The effect of a difficult last name on employment prospects...

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kjvmartin
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The effect of a difficult last name on employment prospects...

Post by kjvmartin » Sun Jun 10, 2018 3:08 pm

When I got married, some of my family encouraged me to assume my wife's last name instead of her taking mine. I have a four syllable Eastern European last name that isn't pronounced like it's spelled. Even as a young man, my maternal grandfather encouraged me to change my name at my earliest convenience. He was a manager and said he would discard my resume without reading it based on the trouble of learning my name. When my parents divorced my mother quickly took her maiden name back. We are "last name" people in my field. Referred to by last name only. For example: "Supervisor Smith" or "Administrator Jones"

Anyway, I thought I proved grandpa wrong. I graduated college, got into, and have excelled at my chosen career in a large government agency. As I advanced to the forefront of the entry level, I started trying to promote. Some peers I've trained have advanced before me. I have had eight interviews for advancement. Everyone gets an interview if they meet civil service guidelines for the position. Interviews are before a panel of three random upper management figures. Some in upper management used to work with me locally, and when I have queried those I know, I have received excellent feedback regarding my interviews. There are no comparable places to work in my field, so the option to seek greener pastures does not exist.

Here's something odd I've realized. Over 10 years and knowing of about 75 managers that are working or have worked in the region, none of them have had a last name much longer than 2 syllables. They have all been very simple names. Nothing you'd have to ask how to pronounce. This is without exception.

Now, I'm not saying that I'm getting overlooked overtly because of my last name, but am I wrong to think it's a little odd? Maybe grandpa was right after all? Perhaps, subconsciously, people are just drawn to an easier last name when it comes to these things?

Should I consider a legal change?

Gill
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Re: The effect of a difficult last name on employment prospects...

Post by Gill » Sun Jun 10, 2018 3:23 pm

How about a spelling change to the way it is pronounced? I had a college friend who had an Eastern European name that was very difficult to pronounce and spell. He changed a few letters which eliminated the problem.
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livesoft
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Re: The effect of a difficult last name on employment prospects...

Post by livesoft » Sun Jun 10, 2018 3:24 pm

My in-laws changed their last name and their adult children did as well. Made a difference.
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Spirit Rider
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Re: The effect of a difficult last name on employment prospects...

Post by Spirit Rider » Sun Jun 10, 2018 3:26 pm

If your family is the one who was encouraging you to change it, I would have done it. The only blow back I have seen for people with similar issues who changed their surnames was from their family (disrespecting elders/ancestors).

However, this is best done sooner rather than later. At some point you have established credentials synonymous with your name. I know someone with a very complicated eastern European surname who changed her last name to the surname of a founding father, but she was just a few years out of college. She was very successful in her career, but I can't attribute one way or another to her surname change.

If you are considering a name change 10+ years into a career. I think I would limit the name change to some form of a truncation or contraction that is easily identified by people who already know you.

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cheese_breath
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Re: The effect of a difficult last name on employment prospects...

Post by cheese_breath » Sun Jun 10, 2018 3:28 pm

Lee Iococca's last name is four syllables.... but then he got fired too. :wink:

Seriously though, I wouldn't discount the possibility. I once knew a man who changed his last name because he thought upper management was discriminating against his polish last name.

On the other hand have you considered the possibility the others had better qualifications that you?
The surest way to know the future is when it becomes the past.

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Re: The effect of a difficult last name on employment prospects...

Post by mouses » Sun Jun 10, 2018 3:30 pm

I think if I were sending out resumes, I would put after my name (pronounced whatever.) That tells people how to refer to you, and clues them in that you won't be offended if they mispronounce it.

I probably would have an off the record conversation with someone higher up in the food chain where you work and ask why you are not getting promoted. Is it your difficult to pronounce name or something else. Presumably you can work on the latter.

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Re: The effect of a difficult last name on employment prospects...

Post by cfs » Sun Jun 10, 2018 3:38 pm

One of my university friends from the Middle East changed his first and last names prior to graduation, now he is using a first name with only four letters, and his last name is only five letters (first and last name are now as American as apple pie, but withheld to protect the innocent). Good luck with your name change, y gracias por leer ~cfs~
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obafgkm
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Re: The effect of a difficult last name on employment prospects...

Post by obafgkm » Sun Jun 10, 2018 3:45 pm

cheese_breath wrote:
Sun Jun 10, 2018 3:28 pm
Lee Iacocca's last name is four syllables.... but then he got fired too. :wink:
"If you can find a better name, change it!"

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Re: The effect of a difficult last name on employment prospects...

