3 Things LGBT Job Seekers Should Do to Vet an Employer

LGBT-Job-Seekers

We think it’s important to build a financially strong LGBTQ community. That’s because the stronger we are financially, the more capable we are of funding the causes and initiatives most important to us. Yes, we’ve made lots of progress over the years, but we’ve been reminded recently that the fight isn’t over.

This is why it’s important for the queer community to be at least as proud of our financial situation as we are about our individuality and sexual orientation. Your money is an important tool for your success, but it also helps ensure the success of our collective community. And how you make that money is just as important as what you do with your paycheck after it hits your account.

As a prospective employee, how can you find an employer that’s in line with your values? Here are three ways.

1. Research Your Prospective Employer

There are some organizations that offer lists of LGBTQ-friendly companies, but your best bet is to do your own research. Contact local advocacy groups to find out the local and national companies that support your causes, both financially and with boots on the ground, at the state and federal levels. The companies that put their money and people behind the causes you support (especially when it doesn’t mean the cover of a magazine) are likely in line with your values.

Another way to determine the right employer is to see who’s proud of you. Pride offers companies a great chance to connect with our community. While Pride usually consists of parades and parties, companies can also market to our lucrative community. Some companies prefer to avoid parades and parties, so Pride attendance shouldn’t be a litmus test for choosing an employer. It’s just another means to notice our allies.

2. Interview Your Interviewer

When interviewing for a job, play the role of both interviewee and interviewer. You want to know that the company fits with your culture just as much as they want to know if you fit with theirs.

Consider asking about their stance on LGBTQ employees and if they have protections in their policies. You may also want to ask to see their policies. If possible, look around to see if they are a truly diverse company. It’s all well and good to support LGBTQ causes and have protections in place, but if there’s a rainbow ceiling you may not be given the opportunities you want.

You can also ask about the causes the company supports or how they give back to the local community in general. Smaller companies may only be able to support one or two causes and an LGBTQ cause may not be one of them. This, too, should also not be a litmus test for choosing an employer, but it’s good to know what causes the company does support.

3. Follow the Money

You can research what, if any, legislation the company has supported. When local, state and federal government are debating new regulations and laws, companies often voice their opinions publicly. This is a great way to get an official record of a company’s opinion. Contributions to political campaigns that are large enough and made by the company or leaders within the company must be publicly disclosed.

You may want to start by asking representatives at your local LGBTQ advocacy organization if they’ve received support, both financially and through actions on issues that are important to you, such as marriage or birth certificate modernization for transgendered individuals, from a company you’re considering. Even if a prospective employer hasn’t donated time or money, it’s not a bad sign. What you may want to do is look for any donations to groups that oppose your causes or beliefs.

These are just some ways to determine, beyond a national index, how supportive prospective employers are to queer LGBTQ causes. It’s in both yours and your community’s best interest to do as well financially as possible. For most of us, that starts with decent earned income.

(Editor’s note: Before you apply for a job, it’s a smart move to request your credit reports for two reasons: If there are errors on the reports, you can get them fixed (here’s a guide to disputing credit report errors) before there’s a chance they’ll harm your chances at a job. You want to regularly check your credit anyway, because inaccurate information can cause serious financial damage. You can get free annual credit reports at AnnualCreditReport.com and you can check your credit scores for free every month on Credit.com. Second, if your reports have negative information that’s accurate, you’ll want to see if you can get it fixed before an employer sees it. If you can’t, address it upfront with the potential employer.)

This story is an Op/Ed contribution to Credit.com and does not necessarily represent the views of the company or its partners.

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4 Signs Your Boss Is Spying on You

Chances are, your boss is keeping an eye on you. In fact, the American Management Association (AMA) reports that 43% of companies actively monitor employee emails and roughly the same number track the time you spend on the phone and who you call (16% go so far as to record those calls). Nearly half of companies say they use video to reduce theft and workplace sabotage.

Workplace monitoring is nothing new, of course. Bosses have probably been spying on employees for as long as they’ve been hiring people to work for them. But new technologies make it easier for companies to track their employees’ every move, while at the same time making it harder for workers to tell if they’re being watched.

From GPS tracking to checking your social media profiles, it’s not hard for a company to keep tabs on you. And, unless your boss tells you they’re spying, you may never know. (To be fair, the AMA reports that many companies do inform employees that they may be subject to monitoring.) This stealthy on-the-job surveillance is perfectly legal in most cases, which may come as a surprise to many people.

“Privacy in today’s workplace is largely illusory,” the AMA’s Ellen Bayer told The Week.

Not sure if your boss is using techniques to keep tabs on you? Here are four signs that you’re likely being watched at work.

