Q. I was married a little over a year ago and changed my last name to that of my husband's. I am currently in the midst of a job search. For the better part of my employment history I used my maiden name. My resume and contact information all use my married name, as that is my preferred surname. My question regards a prospective employer contacting a former employer about my work dates - if the job was before I was married, my previous employer will only know my maiden name, but future employers will only have my married name. How do I remedy this disconnect? How and when is it appropriate to tell prospective employers what my maiden name was, so that they can conduct the appropriate background research?
A. Women, and men, have many options about the name or names they choose to take into adulthood. Do we continue to use our original name? Do we choose to use the name of our spouse or partner, or perhaps create some meaningful combination of the two? Which order should we put these names in? Many cultures make recommendations about who gets first billing. And some people are choosing to start over and take completely new names that represent who they are at a new point in their life. It might be a family name from generations ago, or a descriptor of their aspirations.
In light of this, changing a resume or work history name can present challenges. People in sales and celebrities want to make sure they don't confuse their customers or fans, so they might not change their "public" name even if they choose to change their legal or private name.
Your goal as a job seeker is to make it easy for the hiring manager to find you, for references to provide you a great reference, and to not to make your preferred surname an confusing issue until after you secure your job.
On the resume, you can use your first name, your "maiden" name, followed by your married name. When you meet anyone in the job search, you can introduce yourself with your first and married name, as it is your preference. If you have a name tag in any kind of networking meetings, I suggest you use all three names.
Until you have made the complete professional switch, it is in your best interest to let everyone know what you used to be called and what you want to move toward being called. Provide your references with copies of your resume, so they can be prepared for calls and verify your employment, in addition to singing your praises as a valued colleague.
about this blog
e-mail your question
Meet the Jobs Docs
Patricia Hunt Sinacole is president of First Beacon Group LLC, a human resources consulting firm in Hopkinton. She works with clients across many industries including technology, biotech and medical devices, financial services, and healthcare, and has over 20 years of human resources experience.
Elaine Varelas is managing partner at Keystone Partners, a career management firm in Boston and serves on the board of Career Partners International.
Cindy Atoji Keene is a freelance journalist with more than 25 years experience. E-mail her directly here.
Peter Post is the author of "The Etiquette Advantage in Business." Email questions about business etiquette to him directly here.
Stu Coleman, a partner and general manager at Winter, Wyman, manages the firm's Financial Contracting division, and provides strategic staffing services to Boston-area organizations needing Accounting and Finance workforce solutions and contract talent.
Tracy Cashman is a partner and the general manager of the Information Technology search division at Winter, Wyman. She has 20 years of experience partnering with clients in the Boston area to conduct technology searches in a wide variety of industries and technology.
Paul Hellman is the founder of Express Potential, which specializes in executive communication skills. He consults and speaks internationally on how to capture attention & influence others. Email him directly here.