Career resources for LGBTQ+ students

Overview

Searching for—and landing a job—isn’t easy. For many students who identify as members of the LGBTQ+ community, factors such as workplace disclosure, “coming out,” and finding workplaces with inclusive and LGBTQ+ friendly cultures may be added challenges on top of the usual stress of career navigation. There is no singular or “right” way to approach these topics. Set your own parameters about how the way you identify intersects with your job search and career exploration. Here are a few things to consider along the way.

Sexual and gender identity intersect with other experiences and identities. Check out the career navigation resource guides for students with disabilities or students of colour for more resources.

Evaluating employers' inclusivity

Approach career navigation with your personal agenda in mind. Identify your priorities for your work culture and look for environments that will support you to achieve satisfaction with your career. Make decisions about disclosure and how to communicate your experiences based on those criteria. If equity is important to you, research employers who value and create inclusive environments.

Locating employers that have been recognized with diversity and inclusion awards is a good place to start but it is not an exhaustive measure to determine if a workplace culture is inclusive. You can also try researching LinkedIn profiles of current or past employees.

Additional things to consider

  • What are others saying about their experience working with and receiving services from the organization?
  • Does the organization have any statements that welcome diverse applicants including LGBTQ+ individuals to the organization?
  • Who are the organization’s donors/sponsors? Do they support any LGBTQ+ causes?
  • Do any equity committees or workplace initiatives exist to support LGBTQ+ employees?

Incorporating networking into your strategy

Consider attending networking events to see if current employees and initiatives are inclusive of sexual and gender diversity. While sexual and gender diversity are not necessarily things you can always see, you may get a better idea of how inclusive the organization is by listening to stories from current and past employees. A great place to begin is Start Proud.

Another great way to learn if the workplace culture is inclusive is to conduct informational interviews.

Here are some suggested questions to ask during an informational interview if you are trying to determine whether the employer is inclusive.

  • What does diverse staff representation look like in your organization?
  • Has your organization hired LGBTQ+ staff in the past?
  • How does the organization support LGBTQ+ employees?
  • Does your organization have an accessible gender neutral bathroom?
  • What equity and/or inclusion initiatives are in place at your organization?
  • Are there LGBTQ+ social groups that foster inclusion and community at your organization?
  • Who would you suggest I talk to in order to learn more?

Coming out to an employer

You may be asking yourself questions like: should I come “out” to an employer? Will sharing how I identify with prospective employers affect my chances of landing a job? The decision to disclose your sexuality and/or gender identity to your employer is completely up to you.

Sexual and gender identity are prohibited grounds of discrimination under the Canadian Human Rights Act. In Canada, interviewers or prospective employers are not legally permitted to ask you about sexuality and gender as a condition of employment.

For some folks, personal expression may reveal a LGBTQ+ identity, and “coming out” is not necessarily a personal choice. Nevertheless, self-expression should be encouraged in the way that feels comfortable to you and finding an employer who values you for being yourself!

If a prospective employer is asking questions about your personal-identifying information (or making assumptions about how you identify), it is perfectly acceptable to share elements of your identity to the extent to which you are most comfortable. However, you are under no obligation to share your sexual or gender identity with an employer on an application or in an interview.

Know that in Canada, an employer cannot discriminate against you on the grounds of your sexual or gender identity. Work with a coach, advisor, mentor, or peer to come up with strategies to share how you want to be referred, including your pronouns.

Workplace transitioning for transgender individuals

Some transgender, non-binary, and gender-variant students may want to consider their approach to transitioning in the workplace.

Each person’s journey is their own, and there’s no “right” way to disclose or share information about transitioning with an employer. Keep your personal comfort level in mind as you decide what’s best for you.

Refer to these resources to learn more:

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Do I have to put my legal name on my resume/in my application form?

Resumes and application forms are not legally binding documents. Including your preferred/chosen name on your resume and on the application form is a common and acceptable practice. Although UBC uses the phrase “preferred name”, for many people this name is not simply a preference: it is the only name they use and it is central to their identity. Read more on the policy on names at UBC

There may be moments during the hiring process when you are required to provide your legal name and gender marker, such as during employment background checks that some employers require as a condition of employment.

When hired into a position in Canada, you must provide legal documentation such as identification, and a social insurance card, which display your legal name, and in the case of identification, a gender marker. If you use a gender marker and/or name that is different from your legal documentation, you may want to think about strategies to disclose the inconsistency with a prospective employer. Speak with a coach or advisor to come up with an action plan and practice this conversation so you feel more confident. 

In the case of employment references, if your name and/or gender marker has changed since your prior positions for which you are seeking a reference, it might be worthwhile to disclose to your references so they refer to your correct name (and pronoun) when speaking with your prospective employer.

Read more about legal versus preferred names.

Your legal obligations may differ in regions outside of Canada. It is best to research your rights and obligations for the jurisdiction you hope to work so that you can make informed decisions.

I have experience at an LGBTQ+ organization. Should I list this experience on my resume?

Some students may have questions about how to showcase involvement at organizations that hire LGBTQ+ staff and/or, have a mandate and mission to support LGBTQ+ communities on a resume.  

Here is a comparison of ways to list LGBTQ+ experiences depending on whether you’re comfortable or not comfortable disclosing during your application stage:

Prefer to disclose

Prefer not to disclose

“UBC Pride Collective, Committee Coordinator”

“AMS Resource Group, Committee Coordinator”

“QMUNITY, Volunteer Coordinator”

“Volunteer Coordinator, Community Resource Centre”

“StartProud’s Emerging Leader Award Recipient”

“Emerging Leader Award Recipient”

I use gender neutral pronouns. How do I communicate my pronouns to my employer or colleagues?

Share this information in whatever way feels comfortable for you and collegial for your peers. Adding your pronouns to your email signature is one possible option. You may also want to consider working with your supervisor to co-create a communication plan to share your name and pronouns with your team. Find some ideas about how to communicate your pronouns at work

Additional resources

Clubs, student groups, and gatherings

Resources beyond campus

  • Canada’s Best Diversity Employers 
    Recognizes employers across Canada that have exceptional workplace diversity and inclusiveness programs.
  • Start Proud 
    Facilitates the professional development of LGBTQA+ students as they transition from school to career.
  • Pride at Work 
    Empowers employers to foster workplace cultures that recognize LGBTQ2+ employees as an important part of a diverse and effective workforce.
  • Human Rights Commission (HRC)
    HRC envisions a world where LGBTQ people are ensured of their basic equal rights at work and in the community.
  • TransFocus Consulting 
    Offers consulting services for companies looking to be more inclusive of transgender employees, customers, and clients.
  • Qmunity 
    Provides youth services, counselling, support groups, and social events for members of the LGBTQ/2S community.
  • Creating Authentic Spaces: A Gender Identity and Gender Expression Toolkit 
    Supports the Implementation of Institutional and Social Change to get the conversation started on gender identity and gender expression.
  • Trans Student Educational Resources 
    Youth-led organization dedicated to transforming the educational environment for trans and gender nonconforming students through advocacy and empowerment.
  • Human Rights Commission Glossary of Terms
    Help make your sexual orientation and gender identity conversations easier and more comfortable with this glossary.