Q: I love my married name. It's a rhyme-y, memorable name, which is a vast improvement over my maiden name, and I feel it's a nice fit for my line of work. Unfortunately, someone in the entertainment industry also feels the same way. If you do a quick internet search of my name, the majority of the hits on the first page refer to an elegant and demure entertainer. I have recently started looking for a new job and I'd hate to miss out on an employment opportunity just because the hiring manager thinks I'm someone else.
What's should be my plan of action here? I've thought about including some sort of disclaimer on my resume, maybe a light-hearted joke about not googling my name from a work computer, making sure the safe search is on, and rest assured, I am not THAT (insert name here). I'm a designer, and we designers get a bit more, uh, creative freedom with our resumes. Or is it best to just ignore the issue and count on the intelligence of my future employer to know the difference?
A: Your problem is more common than you would think. Several years ago, I answered a similar question in this column. As I recall the details of that question from a few years back, the job seeker was concerned about being mistaken for a famous convicted felon with the exact same name from the exact same town!
First, think about how you can alter your name so it is bit different than the exact name of the well-known entertainer. If the famous person’s name is John Robinson, consider using John R. Robinson, III or Jack Robinson. Or you could also consider attaching an acronym like BFA after your name to clearly designate that you hold a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree. Some may still ask you about your name, but it sounds like you are ready to respond with a little dose of humor. Also, consider developing a Linkedin profile and adding the URL to your resume. The reader can then look at your profile, including your photo, and be assured that you are not the famous individual.
Those who share names with the famous carry a bit of a burden. However, usually after the initial comment or joke, the focus is on the candidate’s ability to do the job.
On a related note, I had a client several years back that had a small department of four employees. Three of the four employees had the first name of Sara or Sarah. When hiring additional staff for this team, they hoped they could find talent with a different first name.
Good luck with your search!
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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 WinterWyman, 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 Senior Vice President and Partner of the Information Technology search division at WinterWyman. 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.