Graduating from university is scary, but entering the job market can be even scarier. That fear is exacerbated for people oftentimes marginalized in the work force, including LGBTQ+ people. We at Label: LGBTQ+ are providing some tips and considerations for navigating employment as a queer person!
1. Research the organization’s history on LGBTQ+ rights and protections: When applying to a new job or even your first one, consider their legacy on queer issues and social justice generally. The Human Rights Campaign offers several reports that evaluate 887 of the largest companies in the United States for their stances and practices in regards to queer-inclusive employment, forming the Corporate Equality Index. 515 companies made their coveted “Best Places to Work for LGBT Equality” list in 2017, earning a 100% aggregate score on measures such as employment nondiscrimination, insurance coverage for same-sex partners or transgender employees, organizational commitments to LGBT competency, and public LGBT-specific support programs. These corporations span dozens of industries and touch millions of lives every day. If you want to be out in the corporate sphere, consider cross-listing your prospects with this list!
2. Discover whether your local, state, or federal jurisdiction ensures protections for LGBTQ+ workers’ rights and employment non-discrimination: If you’re worried that your workplace or client may discriminate against you for your queer identity, it’s important to know your legal rights. Employment discrimination in the European Union has been illegal since 2000 (with the United Kingdom enacting this position Dec. 1, 2003), but other LGBTQ+ rights are offered at variant levels in different member states. In the United States, protections for both LGBQ+ and trans employees do not exist on the federal level but do in 20 out of 50 states (and Washington, DC and Puerto Rico), though those employed by the federal government itself are protected. Of course, every queer person’s access to resources and mobility is different, but it may be worthy to research whether the government would support or ignore you in the event of employment discrimination.
3. Determine how much you will highlight queer-related activities on your resume or CV: Oftentimes, submitting a CV or a resume is the first step to pursuing a job. We obsess over every word and carefully consider what experiences to include on the coveted sheet of paper. So what should you do if you have a lot of relevant experience working in queer spaces? This part is up to your comfort level, but you can omit them, completely show off your queerness, or including them but choosing to focus on demonstrating how those experiences transformed you into the best applicant for the job. I personally like to do the latter to make sure I do not shy away from my identity while proving that I deserve a spot there, regardless of where I got that experience. Additionally, my perspective may bring some diversity to the office and contribute a more well-rounded approach!
4. Consider your outward appearance at an interview: Once you’ve turned in that resume and gotten an interview, it’s time to consider how you’ll present yourself. First impressions can linger in the minds of an employer, so your appearance can matter more than we’d like to admit. It’s important to present yourself as professional while remaining your authentic self; employers want to know who you really are and will see through attempts at being what you think they’re looking for. If you don’t show who you are, you’ll likely feel like you’re living a lie at the workplace and feel that you cannot contribute your best work if you are not comfortable. Everyone’s approach to publicly identifying as queer, particularly at the workplace, is different, so follow your instincts on this one, but don’t be afraid to research about dress codes or work culture beforehand to find out if it’s the right place for you.
5. Finally, determine if you can tolerate potential discrimination in the workplace: When I would ask employers about their positions on diversity and inclusion, I wanted to ensure that I was contributing to a project I wholeheartedly believed in. I know that I refuse to accept discrimination of any kind, especially that which is directed towards me. Even in a tough job market like this one, there are likely places that are a much better fit for me personally and professionally if I believe they would discriminate against me or other queer people. That said, not all of us have this luxury and we sometimes must make ends meet regardless of company position, which in no way makes you less revolutionary or caring about queer rights. However, if you have this privilege, make it count and