How to Overcome Name Discrimination

One of the most common questions I get from my newsletter audience is "How does my name affect my career search?"

Numerous studies show that your name plays a big part in getting a callback or interview from a potential employer. 

Jane Smith or John Smith’s résumé will always be chosen over José Ramirez or Maggie Zhu’s, in the Western world. 

It’s not right. It’s not fair. It’s just the way it is. 


If you think your name is affecting your search negatively, choose an anglicised professional name for your résumé and online presence. This is particularly important in North America, UK, Australia and New Zealand. For other countries, choose the Jane Smith equivalent. 

Again, I don’t make the rules, I just observe them. 

I’m not saying change your name but what I am saying is choose a professional name for your résumé and your LinkedIn profile during your search.

Be Joe Ramirez or Joe Ramsay or Maggie Zane or whatever is appropriate or compelling to you. 

Heck, I chose the surname "Struan" instead of "Sung" (yes, my name is Sam Sung). Take a page from the stars of Hollywood who have chosen stage names to further their career. Not convinced? Here's some examples: 

Demi Moore - Demetria Guynes
Woody Allen - Allen Konigsberg
Charlie Sheen - Carlos Estevez
Natalie Portman - Natalie Hershlag
George Michael - Georgios Panayiotou
Eric Bana - Eric Banadinović
Rock Hudson - Leroy Harold Scherer, Jr. 

Once you’re in the door of a company or at the final interview stage you can ask to use your legal name for official company purposes.

This is about evening the playing field and having a fair chance to interview.

Some of today's top celebrities wouldn't have "made a name for themselves" if it wasn't for the fact they literally made a name for themselves. 

The same can apply to your career. 

It’s not that all hiring managers or HR professionals are evil, it’s about saving time. Unfortunately snap judgements are made about communication skills and cultural fit when it comes to a candidate’s name. 

Not convinced? Read the following: 

New Study Confirms Depressing Truth About Names And Racial Bias

How an ethnic-sounding name may affect the job hunt

Have a Foreign-Sounding Name? Change it to Get a Job

'Resume whitening' doubles callbacks for minority job candidates, study finds

He Dropped One Letter In His Name While Applying For Jobs, And The Responses Rolled In

13 surprising ways your name affects your success

55 Celebrities Whose Real Names Will Surprise You

Good luck,