How To Use Pronouns When You’re Job Searching

Learn when and how to use gender pronouns during a job search

People in modern office
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Over the years, it has become more and more common for people to share their pronouns. At the start of a conference, for instance, a speaker may state their name, job title, and work background, and then also mention their preferred pronouns, such as she/her or they/theirs.

There are a few reasons to share your pronouns—whether you’re meeting in person, over a video chat or phone call, or communicating via email or online job applications. 

Review information on when to use gender pronouns during a job search, when you might choose not to use them, and how to include your preferred pronouns on LinkedIn and in your resume, cover letters, email, and job applications.

Key Takeaways

  • It's generally optional to state your pronouns on a job application.
  • Disclosing your pronouns supports an inclusive environment, but be mindful of the person receiving your application.
  • You can easily add pronouns to your LinkedIn profile, email signature, resume, and other application materials.

Benefits of Using Pronouns

One reason to use pronouns is that someone’s gender may not be immediately clear from their name.

Christine Heinrich, a recruiting manager at Taurean Consulting Group, Inc., an IT staffing and project solutions company, outlined reasons for using pronouns in an email interview with The Balance.

"As common as some names are in America, they may not be as easily recognized by someone from another country," Heinrich said. "The same is true in reverse. A set of names typically specific to one gender in India, for example, may not be commonplace in the U.S.” 

There’s another reason to make using pronouns an everyday action for both candidates and hiring managers: Doing so can help create a more comfortable environment for individuals who do not fit within traditional gender roles. 

Listing your pronouns is an easy way to let people know how you identify. If you are often misgendered, including your pronouns prevents that from occurring. 

Using pronouns can help avoid confusion or embarrassing mistakes, and it can help people on both sides of the interview table feel more at ease. 

Drawbacks of Using Pronouns

“Some people may feel that the use of pronouns in this way can perpetuate the idea that their gender is of utmost importance,” Heinrich said. And while the intent behind sharing pronouns may be admirable—to avoid miscommunications and misgendering people—some people may not wish to share their pronouns. 

An opinion writer at the Harvard Crimson pointed out in 2020 that “they/them” pronouns, or sharing pronouns that do not match one's physical appearance, can force people to out themselves before they’re ready to do so, or force them to misgender themselves to avoid outing themselves.

Plus, for a variety of reasons—some bigoted and some principled—some people may not like the practice of sharing pronouns. As a job applicant, there’s a risk that your application or cover letter will land in front of someone who opposes their usage. This could (potentially) lead to your application being discarded, despite your qualifications. 

Always remember that interviewing is a two-way street—companies are assessing you, but you’re also assessing them. For some candidates, it may be important to work at a company where the use of pronouns is commonplace and people don’t object to it. 

Deciding To Add Pronouns

The choice of including your pronouns is just that—a choice. You can opt to share them or not, as you prefer, weighing the potential pros and cons outlined here. 

“​​Unless you are seriously uncomfortable with sharing your pronouns, this is a simple thing you can do to create inclusivity while providing a more cohesive and engaging environment for other people,” Heinrich said.  

How and Where To Include Your Pronouns

There are many places where you can opt to include pronouns if you choose to do so. Here’s how to include them and where. 

LinkedIn

LinkedIn makes it easy to include your pronouns. There is an option to do so when editing your profile. 

To add your pronouns, follow these steps: 

  1. Log on to LinkedIn.
  2. Click the drop-down arrow below your profile picture in the upper right corner. Then select “view profile.” 
  3. Click the pencil to edit your profile. Select the appropriate pronouns from the drop-down menu. 

Depending on your visibility choices, your gender pronouns will appear next to your name on your profile, when you share or comment on a post, and in messages.

On Your Resume

There are several options to choose from when adding pronouns to your resume.

Example of pronouns on a resume

On your resume, you can simply list the pronouns below your name (where it appears at the top of the page). For instance: 

Kiley Cavendish

(he/him)

You can also put your pronouns in parentheses. For example: 

Jane Smith

(pronouns: they/them) 

Another option is to list your pronouns next to your name:

Talika Kahn (she/her)

Pronouns can also be listed with your contact information on your resume:

Mikael Transom
1234 Oakley Avenue
Oklahoma City, OK 73008
mikael.transom@email.com
555-555-5555 
Pronouns: he/him

Whenever you make changes to your resume, remember to proofread carefully before sending it. A quick preview will also show you if your formatting holds up. You may want to include your pronouns in a smaller font than your name.

Cover Letter

In your cover letter, include pronouns next to your name, in the signature section. 

Here’s how that would look in the signature section of an uploaded cover letter: 

Sincerely,

Tommy Dolan (she/her) 

And in a printed cover letter:

Best,

(handwritten signature)

Tommy Dolan (she/her) 

Email Signature 

You can also include pronouns in an email signature. For example:

Tommy Dolan (she/her) 

tommy.dolan@email.com

(555) 555-5555 

Job Applications 

Some—but not all—online applications for jobs may include a place to include your pronouns. Keep an eye out for those checkboxes or a drop-down menu.  

References

If you’re sharing your pronouns throughout your application, don’t neglect to mention them to your references, too. That way, you can ensure that letters of recommendation are written with the correct pronouns. 

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