. If you are just now finding out about the upcoming All Majors Career Expo or have just been too busy to adequately prepare, this is for you.

Top 5 things you can do today to be ready for the upcoming Career Expo: 

 5. Review the list of employers

Take a look at who will be attending to the Career Expo and do a little research on the employers of particular interest. There will be employers looking to hire from all majors on campus, so there is something for everyone. The Career Fair + app is a great resource to have this information at your fingertips and allows you to filter by major and type of positions, among other things, as well as providing tips for navigating the event and a floor plan to map your route.

4. Dust off that resume

If you have not looked at your resume in a while, now is the time to dust it off and get it looked over before the event. Update your document using these resources and stop by the Career Center during walk-in hours to have your resume reviewed before printing copies for the employers. Resumes should be printed on resume paper which may be found at the bookstore, office supply stores, or even Walmart.

3. Dress to impress

Business professional attire is required for this event so "Suit Up." Wrinkled, tight, or unprofessional clothing will not present the best first impression so choose wisely.

2. Practice your introduction

You will be introducing yourself to employers throughout the event and it is helpful to have something prepared more than just your name. Consider creating a 30 second commercial or introduction about yourself to give a full picture of who you are and why the employer should be interested.


1. Arrive early

Speaking with company representatives at the beginning of the expo when you and they are still fresh and energized will work in your favor. Avoid long lines or possibly missing the chance to speak with a company of interest by getting to the event as close to 3:00 as possible.

There is no need to register for the Career Expo, you will check in when you arrive. Upon check in, you will have a name tag printed which will include your major. The Career Center staff will be available to answer your questions or give you last minute tips if needed. Now take a deep breath and good luck. 

By Addye Buckley-Burnell
Assistant Director of Career Development
Auburn University Career Center

I Pity the Fool...ish Mistakes that Cost You the Job

When faced with a large applicant pool, employers often search for any reason possible to eliminate candidates and narrow the group. Even extremely qualified candidates can be overlooked for committing seemingly small mistakes. The list of potential blunders is long but here are 3 easy ones to avoid in your own job search.

Basic Resume Errors
Technology can be both your friend and your enemy when searching for a job. Leverage this “frenemy” for good by making use of spell check before finalizing and sending in your resume. Remember that spell check will not catch all errors including homonyms (i.e. their, they’re and there) and spelling mistakes in ALL CAPS type (i.e. ACTIVITES). Also, when updating your previous job descriptions, read through each statement carefully to ensure that all verbs are changed to past tense (i.e. Communicated effectively with customers and provide efficient and friendly service). Ask career counselors, peer advisors, professors, friends and family to review your resume so that simple mistakes don’t slip through the cracks.

Applying for Anything and Everything
It may take many casts to catch a fish, but if you aren't throwing your net in the right spot you’ll be going home empty handed every time. When looking for a job, be strategic in identifying the positions that fit your skills, education and experience as well as the companies that offer the type of culture you desire. Read each job description carefully before applying and look for opportunities to highlight your best qualifications in your resume and cover letter. Meet with a peer advisor or career counselor make sure that your marketing materials are tailored to each position and to learn about methods for finding positions that fit your individual background and career goals.

A Flat Interview
By the time an employer invites you to interview for a position, they probably have a pretty good feeling that you have the skills, education and experience needed to perform the daily tasks required of the job. A big part of the interview process is showing the employer that you will fit with her company culture. Sadly, when many job seekers are thrust into the nerve wracking situation that is the interview, their typically engaging personality succumbs to jitters and an intense focus on both answering the questions well and appearing composed and professional. Though strong interview responses and professionalism should not be neglected in the interview setting, fight back the urge to let them overtake your enthusiasm and spirit. Infuse your professional and thorough responses with your personality and show the employer that you will fit in well with her team. Practice your interview skills using InterviewStream or sign up for a mock interview with a career counselor.

