Monday, June 25, 2007

What's in a Name?

I once made a sales appointment at a large company in Napa. When my contact was repeating my name she said, "Amy Gardner, you can't get much more white bread than that!" That was the first time I had heard that expression--and it has always made me wonder. Would I do better in business if I had a more unique name? Recently I read an article about how parents are going to great lengths to pick the perfect, unique name for their children. Many of the parents said the reason they wanted a unique name was to help the child later on when she is looking for work. How come?

Nowadays, it is par for the course for potential employers to "google" an employment candidate before making any hiring decisions. Some people believe that being easily searchable on the internet gives you an edge in the job search. If you have a fairly common name, your information or profile may be hundreds of pages behind some of your moniker's more famous owners. If you have a distinctive name, you may pop up immediately in a google search, allowing a potential employer to quickly gain information on you.

So, doing my due diligence, I Googled my white bread name. Luckily, I have a famous TV character name twin--Amy Gardner from the West Wing. Mary Louise Parker's character's information fills hundreds of pages on Google. Back at my old corporate job several of the guys even said I had a lot of similiarities to her. Watching it years ago, I just wondered if that was a good thing or a bad thing. Along with other Amy Gardners there is a math wiz and there is also a famous producer who is linked to some movie hunks named Amy Gardner, sadly she too is not me.

Having a disctinctive name also leads to some trouble. Although you might be easily searchable, any indiscretions you may have had could quickly be found. As this article mentioned, the name Zoe Rose could perfect for a cute baby girl. It's also happens to be a porn star's handle. So looking up Zoe Rose one day could pull up some embarrassing although completely unrelated information on Zoe. Luckily, the name Amy Gardner is pretty common, and although I'm sure there are some notorious Amy's out there, I don't think they'll likely be linked to me.

So how do you deal with getting the right attention for your name in case a future employer is googling you? On your resume note some current research, marketing or press that has been attributed to you. If you've written anything, list your publication. If you were interviewed and know it's online, mention it in your accomplishments section. If you have some racy stuff on the web, my advice is to bury it. If you have a MySpace page with incriminating information--button up and get rid of it. Although you might not get as many online friends, you'll most likely get a job quicker. Then you can make friends at your new place of employment.

I think worrying that your name isn't unique enough is a waste of time. Even plain Jane names can be a bonus for you. You don't have to spell your name to new people a million times, and you can either hide in internet space or reveal professional items about yourself to highlight you and your name.

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