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Happy Pride Month! Today, I would like to discuss something near and dear to my heart: Whether or not to “out” yourself on your resume, disclosing that you’re a member of the LGBTQ+ community.
While some folks would argue that this doesn’t need to be a discussion… I don’t agree. There are pros and cons to this, and I believe, as a career coach for LGBT folks, that it’s critical to make this decision fully informed.
[Note: This blog post was originally published on June 26, 2019. It was last updated on April 5, 2022.]
Disclaimer: This blog post shares my experiences – and my biases! It does not constitute coaching or career advice, and the reader assume full responsibility for their actions. <3
LGBT on Resume?
Before we get into the pros and cons, I think it’s important for you to know about me, the person writing this guide – the identity of an author is important when reading a piece!
My name is Brianne [she/her], and I’m a career coach (details here).
I am all about LGBTQ+ babes getting PAID. Specifically, getting PAID at a new job.
I take a more radical or feminist perspective when it comes to career growth for marginalized folks. Some of the negotiating tactics and branding techniques that work great for cisgender, straight, and white men do not work for everyone else.
^^That discussion could be its own book, honestly. But today I want to focus on a specific question that I’m often asked by LGBTQ+ people:
“How do I make sure I work for a company that supports LGBTQ+ people?”
“How do I make sure I work for a company that supports LGBTQ+ people?”
Where we’re going – LGBT on Resume
In this post, I am going to cover:
- “Should I include info on my resume that makes it clear I’m LGBT/in the alphabet mafia?”
- “How do I signal or include that I’m a member of the LGBT community on my resume?”
- “How do I screen a potential employer for LGBT-friendliness?”
Note: I recognize that being “OUT” at your job is a privilege that not everyone has. This blog post is meant to be a resource for those folks who have decided that having a job where they can discuss their identity (and their weekend) openly.”
#1: Should I include info on my resume that makes it clear I’m LGBT/in the alphabet mafia?”
As a career coach, I think that this question actually has a bunch of questions underneath it.
Below, I’ve shared questions I would ask if I were in your position:
1. If I get fired unfairly for being LGBTQ+, do I have the financial resources to take care of myself while I find a new job?
THIS is something we do not talk about enough in the LGBTQ+ community, in my opinion. “Coming out” can have negative repercussions, and we do not discuss this reality enough.
In my own life, I waited to come out to my conservative family until I could fully financially support myself. Some folks choose to come out in pursuit of better mental health [here for that!], and this isn’t a “one size fits all” solution.
Overall, my recommendation is to be informed – be honest about your financial situation and a backup plan [several!] should things not go well.
2. Is the industry I work in known for being more or less accepting of LGBTQ+ folks? If not, do I want to switch industries?
For whatever reason, some industries have more conservative and/or prejudiced people. If you work in an industry where you know your career prospects could be hurt by being LGBT, then it’s important to think on whether you want to disclose/share your identity.
3. Am I in an area of the United States or world that is particularly friendly or antagonistic to LGBTQ+ folks?
Ok, so this is a not-so-fun one. Larger corporations and organizations may have offices all over the country/world. The company at large may be very supportive, but the staff in specific areas may not be.
For this reason, it is important to also consider the geographic location of where you will be working – not just the organization!
Ok… Should I include I’m LGBT on my resume?
So, all in all, I would include this information if you have considered the realities of your industry, what your mental health needs, etc.
Overall, I do think it’s a good idea to disclose this info – especially when looking for a new job. But it is CRITICAL to think on the ins and outs of this decision – and prepare for them!
Overall, I do think it’s a good idea to disclose you’re LGBTQ+ on a resume, provided you have planned ahead!
#2: How do I signal or include that I’m a member of the LGBT community on my resume?
As a career coach, one of the services I offer is a resume package, wherein we overhaul your resume and optimize it to be able to easily apply to a new job.
Ways to Disclose You’re LGBT on Your Resume:
- Include volunteer information or roles – It doesn’t have to be at an LGBT-focused org. Example: “Contributed 120 hours to Habitat for Humanity, with specific support for LGBT families.“
- Include employee affinity groups – on your resume or LinkedIn, include info on whether you’re a member of the LGBTQ+ affinity group at your current employer
- Include workshop or conference information – Have you attended an LGBTQ+ conference, training, or other event? Including that on your LinkedIn can be a good way to signal.
Finally, probably my most favorite way to screen for LGBT-friendliness is to include your pronouns on your resume. I think every person should do this – not just LGBTQ+ folks.
Include your pronouns on your resume.
Doing this ^^^ is helpful, as inclusive workplaces will appreciate that you did this. Many companies ask employees to include their pronouns in an email signature.
This is the best way, in my opinion, to signal your LGBTQ=ness to a potential employer is to literally have the acronym “LGBT” on your resume. A hiring manager or recruiter will see that before they head over to your social media platforms, and they won’t bring you in for an interview if they don’t like LGBTQ+ people.
Aaaand, also, real talk = rejection is protection! It is very likely that an organization may *not* reach out to you for an interview, when seeing your pronouns on your resume. This is a good thing! Immediate rejection means you save time ++ avoid interviews that won’t go anywhere!
