Whether you’re a graduate preparing for your very first job or a professional with years of experience, putting together a CV is always a tricky task. It’s sometimes difficult to know which of your skills and attributes to include. And if you’re reading this article now, chances are, you’ve had to overcome the even tougher question about how much you should divulge about your sexuality.
In countries where homosexuality is criminalized or revealing it can be dangerous, the decisions are sometimes obvious. But in more advanced nations, with employment discrimination legislation, what should you say?
We met with Microsoft’s GLEAM Team (Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Employees at Microsoft), who have been established for over 20 years and they helped to shed some light on this topic and share some personal perspectives.
Steph Robinson, a project manager at Microsoft, says her advice is simple: ‘Be honest. If you have to censor yourself to suit a future employer that may have a problem with your lifestyle, you might want to ask yourself this question: Do I really want to work with people that I can’t be myself around?’
Robinson notes: ‘I used to work in environments where I”¯wasn’t out, and it resulted in me not being myself and inevitably not being able to give my employer the full benefit of my”¯insights and perspectives.”¯They and I lost out as a result. Now I wouldn’t work anywhere I couldn’t be”¯myself.’
Tim Macavoy, an editor at”¯Skype (part of Microsoft), agrees: ‘You should absolutely put down as”¯much information”¯about yourself as you can, whatever that is. You don’t want to end up in a role that’s”¯not going to [allow you to] explore your interests and help you to flourish.
‘But you might argue that this is easier said than done. Sometimes the need for a job outweighs such concerns. But if you want a career rather than just a job, you should try to communicate as much as you can”¯about yourself. People often forget that the interview process is as much about you interviewing the employer as it is about the employer interviewing you. Why take a job where you don’t think you’ll fit in?’
‘Working as a freelance”¯journalist in the gay press meant that my sexuality was pretty clear on my CV. I was coming out right from the onset and I knew the organization would probably presume I was gay. I didn’t have to think what to reveal about myself in the way that other people do when they”¯interview for jobs.’
Robinson advises all relevant experience”¯should be included on your résumé. She said: ‘Coming out is hard and doing it”¯in an interview is even harder, but if the experience you gained is relevant to the job”¯and demonstrates your experience and competencies, then you should include it and explain it in that way. Be clear. What were you actually doing and why is it”¯relevant? But only include personal information like this on your CV if it’s relevant to the job.’
Nathan Stanley, a program manager at Microsoft, shares his perspective on why diversity is important at Microsoft: ‘When you’re taking on some of the world’s toughest technological challenges, building products which touch the lives of billions of people, you need the best and brightest minds working together – bringing together their unique and diverse perspectives. The fundamental belief that technology can change the world and improve people’s lives is why we do what we do at Microsoft and why diversity is critical to our business.’
These days, it’s perfectly acceptable to question an organization’s diversity policies and ask if they have an active LGBT staff group. And Robinson has a last piece of advice: ‘Don’t forget to keep on top of your LinkedIn profile. I think LinkedIn is a fascinating advance”¯in recruitment. It’s entirely different from a CV because your LinkedIn profile is open to”¯the public and the other”¯people you have worked with. You have to be honest. I”¯look at the LinkedIn profile as far more reliable.’
So whether you’re updating your CV, planning for an interview or thinking about sharing your LGBT status at work, remember that being yourself at work allows you to focus on fulfilling your potential, providing your unique insights, perspectives, and doing your best work. The most forward thinking companies recognize and embrace their diverse workforces and recognize this gives them a competitive advantage when designing, marketing and selling products to LGBT people.
In the words of the team at Microsoft: Come as you are, Do what you love.