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Should I Use My Pronouns on My Resume?

Considering adding your pronouns to your resume? Here is what you should consider when making this decision.
Should I Use My Pronouns on My Resume?

Every item on your resume should showcase who you are to the potential employer. LinkedIn has recently added the option to designate your pronouns on your profile. Most employers use LinkedIn in their hiring process formally or informally. So, the question of whether to include your pronouns on your resume is a good one regardless of how you identify. Here are the most important things to consider before you make this decision.

Why Including Pronouns on the Resume is a Good Idea

There are several reasons why you would want to include your pronouns on your job application materials or as part of your professional profile online. These reasons include things like:

Preventing Accidental Misgendering

Including your pronouns on your resume or other job application materials can prevent the awkward moment in a phone screen or interview setting where you may feel the need to correct the person's selection of your pronoun. Listing them on your resume or job application can give the person the heads-up before they speak with you.

Easing Anxiety

Including the pronouns on your resume can also help to eliminate the stress of the interview where you may have to correct the person about your pronouns. This also prevents the person interviewing you from making the mistake in the first place so that they also don't feel anxious about their mistake. Including them on your resume can remove this anxiety from the interviewing process so that the conversation can focus on what really matters - your qualifications for the particular job and why you are the best fit.

Facilitates Inclusion

The decision to include your pronouns on the resume can be an important step towards inclusion. This is true regardless of how you identify because the decision to include your pronoun on your resume is a recognition that it matters and that you are an LGBTQ+ ally.

Thus, the decision to include your pronouns on your resume can advance an important conversation in the workplace. It helps people more than you think and encourages others to do the same.

Helps You Find the Right Workplace

As covered below, the risk of including your pronouns on your resume is discrimination. The reality is that not everyone or every company is inclusive (despite what they may say publicly). As a job seeker, you want to find the right next step in your career where you can thrive but also be happy in where you work. The job search process is as much about finding the right fit for your skills and personality as it is about the company finding the right fit for their open jobs.

Thus, the decision to include your pronouns on your resume can help you to eliminate those organizations that aren't inclusive. Including your pronouns helps you to find the right workplace for you. So, if a company chooses not to call you because of your pronoun identification or even use of pronouns, then you probably don't want to work there in the first place.

Why Including Pronouns on Your Resume Can Be Challenging

Including pronouns on your resume can also create challenges in your job search and it is important to know what those are when making the decision whether to include your pronouns or not. Here is what you need to know about potential challenges that can be encountered if you include pronouns on your resume.

Traditional Expectations

Traditionally, the best practice on every resume or CV is not to use any pronouns or first, second, or third person tone on the resume. This is rooted in the expectation that the person's qualifications should speak for themselves. This is also because the use of pronouns or first/second/third person tone is too casual for a resume or CV.

So, the writing of a resume has evolved into its own style. That style and the expectations of how a resume should be written has a long history of excluding all pronouns and removing any tone of voice that is written in first, second (you, your, etc.), or third person (he, she, them, it, etc.). Thus, the decision to include your pronouns in the substance of the resume (from the summary to the bullets at specific jobs) will be perceived by most people as a mistake in style. This could trigger a rejection of your application on a grammatical/style basis if those pronouns are appearing in the wrong places on your resume.  

Unconscious Bias is a Real Thing

The reality is that discrimination should not exist in the workplace, but it does in a lot of ways. This can be true even if people don't want to discriminate. Unconscious bias is where people make decisions based on social stereotypes about certain types of people that individuals from outside their own conscious awareness. Everyone has unconscious biases, but not everyone is aware of them. So, by including your pronouns on the resume, you do run the risk that doing so will trigger a conscious or unconscious bias by someone in the hiring process.

You may have less protection against discrimination in the hiring process than you do after you are hired. There are lots of laws that exist to remove discrimination from the hiring process, but those can vary depending on where you live. So, make sure that you consult with the EEOC or an employment attorney if you feel like you are being discriminated against in an employment context.

Technology Can Remove Identifiers

Talent acquisition professionals have long sought ways to remove unconscious bias in the hiring process so that they can help find the right people for the open jobs. Removing conscious and unconscious bias has resulted in the emergence of technology that strips out all identifiers in the hiring process. This can be things like removing names, pictures, or schools. Some companies use additional tools in their hiring process to strip out the items that can create bias and others will have settings configured in their applicant tracking system to minimize the bias in the hiring process.

These technology tools are rooted in the idea of advancing equality in the workplace. However, they don't always work perfectly. So, if the company you are applying to is using these tools, then including your pronouns in the wrong place on your resume can result in the removal of important content that shows your qualifications for the role.

Best Ways to Use Your Pronouns if it Makes Sense for You

There is no right or wrong answer about whether to include your pronouns. There is only the right answer for you. If you decide to use your pronouns when applying to jobs, here are some tips to ensure you do it the right way in your job search.

You can put your pronouns on your resume if you do it in the header. Do not put in on the line with your name as that will create challenges with the ATS. Instead, put your pronouns on the line BELOW your name and separate from your contact details. This will ensure that all of those important details are properly parsed by the applicant tracking systems so that people can contact you about the jobs you are applying to.

Another option that may exist when applying online is to select your pronouns. This could be in responding to the gender question or in a field that requests the designation of your pronouns when applying. Not all ATS have the best options here as talent acquisition technology can lag behind, well most everything. So, consider picking the best option for you or simply skip these fields if possible if the options don't make sense for you.

You can also include your pronouns in your email signature. This will help in the hiring process as all emails between candidates and the recruiting/HR team are captured by the ATS. Not only will the particular HR/recruiter see your pronouns, but so will the talent acquisition system. So, anyone that is communicating with you through the hiring process will have notice of the proper pronouns for you - whatever they may be.

The final option to include your pronouns in the talent acquisition process is to select them on your LinkedIn profile. This is a relatively new feature on the LinkedIn system and you no longer need to add this to your name field. This is now an easy add to your profile. And, the chances are strong that people in the hiring process will see this - even if you are not applying on LinkedIn.

Right now, there is no clear answer about whether to include your pronouns on your resume. There is only the right answer for you. Choosing to include your pronouns on your resume should be done in a way that doesn't impact the performance of your resume with the applicant tracking systems or other talent acquisition technology. As covered above, there are several ways that you can include your pronouns in the hiring process if doing so is right for you.

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