Queer Women’s Work - Finding Work We Love

How can LGBTQ+ women bolster their chances of finding work that they love?


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In our previous piece, we learnt about how LGBTQ+ women face many barriers to employment (and I recommend giving it a read if you haven’t already), but now we’re going to focus on how we can still get the job we want.

 

Okay, so the odds are never in our favor, but that doesn’t mean we give up. We have as much right to a fantastic career as anyone else, but how can we get it? Let’s find out.

 

Choosing the right company.

Source: Christina Morillo via Pexels

 

As we’ve already discussed, LGBTQ+ people can still be fired for their sexuality or gender identity in most of the county. That’s why you may want to start your job search with a list of LGBTQ+-friendly companies in your chosen field.

 

If a company already has a diverse workforce, which you can find out through their official diversity and employment policies, they’re less likely to discriminate. You can also ask about resource groups for LGBTQ+ employees or if benefits are extended to same-sex partners.

 

Alternatively, Human Rights Council produces an annual report on workplace equality for LGBTQ+ people if you’re applying to bigger companies.

 

Find a queer female mentor in your field.

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In some areas of employment, it is hard to even get your foot in the door for an entry-level position (or an unpaid internship!). This can be especially true for marginalized groups, which is why I recommend finding someone in your field who has been there, done that, and gotten the proverbial t-shirt.

 

If you don’t already know some queer women in your field, then Google is your friend. There are plenty of networking groups online (and on LinkedIn) for queer women in any profession from doctors, to teachers, to concert violinists. There you can ask questions, swap stories, and get advice.

 

If you do know a specific queer woman in your field – and I mean know as in you’ve talked to her before and perhaps even worked with her – ask if you can take her out for coffee and pick her brains. She might be more receptive than you think.

 

Also, if you’re a queer woman who is successful in your field, why not consider becoming a mentor for other LGBTQ+ women? It doesn’t need to take up a lot of your time, but it can be a real boost for your mentee and you can even include the experience on your resume or in your cover letter for other positions. Win-Win!

Write a proper cover letter.

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This is likely your first chance to make an impression on the person in charge of hiring at your prospective company, so you want to make your cover letter memorable for the right reasons.

 

A cover letter should:

  • Introduce yourself to the hiring manager
  • Explain why you should fill the position
  • Fill in places that your resume can’t (i.e. why you are interested in the field)
  • Go into more detail about other aspects of the resume (i.e. a particular initiative that you put in place at a current job)

 

If you really want your cover letter to get the attention of your potential new employer, then make sure to personalize it.

 

Use the name of the hiring manager, not a generic “Dear Sir or Madam” and especially not “Dear Sir”. (At a place that I previously worked, we received a cover letter that said “Dear Sir” and the hiring manager was a woman. She deleted the email without reading any further, pointing out that it clearly wasn’t addressed to her.) You should also mention the name of the company and explain why you want to work there. It might also be good to mention some recent positive press about the company.

 

Then, sell yourself. Explain how your experience, skills, and abilities are perfectly suited to the company and why they’d be fools not to hire you. (Don’t actually say that! Hiring managers notoriously dislike being called fools.) And put a call-to-action at the end. Something like “I look forward to hearing from you about this position. I can be reached on [phone number] or [email address]”, is great.

 

Also, there are some important formatting rules to consider. Cover letters should:

  • Be written in a 12-point neutral font – If you can, try to match the font to the one on their website. It’s a psychological trick to make you look more in sync.
  • Have a margin of 1- 1.5 inches – You don’t want it to be too squished.
  • One page maximum – No hiring manager wants to read two or more pages, no matter how qualified you are.
  • Be thoroughly spell and grammar-checked - My top advice is to run it through the spell/grammar check on Microsoft Word or Google Docs, then run it through the Grammarly checker (can be done for free online), and then have a friend triple-check. There’s no such thing as too well-spelt.​

 

Revamp your resume.

Source: Lukas via Pexels

 

A boring resume won’t get you very far in the application process, so the key is to make your resume stand out amongst the thousands of others that your potential employer has received.

 

How can you do that?

 

Well, you can get creative with the layout or add in a pop of color to the margins. Believe me, after eight hours of sifting through the exact same resume layout in black and white, the hiring manager will remember the one that was a little different. You could even use the colors of the company’s logo, to really capitalize on that psychological trick.

 

The most important thing is readability, so always check the layout on screen and on paper to see that it works. If you’re not all that artistically minded, there are plenty of resume templates to download online, which have already been tested for readability and reaction.

 

As above, there are some important formatting points:

  • Use the same font and size as you did for your cover letter
  • Make use of headings – Importantly, this will help the hiring manager sort through your resume easily
  • Two pages maximum – If your resume is longer than two pages, then it’s time to reformat (reduce heading size, widen margins, etc) or start cutting. Big areas that you can cut are lower levels of education – if you have a degree, then your SAT scores are less relevant – and non-relevant work experience – if you’re applying to work as a paralegal, they don’t need to know about the summer job you took at the local mall.
  • Make sure this is also checked for spelling and grammar errors

 

 

Okay, that’s about it from me on how queer women can get a kick-ass career (or at least take the first steps towards it). Now I’d like to hear from you, whether you’re just getting on the employment ladder, are looking to move up the ranks, or you’re established in your field and want to help others to succeed.

 

 

 

 
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