Career Center

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logo Coming Out: Advice for GLBT Students

As a gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender (GLBT) student preparing for entry into the workplace, you may have additional career development questions and challenges related to your sexual orientation. Please feel welcome to discuss any of these issues with one of our career counselors in an individual appointment.

Do You Want to be "Out"?

Whether or not to come out is a very personal decision and there is no "right" answer. For some people, sexual orientation is such an integral part of who they are that to be closeted in the workplace would be denying their true identities. Others prefer to separate their personal from their professional lives and only share this information with close friends. Coming out may lead to discrimination or harassment, but hiding your true self could cause frustration or anxiety. The bottom line is this - do what is most comfortable for you.

To help determine what is right for you, consider the following questions:


  • What has been your involvement with the GLBT community both on- and off-campus?
  • Are most of your friends GLBT-connected?
  • Do most of your family and friends know you are GLBT?
  • If you have a partner, is s/he out in most situations?


The GLBT Job Search

For the most part, your job search will be very much like your non-GLBT counterparts. You will do career exploration, network with people in your field, research organizations, write resumes, and interview for jobs. Like them, you are looking for a good "fit", but for you the "fit" may be determined a little differently.


Targeting Companies/Organizations

What would you say?

A. Being "out" is who I am. Being visible will provide me with equal treatment and support
B. Sexual orientation is only a small part of what defines me as a person. I am very careful about who I tell and don’t tell.
C. Sharing information about myself is not preferred. I tell very few people, if anyone at all.

If A: You should target GLBT-friendly companies

If B: You should lean toward GLBT-friendly companies, but keep all options open

If C: You prefer an organization that respects your privacy.


Consider the following questions when trying to identify a GLBT-friendly organization:


  • Do they have non-discrimination policies that include sexual orientation? Are these policies enforced?
  • Do they welcome GLBT employees? Is there a GLBT group there (formal or informal)?
  • Do they have domestic partner benefits?
  • Do they include GLBT in diversity training?
  • Is the community where the company is located supportive of GLBT persons?
  • Are there state or local laws banning discrimination in the workplace based on sexual orientation?


What about Resumes and Interviews?

Should I include GLBT-related activities on my resume? The answer depends on how "out" you decide you want to be. Also, the skills you have developed through these experiences are likely to be of interest to an employer. You may chose to highlight the leadership, event planning, budgeting, public speaking and organizational skills you have gained, and downplay the organization in which you gained them. In an interview you may refer to the "anti-discrimination organization" where you held a leadership role.

Even if the company has a non-discrimination policy, you do not want to risk encountering an interviewer who may evaluate you negatively because of his/her own prejudices. To test the waters, you could ask about the company’s diversity initiatives and see if the recruiter mentions anything pertaining to sexual orientation.


Online Resources

Gay Financial Network – www.gfn.com

Gaywork – www.gaywork.com

Human Rights Campaign – www.hrc.org

Federal Globe - www.fedglobe.org

Out & Equal – www.outandequal.org

ProGay Jobs – www.progayjobs.com

Out Professionals – www.outprofessionals.org

Gay and Lesbian Professionals - www.glpcareers.com

Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund – www.lambdalegal.org

Gender PAC - www.gpac.org/workplace


Adapted from: Straight Jobs, Gay Lives: Sexual Orientation and Career Decision Making, presented at NACE Annual Conference, June 2004, by Mark Brostoff, Associate Director, Undergraduate Career Services, Indiana University Kelly School of Business.

The Career Center, Muhlenberg College
2400 W. Chew Street, Allentown, PA 18104-5586
Ph: (484) 664-3170    Fax: (484) 664-3533


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Last Revised March 25, 2008
Questions and comments? Send e-mail to careers@muhlenberg.edu
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