“How ‘out’ should I be in my job search?”
For students who identify as LGBT, this is one of the first questions I’m asked during their career coach appointment.
My initial response is always, “How ‘out’ do you think you should be/are you comfortable being?”
Your personal identity is a part of your personal brand. They both show the world who you are and they both are personal to you. As such, you are the only one who can determine how “out” to be. Here are some things to consider when making this important decision:
Take the time to figure out who you are. Does being LGBT define you, or is it only a small portion of your identity? Examine your career goals. What companies and/or positions would be a good fit for you, both professionally and personally?
Think of a resume as your advertisement for an interview – what key information about yourself do you want to share with potential employers? While you do not list your sexual orientation and/or gender identity, it may make an appearance via a student club (i.e. Gay Straight Student Association, Out at Kelley, etc). You need to decide whether or not to include these types of organizations on your resume. While this is another personal decision, I often tell students to keep them on. It shows involvement, diversity, and sometimes leadership. For some, it also serves as a way to screen out non LGBT-friendly employers.
Depending on what you’ve shared on your resume, be prepared to discuss your involvement in any LGBT organization(s). Assuming you are comfortable identifying as LGBT in the job search, use the interview as an opportunity to ask some key questions on topics ranging from domestic partner benefits to non-discrimination policies to employee support groups and/or diversity initiatives.
So you’ve landed the job – how “out” should you be in the workplace? You should have a good idea of the corporate/office culture from your interview and prior research (two key resources to review are the HRC Corporate Equality Index and Out & Equal). Use this information as a guide, but ultimately follow your comfort level.
You are selling the brand called you to potential employers. You must decide what to include in your packaging, and your sexual orientation and/or gender identity is something to consider. As an LGBT aspiring professional, you bring a lot to the table. Know your worth, and like anyone in the job hunt, determine the right fit of company and career for you.
Heather currently serves as the Associate Director of Student Services for the Undergraduate Career Services Office in the Kelley School of Business at Indiana University. In her role, Heather guides students throughout their career development, lectures on career-related topics and personal branding, presents career workshops for students, supervises a team of career coaches, and develops/manages the social media efforts for her office. Before making the switch to Student Affairs, Heather worked in Marketing, Sales, and Promotion within the Music & Entertainment industry. Originally from New Jersey, Heather attended Indiana University for her undergraduate degree and The Ohio State University for her graduate studies. You can connect with Heather on Twitter and LinkedIn.