Coming Out On Your Resume / Cover Letter / In an Interview

The Career Development and Vocation Office stand with those within the LGBTQIA+ community. We have created this resource to help students from this community better navigate their personal and professional life.

Human Rights Campaign – Advice and assistance for all aspects of gender transition in the workplace.

National Consortium of Directors of LGBT Resources in Higher Education – Includes job listings for college and university positions.

OUT for Work – A nonprofit dedicated to educating, preparing, and empowering LGBT college students and their allies for the workplace. Includes a Career Library of information, and conferences for students and alumni.LGBTQ Certified Career Center with access to the Career Library. To access the OUT for Work LGBTQ Career Resource Library:

1) Go to

2) Select “Go to Library”

3) Username: outforwork

4) Password: cccp2013

Human Right’s Campaign Worknet – This index “provides a simple way to evaluate whether America’s biggest employers are treating their gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender employees and consumers equitably.” The index is based on a 10-point system that rates corporate policies and actions toward the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.

LGBTConnect – A job board for LGBTQIA+ individuals to find safe places to work

Out for Undergrad – A series of seminars based on your area of interest for students who identify as LGBTQIA+

Out Professionals – Leading nonprofit networking organization for LGBTQIA+ individuals

Columbia Career Services LGBTQIA+ – Columbia University offers a range of resources for LGBTQIA+ students and professionals; including using your preferred name, coming out on a resume or cover letter, choosing professional attire, coming out in an interview

Choosing professional attire:

“Choosing what to wear to professional meeting, interview or networking event can be particularly challenging for gender expansive, queer and trans job seekers.

The decision to dress according to “traditional”, cisgender norms or to wear clothes that allow you to express your gender identity may vary over time and from interview to interview, depending on your personal comfort level. Your knowledge of the particular employer or industry may inform your decision.

Ideally, wear clothing that makes you feel confident. If you are interviewing or networking in a conservative, corporate environment, you may consciously choose to dress in gender normative attire. For organizations that are more liberal, and particularly those that have shown they are LGBTQ-inclusive, you may feel comfortable wearing clothes that express who you. Or you may choose to dress in nonbinary, gender-neutral or androgynous clothing. Like the decision to come out on a resume or in an interview, this is a personal choice and will be impacted by your own level of comfort as well as your research on the particular employer or field.”


Coming out in an interview:

“One way to share your LGBTQ identity is to ask questions about affinity groups or employee resources that the employer offers to LGBTQ employees. Or, you may bring up your involvement in LGBTQ-related leadership or advocacy as evidence of skills and knowledge you can bring to the organization. Think about what assets you have as an LGBTQ candidate. Are you more empathetic towards others? Do you pick up on subtle nonverbal cues and interpersonal power dynamics? Do you bring a perspective that may be lacking in the organization? These may be strengths you wish to share in an interview.

Employers might ask about your sexuality or gender identity, keep in mind that it is your choice whether to answer the question directly or not.

In some states it is illegal to make a hiring decision based on your answer; in other states it remains legal to discriminate against people because of their LGBTQ identity. In New York State, it is illegal for employers to discriminate based on sexual orientation, and in New York City, both sexual orientation and gender identity are protected by state and local laws. (Check with the Human Rights Campaign and New York Attorney General’s office for the latest information).

There are many ways to redirect the conversation or dismiss the question as irrelevant to your employment. For example, if asked about your sexual orientation, you can simply ask if it is relevant to the job you are interviewing for. Conversely, you may choose to bring up your identity/ies to gain a sense of the company’s culture or the employer’s openness.

You can build confidence by preparing to answer the questions you are most nervous about and practicing tactfully negotiating questions around your sexuality. Schedule a mock interview with a career counselor to practice!”


Evaluating Employer Culture:

“Factors to consider when evaluating whether or not you wish to work for a particular employer include:

  • work content
  • professional skill development
  • opportunity for advancement
  • work culture
  • LGBTQ-friendly environment
  • values alignment

While it may be difficult to determine if the employer is truly safe and supportive, you can ask about the following indicators for insight into the organizational culture:

  • Domestic Partner Benefits including health and life insurance, educational grants, access to facilities, etc.
  • Non-discrimination policies that include sexual orientation and gender identity/expression
  • Trainings that include sensitivity to LGBTQ issues
  • Availability of gender-neutral restrooms
  • In-house support or employee groups, either formal or informal
  • Sponsorship of or participation in LGBTQ community activities
  • Participation in recruitment events specific to LGBTQ candidates
  • Equal Opportunity Employer (EOE) statement in job description
  • Positive statements from people with experience at the company

The Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index is a useful tool for identifying LGBTQ-inclusive employers. HRC also created the GenEQ Guide to Entering the Workforce to help evaluate employers and understand what to look for in non-discrimination policies and benefits information.”


