Career Development Center



Special Concerns in the Workplace and Job Market
Hiring Concerns | Rights and Protections | Guidance for Diverse Populations

Your venture into the workforce is your professional campaign, as unique and individual as you are. While every candidate is likely to encounter certain difficulties and challenges during the career planning process, some may find that – due to their particular circumstances, or others’ perceptions thereof – the task is especially challenging. If you are a member of a marginalized or underrepresented group, you may be feeling an extra dose of trepidation or uncertainty as you launch your campaign to entering the professional workforce. Regardless of your personal situation, the University of Montevallo Career Development Center is committed to helping all students and alumni achieve their professional goals.


UM Career Development Center: Position Statements

Career Action Plan: Explore, Engage, Execute

Adulting: The Real World

Skills and Competencies Employers Value



Disabled Persons in the Workplace

Navigating the workforce as a disabled individual can present a unique set of challenges, especially for those who may be unsure of their rights in regards to employment.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) protects individuals with disabilities from discrimination in all employment practices, including: job application procedures, hiring, firing, training, pay, promotion, benefits, and leave. To be protected under ADA, you must be a qualified individual with a disability as defined by ADA and Amendments Act (ADAAA): A) a physical or mental condition that substantially limits one or more major life activities such as walking, talking, seeing, hearing, or learning; B) a record of such impairment, such as an illness that is in remission; or C) being regarded as having such an impairment, even if it is not present.

Under ADA, you also have the right to be free from harassment because of a disability, and you may not be fired or disciplined for asserting your protected rights. Additionally, you have the right to request a reasonable accommodation that would allow you to apply for a job, perform job functions, and/or enjoy equal access to benefits available to other individuals in the workplace. Reasonable accommodations are often minor, inexpensive changes that employers can easily make to allow employees with various disabilities to fully perform tasks at work. It is likely that inclusive employers are not only willing to make these accommodations, but also eager to include disabled employees in the conversation about how they can best accommodate employees’ individual needs.

Finding welcoming, accommodating, and inclusive prospective employers may take some work on the part of the applicant. It is commonly known that there is no perfect or even “right way” to practice inclusion, especially on a large scale, however there are companies that are recognized for their measurable and tangible actions taken toward achieving disability inclusion and equity. Researching these places, among others, is an excellent start to planning a career, and meeting with a Career Counselor throughout the process can be extremely helpful as well.


ADA: Guide for People with Disabilities Seeking Employment

Career One Stop: Understand the Language, the Law, and Your Rights as a Person with a Disability

DisabilityIN: Disability Equality Index

UM Disability Support Services

UM DSS Student Resources

EEOC: Disability Discrimination

Disability Equality Index: 2021 Best Places to Work

New York Times: Disabilities as Assets in the Workplace

USA Today: More Businesses Opening Up to People with Disabilities

Forbes: Benefits of Disability in the Workplace

Monster: Tips for Job Hunting with a Disability

Huff Post: Enabling People with Disabilities to Get Jobs

Ladders: How to Talk About Your Disability During a Job Search

Amazon: Job Search Handbook for People with Disabilities



Pregnancy in the Workplace

Finding the perfect career opportunity while pregnant can be a difficult situation to navigate, sometimes requiring tactful maneuvering and good timing.

The Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 requires employers to treat pregnant individuals the same way they would other employees or applicants. This amendment to the Civil Rights Act of 1964 also prohibits employers from making any decision about hiring, firing, or promoting based on pregnancy, childbirth, or any related medical conditions. While pregnant candidates are not required to disclose their pregnancy, and employers are forbidden from asking, if they are showing more obviously then it could lead to a potentially uncomfortable situation.

Despite Federal law prohibiting discrimination based on pregnancy, it would be difficult to prove definitively that a company chose not to hire you specifically because of your pregnancy. The law may be clear, but the hiring process and job negotiations can be dicey. Many experts recommend that you do not disclose your pregnancy in the initial stages of interviewing simply because it should not be relevant to the employer’s decision.

Employers have their own considerations to keep in mind when making hiring decisions, many that could be impacted by a pregnant candidate’s impending pregnancy-related leave of absence. However, these considerations should not stand in the way of hiring the most qualified candidate. Pregnant candidates may find that the disclosure of their pregnancy requires a mindful balance of time to be sure they are protected, and their workplace relationships are not jeopardized.

