What's In a Name?

Written by careers  |  21. October 2004

By Linda Matias, CareerStrides Email: linda@careerstrides.com Website: www.careerstrides.com Thirty-one years ago my parents, both of whom were born in Puerto Rico, named me Linda. I've never been a fan of my name, mainly because in Spanish "Linda" means pretty, and the antonym of pretty is ugly. I won't bore you with the details of the merciless teasing I received due to that fact, but let's just say that after all these years it still stings a bit. But Linda is my name. Just when I started to get used to it, BAM! I'm hit with another reality. The name Linda is outdated. No one names their little girls Linda anymore. All the Lindas I meet are much older than I am. After a diligent search on the Internet, I discovered my name was popular from the 1940s through the 1960s and ever since then has lost momentum. To my dismay, the name Linda has officially become the new "Ethel." As I tried to come to terms with that fact, I wondered, what's in a name? Can a given name hinder job prospects? Is it true that a boy named Jeeves is destined to become a butler? Does the fate of a girl named Dakota Blue belong to a pole at a local strip joint? According to nameologists, your given name influences your personality, demeanor, and life journey. They also assert that your name influences how others perceive you. Consequently, when hiring managers read names on a resume, they tend to make an immediate character judgment. This fact becomes tricky for individuals with names like Waldo, Crystal, Furkhunda or Latoya. Be honest. The moment you read those names, a stereotypical picture popped into your mind. The reality is that if your given name is unconventional or is heavily tied to a persona, it can affect the number of times your phone rings during a job search. To ensure they are not being discriminated against, some jobseekers have chosen to go to extremes to mask their given names on a resume. Some choose to include only their first initial along with their last name. Others decide to include the pronunciation of their name alongside the full spelling to make it easier for hiring managers to enunciate their name when calling to set up an interview. Still others adapt a more "acceptable" name such as John or Emily in order to fit in. Though these tactics may raise red flags, jobseekers are willing to take that risk in hopes that hiring managers will call more often.

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