1. You’re Secretly Planning to Quit & Your Boss Already Knows

More companies are mining big data to make predictions about which employees are likely to leave their job in the near future. And then there’s social media. If you’re connected to your boss on LinkedIn or have a public profile, they may get suspicious if your network suddenly starts to grow or you link up with recruiters or industry competitors. If your company is tracking the website you visit or logging keystrokes, you may also alert your boss to your on-the-clock job search.

2. You’re Called Out for a Conversation You Thought Was Private

If your boss reprimands you for a less-than-professional conversation or email exchange that you thought was private, there’s a chance you have a tattletale co-worker. But it’s also possible that your supervisor could be spying on you, perhaps by scanning your email, monitoring your phone conversations, or even looking at the text messages you send on a work-issued device. If they’re using a key-logging program or other monitoring software, they may even know what you’re saying in your personal emails sent on any company-owned devices.

Don’t make the mistake of thinking that your boss doesn’t care about your idle workplace gossip, either, whether in person or something shared digitally. Thoughtless emails can come back to haunt you.

“Employers own the content on their own internal email systems and have the right to monitor what you write and to whom,” Jennifer Lee Magas, an employment law attorney and vice president of Magas Media Consultants, LLC, told MainStreet.com.

3. Your Boss Knows What You Did This Weekend Before You Tell Him

Does your boss seem to know an awful lot about your personal life? They could be checking out your Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or other social media profiles, even if you haven’t added them to your network or given them your password (something that some employers really do ask for, though laws about that are changing). Looking at your public profiles is a bit creepy, but it’s not all that unusual. And people have been disciplined or fired after their employers stumbled upon inappropriate posts, photos and comments online.

4. There’s Some Suspicious Software on Your Devices

If your company’s IT department is monitoring your computer use, it’s not always going to be immediately obvious. However, you can poke around on your computer to see if there are any telltale signs of monitoring software (Online Tech Tips has some advice on how to do that, if you’re so inclined). The same goes for unusual apps installed on smartphones. But don’t be too quick to uninstall something that looks suspicious or your boss may fight back.

[Editor’s Note: You never know who may be looking at what you do online, whether it’s your boss or a hacker. It’s a good idea to keep an eye on your credit for any signs of identity theft, like a sudden dip in your score or unfamiliar new accounts. You can see your free credit report summary, updated each month, on Credit.com.]

This article originally appeared on The Cheat Sheet.  

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The Biggest Workplace Productivity Killers

productivity-at-work

Do you waste time at work? No, of course you don’t. Never! You’re very productive. And do you have a smartphone? Yes, you do, but that’s not relevant to your work quality. Sure, it’s usually within sight while you’re working, but that doesn’t mean it’s distracting you. As we’ve already established, you’re no time-waster. Your phone just sits there on your desk. It doesn’t keep you from doing your job.

Yeah, about that: 83% of workers have smartphones, and 82% keep it within eye contact while working, according to a new survey. About two-thirds of people with smartphones use them several times throughout the workday.

So it should come as no surprise that 55% of employers say that cellphone use is the most common cause of productivity loss.

These figures come from a Career Builder survey of 3,031 full-time workers over the age of 18, and 2,186 hiring and human resource managers (the survey didn’t include self-employed or government workers.) The results have margins of error of plus or minus 1.78 and 2.1 percentage points, respectively. Error margins vary among sub-samples.

Of course, some people use their personal phones for work matters, but 65% of workers say they don’t have their work email on their smartphones. While only 10% of workers with smartphones said it’s decreasing their productivity, 81% said they use their phones for things unrelated to work while they’re on the clock. Those two things are at odds.

The most common activity? Sending personal messages (65% of people using their smartphones for non-work things admitted to that one). Checking the weather was next common (51%), followed by reading the news (44%), playing games (24%) and shopping (24%).

Distracted employees result in about 2 hours of lost productivity per day, 75% of the employers surveyed said. It’s not just phone use: Many employers (41%) blamed the internet, 39% blamed gossip and 37% blamed social media. Conversations with co-workers, smoke breaks or other breaks, email and meetings were also cited as common distractions.

Lost productivity can come back to the workers who are causing it — wasting time could cost your company money (which they need to pay you), and if you’re distracted enough, you might find yourself in jeopardy of losing your job. Unexpected job loss can wreak havoc on your finances (and it’s one of the reasons to have emergency savings to fall back on), and then there’s the need to find a new job, which is stressful and might even involve potential employers checking your credit.

While checking your phone at work might not be the best idea, checking your credit scores is. You can get your two free credit scores, updated every 30 days, from Credit.com.

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