One of the biggest considerations in employing pregnant individuals – and therefore a catalyst for many discrimination lawsuits – is the time off required to physically recover and bond with a new baby. The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) allows for 12 weeks of unpaid time away from work to recover from a variety of medical procedures and illnesses, including those related to pregnancy and childbirth. It is at the discretion of individual employers whether or not they wish to offer any kind of supplemental paid time off policy to their employees. As a new hire this often does not apply, as many employers will require individuals to be employed for a period of time before accessing any kind of extended leave, including FMLA.

It is important to note that there are many accommodations protected by law for pregnant employees, but there is no protection offered if the pregnancy has not been disclosed to the employer. For example, an employer legally cannot discipline a pregnant employee for pregnancy-related illness or time off for doctor’s appointments. However, if the pregnant employee has not made the employer aware of their condition, then the punishment for their excessive absences would not be categorized as “pregnancy-related discrimination.”

Regardless of when pregnant candidates and employees choose to disclose their pregnancy to an employer, they should be aware that there are often agreements that can be mutually beneficial to both employers and employees. Pregnant candidates and employees should do their best to know their rights and protections under law, and have meaningful conversations with their employers to find the best way to exercise those rights while maintaining their professional identity and relationships.


Balance Careers: How to Job Search While Pregnant

Balance Careers: Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978

The Muse: Unofficial Rules of Job Hunting While Pregnant

Legal Advice for Pregnant Job Hunters

New York Times: When to Tell a Prospective Employer That You're Pregnant

Career Builder: Tips for Interviewing While Pregnant



Veterans in the Workplace

Military Veterans face many adjustments upon returning to civilian life, often leading with workplace issues such as finding the best opportunities for hiring and retention.

Some employers cite factors such as transition difficulties, PTSD concerns, unknown transferrable skills, lack of adaptability, and limited qualifications as perceived hurdles Veterans may face when entering the workforce. These misconceptions don’t stop everyone though, as many employers actively recruit Veterans through government programs or individual company policies.

The Veterans in the Workplace Project was commissioned to look at workplace practices related to Veterans, and determine areas of success and those needing growth. Of companies surveyed, 93% had experience hiring Veterans and 57% had a formal set of policies in place for actively recruiting Veterans for employment. Even more positively, the factors listed as reasons for retention and advancement of Veterans included ability to learn new skills, working well in teams, personal integrity, goal-setting, managing resources, and problem-solving.

Knowing what employers perceive as strengths and weakness is important for any candidate to consider when searching for ideal career opportunities, but perhaps even more so for Veterans seeking employment. Having a unique experience background may just make you the best candidate for the job if you are able to discuss your transferrable skills, personality traits, and general responsibilities in relation to the position.


VA: Veterans in the Workplace Project

VA: Veterans in the Workplace Project Full Report (PDF)

UM Veteran and Military Affairs

Make the Connection: Transitioning from Military Service

Tips for Successful Military Career Transition

Tips for Service Members Entering Civilian Job Market

Translating Military Experience to Civilian Terms

Military Experience to Civilian Job Translator

MOS Code to Civilian Occupations Translator


LGBTQ Persons in the Workplace

While taking steps to pursue “the dream job” can be filled with uncertainty for anyone, often there are even more critical steps to ensure personal safety and satisfaction for LGBTQ employees.

In 2020, the Supreme Court held that firing individuals based on sexual orientation or gender identity (SOGI discrimination) violates federal law. The law expressly forbids any kind of SOGI discrimination in any aspect of employment including hiring, firing, pay, promotions, fringe benefits, and more. It is also unlawful to subject any employee to workplace harassment on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.

While there are laws in place to protect LGBTQ individuals in the workplace, it is well-known that there are many microaggressions, and outright aggression, this population faces on a daily basis. The law does not prohibit teasing, offhand comments, or isolated incidents, all of which can add up quickly when faced with these things over time. Often career planning for any marginalized group involves careful research of potential employers to ensure an inclusive and affirming environment. LGBTQ friendly workplaces likely have very explicit nondiscrimination policies covering sexual orientation and gender identity, and often have clearly inclusive language in their health insurance benefits package. Additionally, inclusive workplaces typically offer diversity trainings during their onboarding and orientation processes for all new employees.

