LGBT job-seekers need strategy for interviews

By Grace Rebekah Kenney

The corporate world is not as professional as it may seem.

According to Mark J. Brostoff, associate director of undergraduate career services at Indiana University, the majority of companies around the U.S. are still dealing with discrimination issues with workers of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community. Although many companies are becoming more “gay-friendly,” there are still major issues that LGBT students and employees face.

In a workshop hosted by the Office for LGBT Resources, Brostoff gave advice and resources to students questioning how “out” they should be when preparing to enter the work force. Brostoff brought up the question of whether or not to document LGBT activities on resumes.

“It does several things,” Brostoff said. “It helps weed out companies that are not gay-friendly. It also recognizes that you don’t have to hide from where you got your experience.”

However, for those not wanting to deal with issues of discrimination in the job selection process, Brostoff said that involvement in LGBT organizations can be listed as work with diversity groups or student activities organizations.

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    “Recruiters don’t much care about the affiliation, but about the experiences that you have,” Brostoff said. “Your skills and accomplishments are what is important.”

    Students should prepare and practice against becoming defensive when questions are asked about LGBT activities in interviews.

    “The interview is not the time to defend your sexuality,” Brostoff said. “That’s not what the question is. The interview is the time for you to talk about your experiences, qualifications for the job, and the skills.”

    Jessica Easter, sophomore in Media, expressed her worry about the current job recession. She said that finding a job is hard enough, but issues with discrimination against sexual orientation make it even more complicated.

    “If I have a partner, I want to be sure my company is going to able to give me the benefits,” Easter said. “And that they will not fire me because I have a partner of the same sex. I’m there to work, so that [sexual orientation] should have nothing to do with my work.”

    Recently, the federal government decided not to pass the proposed Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which would protect employees from discrimination due to sexual orientation. Brostoff encouraged LGBT students to conduct employer research when job hunting and ask questions about employee rights.

    “Think about what non-discrimination policies they have,” he said. “Does it include sexual orientation? Does it have a gay employee group?”

    Brostoff also said that students should look into what type of state policies and local government policies exist since they can offer some protection of rights.

    For those looking for jobs specifically in the LGBT community, problems exist as well. Lyndon Stewart, assistant director of the Office of LGBT Resources, said he had to focus more on his activities than he would have with a company that wasn’t LGBT-focused.

    “When I was applying for this job, I didn’t have to concern myself with putting my gay activities on my resume,” Stewart said. “I knew I had to put as many as I could on, to make myself look good.”

    But despite the emergence of more gay-friendly jobs and companies, LGBT students and employees are still dealing with issues on a daily basis.

    Leslie Morrow, director of the LGBT Resource Center and assistant dean of students, said that her ideal working situation would be one where she wouldn’t have to worry about acceptance in her working environment.

    “Unfortunately discrimination still exists,” Morrow said. “And if you might look a certain way or dress a certain way, a lot of times we have to “de-gay” ourselves. But at the same time, I am who am. That’s me. And I can’t hide because you or somebody else is uncomfortable with the other identity.”