“A smart man makes a mistake, learns from it, and never makes that mistake again. But a wise man finds a smart man and learns from him how to avoid the mistake altogether.” – Roy H. Williams

What's this "Gap Year" Thing I Keep Hearing About?

Because the idea of a gap year is gaining popularity among college students, you may have heard about it, but may be unsure about what exactly entails a gap year. A gap year is a period of time in which a student may pursue short term opportunities as a transition between his or her undergraduate career and full time employment or enrollment in a graduate program. 

 A Gap Year…

  • Is also known as: “taking a year off” or “pursuing short term work opportunities”
  • Is different than searching for a traditional, long-term job in that your search depends completely upon your design for your year. Positions can be found through formal organizations, or through informal connections.
  • May include formal programs that differ in type of work. Some examples are teaching in low-income communities with Teach for America, providing disaster relief with Americorps, or traveling abroad through BUNAC.
  • Varies in length, from a summer to a number of years. The choice is yours!
  • Can be divided into several segments of work, travel, or study.
  • Should be meaningful- tie your experience back to your over-arching career goals.

Reasons to Pursue a Gap Year 

Experiences gained during this period of time can be a valuable opportunity to gain additional preparation for future endeavors. Students participate in community service programs, travel, or short term work experiences for a variety of reasons. Not knowing what to do after graduation is not a good reason to pursue a gap year. Below are some of reasons a gap year may be a good fit for you.

  • Desire to “give back” or be of service to communities in need
  • Seeking immersion in a new culture (ethnically, geographically, socioeconomically)
  • Seeing the world from the perspective of the population with whom one works
  • Developing skills to strengthen a graduate/professional school application
  • Acquiring professional skills in a challenging work environment
  • Doing work one finds especially meaningful, interesting, and/or “different” before pursuing career path
  • Solidifying or discovering long-term career goals by exploring fields of interest

Factors to Consider

The following list contains factors you should consider as you begin to plan your gap year. Knowing what you are looking for can be a big help in identifying programs, jobs, or volunteering experiences.

  • Time commitment: How much time are you able to commit? Would you prefer a program/positions that is renewable after an initial commitment?
  • Financial situation: Some programs/positions charge fees, some meet basic needs and provide health insurance, some include benefits and a salary, and some provide loan deferral. What are your financial needs and expectations?
  • Job / career interests: What kind of work would you like to do? How might this work connect with your future career goals?
  • Location: Do you prefer to work in an urban, rural, or international setting? Do you want to experience more than one possible location?
  • Housing situation: Would you prefer to live in a community of  volunteers, with a family, on your own?
  • Support network: In the challenging work you may encounter, you may need both institutional and personal support.  How do you anticipate finding such support – both formally and informally?
  • Program/Position stability and reputation: If you choose to affiliate with a company or program, how important is it to you that the organization is large, well-established, and continuing indefinitely?
  • Connection to religious / spiritual traditions: Some opportunities are sponsored by faith communities and incorporate spirituality or religious features into the experience.  Do you prefer work that includes a spiritual/religious component or not? To what degree would you be comfortable sharing your beliefs and/or spiritual perspectives with others?

Frequently Asked Questions

Are fee-based gap year organizations worth exploring?

These organizations can be expensive. However, fee-based organizations often make planning your gap year more convenient, especially if you intend to travel. Whether it’s finding you housing, placing you with a host organization, or helping you secure the proper visas, working with fee-based organizations can often be the easiest and safest option for traveling internationally.

How do I find out more about these programs?
After you’ve identified some opportunities either through hearing about opportunities from peers and or your own online research, continue to investigate each by carefully reading the program’s website.  If you have questions, call or email the organization via contact information on their website. If possible, locate alumni of the particular program you are considering and conduct informational interviews in order gain first-hand information. Often, alumni can be referred through the program or found on professional networks, such as

How do I evaluate programs?
It is important to research and evaluate potential programs before making final decisions. As you narrow down your selections, we recommend that you…  
  • Contact the organization, download materials and an application from their website, and speak with someone who represents the program.  Do they sound organized, professional, and trustworthy? Does the program provide what you are looking for? What is the quality level of their correspondence with you?
  • Visit the program/community/sample work site if possible.
  • Conduct Informational Interviews with a few current and former participants. Ask them about their work, their support network, compensation, difficulties and frustrations. More information on conducting informational interviews can be found on www.auburn.edu/career Below are some sample questions to consider asking specifically in evaluating gap year programs.