Coming out on a resume or in a cover letter:

“should you include information on your resume or in a cover letter that directly associates you with the LGBTQ community? For example, you may wonder whether to include LGBTQ-specific awards or scholarships, advocacy work, or involvement in LGBTQ student organizations. Whether or not to come out on a resume or cover letter depends on your own comfort level and interest in sharing your sexuality or gender identity with others. It is a very personal decision to come out at any stage of the job search process. As such, there is no right or wrong answer.

While it is important to some people to be out and visible, others prefer to be more private. Ask yourself: is it important to you to be out at work? Be sure to research your work environment. Is it likely the organization you’re applying to is LGBTQ-friendly? If you’re concerned they are not, you may choose to highlight the skills you developed but not the organizations you worked with. Is a particular activity, award or experience relevant to the job you are applying for? If the experience does not demonstrate relevant skills you may choose to leave it off at this point.

Sample Resume Excerpt: Including LGBTQ community involvement

Everyone Allied Against Homophobia, Columbia University                                                                                                                    New York, NY

Vice President of Events                                                                                                                                                                                Fall 2019-Present

  • Plan and run movie screenings, panel discussions, LGBTQ guest speaker presentations, and other social events by partnering with other queer political activist student groups
  • Conduct weekly general body meetings for 20 members
  • Organized the annual Student Anti-Homophobia Leadership Summit for 32 East Coast high school students, conducting outreach through Facebook, New York City public schools, and LGBTQ youth organizations
  • Created organizational recommendations for high school students on developing sustainable gay-straight alliances


Sample Resume Excerpt: Minimizing visibility of LGBTQ community involvement

Below, see the same experience described in ways that focus attention on the role and accomplishments. If there is concern about the organization name, abbreviations are okay. You may also choose to list it as a diversity, community or minority organization without naming it.

Columbia University EAAH (a political activist student group)                                                                                                               New York, NY

Vice President of Events                                                                                                                                                                              Fall 2019-Present

  • Plan and run movie screenings, panel discussions, guest speaker presentations, and other social events by partnering with other student groups
  • Conduct weekly general body meetings for 20 members
  • Organized the annual leadership summit for 32 East Coast high school students, conducting outreach through Facebook, New York City public schools, and other youth organizations
  • Collaborate with local youth organizations to promote social justice through education.”

How to use a “new” name when applying for jobs:

“What name to use when applying for jobs is a very personal decision. You may wonder whether to use your preferred name or the name on your government-issued ID when submitting a resume and cover letter. There is no right or wrong answer.

Resumes and cover letters are not legal documents. It’s fine to write the name you use even if it does not reflect the name on your government-issued ID. For trans and genderqueer people, doing so may help you to communicate your gender identity with your employer. However, documents used for background checks, social security, tax or insurance paperwork needs to have your legal name on them. For resources on how to change your legal name and gender markers, please visit Trans @ Columbia page on the Multicultural Affairs website.

Here are a few ways you can address a mismatch between your resume and other legal documents:

  • Include your first initial of your legal name, or your full legal name with the name you use in quotes. For example, M. Lydia Robinson or Michael “Lydia” Robinson.
  • Use the name on your government-issued ID and disclose your gender identity and name later in the hiring process or after an offer has been made.
  • Write the name that you use if you are comfortable coming out early in the hiring process or if you are already acquainted with the hiring manager or recruiter.”

Top LGBTQ Companies:

  • Adidas
  • Adobe
  • AirBnB
  • Amazon
  • American Express
  • Apple
  • AT&T
  • Bank of America
  • Barnes & Noble
  • Ben & Jerrys
  • Best Buy
  • Buzzfeed
  • Capital One
  • CarMax
  • Chipotle
  • Hyatt
  • Target
  • Unity Point Health
  • GroupO