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  • Oliver Whitney

How To Write a Killer Resume: Tips for Trans Job Seekers

Trans Day of Remembrance candles

So you’re a trans person looking for a job, but you’re stumped by the most time-consuming part: writing a resume.

Creating something that’s supposed to make you stand out from dozens, maybe even hundreds, of other applicants can be overwhelming. It’s even tougher if you’ve never been taught how to make one of these fancy professional documents, what to put on it, and — most importantly for trans and nonbinary folks —  how and if to include your preferred name and pronouns, and whether to disclose your identity at all. Don’t fret, this guide will help set you up with guidance and resources for creating a killer resume to land your next job. 


Where To Begin 


First, get yourself a resume template — there’s hundreds you can find online by Googling “free resume templates.” Pick one that represents you and, as Business News Daily recommends, one that looks original, but perhaps not too original or wildly eye-catching. You don’t want anything with wacky, hard-to-read fonts and distracting color schemes that will make reading your resume difficult, and potentially lead hiring managers to skip past it. Take Indeed’s advice and stick to professional fonts only. Most employers spend only seven seconds — yes, you read that right! — reviewing a resume, so keep that in mind when crafting yours.  


Which Name? 


Now comes the first and biggest thing at the top of your resume: your name. “But which name do I put?” you might be wondering if your chosen name doesn’t match your legal one. Put the name you want to be referred to in an interview or at the job itself, and don’t worry if it’s different from what’s on your ID. The only reason this could be an issue is if you’re applying to a government job, or one that requires a background check — if that’s the case, see if you can track down the hiring recruiter for the role and, if you feel comfortable, tell them privately that your chosen and legal names are different. But in general, as CLEAR (the Center for LGBTQ Economic Advancement and Research) reminds us in a LGBTQ resume workshop, resumes aren’t legal documents, they’re documents used to market yourself! 

Rita Hester, courtesy of Hester Family/The History Project

How About Pronouns? 


Now that you’ve got your name big and bold in the top header of your resume, below that you can choose to add your pronouns beside your contact information. Now remember, including pronouns — especially if they are gender-neutral ones like they/them, ze/zir or others — could potentially out you to the employer. It’s important to decide if you feel comfortable and safe enough to disclose your trans or nonbinary status in the job application phase, and it’s also completely okay if you choose not to. Take some time to think about what feels best for you, there’s no right or wrong answer. You can always wait until the interview to assess if the company feels LGBTQ-inclusive and welcoming enough to come out.  


The Basics 


The biggest tip any job recruiter will tell you is to make your resume short and direct, and keep it to one page maximum — Business News Daily has some exceptions for this, but for most people a single page is enough. Remember, you’ve got their attention for seven seconds! You’ll want to highlight your work experience starting with the most recent at the top, any education, and your skills in separate sections. To keep your resume easily readable, avoid writing in paragraphs and instead list your skills and accomplishments from each past job or volunteer experience in brief bullet points. 


Another important tip is to customize your resume to the job you’re applying for. Read the job description thoroughly and if you have any of the specific skills and qualifications mentioned, make sure your resume lists those using the same language. Doing this shows the hiring manager how suitable you are for that role. For me personally, I always keep one general resume saved, then make small tweaks and customizations for each job I apply to.

Find the process that works best for you! 

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