Friday, September 11, 2009

Can your name keep you from getting hired?

Since Nicole Richie and Joel Madden named their new baby boy Sparrow, it got me wondering how a hiring manager might view his resume. One of his middle names is James so maybe he will go by that and hide the fact that his first name is Sparrow.

But I wonder can your name keep you from getting jobs? I grew up with a kid named Johnny Carson. Maybe the employer assumes he will be funny and is disappointed when he isn't. What if you had the unfortunate luck of being named Charles Manson. Would an employer even call you in for an interview after seeing that name on a resume?
Or you could be named:
Ben Dover
Fifi Trixibell
Moon Unit
Diva Muffin

I have heard job seekers also mention that their ethnic sounding name or hard to pronounce names work against them.

Of course considering someone's name as part of the hiring process is not only wrong but illegal. While hiring managers may not intend to discriminate against a candidate based on a name or ethnicity, the name could still signal something about the applicant's skills or background that is relevant to the job. For example, an employer may try to assume that an applicant with the last name of Ortega speaks fluent Spanish.

If job seekers feel that their first name conveys an image they are uncomfortable with, then they could just use their first initial on a job application or résumé. But deemphasizing a last name is obviously not realistic.

Instead, job seekers should focus more on the aspects of their image that they can control, like their online presence or the email address they use for correspondence. For example, beerandchicks@hotmail.com probably won't convey a professional image to a hiring manager.

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