Career Advice for Job Seekers

Pros and cons of using your preferred pronouns on your resume

Eva Chan AvatarEva Chan
September 27, 2023

Have you noticed that pronouns are showing up more on resumes, LinkedIn headlines, and email signatures? 

In the past, the debate around pronouns typically centered around “first-person” and “third-person.” 

However, more modern resumes are evolving to embrace “non-binary” pronouns like “they/them/theirs,” as well as gender-specific pronoun preferences such as “he/him/his” or “she/her/hers.”

While some people view including pronouns as a step toward celebrating diversity and gender inclusivity, others favor keeping resumes solely focused on job-related details.

Are you curious about what type of pronouns should have a place on your resume? Let’s consider the benefits and drawbacks to see if adding pronouns to your resume is the right decision for you.

First-person Pronouns and Third-person Pronouns 

If you’re questioning whether to use first-person or third-person pronouns when writing your resume, here’s a quick rundown of their differences:

First-person pronouns – Pronouns like “I,” “me,” “my,” “mine,” and “we” are used when you’re referring to yourself. For instance, a statement like “I led a team of five volunteers” on your resume directly links you to your experiences and accomplishments.

Third-person pronouns – This approach involves indirectly referring to yourself by using your name, title, or personal pronouns like “he” or “she.” An example here would be, “Jennifer Brixton led a team of five volunteers.”

While it’s acceptable to use first-person pronouns in your LinkedIn profile and cover letter, relying on them extensively throughout your resume can make it unnecessarily long and wordy. 

Also, shifting between first-person and third-person pronouns in different resume sections can disrupt its overall flow and potentially confuse employers.

The solution? Remove both first-person and third-person pronouns to maintain a neutral and consistent tone across your resume. This approach can ensure that your qualifications, skills, and experiences are the primary focus. To make this change effectively, read over your resume carefully, and then revise or restructure each of your resume’s sentences and bullet points for clarity.

Now that the grammatical bits are covered, let’s look more closely at what you can do with your preferred pronouns on a resume.

Pros and Cons of Including Your Preferred Pronouns on Resumes

Will pronouns help or hurt your hiring prospects? First, here are some advantages of listing them on a resume:

Setting your expectations – By including your pronouns, you’re setting clear expectations and reducing the possibility of being misgendered (especially if your name is ambiguous or gender-neutral). Your pronouns can help hiring teams address you accurately and respectfully right from the start.

Promoting inclusivity and allyship – Even if you identify as cisgender, including pronouns on your resume, signals your allyship to the LGBTQ+ community. It might also inspire others to share their pronouns and foster more inclusive conversations within the workplace.

Ensuring comfort during the hiring process – Transparently sharing your pronouns can make your hiring-related interactions smoother by ensuring companies who decide to move forward with you have similar values and accept you for who you are.

By contrast, these are some reasons why it might be better to leave your pronouns off your resume:

Protecting yourself from potential bias and discrimination – Excluding pronouns from your resume can help you avoid potential bias. Unfortunately, some people may hold unconscious biases, and revealing your gender identity, especially if you’re non-binary or transgender, can sometimes work against you in the hiring process.

Avoiding perceived unprofessionalism – In some situations, recruiters and hiring managers might see your preferred pronouns as unprofessional or unnecessary. For instance, conservative fields or companies may argue that a resume’s main purpose is to prove how your skill set and qualifications match a job’s needs, and listing your pronouns wouldn’t serve this purpose.

Respecting your privacy and comfort zone – If you’re not comfortable or ready to openly share your pronouns with a company, that’s okay. Your personal comfort and boundaries matter, and your resume should align with them.

Ultimately, your resume is a powerful tool that’ll help you find an internship or a workplace that values and respects your identity. 

Researching a company’s stance on diversity and reflecting on your own values can guide your decision about whether to add pronouns to your resume. 

Keep in mind that while your resume is a vital part of your job search, whether or not you choose to include pronouns on it doesn’t define your identity or who you are as an aspiring professional. 

Regardless of your choice, always make sure that your resume’s structure and format, design, and content highlight your strongest credentials and skills. Keep the focus on presenting your most qualified self to potential employers, and you’ll be all set for a successful career journey.

— Article courtesy of Eva Chan of Resume Genius.

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