What To Do As A Recruiter When A Gender-diverse Person Asks You To Update Their Name
Published on 04/01/2022, 1127 words, 5 minutes to read
I really wish this was an April Fool's post. I had a few ideas planned, but maybe you will get to see them next year.
As a reminder, I am speaking for myself and not for my employer.
This post is directed at all of the recruiters that are reading this blog. This is a scenario that many of you may not have dealt with. After having an example of this with a recruiter recently I figure it's a teaching moment.
I am speaking up about this because I know many others who have gone through the same kinds of problems and have not felt safe to speak up about them. I am not speaking for those people in this post, but I want to use my platform as a blogger to amplify the sentiment of what I have heard over the years.
As a recruiter, if you are cold-emailing someone, please do the research to get their name correct. If you do not and someone asks you to correct it, do it.
When gender-diverse people like me get an email that references an out of date name, it is seen as a sign that the person sending that email has not done their research before sending that email out into the void.
When you correct that name in your system also make sure to cancel all outgoing automated emails to that person. The caching layer of the recruiting system may have already drafted those emails based on a template. If they go out, this will be seen as a massive sign of disrespect. It will also make the person receiving that email question if you actually corrected the name in that system or not. It may make the recipient also question if you are just giving them lip service to save face instead of making a genuine effort to ensure that the recruiting system has accurate information in it.
This is not a good way to foster the kind of trust needed for a gender-diverse person to want to choose your employer as the single point of failure for access to medication, food and regular medical checkups. For many gender-diverse people, changing jobs can mean an interruption of access to life-saving medication.
You may get a slightly angry reply if you send out emails with incorrect information. This can happen because gender-diverse people are likely to feel like society really doesn't care about them and that they are not being respected to have agency over their identity. To some this is a fact and not a feeling. And with all of the actions governments have been taking to directly attack the freedoms and rights to self-determination that gender-diverse people like me rely on, you can't blame them for being fed up with the situation. It is not fun to feel like your very existence is made out to be some black mark of doom on Western civilization. It is even less fun to be reminded of that when reading your email inbox. Please understand that we mean well, society is just broken in general.
The least you can do is ensure that you do any amount of research to ensure that you are using the correct name. It may be a good idea to add the following text to your recruiting emails (before you brag about fundraising is probably best, I tune out about then):
If I got your name incorrect, please let me know what name/pronouns you would like me to update our system to use. I got this name from $SOURCE.
Adding the source of where you got that name from can help make this less stressful for gender-diverse people. People's names are spattered everywhere across the internet. Letting people know where you got that information from can help them know what to fix if a fix is needed.
Some chosen names may seem "weird" due to societal biases that serve to ensure that the primary way that people use to refer to eachother in particular are not chosen by the people being referred to. Trust that the person on the other end is being honest about their identity. The truth requires no belief.
If they ask you to update their pronouns, respect that and ensure you use them without failure. Using the wrong pronouns can be seen as an even worse disrespect than using the wrong name. You do not want this to happen if your goal is to find people to hire.
To Gender-diverse People
Yeah, this situation sucks. I can't disagree. You really do need to assume good faith as much as you can. Most of these recruiter systems rely on "data enrichment" APIs and potentially outdated mass scraping of LinkedIn and people's blogs.
It can help if you make publicly available posts like this that unambiguously say what you want people to call you by. Keep it updated in case journalists decide to compare your chosen name to mercenary groups.
Try to be as polite and direct as possible. Here is an example of how I have asked recruiters to update their information in the past:
Please update your files with the name "Xe Iaso" (capital I). I am slowly moving away from "Christine Dodrill" as the name I use to represent myself professionally.
If you are moving away from a "dead name", you may want to use something like this:
I have no record of a "Christine Dodrill" at this email address. You may want to look elsewhere. If you would like to proceed with me instead, here is information about me: https://xeiaso.net.
Throw in your pronouns too to be safe.
I really need to change this blog's domain, but I have such amazing SEO that I really don't want to break it.
Also consider deleting the email and not replying to them. That's totally valid too unless you are in desperate need for a new employer.
You do not need to justify speaking up about an employer having the wrong name for you. The truth requires no belief. Speaking the truth to power is the essence of valor, which is one of the highest forms of love.
Facts and circumstances may have changed since publication. Please contact me before jumping to conclusions if something seems wrong or unclear.