What name should I use on my resume?
The short answer: It depends.
The long answer: You can use the name that you currently go by, whether or not it's the same as the name on your id.
Remember that your resume is usually the first image of you that an employer will have. If you are early in your transition, are genderqueer, and/or don't "pass" as the gender that you identify with, using the name that goes with your current gender identity / expression can help prime the employer to see you the way you want to be seen.
On the other hand, if you are very early in transition and sure that you won't pass, using your new name can "out" you. If you're not sure about the trans-friendliness of the employer, it might be safer to go with your old name. After you are offered the job, you can explain the situation.
Can I include jobs I held under a different name / before my transition?
The short answer: Yes!
The long answer: Many people are concerned that by including a job on their resume, they are giving employers permission to contact the former employer. This is not true! If your former employer is transphobic or simply knows you as a different name/gender, you can include that job on your resume without giving the new employer permission to contact them.
It may raise a red flag for employers if you ask them not to contact a former employer without giving an explanation. If your new employer is trans-friendly, you can explain why you don't want them contacting the old employer. Or, you can provide contact info for someone other than your supervisor, such as a friendly coworker who knows about your transition and can confirm that you worked there.
Transitioning doesn't have to mean "starting over" professionally. Even though you may feel like a new person, you still benefit from all the amazing skills and experiences you gained in previous jobs. Don't sell yourself short! Make sure that experience counts!
What if my references don't know I'm trans? (References know you from before your transition, and don't know that you've changed your name and/or gender.)
What if my references do know I'm trans, but I don't want new employers to know? (References know that you've changed your name and/or gender, but may not use the new name and/or pronoun consistently.)
In either case, you have three basic options. You may choose one of these strategies, or mix and match depending on your situation:
- Talk to your references. Explain that you're applying for jobs and you'd like to continue to list them as a reference, but that it's very important they refer to you by the name and pronoun you use now.
This option can seem intimidating, especially if you've been out of touch for a while, but it's often worth a try. If they respect you and your work, they may be willing to put in the effort to learn about your current situation so that they can support you in your job search.
- Talk to employers. Explain that even though you go by a particular name and pronoun now, people from your past may not be aware of this and may refer to you by another name. (Any employer who conducts a background check will find out about your previous name anyway.) Ask them to help maintain your privacy when they call your references, by using the name and pronoun with each reference that you ask them to use.
This does not necessarily mean that you have to be out to your coworkers! The people who handle personnel records for employers are required to maintain the confidentiality of those records. If this is a concern for you, make sure to clarify to the hiring manager or the person who will be calling your references that you do not want other employees to hear about your old name and/or gender.
- Get new references. If coming out to references or employers is not an option for you, you may need to find new references. This option is particularly useful if you're switching careers and/or it's been a long time since you worked. Some ways to get new references are volunteering, working in unpaid internships, and taking classes where your supervisors or teachers can serve as references. People you've worked with on community projects (even if your role was unpaid or unofficial) can also be good references.
This does not mean you're starting over! Your new supervisor may be able to speak to skills/experiences that you acquired in previous jobs, especially if you're staying in the same field of work.