Post by trueblueky » Sun Jun 10, 2018 3:47 pm

kjvmartin wrote:
Sun Jun 10, 2018 3:08 pm
When I got married, some of my family encouraged me to assume my wife's last name instead of her taking mine. I have a four syllable Eastern European last name that isn't pronounced like it's spelled. Even as a young man, my maternal grandfather encouraged me to change my name at my earliest convenience. He was a manager and said he would discard my resume without reading it based on the trouble of learning my name. When my parents divorced my mother quickly took her maiden name back. We are "last name" people in my field. Referred to by last name only. For example: "Supervisor Smith" or "Administrator Jones"

Anyway, I thought I proved grandpa wrong. I graduated college, got into, and have excelled at my chosen career in a large government agency. As I advanced to the forefront of the entry level, I started trying to promote. Some peers I've trained have advanced before me. I have had eight interviews for advancement. Everyone gets an interview if they meet civil service guidelines for the position. Interviews are before a panel of three random upper management figures. Some in upper management used to work with me locally, and when I have queried those I know, I have received excellent feedback regarding my interviews. There are no comparable places to work in my field, so the option to seek greener pastures does not exist.

Here's something odd I've realized. Over 10 years and knowing of about 75 managers that are working or have worked in the region, none of them have had a last name much longer than 2 syllables. They have all been very simple names. Nothing you'd have to ask how to pronounce. This is without exception.

Now, I'm not saying that I'm getting overlooked overtly because of my last name, but am I wrong to think it's a little odd? Maybe grandpa was right after all? Perhaps, subconsciously, people are just drawn to an easier last name when it comes to these things?

Should I consider a legal change?
If people who know you are on the panel, it's not your name that's holding you back, IMO.

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Alexa9
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Re: The effect of a difficult last name on employment prospects...

Post by Alexa9 » Sun Jun 10, 2018 3:52 pm

Anyone can be a Joe Schmoe but it takes real character to pull off Polofsky Polakovich. :mrgreen:
I'd say change it.

strafe
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Re: The effect of a difficult last name on employment prospects...

Post by strafe » Sun Jun 10, 2018 3:53 pm

First names might have a bigger impact than last names.

Lay press coverage here and here of a cross-sectional study a few years back that concluded the shorter your first name, the higher your earnings.

delamer
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Re: The effect of a difficult last name on employment prospects...

Post by delamer » Sun Jun 10, 2018 4:18 pm

trueblueky wrote:
Sun Jun 10, 2018 3:47 pm
kjvmartin wrote:
Sun Jun 10, 2018 3:08 pm
When I got married, some of my family encouraged me to assume my wife's last name instead of her taking mine. I have a four syllable Eastern European last name that isn't pronounced like it's spelled. Even as a young man, my maternal grandfather encouraged me to change my name at my earliest convenience. He was a manager and said he would discard my resume without reading it based on the trouble of learning my name. When my parents divorced my mother quickly took her maiden name back. We are "last name" people in my field. Referred to by last name only. For example: "Supervisor Smith" or "Administrator Jones"

Anyway, I thought I proved grandpa wrong. I graduated college, got into, and have excelled at my chosen career in a large government agency. As I advanced to the forefront of the entry level, I started trying to promote. Some peers I've trained have advanced before me. I have had eight interviews for advancement. Everyone gets an interview if they meet civil service guidelines for the position. Interviews are before a panel of three random upper management figures. Some in upper management used to work with me locally, and when I have queried those I know, I have received excellent feedback regarding my interviews. There are no comparable places to work in my field, so the option to seek greener pastures does not exist.

Here's something odd I've realized. Over 10 years and knowing of about 75 managers that are working or have worked in the region, none of them have had a last name much longer than 2 syllables. They have all been very simple names. Nothing you'd have to ask how to pronounce. This is without exception.

Now, I'm not saying that I'm getting overlooked overtly because of my last name, but am I wrong to think it's a little odd? Maybe grandpa was right after all? Perhaps, subconsciously, people are just drawn to an easier last name when it comes to these things?

Should I consider a legal change?
If people who know you are on the panel, it's not your name that's holding you back, IMO.
My sentiments too.

GoldenFinch
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Re: The effect of a difficult last name on employment prospects...

Post by GoldenFinch » Sun Jun 10, 2018 4:22 pm

“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” Shakespeare

So I guess you can change your name and still be your wonderful self, but it might seem a bit strange after having your given name for all those years!

I too have an Eastern European last name and to make it worse my parents gave all the beautiful names to my siblings and gave me one that my Mom thought was “cute.” I didn’t change my name when I was married even though my husband has a melodic last name because I have learned to live with it. I fully understand the situation though and wish you luck with your decision. :happy

MrPotatoHead
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Re: The effect of a difficult last name on employment prospects...

