Getting Past Your “Uneeq” Name Professionally

December 6, 2010  |  

Words are beautiful expressions of life.  A single word can change the direction of any conversation, mood or situation.  Our lives begin with the single most important word we’ll know, our names.  Names quickly identify us.  Many parents understand and bestow us with names that’ll give us the greatest meaning, influence and futures.  Then there’s your name.

With no disrespect; there’s beauty in everything but beauty doesn’t always equal fairness.  Some names won’t get treated equally; particularly “urban” or unique ones.  If your name hasn’t served you well; you can even the playing field; especially if you don’t take it personally and use one of these alternatives.

You may have to abbreviate. Let’s state the obvious; all names are stereotyped.  Studies of resumes show that urban and unique sounding names get one third the callbacks that traditional names get.  Making it tougher, resumes with traditional names get previewed 20% more by job recruiters than yours will.  Get all the interviews you’re qualified for by abbreviating your first name.  If your middle name stereotypes you also, abbreviate it as well.  Someone named J.L. Webb will likely get more interviews than Jemal Webb unfortunately.

Effectively use an alias. Celebrities do it all the time.  Surely, “Jay-Z” would sell more hip-hop CDs than Shawn Carter.  It may sound strange but using an alias isn’t illegal.  Alternative names can be used in any circumstances as long as it is intended for lawful purposes and not to defraud or deceive others.  Many people throughout their lives have used aliases to avoid any negativity their given name brings.  Even our current President went by “Barry Obama” for many years.  If there’s another preferred name you see as a beneficial means to employment or acceptance professionally; by all means use it.  When doing so, remember to always use your given name when signing anything official or legal.  Also alert others when appropriate to avoid the impression of deception or impropriety in their eyes.

You may have to change your name. While seemingly drastic, a complete name change may be in order.  While I wouldn’t suggest it solely for professional purposes, your circumstances may warrant it.  Prior to doing so, again be aware that you cannot change your name for any fraudulent purposes or to a name which infringes on the rights of others.  Changing your legal name must be done through the court systems and expect to pay between $100 and $325.  The total and completion time varies in each state.  Court orders must be filed in the county you currently live in.  Once completed, take the time to inform the closest Social Security office, change your Driver’s License, passports and any other financial or legal entities that have your current name on file.

Use Your Name to Your Advantage. Being “Jemal” hasn’t statistically helped me get in the door.  However, once I got in, I’ve always been able to turn my “disadvantage” into a wonderful differentiation between myself and others. Often being the only Jemal, Ja’Shawn, Keyanna, etc. sets you apart.  The key to making it work is being outstanding and remarkable at what you do.  If you’re a standout who’s impactful and productive, your name will enhance your status at work and aid in getting ahead.

All circumstances, including unique names can be great springboards to greatness and prepare you for what’s ahead of you professionally and personally.  Ultimately it’s you, not your name that’ll create the life you’ll have.  How much do you think names matter and how does it relate to your life?

Jemal Webb is a leading Independent Financial Asset Manager in Atlanta, building a community based on Abundance, Protection and Education.

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