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.  

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