Out for a Job

Like nearly every other student interviewing for a job on February 9, the first day of Hell Week, I scanned the Wall Street Journal first thing in the morning to make sure I was up-to-date on the top stories. Unlike most students, I found my own name on Page 1 of the Marketplace section, under the headline “On Wall Street, a New Push to Recruit Gay Students.” “You can’t get much more out than that,” I thought to myself, and indeed, nearly all of my interviewers had read the article and connected it with me.

The first step in this process, of course, was writing the dreaded resume and cover letter. On top of all the other concerns, such as “Are my sentences parallel?” and “Have I used enough ‘active’ verbs?” the gay or lesbian student has to wonder, “Where, if anywhere, do I indicate my sexual orientation?” Of course, as one of my straight friends asked me, “Why would you want to tell some faceless person at a company you don’t even know that sort of personal information in the first place?” She had a good point, but I think there are two main reasons for being out on your resume.

Former GLSA Co-President Imtiyaz Hussein illustrated the first reason when he reflected on his decision not to be out during his first-year recruiting. He regretted the decision, in part, because “some of my most salient leadership experiences had been with gay and lesbian organizations.” Whether it’s spearheading a former employer’s diversity initiatives or organizing participation in a gay and lesbian equal rights campaign, examples of courageous leadership are exactly what most companies are looking for. By leaving them out, you may actually be weakening your chances of standing out from the crowd and receiving an interview slot.

The second rationale is that a company that doesn’t have a problem interviewing gay and lesbian students is likely to have a work environment that accepts all employees, regardless of sexual orientation. Some students worry about the inverse: a generally accepting company might have someone reviewing resumes who secretly harbors homophobia and will ding your resume before you ever get a chance to interview. It’s a valid concern, but isn’t it better not to waste your time with such companies? If anyone can afford to take that chance, surely it’s us who have the privilege to attend the number three school in the country! (thank you Business Week)

Whatever decision you’ve made about your resume, the interview situation raises all these questions again. For example, how should you answer a question about a location preference, if your partner is the reason for the choice? If you are married, it is easy to answer that question, but if you are in a same-sex relationship, you can either tell the truth, switch pronouns (‘she’ instead of ‘he’ or vice versa), or avoid the topic and try to invent some other reason. Again, this is on top of all the stress of trying to put your best foot forward and just remembering the name of the company, if it’s the fifth or sixth interview of the day.
After listening to other students’ experiences and thinking a lot about what I wanted out of a job, I had made the decision to be out on my resume and in my interviews. It certainly didn’t deter the investment banks I was targeting. In fact, at the end of Hell Week, I had received offers from all but one of the investment banking firms I had interviewed with. Ironically, it was Goldman Sachs, whose groundbreaking gay and lesbian recruiting dinner had prompted the Wall Street Journal article, that dinged me. I had a wonderful summer at Morgan Stanley in London, and when it was time to add “Co-President of the Gay & Lesbian Student Association” to my second-year resume, I didn’t hesitate for a moment. My verdict: if you want to be out at work, there’s no reason to be closeted in recruiting.