Tips & resources for LGBTQ job seekers

October is LGBT History Month, an opportunity to celebrate the achievements of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered people in American history. The month-long observance coincides with National Coming Out Day, which occurs on October 11.

The job search process can be stressful for many. But LGBTQ job seekers may find themselves faced with additional career planning concerns related to their sexual orientation and gender identity. The workplace is progressing, but still present challenges. Career counselors in the CPCC Career Services office can answer questions or concerns students may have about how their sexual orientation and gender identity may factor into their job search.

There are no steadfast rules to follow, but the following tips and resources can help LGBTQ students and job seekers begin to develop a plan.

Know yourself. Regardless of your sexual orientation or gender identity, knowing your skills, interests and values as they relate to the world of work is an important – and often overlooked – step in the career search. When beginning the process of self-assessment, how much of what you learn is related to your sexual orientation/gender identity? Valuing a diverse environment and adapting quickly to different environments may be skills and values that you have developed from your experiences as an LGBTQ person. How do you want these traits to be carried out in your career search?

Understand the law. There is currently no federal law that protects LGBTQ employees from discrimination. Selected states and municipalities have incorporated their own policies. Know which states prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and/or gender identity.

Research companies. Companies and organizations in a variety of industry are recognizing the importance of sensitivity and inclusiveness for LGBTQ employees. Do some investigating. Does the company’s non-discrimination policy include sexual orientation and gender identity? Are domestic partner benefits offered? Is the organization listed on any LGBTQ best places to work list? Do you know company employees who you feel comfortable asking about the office culture as it pertains to sexual orientation/gender identity? LinkedIn features many LGBTQ professional groups that can provide some of the information you seek.

Consider your options. Whether or not an LGBTQ employee choses to come out in the workplace is a personal choice. Sexual orientation/gender identity is a part of the work environment in some capacities. For someone who is not out, questions about weekend activities or the decision to display desk photos of significant others are suddenly not so simple. If the decision is made to not come out, how if at all will it impact interactions with coworkers?

As with any job search, resources and research can help. Become familiar with the following campus, local and national organizations and websites that can provide information and support for LGBTQ job seekers.

Spectrum Club CPCC student organization for LGBTQ students and allies.

Time Out Youth Charlotte-based organization providing support, advocacy and education for LGBTQ youth ages 13-23.

LGBT Community Center of Charlotte Charlotte-based organization offering programming and resources

Human Rights Campaign Provides information about corporate policies and culture surrounding sexual orientation and gender identity.

Out For Work A national organization that educates and empowers LGBTQ college students and allies for the world of work.

Simplyhired Search job openings within LGBT-friendly companies.

Note: The Levine Museum of the New South presents the exhibit “Out of the Shadows: Gay America from Kinsey to Stonewall,” now through January 25, 2015. This exhibit, organized by the Stonewall National Museum & Archives, offers a thought-provoking and historic look at the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered culture since World War II.