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Company or college name changes on a resume

Q: What is the best way to address company name changes on your resume, when those changes happened years after you left the company? My alma mater changed its name about 10 years after I graduated, so I use the current name on my resume. But one of my former employers (mid '90s) merged with another company and changed the name. Which company name do I use on my resume, the current company name, or the name of the company when I worked there? Or both, i.e., "ABC (formerly XYZ)"?

A: Great question, especially in this age of mergers, acquisitions and consolidations. Your question also triggers an additional question on reference checking. For example, what company information do you provide so a prospective employer can verify your professional work history?

I like your suggestion and it mirrors what I often suggest to candidates. As an example, perhaps you worked for Shawmut Bank in the 80’s. Shawmut Bank is no longer a stand-alone entity. Through a series of acquisitions, Shawmut Bank is now part of Bank of America. However, these transactions occurred well after the time you were actively employed at Shawmut. Using your example, you could represent this part of your employment history as:

Financial Accountant 1983 – 1986
Bank of America (Shawmut Bank is now part of Bank of America)

Alternatively, you could also state this part of your employment history as:

Financial Accountant 1983 – 1986
Shawmut Bank (now Bank of America)

There may be some instances when you may want to omit one of the above names. If a former employer has a tarnished reputation, perhaps then you should leave the company name off your resume and simply list one company name. It is important to state the current or most recent name of the company for reference checking purposes. For example, it would be a challenge to contact Shawmut Bank to verify your employment since the company is no longer in existence! You would want to make sure that you list Bank of America’s name as they likely have the records for former Shawmut employees.

With respect to colleges and universities, you can use a similar approach. However, in this instance, I would suggest using the current (and perhaps more recognizable name) followed by a parentheses explaining the former name, if needed. As an example, you could list University of Massachusetts at Lowell (formerly University of Lowell). Or even, simply University of Massachusetts at Lowell may be the best choice.


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