Post by MrPotatoHead » Sun Jun 10, 2018 4:48 pm

Most large companies use scanned resumes that run through a filter that masks all personal data from the first humans that view the actual resume. Most I have seen work as follows. The first pass is with a filter, looking for keywords, degrees etc, a few may look for specific employers or colleges (in terms of positive screens). A few may also scan for negative screens, like GPA and advanced degrees. Almost all modern systems I have seen delete all personal info that correlates to name, national origin, and age before a human ever receives the resume. This is done deliberately to attempt to eliminate unconscious bias and prevent lawsuits. It goes without saying this is for large employers or often head hunting firms.

Loik098
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Re: The effect of a difficult last name on employment prospects...

Post by Loik098 » Sun Jun 10, 2018 5:34 pm

There are some studies to support your premise:

https://news.uci.edu/2014/02/26/uc-irvi ... les-names/
https://www.iza.org/publications/dp/7725
https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs ... /ejsp.2026

A college professor of mine had a 20-something-character-long last name (he is Thai). On the first day of class, he had all of the students make an attempt at pronouncing it. Of course, no one could, but by finding humor in his situation, he ingratiated himself to us. Doing something similar couldn't hurt in your interviews.

While he chose not to change his name, because he was already an accomplished researcher and doing so could cause confusion, my professor did create a shortened, more pronounceable form of his last name and told everyone to call him that instead. On paper, he would put the shortened form in parentheses after his real name when he thought it was necessary.

stan1
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Re: The effect of a difficult last name on employment prospects...

Post by stan1 » Sun Jun 10, 2018 6:04 pm

One person I know in this situation has not changed his name, but he goes by the first syllable. For example Mr. Yazaglobaslotsky becomes Mr. Yaza. This is something people will work with you on. When you aren't selected for positions what mentoring do you get from the members of the hiring panel? You should be asking to meet with then for input. If you have had multiple interviews and you haven't asked for advice they will be expecting you to. I supposed its possible not being able to pronounce your name is a minor issue but I would be very surprised if it is the main reason.

KlangFool
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Re: The effect of a difficult last name on employment prospects...

Post by KlangFool » Sun Jun 10, 2018 6:10 pm

OP,

1) Both my first name and last name has only one syllable, somehow, I do not think it helps.

2) In general, I believe if a person has to count on someone else to decide the person's career/promotion, the person will face some kind of problem. I would rather choose some other paths.

3) Yes, I could change my first name to make it easier for someone to pronounce. But, why should I do that? If they would not spend the time and effort to pronounce my name, I would rather not wasting my time and effort with them. I almost reached my FI. So, I could care less and less what others think of me.

4) He who has the gold makes the rule. If you own the company, everyone else will learn to pronounce your name. So, what you need is someone in your family to be famous and important enough to make this happen.

KlangFool

letsgobobby
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Re: The effect of a difficult last name on employment prospects...

Post by letsgobobby » Sun Jun 10, 2018 6:21 pm

Immigrants used to routinely shorten and Anglicize their names. Rabinowitz became Rubin for example. Go for it if it will make you feel better.

2015
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Re: The effect of a difficult last name on employment prospects...

Post by 2015 » Sun Jun 10, 2018 6:25 pm

delamer wrote:
Sun Jun 10, 2018 4:18 pm
trueblueky wrote:
Sun Jun 10, 2018 3:47 pm
kjvmartin wrote:
Sun Jun 10, 2018 3:08 pm
When I got married, some of my family encouraged me to assume my wife's last name instead of her taking mine. I have a four syllable Eastern European last name that isn't pronounced like it's spelled. Even as a young man, my maternal grandfather encouraged me to change my name at my earliest convenience. He was a manager and said he would discard my resume without reading it based on the trouble of learning my name. When my parents divorced my mother quickly took her maiden name back. We are "last name" people in my field. Referred to by last name only. For example: "Supervisor Smith" or "Administrator Jones"

Anyway, I thought I proved grandpa wrong. I graduated college, got into, and have excelled at my chosen career in a large government agency. As I advanced to the forefront of the entry level, I started trying to promote. Some peers I've trained have advanced before me. I have had eight interviews for advancement. Everyone gets an interview if they meet civil service guidelines for the position. Interviews are before a panel of three random upper management figures. Some in upper management used to work with me locally, and when I have queried those I know, I have received excellent feedback regarding my interviews. There are no comparable places to work in my field, so the option to seek greener pastures does not exist.

Here's something odd I've realized. Over 10 years and knowing of about 75 managers that are working or have worked in the region, none of them have had a last name much longer than 2 syllables. They have all been very simple names. Nothing you'd have to ask how to pronounce. This is without exception.

Now, I'm not saying that I'm getting overlooked overtly because of my last name, but am I wrong to think it's a little odd? Maybe grandpa was right after all? Perhaps, subconsciously, people are just drawn to an easier last name when it comes to these things?

