5 Job Search Tips for Gender Non-Conforming Folks
The job search process can be stressful for anyone. There’s searching for job postings, touching up your cover letter and resume, reaching out to references plus hopefully prepping for an interview. It’s enough to make anyone nervous and even a bit overwhelmed.
But transgener and non-binary folks have the added stress of how they are perceived, evaluated and treated.
According to the National Center for Transgener Equality, 27% of transgener people who had applied for a job said they were fired, denied a promotion or not hired for a job because of their gender identity or expression. Trangender POC experience even higher rates of discrimination.
This alone can be extremely discouraging and fear inducing. While there is a lot out of your control, you deserve better. But until then, here are some tips to help make your job search experience easier.
As a trangender person, you may have a different name than the one assigned to you at birth. If you’ve been able to legally change your name and all the legal documents that go with it, great! If not, you might be feeling some uncertainty about which name you use on your resume and job application. Know that your resume and cover letter are not legal documents, so you should include the name or nickname that you prefer to go by, even if it is not the name on your legal documents.
When it comes to filling out legal documents such as those for pre-employment background checks, employment eligibility verification (like I-9 forms) and documents related to health insurance, use your legal name.
If you have decided to change your legal name but don’t know how, check out these helpful links:
- Transgender Law Center’s State-By-State Overview for changing gender markers on birth cirtificates
- The National Center for Transgender Equality resource page for how to change your name by state
Retaining professional references is key. If your references from previous jobs are unaware of your transition, be sure to reach out. Ask them to write your name and pronouns down so they have it in front of them while they are on a phone call as it’s a good visual reminder.
If you have letters or LinkedIn recommendations that use the incorrect pronouns or name, be sure to reach out to those references as well and ask them to update or correct their written reference.
If you are asking for a reference for the first time, be sure to let them know the correct ways to refer to you. Because many people are still learning about gender identity, be explicit with them to make sure you get exactly what you want.
As a transgender or gender-noncoforming person, it can be difficult to know how to set expectations for preferred pronouns in the job application process. Some transgender and non-binary folks may feel extreme anxiety about being misgendered, and we totally get that! Be sure to reinforce your pronouns across all of your job application documents. Include your pronouns below your name on your resume, add them to your cover letter, include them in your email signature and add them to your bio on your social media accounts, such as LinkedIn. (Speaking of social media, employers will often check these, so make sure that you review your accounts to ensure consistency in your name and how you present yourself.)
In an interview, it’s also best to assume that misgendering is a mistake and not done on purpose. If you are misgendered during an interview, advocate for yourself and politely correct the interviewer immediately, offer a smile and move forward. The interviewer may be embarrassed by their mistake, so the goal is to quickly correct the mistake, allow for an apology and shift the focus back to what you bring to the table.
Your Biggest Hype Person(s)
For transgener and non-binary people, we know that transitioning, coming out, or being true to your gender identity in public can sometimes undermine self-confidence. There is a fear of being rejected or overlooked and that fear is legitimate. But remember, no matter our gender identity, it’s important to remember that you will always be your biggest hype person(s)!
To kick self-doubt to the curb, or at least alleviate it, make a list of your skills and experiences that align with the job you are applying for. This list can be a great confidence booster and reminder about what you can bring to the company that no one else can! Also do a mock interview with a close friend or family member who can help you practice showcasing your skills.
Self Care + Safety
The job search can be difficult and filled with triggering experiences. And while there are steps you can take to mitigate things, the world isn’t always a safe place (though we sincerely hope that changes). Until then, it’s key that you take steps to protect yourself by paying attention to how you feel. Trust your gut and sense of knowing what is safe and what isn’t. For example, if you don’t feel safe wearing a dress to your interview on public transit, ask a friend for a ride. If that isn’t possible, opt for a more gender-neutral outfit. While it’s horrible to have to change how you express yourself, it’s also not fun showing up to a job interview filled with fear, or worse!
Be sure to check in with your mental health throughout the process. Be aware of microaggressions and other interactions you have during the job search and how this can deplete your energy and impact your mental and emotional health. Remember, it’s okay to take time to recharge and rest.
For anyone, a job search is about finding the right job at the right company. For transgender and non-binary folks, this couldn’t be more true. Understanding the true workplace culture of a company can be hard going through traditional avenues, such as looking on their website (some companies just give inclusivity lip service) or by talking to current or former employees.
But looking for companies that are truly inclusive doesn’t have to be difficult. With Workzinga, we take workplace culture out of a place of uncertainty. Our personality test isn’t just for job seekers, but companies too! This means that we can match you up with companies that share your values and are also looking for people with your skills! So what are you waiting for?
If you feel like you have experienced descrimination during the job search or interview, consider reaching out to one of these organizations that provides transgender legal services or Lambda Legal, a nonprofit organization committed to civil rights for the LGBTQ+ community.