  • Describe the type of person who flourishes in this program. Describe your fellow participants’ background.
  • What is a typical day like for you? What skills have you acquired in this work?
  • What are the program’s greatest strengths and weaknesses? 
  • What makes for a strong applicant? If selected, what can I do to prepare beforehand? 
  • How is the program / position viewed among the population served?
  • What do participants typically do after completing the program?
  • What kind of personal and institutional support does the program provide?

How do employers view candidates who take a gap year?
As long as a gap year has a purpose, many employers view time off favorably. As a job candidate, focus on demonstrating the real-world experience gained in your gap year in your resume, cover letter, and interview. Additionally, with your experience, you can better articulate your reasons for applying to a particular position. Finally, a gap year can offer opportunities to build transferable skills (such as communication and leadership), through situations that challenge you to navigate adversity or to learn about a different culture.

How do graduate school admissions officers view applicants that take a year off?
Many medical/graduate schools view a year off as a means for students to gain maturity, as well as a more concrete understanding of professional goals. Further, students may find that taking a year off provides the opportunity to address any potential shortcoming in their application, such as gaining more exposure to the field, re-taking coursework, expanding research experience or pursuing volunteer and/or shadowing opportunities of interest. As an applicant, focus on demonstrating the benefits of your gap year through your application and interview.

When should I begin planning my gap year?
Depending on the design of your gap year, you should begin planning a year to six months in advance. Be aware of application deadlines for programs of interest (many application deadlines are in December), giving yourself plenty of time to develop quality application materials. Regardless of when you begin investigating programs and positions, start developing a financial plan as soon as possible. It’s important to be financially prepared for unforeseen circumstances.

Reflection and Decision Making

Take some time to respond to the following questions as you make decisions to design your gap year.  Knowing your values, interests, skills, and needs is important as you evaluate options.
  • What draws you to volunteer or community service work?
  • What do you hope to gain from such an experience?
  • What do you hope to contribute to the community with whom you work?
  • How do you anticipate the experience fitting with who you are and who you hope to become?
  • What would you like to get out of your gap year?
  • Is there something you could do to make your graduate/medical school application stand out a little more?
  • What current skill might be missing from your resume in regards to your future career?
  • Do you see this as a chance to serve a particular cause or community? Or perhaps you want to live overseas. What would you like included in this experience?

Making the Most of Your Gap Year

  • Keep in touch with your current support network. Keep family and friends informed about the nature and purpose of your position so they can advocate for your work.
  • Keep an open mind and expect the unexpected. Use challenges as opportunities to learn more about yourself and to see the world from a new perspective.
  • Try to learn as much as possible about the population with whom you work – culture, history, geography, customs, language, beliefs.
  • Try to learn as much as possible about fellow participants- their career paths and personal goals. Developing new relationships can help you learn more about yourself, as well as foster support and community.
  • Take advantage of opportunities to learn new skills and keep a record of what you’ve accomplished. Use this record to update your resume in your future application process as you consider grad school and/or other employment positions.
  • Maintain the relationships you formed over your gap year experience. Your new network can serve as references, future employers, and continued support.

With reflection, research, and some hard work, you can make your decision to take a gap year both personally meaningful and professionally beneficial! As always, feel free to further discuss your options with a career counselor at the Auburn University Career Center to explore options. Information on appointments, walk-in hours, and resources can be found on our website: www.aurburn.edu/career

Written by Shari Black
Graduate Assistant in the Career Center