Should I consider a legal change?
If people who know you are on the panel, it's not your name that's holding you back, IMO.
My sentiments too.
This. You are looking in the wrong mirror. You have reached some kind of limit, but it's not your name. It is time for deeper self-reflection.

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Re: The effect of a difficult last name on employment prospects...

Post by Sandtrap » Sun Jun 10, 2018 6:30 pm

KlangFool wrote:
Sun Jun 10, 2018 6:10 pm
OP,

1) Both my first name and last name has only one syllable, somehow, I do not think it helps.

2) In general, I believe if a person has to count on someone else to decide the person's career/promotion, the person will face some kind of problem. I would rather choose some other paths.

3) Yes, I could change my first name to make it easier for someone to pronounce. But, why should I do that? If they would not spend the time and effort to pronounce my name, I would rather not wasting my time and effort with them. I almost reached my FI. So, I could care less and less what others think of me.

4) He who has the gold makes the rule. If you own the company, everyone else will learn to pronounce your name. So, what you need is someone in your family to be famous and important enough to make this happen.

KlangFool
+++1
Make your own destiny. A legend with a unique and memorable name.
IE:
Cher
Madonna
The Rock
The Duke
Israel Kamakawiwo'ole
Senator Ed Yamasaki, PhD.
Dr. Joe Tamashiro

aloha
j

AlphaLess
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Re: The effect of a difficult last name on employment prospects...

Post by AlphaLess » Sun Jun 10, 2018 6:40 pm

Some last names have a really cool sound to them:

- food industry: McDonalds,
- banking: Morgan, Salomon, Goldman, Lehman (I guess need a man at the end),
- oil: Chevron, Exxon,
- law: Sullivan, Cromwell, Skadden, Wachtel, Sidley,

In my industry, if you have an Eastern European or Chinese last name, we will definitely consider you :)
I'd say there is reverse discrimination going on.

lotusflower
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Re: The effect of a difficult last name on employment prospects...

Post by lotusflower » Sun Jun 10, 2018 7:05 pm

AlphaLess wrote:
Sun Jun 10, 2018 6:40 pm
Some last names have a really cool sound to them:

- oil: Chevron, Exxon,
Wat?

AlphaLess
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Re: The effect of a difficult last name on employment prospects...

Post by AlphaLess » Sun Jun 10, 2018 8:11 pm

lotusflower wrote:
Sun Jun 10, 2018 7:05 pm
AlphaLess wrote:
Sun Jun 10, 2018 6:40 pm
Some last names have a really cool sound to them:

- oil: Chevron, Exxon,
Wat?
I was just making sure that somebody is paying attention, so I planted a spy there :)
Apparently, you were.

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Re: The effect of a difficult last name on employment prospects...

Post by cheese_breath » Sun Jun 10, 2018 8:17 pm

obafgkm wrote:
Sun Jun 10, 2018 3:45 pm
cheese_breath wrote:
Sun Jun 10, 2018 3:28 pm
Lee Iacocca's last name is four syllables.... but then he got fired too. :wink:
"If you can find a better name, change it!"
:D :D :D :D :D
The surest way to know the future is when it becomes the past.

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jabberwockOG
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Re: The effect of a difficult last name on employment prospects...

Post by jabberwockOG » Sun Jun 10, 2018 8:32 pm

If you want to change your name go for it. But do it sooner rather than later. It may not be the whole story on why you aren't getting promote quickly but an easier more "vanilla" name certainly won't hurt. It is always better if people can pay attention to you, your mind and personality, rather than your unusual name, grooming, garb, etc.

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Re: The effect of a difficult last name on employment prospects...

Post by celia » Sun Jun 10, 2018 9:03 pm

cheese_breath wrote:
Sun Jun 10, 2018 3:28 pm
I once knew a man who changed his last name because he thought upper management was discriminating against his polish last name.
+1
I know a true story of a Polish immigrant who came to the US 100 years ago speaking 5 or 6 languages. He was standing in the employment line one day and noticed that the German speakers were getting hired and no one else. When he got to the front of the line, he started speaking German and he was hired too!

This could have been because those doing the hiring had a German background or somehow could communicate easier with them. On the other hand, sometimes you do what you have to do.

I even know someone who was born in the US who had a foreign surname. He was in sales but finally realized that potential customers weren't returning his calls, possibly because of his name. He legally made his middle name his last name and suddenly the potential customers starting calling him back. (Possibly they couldn't write down his name when they heard it on their answering machine.)

Even I married someone who has an unusual surname. After he said it, I asked him to spell it, but he "spit it out" so fast that I got all the letters mixed up. So I asked him to repeat it. He spit it out again. The third time I asked him to do it slower, syllable by syllable, and I then understood what he said. I have never had a problem relaying the name to others since I always spell it with a pause between syllables. But those born with the name often don't realize how it is hard for someone who didn't start out with that name.

kjvmartin
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Re: The effect of a difficult last name on employment prospects...

