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.