Name Change:

Name Change

A name change can impact your job search. Deciding to change your name is quite personal, and the truth is there is no right or wrong answer regarding whether you should (or shouldn’t) do it.

However, if you are well-established in your career or have crafted a well-thought-out brand, changing your name can have a negative impact on future job prospects.

Why? Because changing your name may keep you from being ‘found’. Harvard Business Review states that changing your name results in you becoming a ‘ghost’.  We agree.  We often place potential candidates into a ‘not now’ category because they don’t have a supporting digital footprint.  Any professional credibility that may have been linked to your old name can completely disappear if the change isn’t handled effectively.

What to Consider When Changing Your Name

If you decide to change your name, make sure that you don’t get lost! Ask yourself these questions:

  • Will you disappear in plain sight of many of your business connections?
  • Do you have hard-earned accomplishments, connections, and publications under your current name that need to be transferred to your new name or brand?
  • Will your references recognize your new name?

If you are only changing your last name, you don’t necessarily have to change your professional last name to match. For example, I married in 2008 and didn’t officially add my husband’s name until 3 years ago. And when I did change my last name, I hyphenated his to mine. From a branding perspective, I didn’t change any of my social media accounts to include the hyphenated name and still use my maiden name in all professional capacities.

In some respects, changing your last name can be easier than changing your first or middle name. And as a note, first and middle name changes aren’t just for actors and musicians. Many individuals change their first or middle names for many reasons – some of them personal while others may be professional. EZ Name Change gives a wonderful example of a gentleman named Jose who changed his name to Joe to see if his job search results improved.  Alternatively, the example continues with the thought that someone named Joe may want to change his name to Jose due to other reasons.

Some tangible steps to take:

Announce the change. To everyone.

I consistently receive emails from people who seem to know me…but I can’t figure out how I know them. Most of the time I don’t recognize them because of a name change. Yes, I engage with a lot of people so shouldn’t be expected to remember everyone. But if the change is only the name, I am typically able to search our database or my email box to make the connection.

But, when the individual’s email address also changes, it makes it difficult for me to bridge the relationship. Always give co-workers, clients, and business contacts advanced notice of the change to avoid confusion (especially if your email address will change).

Update your digital footprint.

Your LinkedIn profile, business memberships, and social media platforms should all be updated. If you have publications, be sure to update those as well.

Consider using both names for a while.

I often see this and it is extremely helpful for those of us who may be searching for you. And if you change your email address, set up forwarding so that you don’t miss someone’s contact attempt.

One more thing…

When applying for positions with your new name, consider stating the change in your cover letter or even on your resume. Being upfront will avoid confusion and will be critically important when you get to the reference or background check stages.