How to deal with a slight first name change?
February 2, 2012 2:59 PM   Subscribe

How to deal with a slight first name change?

My first name is Amanda-Bxxxx, but I've never felt like an Amanda, despite being known as that for 30 years. I'm moving across the country in a couple of weeks and am considering just going by A.B. This wouldn't be a formal change, just introducing myself to new people as A.B. and changing my name on Facebook / Twitter / etc.

Since I'll also be looking for a new job, I'm wondering if this change would be less professional than sticking with what is currently on my resume (Amanda-Bxxxx Lastname). Should I stick with my full name on my resume and ask to be called A.B. after I get hired? Should I start with A.B. from the beginning? Do you go by two names at once? How do you deal with it?

I realize I might be overthinking this, but it's all sort of perplexing to me.
posted by youcancallmeal to Work & Money (18 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I had a friend named Katie who told me, pretty offhand, "Hey, can you call me Kate from now on?" Done.

Keep your full name on your resume, because resumes are formal by definition. Tell your new coworkers that you go by A.B. the first time they say Amanda-Blurg.
posted by theodolite at 3:04 PM on February 2, 2012

keep your full name on your resume and introduce yourself by A.B. if you want more clarity you can write it out as "Amanda ('A.B.') Bxxx" on your resume.
posted by violetk at 3:09 PM on February 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

FWIW, I knew a female professor who used your initials-convention in formal writing only (probably perceived gender bias), but everyone knew her by her female first name. If you perceive possible gender bias in your profession when looking for a job, I'd roll with A.B. immediately, even on the resume.

But if not, if it's just an I-want-to-be-called-A.B.-henceforth, the top of your resume should read "Amanda-Bxxxx ("A.B.") Lastname"--think Shaquille "Shaq" O'neill--if you want them to greet you as A.B. in the interview and then refer to you as such in subsequent conversations--it gets them already thinking of the change. That also lets them know it's just an abbreviation of your first name.
posted by resurrexit at 3:15 PM on February 2, 2012

I'm in a slightly different position than you but basically you're asking people to address you by something other than your first name.

I go by my middle name.

It's only ever been an issue in formal settings where people who don't know me call me by my first name (e.g., when reading off of a class attendance sheet). A simple "hi, I actually go by gauche" suffices.

If the correction is likely to cause the speaker embarrassment or discomfort, (like if I were receiving an award or something) I'd save it for a time when I can inform them discreetly.

In general, nobody knows to call you by anything other than how you introduce yourself. So go with that.
posted by gauche at 3:16 PM on February 2, 2012

Or, what someone said ten minutes ago.
posted by resurrexit at 3:16 PM on February 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

I see no problem with this at all, using your full name in one place and a preferred name in another. In the databases I have for our clients, we have a field for "preferred name," and there are tons of people who do something similar.

I did kind of the opposite thing when I started working. My name growing up and within my family is "Pat," but at work and in professional settings and with most of my grownup friends, I'm "Patrick," because I hated being called "Pat" as a kid.

Now that I have nieces and nephews, I'm kind of fond of "Uncle Pat," so I'm contrary, as well.
posted by xingcat at 3:23 PM on February 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

Do you specifically want to go by your initials, or would B--- make sense as a preferred name?
posted by barnone at 3:31 PM on February 2, 2012

My legal first name is John, but I go by Kele*. Because I've introduced myself as Kele for so long now (20 years), it feels weird when someone calls me John**. So, I list my name on my resume as Kele. This has been confusing once or twice when I've been hired and had to explain to HR that I am indeed Kele, but would like my checks made out to John, but it hasn't been too troublesome other than that.

I'd say you should put what name you'd like to be addressed by on your resume. That's how people will remember you after your interview, and that's what they'll want to call you when you start working there. Might as well start with what they'll end up calling you later on anyway. I work in a pretty loose industry however (advertising), so YMMV.

One other note - I still know a couple of people from back in high school that call me John ('cause that's how they knew me). I never make an issue of it - that's who I am to them. I guess what I'm trying to convey is that you may want to go easy on people who already know you by one name not wanting to address you by another. Most people won't care one way or the other and will call you whatever you want, but a few will have a hard time with it. I guess that's more to do with habit than anything.

Anyway, good luck.

*John is a woefully common name. Shout, "JOHN?" in any crowded room in America and several guys will turn to look at you and raise their hands. My middle name is Kepley, but it gets old explaining that name to people, so I remove the 'p' and the 'y' and just go by Kele (sounds like 'Kelly', FYI).

