Tuesday, April 1, 2008

What's my name again?

I used to work with a woman nicknamed Rusty who wanted to legally change her name to Rusty. It suited her tuff image. I don't think she put it on her resume though. (I have a better story about that but a family member would probably post a comment about a Christmas tree and underwear; let's not go there).

Many people have more than one name: they are changing their name, getting married or divorced, transgendered, finally fulfilling a lifelong dream of having geeks shout out, "Is it your day off, Ferrous?", or they have an "English name". How do you explain this if your interview coincides with the transition?

On your application documents, you place your current legal name.

If you are getting married, or divorced, and have not completed the name change, it is too soon to start describing to these people, who may never see you again, all of the hyphenated perambulations of your name and what you decided to call yourself, in six months. We watch you guys all the time on Slice and we prefer you behind glass. What is your current legal name?

When you go to the interview, you invite the employer to use your nickname or "English name".

A diminutive, nickname and English name are different:
  • A diminutive is a shortened version of your name: Chris for Christopher or Christina. There is no false intimacy with a diminutive so it is ok to use in the interview but not to put on your application documents, since it is not your legal name.
  • A nickname is used in intimate situations: you're my friend so you have permission to call me by that name. When you start work, tell them your nickname if you always go by that. Howdy Ferrous, welcome to the party.
  • An English name is different and can be given at the interview. It is used for two reasons: one, you have a hard time controlling your wince when an English speaker garbles your name. Two, it is really hard to have people address you by your first name when you are accustomed to an honorific attached to your name, such as Asuka-san, Asuka-sensei or Asuka-chan, depending on the circumstance. An English name lessens the feeling of encroachment. But, it is not your legal name: wait until the interview and introduce yourself with your English name.

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