There are many supports in place to help combat the systemic inequality LGBTQ individuals face even today, and knowing your rights is one crucial step towards finding your passion and purpose in your pursuit of career happiness. Meeting with a Career Counselor can help fill any gaps as you take steps towards your professional goals.


EEOC: SOGI Discrimination

Pride at Work: Our Mission

Out & Equal: Your Story. Your Truth. Your Power.

Human Rights Campaign: Workplace Resources

UM Campus Resources

UM Safe Zone

Report: LGBTQ People's Experiences of Workplace Discrimination and Harassment

Forbes: Career Tips for LGBTQ Employees

Glassdoor: Workplace Guide for LGBTQ Professionals

McKinsey: How the LGBTQ Community Fares in the Workplace

Investopedia: LGBTQ Representation in the Workforce

Queer Cafe: Resources for the LGBTQ Community



Persons of Color in the Workplace

It is true that the career planning process can be difficult for anyone to navigate for a variety of reasons, but for people of color it can be especially problematic at times.

It is important to know that the law forbids any sort of employment discrimination or workplace harassment on the basis of race or color, yet many individuals protected by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 are often also the most marginalized, and therefore may be unable or unwilling to pursue legal action in response to discriminatory actions. In addition to this, systemic racism and continuous underrepresentation in the workplace are still very real problems. All of this can quickly add up to a potentially negative experience when entering the workforce.

It can be crucial for members of the BIPOC community to conduct thorough research of prospective employers as they begin their professional campaigns. It can be difficult to for any candidate to find an employer that fits their needs, values, and experiences, but for people of color there is an added pressure of finding a workplace that also respects and values your identity and presence. Often the most welcoming workplaces typically have very explicit policies and statements regarding their commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion. They also tend to offer a higher level of diversity and inclusion training to all employees, especially during the onboarding and orientation processes. Going beyond than the legal minimum, inclusive employers often take a strong stance against any kind of racist attitudes or behaviors, and challenge all employees to consider their implicit biases in their everyday interactions; they are actively anti-racist, and may expect the same from their employees as part of their company culture.

EEOC: Facts About Race/Color Discrimination

Harvard Business Review: Toward a Racially Just Workplace

Best Colleges: Tips for Students of Color Entering the Workforce

NPR: How to Survive in a Mostly White Workplace

APA: Inclusive Language Guidelines



Recent Graduates in the Workplace

Many new graduates dread the need to explain their perceived lack of experience as they prepare for applications and interviews during their search for the ideal employment opportunity. While it is true for a number of employers that “years of experience” or “minimum experience” are used as screening questions, recent graduates may actually be more prepared, more experienced, and more marketable than they believe.

One of the biggest tools recent graduates can use to their advantage when seeking employment is a well-built resume. This document is crucial to the campaign process, and with minimal effort and some creativity can make all the difference in a candidate’s success. Many candidates go into the process with the same resume they have had for years, often since high school. While this resume may be perfectly fine for academic purposes, there is a crucial switch to flip now that they have graduated and are entering the professional workforce. The differences in writing an academic resume and a professional resume are key to marketing your professional identity and selling yourself as a strong candidate for the job.

After your resume is updated and ready to go, so are you. Knowing your worth, and being able to confidently discuss your knowledge, skills, and experience as it relates to your career of choice are crucial. Once you have all this in place, making a realistic plan for launching your campaign is simple. Meeting with a Career Counselor to assist along the way is always a good decision, and can help prevent any major pitfalls before they may happen.


CNBC: How Much Money You Need to Earn to Get By

Balance Careers: Tips for Staying Positive

Harvard Business Review: Biggest Hurdles Recent Graduates Face Entering the Workforce

Forbes: America's Best Employers for New Grads 2022

Career Shift: Put a Stop to Post-Graduation Job Stress

Career Shift: Skills Recent Grads Can Use to Leverage Pandemic Experience 

My Plan: What Can I Do with This Major?

Live Career: Personal Skills vs. Professional Skills
Ted Talk: What Should I Do with My Life?


International Students in the Workplace

Planning a career can be tough for many different reasons, but for international students this process may be even more problematic at times.

There are many reasons employers may be hesitant to hire international students, often leading with a lack of knowledge about visa requirements and restrictions. International students should be well-versed in this information so they can educate potential employers, therefore being able to focus conversations instead on themselves being highly qualified candidates. Regardless of visa status, it is crucial to start the process early. Allowing yourself time to do the required research on your career field, in addition to any personal circumstances, could make or break your success in obtaining a job after graduation.