**...though it happens often enough: Salespeople who've seen my credit card, customer service people who are looking through my accounts, bank tellers who have just handed me my ID back, &c.

posted by Pecinpah at 3:36 PM on February 2, 2012

I use my full name on official documents, but generally use my first two initials socially and in correspondence. I'll answer to a variety of things (including the usual diminutive of my given names), but if someone asks me, I introduce myself using my initials.

It's interesting - it is immediately clear how long someone has known me by what they call me. People I know from childhood call me one thing, college friends a second, and more recent friends a third. I kind of love it.
posted by Lulu's Pink Converse at 3:42 PM on February 2, 2012

I know 2 women who use their (uncommonly abbreviated) initials professionally.

One, KK, uses KK is all personal and in-person ways. (Email, introductions)
But on her professional website she is listed as Katherine K. Whatever.
But NO ONE calls her that.

The other, AB, uses her full name Ann-Bxxxx in email headers and formal introductions, but signs off with AB.
posted by k8t at 3:47 PM on February 2, 2012

Should I stick with my full name on my resume and ask to be called A.B. after I get hired?

Yes. You don't put nicknames on your resume, which is pretty much what this would be.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 3:52 PM on February 2, 2012

I might tend to agree with that, especially since the OP says "This wouldn't be a formal change, just introducing myself to new people as A.B. and changing my name on Facebook / Twitter / etc." Good thought.
posted by resurrexit at 4:03 PM on February 2, 2012

Yes. You don't put nicknames on your resume, which is pretty much what this would be

Now, I would disagree. I am a female, and I have gone by a shortened form of my first name since high school, and my resume/cv (I am an academic) has always had the shortened form listed. It is what I use personally and professionally. It's on my website and my business cards. The only place I use my full first name is on legal documents, like my drivers license, w2s etc. I've never had a problem, and I've been doing this for more than 20 years. I wouldn't think initials would be any different.
posted by DiscourseMarker at 4:26 PM on February 2, 2012

My full name is Jacinta, but I am called Jac. My resume says Jac (Jacinta) Lastname [maybe I should switch it to Jacinta "Jac"], my linked in profile says Jac Lastname. My name for legal purposes is Jacinta, but if you use that then you are either my mother, my bank, or my bartender (he thinks it's funny).

I have been interviewing candidates recently, and the only thing that bothers me is when their preferred name is not on the resume, or not clear. So a recent example: resume/etc. all says 'Austin J Smith', the morning of the interview the recruiter emailed me to say 'Hi just reminding you that he prefers to be called Jed'. Small thing, but I remember it.
posted by jacalata at 5:43 PM on February 2, 2012

I have a hyphenated first name, and I go by just the first part. To keep things simple, I'd use whatever will be easiest to verify. You don't want a situation where someone calls your references and ask for "A. B." and gets "Who?" in response.
posted by snickerdoodle at 7:48 PM on February 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

A resume, as a rule, should always include your full, legal name. It is seen as professional, it is clear this way that you are offering full disclosure, and more practically, they may very likely be running a background check on you. The last thing you want when being considered for a job is to make the hiring managers wonder why their credit/criminal/whatever history queries don't check out because you've provided what will seem to them to be an inexplicably bogus name.

Save the abbreviation for verbal introductions.
posted by labandita at 11:30 AM on February 3, 2012

I agree with DiscourseMarker and jacalata. Nickname all the way on the resume. This is common practice. There is nothing unprofessional about calling me by my nickname. I use the equivalent of the name Gwen instead of Gwendolyn. My email address says Gwen, my blog calls me Gwen, everybody I know professionally and personally calls me Gwen. Nobody ever blinks an eye when they find out my legal name is Gwendolyn and it has never been a barrier to employment.

I supply my legal name only where it is required, such as on tax forms. If your employer is going to do a background check, you would typically have to provide a SSN/SIN/or its equivalent, at which point you can furnish your legal name.

Your particular nickname is a special case because you are using just initials. It invites potential racial discrimination, as some people from India commonly use that nickname pattern and people in the US have a thing against H-1B workers. Also, just using your initials may suggest that you have something to hide (your gender or otherwise).
posted by crazycanuck at 1:00 PM on February 3, 2012

I agree with everyone who as suggested Amanda-Bxxx (A.B.) LastName. One thing to consider is that recruiters/HR will be doing google searches, social networking searches, using technology in other ways to find you and what you have done and you should make it easy for them to find you and previous work.
posted by echo0720 at 1:28 PM on February 3, 2012

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