It’s official: more and more companies are encouraging LGBTQ friendly policies and environments for employees. This is good news for LGBTQ job seekers, as finding a job in an inclusive office can improve your professional life and your well-being; The Williams Institute reports supportive workplaces result in “greater job commitment, improved workplace relationships, increased job satisfaction, and improved health outcomes among LGBTQ employees.” This was the atmosphere Sam Young was seeking when she began her job search as an openly queer, gender non-conforming woman after working in investment banking – she explained, “As a queer feminist, I wasn’t on the same wavelength as most of the people that I worked with.” Now Senior Director of Content, Creator, and Markets Operations at Spotify, Young’s journey can help some of those who are transitioning to a new career to find a job that accepts their whole self.
1. Know When It’s Time to Leave
If your identity is causing limitations between you and your colleagues, it may be time to consider a new workplace. At her bank job, Young had difficulty connecting with her co-workers due to her queerness. “I sensed that many of my colleagues were awkward around me, not out of fear or hatred, but simply because they didn’t know anyone else like me,” she said. After years of being misgendered at the office, she recognized she wanted a change in her work environment. “I wanted more than colleagues at work; I wanted friends.”
2. Network with Community
Calling upon peers in the LGBTQ community and other friends can help you identify inclusive organizations and find the perfect job. Young informed her connections that she was beginning her job search and asked them to refer her to companies she may be interested in. She also sat down with friends and colleagues to find out what they enjoyed about their jobs to see what would potentially interest her as a career. Young was eventually drawn to the tech industry because of its independent work ethic and welcoming atmosphere for LGBTQ people. She also joked, “I also wanted to wear shorts to work after years of wearing suits.” Attending LGBTQ-friendly meetups and conferences also provides a more formal atmosphere to network. Young recommends Lesbians Who Tech and LGBTQ-friendly Meetups to find fellow professionals.
3. Bring Your Whole Self to Your Job Search
One way to show off your authentic self before meeting a potential employer in person is by sprucing up your resume. Young used Enhancv to make her resume feel more genuinely her. She credits the tool for allowing her to add sections about her favorite books and activities, life philosophy and a personal photo, saying, “It gave potential employers more insight into who I am and whether I was a personality fit for their team.”
Rocking your signature style when networking and interviewing can ensure you find a workplace where you can present yourself comfortably. When starting her career, Young was advised by a counselor to “soften” her look and present more femininely during her job search. But Young recognized that doing so could limit her potential to express herself: “I knew that pretending to be someone else during recruitment meant I would have to continue faking it at the workplace.” Since she felt safe presenting as herself during her second job search, Young took the opportunity to do so. “It’s possible that I missed out on opportunities by coming to interviews in a suit and tie, but a company that would only hire me if I wore a skirt and pumps was not a company I wanted to work for,” she said.
It’s not the responsibility or obligation of LGBTQ employees to be out at work. But for those professionals who are open about their identities, feeling comfortable expressing yourself in the workplace can be instrumental to succeeding in your career. At Spotify, Young finds herself in an environment where being queer and gender non-conforming is no longer the elephant in the room: “I can be my authentic self when I walk into the door and it’s an enormous relief.”