Post by kjvmartin » Sun Jun 10, 2018 9:33 pm

cheese_breath wrote:
Sun Jun 10, 2018 3:28 pm
Lee Iococca's last name is four syllables.... but then he got fired too. :wink:

Seriously though, I wouldn't discount the possibility. I once knew a man who changed his last name because he thought upper management was discriminating against his polish last name.

On the other hand have you considered the possibility the others had better qualifications that you?
Sometimes I have simply been outdone, but there was a particular time where someone I used to be a line worker (lunch buddy, too) with was on the panel. We used to hypothesize about how to best answer interview questions for management roles. It went very well. He gave great feedback to my immediate supervisor about how impressed they were. I still did not get the job.

Of course, I asked him what he thought I could do better. His suggestions were mostly very vague. Also, some of the more specific things he mentioned that would make one a more desirable candidate were qualities not present in recent successful candidates. Primarily - "You could get more experience in another division..." Well, that division is a step back from where I work now and 3 or 4 recent promotions had no experience there either. So, do I take the risk of going backwards to gain some experience? He couldn't confirm that it would make me a shoe-in. I unusually hired in near the top of the food chain in terms of the front lines of my job. I was not fresh out of college and had some unique work/internship experiences that set me apart. Most successful people hire into a different division, transfer to mine, and then move into the specific unit that I hired into. That's the typical promotion path. So, I missed some experiences. Only maybe 3 or 4 like me in about 10 years and countless new hires. And the others have promoted. So, I have a hard time accepting the advice that I may need to experience a different role to promote. What makes me different? That has not been sufficiently answered to my liking.

wrongfunds
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Re: The effect of a difficult last name on employment prospects...

Post by wrongfunds » Mon Jun 11, 2018 7:29 am

Go to silicon valley and find out how many CEOs have "mahabalkrishanasubramanyamswami" as their first name :-)

Seriously, I understand name does sometimes unfairly gives preconceived notions to others. Anybody who tells me that "John" and "Akber" gets identical treatment in USA would not be telling the truth.

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Re: The effect of a difficult last name on employment prospects...

Post by KlangFool » Mon Jun 11, 2018 7:38 am

kjvmartin wrote:
Sun Jun 10, 2018 9:33 pm
cheese_breath wrote:
Sun Jun 10, 2018 3:28 pm
Lee Iococca's last name is four syllables.... but then he got fired too. :wink:

Seriously though, I wouldn't discount the possibility. I once knew a man who changed his last name because he thought upper management was discriminating against his polish last name.

On the other hand have you considered the possibility the others had better qualifications that you?
Sometimes I have simply been outdone, but there was a particular time where someone I used to be a line worker (lunch buddy, too) with was on the panel. We used to hypothesize about how to best answer interview questions for management roles. It went very well. He gave great feedback to my immediate supervisor about how impressed they were. I still did not get the job.

Of course, I asked him what he thought I could do better. His suggestions were mostly very vague. Also, some of the more specific things he mentioned that would make one a more desirable candidate were qualities not present in recent successful candidates. Primarily - "You could get more experience in another division..." Well, that division is a step back from where I work now and 3 or 4 recent promotions had no experience there either. So, do I take the risk of going backwards to gain some experience? He couldn't confirm that it would make me a shoe-in. I unusually hired in near the top of the food chain in terms of the front lines of my job. I was not fresh out of college and had some unique work/internship experiences that set me apart. Most successful people hire into a different division, transfer to mine, and then move into the specific unit that I hired into. That's the typical promotion path. So, I missed some experiences. Only maybe 3 or 4 like me in about 10 years and countless new hires. And the others have promoted. So, I have a hard time accepting the advice that I may need to experience a different role to promote. What makes me different? That has not been sufficiently answered to my liking.
kjvmartin,

It is obvious to me that you should work for somebody else other than current employer if you want to be promoted.

KlangFool

Broken Man 1999
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Re: The effect of a difficult last name on employment prospects...

Post by Broken Man 1999 » Mon Jun 11, 2018 8:51 am

We had a young couple as neighbors for a bit. The young man was in medical school, and just prior to finishing his studies, he told us that from now on he would be known as Joe Smith (not really, just a name that would be very much like it) as he believed that his given name would put off some patients.

I honestly can't remember his given name, other than it had ton of consonants and few vowels. I believe he was from one of the satellite countries of the Soviet Union.

So, yeah, I believe people can be put off by different names, for various reasons.

OP, I think it would be hard to determine exactly what might be holding you back, so late in the game. Given your statement that there are no comparable jobs in your field outside your current company, you might have to choose to stay or reinvent yourself with a new career path away from your present job.

Perhaps your grandfather's advice was sound.

