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What’s In a Name? (On Your Resume)

6 Jul, 2017

What’s In a Name? (On Your Resume)

What’s in a name? Before I get to my point, I want to be upfront and admit that yes, Americans are xenophobic. OK, I said it. Now that the air is clear, I can get to my point. If you come from another region of the world and want to work in the US—I have a little piece of advice; give yourself a nickname—an English sounding nickname.

Given name on resume or nickname?

I recognize that some people may feel this takes something away from them – something really personal in fact; after all, your name is part of the fabric of who you are. Giving oneself a nickname just to conform to another society’s standards seems silly. Why in fact should you do this? In the complicated world of job search, an Americanized nickname will help keep you on the short list. At the end of the day, you want to make yourself as desirable as possible so you can get the interview and get the job.

There are many reasons why people, including people involved in the hiring decisions that concern you, do things. If you are interested in learning about the ways people can be influenced take a look at the work of Robert Cialdini (author of Influence: Science and Practice) who has identified six “weapons of influence”:

  • Reciprocity (people do things for people who do or have done things for them);
  • Commitment/Consistency (people do things that they have done or that indicate support for past beliefs or decisions);
  • Social Proof (people do what they see other people do);
  • Authority (people do things for these that appear to have knowledge or power);
  • Liking (people do things for people they like);
  • Scarcity (people value “things” that others appear to want).

Liking is definitely impacted by a name. People have a tendency to like people that are like them—of the same “group” whatever that group may be, and having a name that is more familiar will invariably trigger likeness. Even if they won’t admit it—given two candidates with identical backgrounds and training, most hiring managers will pick the one with the more familiar name.

People are drawn to people like themselves. The less ‘common’ a name is the less likely the hiring manager will perceive a likeness. Feel free to include your given name, but drop in a parenthetical nickname and indicate that is what you use in the workplace.

Hopefully, nobody takes offense to this advice. I am simply trying to give you every edge I possibly can! It would be a shame not to get the call because of a name.

So, what’s in a name? Maybe more than you think!

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