Name mix-ups on social networking sites

Q. I know – or at least, I’ve heard – that a lot of employers look at social sites when considering resumes of potential new hires. My problem is that there is at least one other person out there (in the same region, no less) with my name. So while I’ve kept off the social sites in an attempt to keep my reputation clean and clear, anyone looking up my name might mistakenly think I’m this other person. Is this likely to cost me interviews? Should I be worried about it?

A: Great question. Social sites are becoming a more common source of information for recruiters and hiring managers. You are right to think about this issue, but I would not be overly concerned.

You mention that this other individual lives in the same region. However, hopefully he/she won’t be targeting similar roles in your same industry. While you may be looking at CFO roles, he/she may be software programming roles in healthcare. A savvy recruiter or hiring manager will likely delve deeper and discover that although there is another Jim Smith out there; one is Jim Smith the software programmer while the other is Jim Smith the CPA. There are many candidates out there with similar or duplicate names.
One other tactic for handling this situation is to begin using your middle name/initial or adding a professional designation or degree to your name. Instead of using Jim Smith on your resume and job search correspondence, consider one of the following options: James Richard Smith, James R. Smith or James Richard Smith, CPA. This will further clarify your identity. Also be certain to provide your home address (particularly hometown) on your resume and job search correspondence. It is another way to separate your identity from the other individual with the same name.
Good luck with your search.
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