Broken Man 1999
“If I cannot drink Bourbon and smoke cigars in Heaven than I shall not go. " -Mark Twain

staythecourse
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Re: The effect of a difficult last name on employment prospects...

Post by staythecourse » Mon Jun 11, 2018 9:03 am

delamer wrote:
Sun Jun 10, 2018 4:18 pm
trueblueky wrote:
Sun Jun 10, 2018 3:47 pm
kjvmartin wrote:
Sun Jun 10, 2018 3:08 pm
When I got married, some of my family encouraged me to assume my wife's last name instead of her taking mine. I have a four syllable Eastern European last name that isn't pronounced like it's spelled. Even as a young man, my maternal grandfather encouraged me to change my name at my earliest convenience. He was a manager and said he would discard my resume without reading it based on the trouble of learning my name. When my parents divorced my mother quickly took her maiden name back. We are "last name" people in my field. Referred to by last name only. For example: "Supervisor Smith" or "Administrator Jones"

Anyway, I thought I proved grandpa wrong. I graduated college, got into, and have excelled at my chosen career in a large government agency. As I advanced to the forefront of the entry level, I started trying to promote. Some peers I've trained have advanced before me. I have had eight interviews for advancement. Everyone gets an interview if they meet civil service guidelines for the position. Interviews are before a panel of three random upper management figures. Some in upper management used to work with me locally, and when I have queried those I know, I have received excellent feedback regarding my interviews. There are no comparable places to work in my field, so the option to seek greener pastures does not exist.

Here's something odd I've realized. Over 10 years and knowing of about 75 managers that are working or have worked in the region, none of them have had a last name much longer than 2 syllables. They have all been very simple names. Nothing you'd have to ask how to pronounce. This is without exception.

Now, I'm not saying that I'm getting overlooked overtly because of my last name, but am I wrong to think it's a little odd? Maybe grandpa was right after all? Perhaps, subconsciously, people are just drawn to an easier last name when it comes to these things?

Should I consider a legal change?
If people who know you are on the panel, it's not your name that's holding you back, IMO.
My sentiments too.
If you are being interviewed by folks you have worked with before and NOT gotten advanced then it is YOU and not your name. Always hard to hear, but true.

What do they say as the reason you have been turned down? Personally, I would focus on that. For someone who has worked with you to be one of the deciding factors and NOT get the job means it has something to do with either: 1. You or 2. The perception of your work.

Good luck.
"The stock market [fluctuation], therefore, is noise. A giant distraction from the business of investing.” | -Jack Bogle

Spirit Rider
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Re: The effect of a difficult last name on employment prospects...

Post by Spirit Rider » Mon Jun 11, 2018 9:18 am

staythecourse wrote:
Mon Jun 11, 2018 9:03 am
delamer wrote:
Sun Jun 10, 2018 4:18 pm
trueblueky wrote:
Sun Jun 10, 2018 3:47 pm
If people who know you are on the panel, it's not your name that's holding you back, IMO.
My sentiments too.
If you are being interviewed by folks you have worked with before and NOT gotten advanced then it is YOU and not your name. Always hard to hear, but true.
This applies to both the OP and these presumptive replies. I am surprised I have to point his out to Bogleheads.

Correlation does not imply causation!

oilrig
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Re: The effect of a difficult last name on employment prospects...

Post by oilrig » Mon Jun 11, 2018 9:20 am

I will add my 2 cents. I have an extremely foreign and difficult sounding first and last name (Latino). I usually go by my nickname which is my first and middle initials, but I put it in parenthesis in my resume and email signature, and always include my hard to pronounce first name. I have switched companies several times in my career and I have never had a boss or colleague able to pronounce my first or last name successfully.


However, this has never held me back in my career. I've been pretty successful in my career so far and have always been "fast-tracked" into management at every company I've worked for. I've also been rewarded nicely with huge salary increases and bonuses. I don't say this to brag, just sharing my experience with a foreign/difficult last name.

I see it as something unique and it's always a conversation starter when I've been on interviews or in the work place. Almost always people will ask where Im from or what my ethnicity is due to my last name. I wear it as a badge of honor!

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Re: The effect of a difficult last name on employment prospects...

Post by Jack FFR1846 » Mon Jun 11, 2018 9:29 am

Keep your real name.

I have a long Polish name with a "cz" in the middle of it and have had someone once say "buy a vowel" in the middle of spelling it for a name tag. Being 3rd generation, I pronounce it wrong anyways but I know the correct Polish pronunciation. I'm in a technical position in a very technical field where many eastern European PhDs work here. Many of them have names like mine and when I introduce myself to a Polish emigrant, they typically either say "what?" or correct me on my last name pronunciation. I also find instant comradship when one of these engineers hear a familiar name from someone accompanying a sales person for our company.

