You might have noticed an increase in personal pronouns (such as “he/him”, “she/her”, and “they/them” appearing in and around your day-to-day work. An increasing number of people are using them in various career contexts to communicate their sex and gender identity (for example, being intersex, or those not living as the sex they were assigned at birth).
Personal pronouns are not just for the exclusive use of those who are transgender or gender non-conforming. We all have a gender expression — even if it’s simply male or female — and it’s often helpful to share this. One setting where personal pronouns are used is on your résumé. This article discusses personal pronouns on résumés, their advantages and disadvantages, and where else to add your pronouns at work.
There are some powerful reasons to include your personal pronouns on your résumé. In this section, we’ll cover the top five reasons for doing so.
1. It facilitates how you wish to be addressed
In their most practical form, including pronouns will enable the interviewer to address you correctly. This will ensure that interviewers are not left wondering which pronouns to use, and avoids the need of them having to ask you. This doesn’t necessarily cause any challenges in screenings and interviews, but it helps to grease the wheels of conversation and make things a little more natural.
2. It prevents misgendering
Including your personal pronouns means that employers won’t be tempted to take a guess on your gender identity. In other words, using them eliminates the risk of misgendering or the use of umbrella terms. Misgendering is often accidental but, nevertheless, it’s never easy to correct an employer when they use the wrong pronouns; and employers don’t want to get it wrong, either.
3. It helps you find an inclusive employer
Organizations that understand and embrace personal pronouns on a résumé are — let’s face it — the companies you want to apply for. Sadly, there will always be a minority of companies that don’t regard gender identity as an area of focus and, worse, might make hiring decisions based on these views. Using personal pronouns can, therefore, help you self-select away from such employers.
4. It might put you at ease
Whereas increasingly open dialogue about gender identity and the use of personal pronouns means that awareness of these issues is improving, many people might feel anxious about clarifying their pronouns in a formal interview setting. Putting your personal pronouns on your résumé is a simple and very effective way of circumventing this, and might reduce any anxiety, therefore helping you stay focused on interviewing to the best of your ability.
5. It drives allyship
Putting your personal pronouns on your résumé is a powerful sign that you want to help destigmatize this action. You’re telling the recruiter that you are proud of your pronouns and, therefore, playing a part in showing solidarity with LGBTQ+ communities or those with gender dysphoria. Normalizing the addition of personal pronouns will help companies become ever more accepting of seeing them on résumés.
It’s important to be aware that using pronouns on your résumé can present some disadvantages as well. In this section, we’ll discuss five reasons for not including your personal pronouns.
1. It can lead to unconscious bias
Unconscious biases are underlying assumptions that people hold about other people and things. When it comes to careers, these can inadvertently lead to unfair hiring decisions being made. Not including your personal pronouns on your résumé, disclosing them only after you have been hired, reduces the risk of unconscious bias affecting the outcome of your application.
2. It can contribute to gender discrimination
A minority of people and employers sadly do discriminate on the basis of gender identity or sexual orientation, with one recent study suggesting that people who identify as “they/them” and write this on their résumés are at risk of an experience of gender discrimination. Not including personal pronouns will remove the risk of a hiring manager viewing them and making a discriminatory decision not to proceed with your application on the basis of your gender identity.
3. Personal pronouns can be viewed as too informal
Including personal pronouns is a reasonably new trend in career management, and some more traditional managers and employers simply haven’t gotten on board with this yet. Even if they’re inclusive and gender positive, such companies might perceive the use of personal pronouns as unusual or unnecessary and might, therefore, view your application in a less positive light.
4. They’re personally identifiable information
There’s a recent trend of employers asking for “blind” résumés: résumés that don’t include any information about who you are. Pronouns are a form of personal information, and some employers might discourage their use because of this. Alternatively, you might not want to share them until you have entered into some form of data protection agreement with the organization.
5. They can be seen as irrelevant to the hiring process
There’s a long-held view that résumés should be about your work experience and education, and nothing else. Some employers might not necessarily view personal pronouns negatively but could regard them as being irrelevant to the application. This might then contribute to unconscious bias, or your application being overlooked due to its superficial appearance.
The best place on your résumé to include your personal pronouns is at the top, in the header, underneath or alongside your name and above your contact information. Avoid putting your personal pronouns directly after your name, as doing so might cause applicant tracking systems to think they’re part of your surname.
In any case, personal pronouns should be one of the first things the recruiter will read, so they should be placed above all other sections on the résumé. Doing this reduces the chance of your résumé looking cluttered or your personal pronouns being missed.
When writing your personal pronouns, offer a couple of examples and place them in brackets, so they look and read something like this:
You can also include “his”, “hers” or “their” for more clarification, but only if you want.
Need some inspiration? Here’s an example résumé to show you where to include your personal pronouns:
If you want to add your personal pronouns to other places, or simply want to look at alternatives to doing so on your résumé, there are a few other options.
Adding your personal pronouns on an online job application is easy to do, as these can be added after your name, or you can disclose your gender identity at the end of many application forms, in the equal opportunity declaration. You can also add your personal pronouns to cover letters.
At work, personal pronouns are often included on LinkedIn profiles. There’s now a section when you go to edit your profile that allows you to select personal pronouns from a dropdown menu.
You can also have your personal pronouns added to your email signature and business cards. This will offer a polished, formal and natural way of introducing yourself and your gender identity. Whatever you choose to do, it’s up to you about when and how you share your pronouns.
When thinking about whether to include your personal pronouns on your résumé, consider the following:
- Personal pronouns can reduce the risk of awkwardness or misgendering.
- They can increase the risk of unconscious bias or discrimination.
- When using them, include them at the top of your résumé, but not as part of your surname.
- You can use personal pronouns in other ways, such as on your LinkedIn profile, business cards, job applications, cover letters and email signature.
Using your personal pronouns is a conscious choice in résumé writing, and one that you’re in control of making. If you decide to add them, ensure that you use your personal pronouns in the right way to maximize their impact.
Are you pro or against including personal pronouns on résumés? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.