Developing your resume and other documents
Resumes and cover letters give you the opportunity to showcase skills you’ve gained across different experiences and share your accomplishments. Effective applications are tailored to respond to the requirements of a job description. When it comes to your personal identity and experiences, you can decide what information you want to share and how.
Need resume support? Use our Resume and Cover Letter Toolkit, head to a workshop or have your resume reviewed at a career centre.
Let’s start with your name
Resumes and cover letters are not legal documents. You can use your legal name, or another name or both (e.g. James “Jasmine” Jefferson, or Jasmine (James) Jefferson). You might want to consider:
- Where you’re applying — what is the organization’s culture? How might this inform the decision(s) you make about what name(s) you use when you apply?
- How would you want to present yourself if you were given an interview or if you were hired? This might change over time and should reflect whatever best serves your current interests and concerns.
It’s up to you how you present yourself at each stage of the job search process, such as application documents, interviews, and when you’re on the job. Whatever you choose should reflect your comfort and goals. If you’re navigating multiple names in your application documents, be mindful that the employer may require additional documentation to verify your candidacy and identity. This might include requesting legal documentation, letters of reference or a review of your social media presence.
Transcripts and other forms of documentation that include your name may be required for some job applications. These may include background or criminal record checks, work permits or letters of reference. Students can visit their Registrar to change their name and/ or gender at the University of Toronto (a legal name change is not needed).
If you plan to have more than one name on your application, you may want to pre-emptively reach out to the human resources contact (who is required to maintain confidentiality). Here’s a template you can consider:
Attached is my unofficial transcript and background check. While the name on these documents refers to my legal name, I use [name] and would like my professional documents and application to reflect this.
Please let me know if you require any additional documentation. Thank you very much for your consideration and I hope to hear back from you soon.
All the best,
Moving on to your experiences and skills
Everybody makes decisions about what experiences to include on resumes. One consideration is how an experience might “out” you. Co-curricular or volunteer experiences with LGBTQ2+ groups offer amazing opportunities to develop great skills in leadership, communication, collaboration and other areas highly valued by employers. These same experiences may also reveal aspects of your identity you may or may not wish to disclose to a potential employer.
You have several options when creating your resume. You can be specific and include all roles and experiences relevant to demonstrating the skills the employer is seeking. If you’re worried that your LGBTQ2+ related experiences might reveal your gender identity or expression to the organization to which you’re applying, consider a few options:
Keep it as is.
Your involvement with LGBTQ2+ organizations may have helped you develop important skills and gain valuable experiences that are relevant to your application. Additionally, your identity might work to your advantage in cases where larger organizations have employment equity initiatives that position you as an even more desirable candidate. If this is the case, your work within LGBTQ2+ organizations may be seen as an asset.
Use a more general title.
If you’re using a different title, be prepared to explain the name. One way to do this is to use a name of a department or division that broadly encompasses your office or unit (e.g. “U of T HR & Equity Office” instead of “Sexual & Gender Diversity Office”). Another way is to refer to the kind of work without naming the specific group (e.g. “A political party candidate’s campaign” instead of naming the particular political party).
Abbreviate the name of the organization.
This strategy could be a temporary fix to get you past the resume stage and into the interview. For example, the Centre for Women and Trans People can be changed to CWTP. However, be prepared to expand on what the abbreviation stands for in the interview.
Group skills and achievements from various organizations.
This can help shift focus from the organization to skills and achievements, while also showing a diversity of experience. For example:
Events Volunteer Experience (City of Toronto, The 519, New Pride)
- managed logistics for fundraising drive, which raised over $1500 for charitable purposes
- completed 15 hours of cultural sensitivity training to better serve general membership and create a more inclusive environment
Remove specific LGBTQ2+ experiences from your resume.
If you have plenty of other experiences outside of LGBTQ2+ organizations, you could remove some from your resume. If not, removal might create a gap you may need to account for, or could decrease the strength of your application. Nevertheless, you can decide if this is a strategy for you. Be sure that the information on your resume and cover letter is focused on your strengths, transferable skills and is targeted to the role, while showcasing your ability to add value to the company.