by Amber Rorris-Crow, orginally published at The Muse
While we now use online job boards and Zoom meetings in place of classified ads and formal handshakes, one thing remains the same: A good resume can speak volumes about you, before you even open your mouth. Your resume is the very first way most companies, recruiters, and hiring managers will come to learn about who you are.
This can make any hopeful applicant a little anxious. What kind of picture does my resume paint? Am I giving the impression that I can do this job well? This is a lot of pressure to put on a one- or two-page document. Do a quick Google search and you will find thousands of opinions on the “right way” to write your resume.
The good news is that times are changing and there’s no cookie cutter resume that works for everyone. What used to be a black-and-white, one-page, bullet-pointed list is now a colorful marketing tool designed to grab attention—and that opens the door for candidates to share more about themselves with potential hiring teams. For many job seekers, this includes their pronouns.
Should I put pronouns on my resume?
As the Queer Career Coach, I get asked a lot about how to highlight your identity on your professional documents and whether or not job seekers should list their personal pronouns on their resumes. The best advice I’ve come to give my clients is that everything you choose to include on your resume is a personal decision, but it’s better to be up front if it feels safe to do so.
Why you should consider including your pronouns on your resume
Putting your pronouns on your resume allows a hiring team to address you professionally—and accurately—from the beginning of your interview process. It’s a way for you to introduce yourself and how you should be referred to, without taking valuable time away from sharing your skills and accomplishments. This allows both sides to focus on what should matter most in the interview: what you bring to the table professionally.
In addition to paving the way for you to have a more positive candidate experience, putting your pronouns on your resume opens the door for others to feel more comfortable sharing their identities. Even as a cisgender person, you can show your allyship with a few keystrokes. You may make someone on the hiring team feel at ease to share their pronouns. You may help the company realize that this question is missing from their application process. The more we normalize sharing our pronouns, the less stigmatized it becomes.
A lot of my work is also focused on coaching my clients to find companies that are safe and accepting of LGBTQ+ identities. While there are been enormous strides forward in preventing workplace discrimination for queer employees, there’s always a risk of bias. Choosing to add your pronouns to your resume may be a simple way to test the waters with a company so you don’t end up in a potentially unsafe environment or waste valuable time on a role that isn’t right for you.
Why you might decide to leave your pronouns off your resume
I want all my clients to have a positive job searching experience, so I’m always transparent that sharing your pronouns isn’t a decision you should take lightly. If you’re interviewing with very formal companies or companies with more conservative values, you may make the personal decision to leave your pronouns off your resume. There’s nothing wrong with not being ready to be out at work, or not wanting to put additional pressure on your application materials.
Where should I put pronouns on my resume?
If you do choose to include your pronouns on your resume, my suggestion is to include it in your header, after your contact information. This keeps it top-of-mind for readers, without adding clutter or distracting from your experience and skills. Avoid putting your pronouns directly after your name at the top of your resume as this may not populate correctly when your resume is scanned by an applicant tracking system (ATS).
Here are some examples of the best ways to keep your resume looking professional and ATS-friendly:
Chicago, IL – 222-444-3232 – email@example.com – she/they
Where else can I put my pronouns while job searching?
If you’re looking to add a cohesive flow to your job search materials, consider putting your pronouns on more than just your resume, such as:
- In your headline on LinkedIn or after your signature on your cover letter: This allows more opportunities for hiring managers to notice and increases your chances to destigmatize sharing pronouns.
- Your email signature: You’ll often be communicating with several people in a hiring process who may not have all read your resume. Being up front about your identity can save you from lengthy or uncomfortable explanations later on, and can help you avoid the burnout that comes with being misgendered.
Job searching isn’t an easy process—it can be exhausting regardless of how you identify. Bringing your authentic self to the interview takes a lot of bravery and strength, but ultimately allows you to stand out from the crowd.