February 15, 2015

How Your Name Affects Your Life

Your name is the first thing that employers see in your email, resume, cover letter, and job application. It’s a recruiter’s first impression of you. Your name is given to you at birth and it’s full of information. It can indicate your gender, class, ethnicity, or race. It can also directly affect your life path.

We stumbled upon a cool Business Insider article titled, 13 Surprising Ways Your Name Affects Your Success. The article takes a look at a variety of different scientific studies. The research indicates some very interesting things about how your name ultimately affects your success.

Let’s take a look at some of the insights about your name:

  • Pronunciation – If your name is easy to pronounce, it’s easy for the brain to process and therefore people like it more.
  • Recognizable – People with common names (Joe, Mary, Scott) are more likely to land a job.
  • Uncommon Names – People with absurd names are more likely to get in trouble or they may be more likely to become a pro skier.
  • Ethnicity – If your name sounds white, you’re more likely to get called back and get hired. A “white-sounding name is worth as much as eight years of work experience.”
  • Alphabetical Order – If your name comes earlier in the alphabet, you’ll be more likely to get into a better school. At the same time, if your name is near the end of the alphabet, you’ll prone to become an impulse buyer.
  • Matching – Many people like to work for a company with the same initials as their name.
  • Ambiguous – Women with “sexually ambiguous” names like, Pat or Chris, are usually more successful.
  • Middle Initial – If you want to appear more intelligent, use your middle initial. Maybe you should try this on your email signature?
  • Class – A noble sounding name is more likely to land you a management position.
  • Length – People who have short names, about one syllable long, are more likely to be CEOs.
  • Full Names – Women who use their full names are likely to be top professionals.

Read the BI article to learn more about where the studies come from and other insights about names.

We found one specific story that highlights the research from these name studies. Over at the Huffington Post, there’s an article about José Zamora’s multi-month long job search.

Zamora wasn’t receiving any call backs or emails. Then he switched his name from José to Joe. Joe is a short, common, “white-sounding” name (that ticks a few of those studies above). He didn’t change anything else on his resume and within a week he had lots of job leads. This goes to show that some employers subconsciously discriminate against names.

We truly hope this doesn’t happen to you, but be aware that it might. A small name change can make a major difference in your job search.

Names are fascinating things. Take a minute to consider your name. Is your name holding you back from success? Maybe you should tweak it or even change your name. It might help you find a job.

About this Author 

Derek Lennon is a skier and writer who lives, works, and plays in the mountains. He travels the globe in search of snow and adventure. Life has allowed him to live and work all over the world doing cool jobs and loving every minute of it.

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