It is important to know that there are resources and support available to you through the Career Development Center, and other places. While your situation may be unique, the career planning process is much the same. Having help along the way can streamline the process and make it less stressful, and more exciting as you look forward to your future.

International Student: Job Search in the US

International Student: Visa Options

UM International Student Information

UM Employment Options for International Students

Cultural Vistas: International Exchange

CIEE: Work Exchange
InterExchange: Cultural Exchange

Vault Careers: Tips for International Students Entering US Workforce

Migration Policy Institute: International Students in the US

Research: Number of Foreign Students Working in US After Graduation  



Liberal Arts Students in the Workplace

A recent study found that while employers do value liberal arts educations where graduates are more broadly prepared to enter the workforce, many still question how prepared graduates really are. It is up to the individual candidate to prove that they have what it takes, and often more, to be the best fit for the job.

The University of Montevallo is committed to ensuring all students are graduating prepared for their career of choice, as demonstrated by the current Quality Enhancement Plan focused solely on career preparedness, “Progression to Profession” or “P2P.” Students will now build a database of various career-focused artifacts (think: resume, cover letter, portfolio) to be able to clearly demonstrate their knowledge, skills, and experience as it relates to their career field.

It is important to note that 94% of employers surveyed believe internships are particularly valuable when it comes to hiring decisions of recent graduates. Additionally, experiences such as service learning were just as respected. This means having a well-built, professional resume is crucial to showcasing the experiences you have from your time here at Montevallo. Meeting with the Career Development Center can help you as you pursue your career goals.


Inside Higher Ed: What Employers Want

Harvard Business Review: Employers Value Liberal Arts Degrees

BLS: Putting Your Liberal Arts Degree to Work (PDF)

Balance Careers: How to Set Career Goals
Live Career: Personal Skills vs. Professional Skills

Live Career: Finding Your Career Passion

AAC&U: What is Liberal Education?




Career Transitions in the Workplace

Professionals wishing to make career transitions, whether brought about by job loss, focus shift, course correction, or any other catalyst, often face uncertainty, doubt, and confusion. There are many factors to consider when changing jobs, and the bigger the transition, the more effort and sometimes creativity is required to make the change smoothly.

Among a variety of life-altering events such as death, birth, divorce, marriage, and illness, changing careers often ranks among the highest in stress-inducing situations. Many individuals closely identify who they are with what they do for a living, so when change occurs for whatever reason it can be easy to lose track of that identity. Additionally, any threat to financial security is likely to cause a great deal of concern as our stability and assets rely so fully on our finances. Going into a career change as prepared as possible, and sometimes as quickly and necessarily as possible, may be tricky.

It is obvious that the most seamless career transitions are the ones you expect and can plan for, often leaving little to no negative trace, but what happens when something occurs unexpectedly and you must shift quickly? It must first be determined how long your financial resources can sustain you – this can impact the time spent searching for the next employment opportunity. Next you must decide if staying in the same field is ideal, or even feasible. Once you determine these things, you have a good starting place to begin career planning. This process is much the same as any other professional campaign, although depending on how you left your previous employer it may take some more intentional decision-making when it comes to your resume and references. Regardless of your situation, meeting with a Career Counselor can always help, and the UM Career Development Center is proud to extend our services to all UM students and alumni.


Job Loss Tips

Balance Careers: Coping with Job Loss

Love to Know: Managing Stress After Losing your Job

Balance Careers: Steps to a Successful Career Change

Career Shifters: How to Change Career When You've No Idea What to Do Next

CNBC: 'Great Resignation' Could Be Good Time for Career Change

Apollo Technical: Career Change Statistics

Career Foundry: Big Signs It's Time for Career Change

Harvard Business Review: The Right Way to Make a Big Career Transition     


Career Action Plan

You Belong at Montevallo: Campus Tour

The Montevallo Experience

University of Montevallo: Campus Life

UM Flacon Athletics

Student/Alumni Policy Statement

Employer/Recruiter Policy Statement



Career Development Center

University of Montevallo

Station 6262 | Montevallo, Alabama 35115

Farmer Hall, Second Floor

205-665-6262 |