I do also have some pride in keeping the family name. Only 3 syllables though.
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Re: The effect of a difficult last name on employment prospects...

Post by delamer » Mon Jun 11, 2018 9:33 am

Spirit Rider wrote:
Mon Jun 11, 2018 9:18 am
staythecourse wrote:
Mon Jun 11, 2018 9:03 am
delamer wrote:
Sun Jun 10, 2018 4:18 pm
trueblueky wrote:
Sun Jun 10, 2018 3:47 pm
If people who know you are on the panel, it's not your name that's holding you back, IMO.
My sentiments too.
If you are being interviewed by folks you have worked with before and NOT gotten advanced then it is YOU and not your name. Always hard to hear, but true.
This applies to both the OP and these presumptive replies. I am surprised I have to point his out to Bogleheads.

Correlation does not imply causation!

Except when it does. If I start eating a pint of ice cream a day and I gain 10 pounds in a month, is there a correlation and causation between the ice cream and the weight, all other things being equal?

It may be that the OP’s name is the problem, but given the information he provided that does not seem likely.

Best guess is that there is either a personal or institutional issue that he is unaware of that is interfering with his ability to get promoted.

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Re: The effect of a difficult last name on employment prospects...

Post by Spirit Rider » Mon Jun 11, 2018 10:52 am

delamer wrote:
Mon Jun 11, 2018 9:33 am
Except when it does. If I start eating a pint of ice cream a day and I gain 10 pounds in a month, is there a correlation and causation between the ice cream and the weight, all other things being equal?
Nope, you still don't get the fundamental difference between correlation and causation. You are making a conclusion not in evidence. It may be more likely than not, but the pint of ice cream/day is still not evidence of a causation. Maybe the individual developed an intestinal blockage, a fast growing tumor, etc...

The OP could be 100% subject to bias against their last name. You don't know them, you don't know the company, you don't know the hiring managers. it is quite presumptive and unfair for the peanut gallery to blame the results on the OP without any specific knowledge. Bogleheads is better than this.

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Re: The effect of a difficult last name on employment prospects...

Post by mmmodem » Mon Jun 11, 2018 11:38 am

My given first name is Dung. It is a strong name in my native language. The meaning is lost in translation though. When the judge gave me the opportunity to change my name gratis on my US citizenship, I took him up on his offer. At the ripe age of 12, I was glad to be rid of that name. No more pauses during attendance for wide eyes teachers as they wonder how to pronounce my name without hurting my feelings. They end up spelling my name instead.

I don't see any problems with losing my cultural identity as my given name is still my name in my native tongue. My last name is also atrocious but my dad said it would be difficult for us if I changed my name for health care and tax purposes. Again, my surname is a normal name in my native language. The atrociousness is not my surname. It's the English spelling of my surname. There is no loss in culture here.

I had vowed to change my last name to my wife's last name when I got married. Unfortunately, DW's last name is even harder to pronounce. So, looks like my children will have to soldier on with a crappy last name.

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Re: The effect of a difficult last name on employment prospects...

Post by delamer » Mon Jun 11, 2018 12:04 pm

Spirit Rider wrote:
Mon Jun 11, 2018 10:52 am
delamer wrote:
Mon Jun 11, 2018 9:33 am
Except when it does. If I start eating a pint of ice cream a day and I gain 10 pounds in a month, is there a correlation and causation between the ice cream and the weight, all other things being equal?
Nope, you still don't get the fundamental difference between correlation and causation. You are making a conclusion not in evidence. It may be more likely than not, but the pint of ice cream/day is still not evidence of a causation. Maybe the individual developed an intestinal blockage, a fast growing tumor, etc...

The OP could be 100% subject to bias against their last name. You don't know them, you don't know the company, you don't know the hiring managers. it is quite presumptive and unfair for the peanut gallery to blame the results on the OP without any specific knowledge. Bogleheads is better than this.
First, I said “all other things being equal” meaning that the only change is the added ice cream. Any rational person would conclude the added ice cream is responsible for the weight gain.

Second, some responses are suggesting that it is likely that there is some issue other than his last name that is holding back the OP. For all we know, all the other applicants have a master’s degree and the OP has topped out due to having only a BA. The MS may not be a job requirement, but the lack still could be eliminating the OP from final consideration. Getting on the cert for a government job does not mean you are under serious consideration; it means that you meet the basic requirements.

I certainly wasn’t “blaming” the OP for anything.

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Re: The effect of a difficult last name on employment prospects...

