Updating Your ATS (and Thinking) For New Pronouns

At one point, the idea of getting a box of hand-selected items was a novel concept. That first box of StitchFix was neat when I wore real pants more than once a month. Now it’s a category across every category. Whether you’re into flowers or food, clothes or knick-knacks, you can get a box of it delivered to your house for $50 a month.

Going into double-digit months of lockdown, I’m simultaneously signing up and unsubscribing from more emails and monthly deliveries than ever. I tell myself I want something to pass the time, but only the *right* things.

Right now, we all need something to pass the time – whether we’re reading or trying to keep small children busy. What better way than via a surprise every month customized to our liking? 

Curated gifts to me, for me – and I never have to leave the house? Count me in. 

Double Take: Checking Your ATS Forms

The difference between a good and great one of these monthly subscription deliveries is all about that customization layer. What intel do they need from day 1 to ensure that the 3rd, 6th, and 9th deliveries are just as satisfying as the first one? 

In most cases, they don’t get enough intel on day 1 to deliver on that promise. I don’t know about you, but it’s typically the 3rd delivery where I start checking my credit card statement and wondering if it’s “worth it.” 

Step 1 of customization? Forms. We start with that simple list – first name, last name, email address, gender. 

*Insert screeching brakes sound here* 

The catch? Most of these forms are trying to customize with the binary – only male and female – and disregarding a whole group of gender diverse people. I bet it’s happening in your ATS, too. 

Look at the dropdowns. Do you have an option for people to add their pronouns? If you want to add one, here’s the most inclusive dropdown field I’ve seen:

To the snarky, “what does that pronoun even mean,” people – listen to me. 

No, I don’t know what all of those pronouns mean – to those people or me. I would include them in my dropdown because I know there are people who identify with those pronouns, and I want them to feel welcome from the first moment of interaction with my company. The bigger question: why *not* include their pronouns? I know they exist. Why would I go out of my way not to welcome others?

3 Practical Tips For Practicing Pronouns 

Adding a dropdown is just the beginning. Your team needs to practice getting pronouns right. That’s what I covered in this video. As someone who came out recently, many people struggle to remember my pronouns. People get it wrong more often than right. 

Guess what. I’m not mad. I’m ok with it because most folks are looking for ways to get better, and they used the advice I’m sharing in this video. 

Especially that three compliments thing. Feel free to practice that with me any time. 

Joking! Watch the video already. 

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Katrina Kibben View All →

Katrina Kibben is the Founder and Principal Consultant of Three Ears Media. For most of Katrina’s career, she has been a marketer living in a recruiter’s world – listening to both sides of the talent equation to understand the real issues and find solutions for engaging and hiring better people. Today, she uses her technical marketing know-how and way with words to help both established and emerging brands develop and deliver content that fuels smart recruitment marketing that makes the right people apply.

Katrina has written for Monster.com, HR.com, RecruitingDaily and many other digital publications. She is a recognized leader in recruiting and employer branding who speaks regularly at conferences around the world.

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