Asexuality on the resume

I work for The Ace Community Survey. I lead a dozen volunteers in running an annual survey with 10k responses. I developed most of our codebase. Our reports attract academic attention. This kind of looks amazing on a resume.

But do I really want to disclose my orientation on a resume? This is a question with no universal right answer, and all the guidance you find on the internet says as much. But I will just explain my own decision and thought process behind it, offering a single data point where currently we have none.

No. I do not disclose my asexuality on my resume. But I do list the Ace Community Survey, and say what I’ve accomplished on the team. I find that people do not know what the title of the survey means.

My rationale is that the attention that hiring managers give to my resume is very precious. I do not want to waste that time with irrelevant information. I am in data science. What I did with the survey is relevant; the subject matter of the survey is not so much. (For positions where the subject matter is relevant, I have a separate activist CV.)

I have also heard that hiring managers will sometimes toss resumes with such identifiers, because they don’t want to deal with the legal risk of being accused of discrimination. Perverse, but this is what I’ve heard.

But here’s the thing: the resume is not the end. There are two other major avenues of information: interviews, and LinkedIn.

On LinkedIn, there is much more space available to give details. So I list out all the publications made by the Ace Community Survey, and I link to our website. Obviously this gives it away if anyone ever looks at it. I do think hiring committees eventually look at it, but they won’t ask about it directly, which is for the best.

During interviews, I have tried it both ways. Sometimes I just describe it as a community survey. Sometimes I say that we’re surveying a queer community, or a sexual minority community. This is always information that I am volunteering, because in my experience, interviewers never ask the nature of the community. Interviewers are not allowed to ask certain questions about protected classes of people, and I suspect they understand that asking about this one is a bad idea. If interviewers did ask me what the community is, I would consider it a red flag about their diversity and inclusion.

The first reason why I think it’s good to mention the subject of the survey in an interview, is that it fills out the narrative of why I’m passionate about the project. Suddenly, it makes sense when I say that I’m working on a study of suicidality in our community.

The second reason, is that theoretically some interviews will have a negative interaction, and that probably means that I don’t want to work for them. In the SF Bay Area, I expect this to basically never happen, but if it does happen, I’ll be glad I found out.

So, that’s my personal policy with regard to sexual orientation on my resume. Have any of you ever had to make a decision about what to disclose on your resumes?

About Siggy

Siggy is an ace activist based in the U.S. He is gay gray-A, and has a Ph.D. in physics. He has another blog where he also talks about math, philosophy, godlessness, and social criticism. His other hobbies include board games and origami.
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7 Responses to Asexuality on the resume

  1. luvtheheaven says:

    This feels very timely for me. I want to include my ace (and aro) activism in some regard on my new resume I’m pretty sure but I don’t quite know how would be best to do it. Years ago one of my friends from the ace meetup who had organized a few of the events and was writing a new resume herself asked me how i listed organizing ace meetups on my resume… I had to tell her well, I didn’t. I’ve been asked to be personal references for two people, one of whom I first met through ace blogging which I couldn’t say, and the other is that same person who asked about my resume – I tried to talk up working with her in certain capacities within TAAAP in vague terms about an organization we’re still working toward incorporating as a nonprofit… It’s all so tricky.

    • Siggy says:

      If you want to include your activist experience on your resume but obscure what it is, you should get people to look it over and see what they understood from it. I used to list the survey as the (technically incorrect) AVEN Community Survey in hopes of making it more obscure, but from peer reviews I discovered that it was obscure either way. Of course, there’s a difference between obscuring it from readers, and obscuring it from people who are actually looking it up.

      For references, I would ask the person their preferences on disclosure, and default to no disclosure. I haven’t had to get a reference from anyone on the survey yet, but if I did, my preference would be that they obscure it to the same degree as on my resume. I just don’t like the idea of a hiring manager to find out through a reference rather than from me directly.

  2. aceadmiral says:

    This has been discussed a couple of times on ASPeN, and I my sense is most people don’t like to disclose. I don’t have it on my resume personally, though I did at one point since it was in the title of my dissertation. People started finding my LinkedIn profile that way, though, so I took it off for privacy concerns.

    I think it’s better to put such activities in the cover letter if it’s relevant–and as a general “organization,” not specifically the subject matter. I’ve found it’s easier to deflect than one might anticipate, too. It’s my experience as well that you can just phrase it as “community,” and most people will leave it there.

    Well, and it’s certainly also true that if someone hassles you, you probably don’t want to work there, so it’s better to at least know up front. I usually weed them out with the way I dress, though, so it doesn’t have to get as far as my extracurriculars ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

  3. “I have also heard that hiring managers will sometimes toss resumes with such identifiers, because they don’t want to deal with the legal risk of being accused of discrimination. Perverse, but this is what I’ve heard.”
    But isn’t that…discrimination? I mean I’m not surprised lol.

  4. Sennkestra says:

    I haven’t needed to look for jobs in a while, but I did list my experiences with both AVEN and the local ace group on my resume the last time (and never bothered changing it on linkedin)…but I think the fact that I felt ok doing that was a combination of 1. Working near San Francisco, which has an unusually high acceptance of weird queer identities, and 2. having literally no other relevant experience on there and figuring something is better than nothing (as a fresh college grad, my only other experience/skillset I had to site was using publishing software for the campus anime club, staffing at anime conventions, and a short internship at a manga publisher, so not necessarily that much more mainstream).

    If asked more about what the group was and what it did, I just said, “oh, it’s an LGBT activism nonprofit group” which, well, close enough, and also a fairly common career in the bay area, and then focused on more logistical details like how many volunteers I managed at events, what kinds of publications and graphics software we used, and other non-subject matter stuff.

    That said, it did definitely lead to a few interview conversations where I could tell that an employer was curious about or definitely assuming (albeit correctly, lol) that I was asexual, and occasionally veering a little too close to “asexuality 101 Q&A time”, which as many of you probably know can get uncomfortable personal. Thankfully, the one time it did steer really far into that territory, the interviewer mostly went off script to assure me that she identified as lesbian and that the company was very LGBT friendly, and I did get an offer (turned down due to being mostly on commission), so it wasn’t a bad reaction per se, but…..definitely intensely awkward in the moment and I can definitely see it going in a much worse direction.

    so I guess tl;dr, I actually do a lot of really cool (and career relevant) stuff in my work with ace communities, so I do choose to include it in my otherwise still-a-bit-short resume, but it’s definitely a risky proposition (and probably a move I wouldn’t make if I were in a more conservative area or industry).

    • Sennkestra says:

      Also, I’ve done enough press interviews under my legal name that just googling my name will bring up all sorts of asexual content in the first page, so I don’t really worry about outing myself as it’s kinda unavoidable now.

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