I’m all for creativity and individuality, but people please consider your child’s future when you decide on naming your child after your second cousin plus your grandfather’s middle name and favorite pet. What’s in a name? I can tell you what’s not supposed to be in a name, a way to identify a candidate and assume their education level, capabilities and success quotient are limited by their name. We all have biases. Show me someone who says they don’t and I’ll show you a liar. So please point these folks out because I can guarantee you what they deny is stuffed in their closets and hidden in their history.
When you look at polls of HR professionals, you will note that names are a factor for consideration, especially if the clients are typically conservative. That’s not meant to be a general statement by any means, but it is a factual one.
EEO law prohibits organizations from rendering a qualified candidate unqualified based on race, gender, nationality or sex, but we live in the real world. In the recruiting world, I can assure you that clients walk a very fine and tight line as they try to explain to the recruiter (as sensitively and politically correct as possible) things like “our office is full of women and they keep up a lot of drama, can we look for a male candidate?” Your name should not be your adversary. Someone loved you and hopefully you were named based on that love, so you should be proud of your birthright. Although some of the names I’ve seen make me think the parents must have hated their children to be so cruel.
Your resume is the key to unlock the door. Your screening call or interview should win the potential employer over and open the door further. The only time you should be judged in attitude or demeanor is when you walk through the door not based on some predisposed misconception. I used my middle name my entire life and didn’t appreciate my first name until maybe 10 years ago and I thank my mother everyday for it. It affords me the advantage of not wincing when the person calling me struggles to pronounce it and the embarrassment the person must feel when they can’t.
Again, I live in America and you can’t tell me race is not still a heated and weighted issue in this country. HR professionals will scream from the rafters, “I would never do such a thing” but be careful because we all have biases. Our country is programmed that way whether those biases are purported based on our belief systems on race, gender, sexual orientation, creed, culture or religion. If it’s not true, why would we need legislation to protect those rights? Why does it make the headlines when the latest celebrity names their child after a fruit or a season or exotic plant? Why do political pundits always go back to the POTUS middle name (Barack Hussein Obama) and insist we as Americans need to look closely at his background because his name makes him an Islamic conspirator? Anyone with a brain knows this is nonsense, but it is how Americans are programmed.
So, do yourself a favor. If you have a difficult name to pronounce or spell, use your initials on your resume, voicemail and email address. And for future generations be free and open to naming your child based on your feeling and right to do so, but give your children the freedom to enjoy it rather than the angst of having it.