Name change quandry

Q. Should you send an e-mail announcement when you have divorced and are taking back your maiden name?

D. S., Kalamazoo, MI

A. Unquestionably, you should let people know you’ve changed your name. “I’m contacting you to let you know that as of now my name is Dawn Sterling. My new e-mail address is [email protected] Please make this change in your contact file. Thank you.” There is no need to explain why.

Informing people of your name change is important for several reasons. People should know both how to refer to you and how to introduce you at work. Knowing your correct name avoids confusion and embarrassment both for you and for them.


Any legal papers or contracts associated with your job or business should have your legal name on them.

All of your identification should match. This is especially important for airline travel. Your name on your ticket must match the name on your license or passport. A vendor making a reservation for you could easily use the wrong name if you hadn’t informed him of the change.

It’s important to note that it’s not necessary to change your name after a divorce. In fact, you may not want to change it if you established your professional reputation using your married name. I know several women who have kept their married name after being divorced for just this reason. If you have a professional reputation as Mary Smith and you do want to change your name, then it is highly important to let people know. You can send an e-mail or a printed announcement, listing your name and any updated contact information.


Q. I noted your column on interview etiquette in today’s (8/01) Boston
Globe. May I add another tip (actually a must) for your next column on the
subject? When you interview for a job, you are interviewing everybody, repeat
everybody at the site—the janitor, the receptionist, everybody.

Years ago a young woman had a very successful interview with me, and I was
ready to hire her. After she saw me, she also talked with a few other
people in the office and made some highly inappropriate comments. Net
result, not hired!

I recall hearing that at some big Wall St. firm, the CEO used to dress as
a cleaner and “accidentally” spill some water near the prospective
interviewee (for a top job). That person’s reaction was crucial to the
hiring decision. While this is extreme it does illustrate my point.


D. M., Waltham, MA

A. While D. M.’s comment is most appropriate for a job interview, it is equally important every day on the job. How you treat people and how you interact with them day in, day out matters. You may be being considered for a promotion. You want to be sure that if your manager queries co-workers or support staff about you, that they offer positive responses.

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