"Whitewashing" your name (and your resume)

Last week, I was helping a friend of mine review some resumes. I came across one where the applicant's first name was Shardoneneah. This perplexed me until I realized that someone was trying to spell Chardonnay.

Now before people start going in about freedom of expression and cultural heritage, there's a vast difference between Akilah and Shaqueenlakiki. Stop it. There's a difference between ethnic and ghetto-fab. Akilah is Arabic in origin and means bright or intelligent. Shaqueenlakiki is just some nonsense slapped together.

I spent years in Human Resources.  I've had to whitewash [pardon the expression] many a resume in my day to get a hiring manager to look at it objectively. Let's face facts, prejudice happens. If your parent(s) gifted you with a name that may reveal your race, you should just understand what that means for you job search wise.

I've had hiring managers say they needed someone "who fit in with the team" - that's code for talks like us, thinks like us, and sometimes looks like us. Unless you are positive your resume will stand on it's own merits, your name should be Shar in that header. 

Unfortunately, people are going to make assumptions about a woman named Shardoneneah or Shaqueenlakiki. Deserved or not. Like I was telling someone one on Twitter, no - it's not fair that Moonbeam and Apple get a break but that's life. One person named Rashed told me that since 9/11, he's had crazy backlash from his name. He's not Muslim but even if he happened to be- that doesn't make him a terrorist. But that hasn't stopped people from acting wonky. He goes by Shed on his professional documents now.

One of our BnB regulars, Diamond Jackson, shared that she has lamented over her name for years. According to her, "Diamond Jackson" sounds like the name of someone who shakes her hindparts on a pole down at the House of Cheeks during Happy Hour. Professionally, she goes by Di or D. C. Jackson.

[In addition to your name, I've also advised folks against claiming their Greek affiliations, charitable causes or political leanings on a resume. You don't want to give a company any reason to rule you out on paper alone. Yes it's against all the rules to discriminate. Guess what? People do it anyway.]

Names are important. They are the often the only thing someone knows about you. Like it or not, they leave an impression. I remember my father telling me about twins one of his patients had. Phonetically, they were named -aur-ang-el-loh and lay-mong-el-loh. Yes, the mother had named them OrangeJello and LemonJello. I'm sorry, mama should've been slapped for that. Then there was the woman who named her child Metamucil because that's what was on TV while she was in labor. The woman who saw the bracelet on her baby's arm and thought she was already named Fah-maul-lay... the tag said "Female". :-/

What do you think of these super creative names? We joke about Peaches versus Priscilla and Preston versus Pookie but don't you believe that some preconceptions come with certain names? Have you taken things off your resume to appear as bland as possible? Thoughts, comments, insights? The floor is yours...