Post by Spirit Rider » Mon Jun 11, 2018 12:23 pm

delamer wrote:
Mon Jun 11, 2018 12:04 pm
First, I said “all other things being equal” meaning that the only change is the added ice cream. Any rational person would conclude the added ice cream is responsible for the weight gain.
We either have a fundamental failure to communicate or you still don't get it. You have absolutely no idea that "all other things are equal." Not to mention the use of the specious logical fallacy of "any rational person would conclude." If you are going to "appeal to authority" at least have it be someone with actual authority , not some so-called rational person. As if their view has any merit whatsoever.
Last edited by Spirit Rider on Mon Jun 11, 2018 12:25 pm, edited 1 time in total.

allones
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Re: The effect of a difficult last name on employment prospects...

Post by allones » Mon Jun 11, 2018 12:24 pm

I have a 13 letter German last name. The short name crowd maybe doesn't realize how many times a day one is asked to spell, respell, pronounce, correct a stranger's attempt to pronounce, field guesses of the country of origin, and say, "no, it did not take me long to learn how to spell...because it's my name." And those are in friendly, casual circumstances multiple times a day. It's exhausting.

I work as a musician and long ago adopted a stage name. I, too, had suspicious that my last name was causing my resume to be overlooked when applying for tech industry day jobs that I was fully qualified for. Then I started using my stage name on my resumes and got interviews for roles that I felt were long shots, which lead to a job that was a big step up.

In my experience, a difficult last name is detrimental and if I need to look for work again, I'll use my stage name.

delamer
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Re: The effect of a difficult last name on employment prospects...

Post by delamer » Mon Jun 11, 2018 12:32 pm

Spirit Rider wrote:
Mon Jun 11, 2018 12:23 pm
delamer wrote:
Mon Jun 11, 2018 12:04 pm
First, I said “all other things being equal” meaning that the only change is the added ice cream. Any rational person would conclude the added ice cream is responsible for the weight gain.
We either have a fundamental failure to communicate or you still don't get it. You have absolutely no idea that "all other things are equal." Not to mention the use of the specious logical fallacy of "any rational person would conclude." If you are going to "appeal to authority" at least have it be someone with actual authority , not some so-called rational person. As if their view has any merit whatsoever.
Let’s go with “a fundamental failure to communicate” so as to not derail the thread any further.

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Re: The effect of a difficult last name on employment prospects...

Post by celia » Mon Jun 11, 2018 1:12 pm

kjvmartin wrote:
Sun Jun 10, 2018 9:33 pm
Sometimes I have simply been outdone, but there was a particular time where someone I used to be a line worker (lunch buddy, too) with was on the panel. We used to hypothesize about how to best answer interview questions for management roles. It went very well. He gave great feedback to my immediate supervisor about how impressed they were. I still did not get the job.
Your buddy was only one person on the panel, maybe the one with the least impact in the hiring decision (since he was your friend). The panel was probably not the one making the final decision, but narrowing the list down to 3 or so.

Did your wife take your surname? If so, does she have problems getting promotions? Maybe it is just your company or one hiring manager.

The only way you will know for sure if your name is a problem or not, is if you change it. If you have kids, will you want them to have it? Remember that your grandpa warned you. You will probably want to warn your grandkids. How many generations will this take? There's nothing wrong with men changing their last name. My husband (the oldest child) was the first in his family to be born with the surname he has. My FIL had a longer version of the same name. And FIL's father had the same surname but in another language until he immigrated.

If you feel a name change is an abandonment of your heritage, there are other things you can do to preserve it.


Side note: Have you ever written down your surname, then truncated it various places on the end? I know of a teacher whose last name was Takashita but the last letter was truncated on all the student schedules when they were printed out. The school had to find a different way to shorten it, since kids will be kids....
Last edited by celia on Mon Jun 11, 2018 1:18 pm, edited 1 time in total.

KT785
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Re: The effect of a difficult last name on employment prospects...

Post by KT785 » Mon Jun 11, 2018 1:17 pm

OP, I tend to agree with others that there's likely more at play here than merely a last name (not that it couldn't play a part).

For what it's worth, my surname was anglicized a number of generations ago (mid-1800s) from its original German, though the German surname was short and not difficult to pronounce. As I work on genealogy, I'm still not sure what prompted the name change . . . animosity to German immigrants at the time or perhaps something more suspect about the ancestor who changed it :twisted:

Nevertheless, I now live in an area where German surnames are very common and German heritage and culture are celebrated . . . I share in this interest in my ethnic background (my mom's family immigrated from Germany more recently and preserved that identity) but I constantly have to explain my last name when everyone assumes I'm of English descent.

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Re: The effect of a difficult last name on employment prospects...

Post by campy2010 » Mon Jun 11, 2018 1:46 pm

I have seen a couple of strategies used to improve the communication of their names.

1. Use an signature with a pronunciation in parentheses - Joe Iococca (pronounced EYE-OH-COKE-AH)
2. Suggest a shortened or abbreviated version of your last names for day to day communication - call me Admin Shortened Name

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