How Your Name Influences Your Career Chances

Most people put a lot of time and effort into writing an excellent resume and a brilliant cover letter. Just the right wording and presentation can make the difference between making it out of the slush pile and into the interviewer’s chair. But after multiple pitches to companies that seem like they would be the perfect fit for your career goals and not getting a response, you begin to wonder what you may have missed. And if you happen to have an unusual name, can that make hiring managers pass you by because you just sound unprofessional?


Mama’s Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Have Strange Names

So, the above subtitle makes you think of Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson, right? Well, that was the idea. If you did not experience this, you are either completely clueless about music or a hermit living in the mountains who is just now experiencing the internet for the first time. Either way, the point here is that names do matter. 

One apparently real life story comes from a poor soul whose mother was infatuated with the 1970s rock group The Monkees. She named him Davy Jones. He had a rather difficult time getting a job until he went by Dave Jones.

Another job seeker named Glenn Miller was out of work for four months. Since that particular name is shared with a great jazz musician, the few job interviews that he was getting, often included questions such as, "Where’s your band?" and seemed that he wasn’t being taken seriously. 

Having a normal sounding name can actually increase your chances of getting your foot in the door by 50 percent. Living in a part of town with the reputation of being in a more upscale area can also impact your interview chances. So if you live in the shady part of town, consider a PO Box in an upscale area during your job search. 

Natives Prefer Buying From Natives 

Nothing personal, but studies find that when we shop, we tend to buy from people who are very similar to us. So Americans prefer to buy from Americans, Hispanics prefer to buy from Hispanics, Africans prefer to buy from Africans, and so forth. An interesting story from a guy named Shuki Khalili illustrates this point. He became a business owner of a greeting card company and had a great deal of difficulty selling the cards to people using his real name. So, he changed his name to Andrew Warner and his business took off. 

It’s also true that hiring managers may offer interviews to those whom they believe will be the best fit for the company based on the way that the candidate’s name sounds. So, if you want to get a job at, say, an accounting or legal firm, it will help you a great deal if your name has an upper class ring to it. Keep in mind that you will also need to dress the part. 

Who’s Your Daddy? 

Your name can also be an indicator of the type of parent or parents that you had. A person with a name like Breezy, Moonshine or Wildwind, to name a few, are suggestive of the fact that you probably had parents who were hippies, and will probably make it difficult for you to be taken seriously. Unless your interviewer happens to have a name like Moon Beam, then you might have a better chance in that particular interview. 

Ways to Win the Name Game

Of course there is always the option of having your name changed legally if you find that your name is truly holding you back. Another option is that if you have a middle name that sounds more like the other names in your country, you could go by your middle name. If you happen to have a name that can be broken into one or more variations, such as Jonathan, Richard, Elizabeth, Christina, or Alexandra- to name a few English examples, you may be able to find a nick name that works well for your career and the country you live.

Interestingly, if you use a middle initial, studies show that people tend to think that you are more intelligent and competent. In addition, a nobler sounding name can get you a job in a high-ranking position.

If you’re going to pick a new name, one site that can be helpful with determining how names are perceived by the general population is


See Also: Why Your EI and Character Are So Important and How to Develop Them

There is an old proverb that says that it’s better to choose a good name rather than great riches, and that favor is better than silver or gold. Because once you win the favor of your supervisor and others with your good work ethic and the reputation of your name, then the riches will follow. 

Ever had difficulties with your name? Let us know in the comments section below.

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