Bonus: Be “Out” on Social Media!
Remember how earlier I shared, “Rejection is protection”?
We can be proactive in the job market, by leaving info for folks to find online!
A potential employer will ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS Google you. They will look up your social media profiles.
A potential employer will ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS Google you
I totally respect having your social media on lock with the highest privacy settings ever.
Buuut, talking about LGBTQ+ stuff on your social media platforms is a really easy way to let your future employer know you’re LGBTQ+. You can put your identity in your Twitter or Instagram bio, just to be sure they get the message.
I have a little rainbow emoji to my name on Twitter, just to be EXTRA clear. If you go this route, be sure that your bio is visible to other people. Secret finstas and private Twitter accounts aren’t super helpful here.
Related: Include Your Pronouns on LinkedIn
Having your pronouns on your LinkedIn signals to potential employers that you’re HERE and QUEER.
Since originally publishing this post, LinkedIn has added a feature where you can add your pronouns.
Bonus: You can also add your pronouns to the end of your “Summary” section, as well as including a line about being a “proud member of the LGBTQ+ community.”
#3: How do I screen a potential employer for LGBT-friendliness?
While there has been major progress in workplace protections for LGBT folks in the USA since I first wrote this post in 2018, it is important to note that many employers continue to discriminate – and often get away with it.
I get SUPER annoyed when people get all huffy and say, “Well that’s illegal!” AS if this fact means organizations do not break the law.
Many folks who are fired for their identity do not sue or take legal action against a former employer. They’re often burnt out, and a legal battle can add a lot of stress to one’s life.
Sooo, for all of these reasons, let’s talk about 3 ways [out of many, I’m sure] on how to screen an employer for LGBT friendliness:
Strategy #1: Google is a Friend
Before spending a lot of time setting up interviews [or even applying to a company!], I like to Google the terms below. To make it easy, let’s say the company is named, “Unicorn Umbrellas Inc”:
- LGBT Unicorn Umbrellas Inc
- Pride month Unicorn Umbrellas Inc
- LGBT employees Unicorn Umbrellas Inc
- Discrimination Lawsuit Unicorn Umbrellas Inc
^ I will also use Google News, Reddit and Glassdoor in my search.
Strategy #2: Check out Team Members on LinkedIn
Similarly, I would use LinkedIn to look up the folks interviewing you. [For more on interview prep, check out this post.]
I would look for active employees [some people never login, to their detriment], and see if they have added their pronouns to their profiles. Companies can require folks to include their pronouns on emails, buuuuut they usually don’t//can’t require that on LinkedIn!
Strategy #3: Don’t assume a supportive company means a supportive manager.
Even if you do your research on a company beforehand, you can still find a toxic workplace. (Companies like to put rainbows all over their social media profiles in June, but they’re not so great at fostering truly inclusive workplaces.)
I can’t tell you the number of horror stories I’ve heard, where an LGBTQ+ person starts a new job – and finds out their boss (or their boss’s boss) is homophobic or transphobic. It is entirely possible for a company that has floats at pride and branded rainbow merch has people in power and leadership positions that are prejudiced.
Because of this, I would consider asking a future manager and team members the following questions in an interview:
- What education do you do // have you done to stay up-to-date on LGBT issues?
- How do you support your LGBTQ+ direct reports or team members?
- Would you tell an LGBTQ+ friend to work at [company]?
Notice, these questions are written to *assume* the person is LGBT-friendly. The way they react *to that assumption* will be telling.
Want more career content? Check out these blog posts:
- Negotiating Your Salary as a Queer Radical Weirdo
- Are You REALLY Getting a Raise? New Salary Checklist
- Planning Your Career: Actionable Advice
- Queer the Space: Plus Size Fashion for Masculine and MoC Folks
Extra Tip: Ask to Speak with LGBTQ+ Employees
Before accepting a new job offer, ask to speak with 2-3 LGBTQ+ people. It’s normal for new hires to want to chat about the company with people who didn’t interview them.
Doing this will help you get a feel for the org, and it will also show you how diverse the company is. If you’re going to work for a company with 1,000+ employees and they can’t find an LGBTQ+ person for you to chat with? GTFO!
When chatting with someone who is LGBTQ+ and works at the company, it’s important to ask open ended questions. The person you’re chatting with doesn’t want to “get in trouble,” and open ended questions allow them to share their experience without “bashing” on their employer:
- Hey there! Thanks for getting on the phone with me. I use (pronouns). I’m interested in working at (org name), and it’s really important to me to work for a company where LGBTQ+ people are treated well. Can I ask what you identify as, as well as your pronouns?
- Does (org name) celebrate Pride Month? What do they do?
- Do you know if there are LGBTQ+ people in HR? Do you know of other LGBTQ+ people in other departments?
- Do you feel comfortable about talking about Pride or other topics? Do you talk about them?
- Would you recommend the company to a friend who is also (your identity)?
While workplace protections don’t extend to all 50 states, both signaling your identity and vetting a future employer are good ways to try to find a great place to work.
If you’re currently on the job hunt and getting nowhere, you may need a queer career coach – like me! I offer LinkedIn consulting, resume revamps and a host of other services that you can check out here.
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