is my name holding me back, corporate charity matches, and more

It’s five short answers to five short questions. Here we go…

1. Would it be inappropriate to direct my company’s charity match toward domestic violence?

My new company proves a 1:1 match up to $200/year for donations made to a qualified 501(c) organization (schools, nonprofits, etc.), provided that the organization is located in our general region of the country. I donate every year to my K-12 school and college, but they are not considered “local” and the company will not match donations to either organization

I would like to donate to another organization in order to take advantage of the benefit and would like to donate to a qualified domestic violence organization that has provided assistance to me in the past. I am sure it will qualify under the 501(c) rule, but was wondering if it’s “appropriate” to donate to. Most of the other employees donate to the local hospitals, homeless shelters, and youth foundations. The charities are not tied back to employees – there’s a list provided at the end of the year that says what charities were donated to, but it wouldn’t match the employee with their charity of choice. I know domestic violence generally doesn’t get brought up in the workplace and don’t want to rock the boat as a new employee!

Go ahead and donate without any qualms! Many people donate to domestic violence organizations without having been survivors of abuse themselves, so it definitely doesn’t reveal anything personal about you, other than that you’re a kind person who opposes domestic violence. I can understand how you started worrying, but I can promise you that no one is going to draw any personal conclusions or find it in any way inappropriate.

2. Can I ask for a second chance at the job I quit after one month?

I started a new job last year with an amazing company whose values align with mine. It was a great company that gave back to the community. I truly felt that I landed my dream job. The job required a great deal of travel, which I typically enjoy, and meeting a lot of new people and developing relationships.

When I returned from training, I felt paralyzed by my anxiety and I ended up quitting. I was so overwhelmed and started feeling clouded by my spiked nerves. It may be because everything was so new and I put myself under my own pressure. When I told my boss how I felt, she told me that my situation wasn’t unique and that everyone has felt that way at one point or another but that things get better, and even offered to help me get over my nerves. I was so grateful for her offer but still decided that it was best to resign. After I quit, I wasn’t even sure I made the right decision and after about a month later, I realized I made a foolish decision. It’s been a year and I haven’t been able to get over it.

I know my original job position is filled, but I truly want to be part of this company once again, even if it is another position. How should I approach this situation, and is it a lost cause since I left only after a month from my start date?

Unfortunately, yeah, I think it’s probably a lost cause. At this point, one of the main things they know about you is that you crumbled under pressure, to the point of quitting after only a month on the job. That doesn’t mean they think you’re a terrible person or anything, but it does mean that they’re not especially likely to take a chance on hiring and training you again. I would stop looking back and second-guessing your decision (which was clearly right for you at the time) and instead focus on moving forward with a different job.

3. How often do I need to check in with my references?

I’ve been in and out of the job search over the past year or so, and when I’m on the upswing of searching for new jobs I always make a point to ask my potential references if it’s okay that I use them. They’ve always happily obliged me.

Because my job search has been rather sporadic (periods of a lot of searching, periods of hardly any searching at all), I don’t feel right going in a cycle of asking my references if they’re okay to be my reference, but at the same time I’m not sure if they’ll see their earlier agreement to be a reference as a green light to put them as a reference without asking them again. What’s the best solution? Is an agreement of being a reference from a few months ago grounds to have them be an outstanding reference every time a job search starts again in earnest, or should a reference be asked each and every time even if they’ve agreed to be a reference before?

If you’ve asked in the 8-12 months, you don’t need to ask again — although if you get to the reference checking stage with an employer, it’s smart and considerate to give your references a heads-up that they might be getting a call.

4. Is my name discrediting me?

My name is Star and I feel like that may discredit me in a way while people are reviewing my resume. When I switched to a sales role at the last company I worked at, my manager suggested I use my middle name instead. What are your thoughts on this?

I don’t think Star is particularly disreputable — I mean, it certainly doesn’t scream traditional or mainstream, but I don’t think it’s going to be a huge issue that requires changing. But names do affect the way people see you, particularly you’re just a disembodied resume, so I’ll throw this out to others to weigh in on in the comments.

5. My availability changed and now my hours have been cut

I’m a part-timer at Sam’s Club and full-time student with a 2-year-old. My job has hired about 20 new employees .. all part-timer as well and of course they’re getting the good hours. About a month and half ago, I had to change my work schedule due to my school schedule. I gave them the days and hours that I’m willing to work with and they said, “Okay, that’s fine.” But they cut my hours from 25-29 to about 9-13 hours per week. I’ve spoken to them and nothing was fixed. Unfortunately, they basically told me those are the hours that are being offered to me, even though I’ve been working with them for almost 4 years. Should I go to the Department of Labor or what can I do?

Well, there’s nothing illegal about cutting your hours, as long as they weren’t doing it because of your race, religion, sex, or other protected category, which doesn’t sound like the case here. It sounds like they cut your hours because they didn’t like your new availability, which is their prerogative. But why not go talk to your manager and say something like, “Since my availability changed, the hours I’m being scheduled for have dropped dramatically. I really need to work more hours. Is there anything I can do to get more hours back?” You might hear that they just don’t need you for the hours you’re now available, in which case you’d have to decide if you’re willing to switch your schedule back, or accept what they’re giving you, or look for a new job.

{ 467 comments… read them below }

  1. Is.it.Legal

    4. Is my name discrediting me?

    I think it does discredit you. Companies will hire you, but you have to be twice as qualified and “John” has to be half qualified. Please believe me on this, I have a foreign long name and people make subtle comments without realizing what that means to me. Recently John referred me to a job and he told the person he was referring me to that they will not have a problem with my name. John is a hiring manager, it made me think if he had to mention this does he use the same rule when hiring at his company? Maybe I am too analytical when I don’t get a job, just maybe.

    1. Ivy

      I don’t think foreign names lead to discrediting the same way as ethnic ones, or at least in cosmopolitan areas. I am a foreigner, working a prestigious company on the East Coast and we have more foreign sounding names than typical American ones.

      I did change my family name (took my husband’s), because I was tired of spelling it every single time I introduce myself. Just plain convenience.

      1. Anonymous

        It depends on the company you’re working for. A friend of mine uses an American name instead of his forgein one and noticed many more job oppurtunities. Another friend told me to put “US Citizen” on my resume so people won’t automatically assume I’m not based on my name.

        As for Star, I would put Star Middle Last. But I agree with This.is.legal it does affect you when people don’t know you. Many people might automatically assume things you’re not. I’m sure many people don’t care and really look at what matters like credentials but you’ll always have judgmental people. I noticed it more and more in the corporate world.

        One time I called a help desk and it was a lady in the Philippines who said “Hi my name is Sunshine…(the rest of her 15 sec long intro).” And I responded. “Oh, Sunshine, that’s a pretty name.” And she didn’t even hear what I said and replied, “yes that really is my name.” I guess she gets comments on it so much she was on ‘auto reply’.

        Since you’re in sales you could take advantage of it and use it as a selling point.

    2. Judy

      I once heard a manager talk about someone who was already an employee, “Kenny? Don’t most people shorten that to Ken by the time they’re that age?”

      1. SevenSixOne

        I will admit to having the same kneejerk reaction any time I meet an adult with a diminutive name like Suzy or Billy.

      2. Jazzy Red

        Get over it, folks. I’m almost retirement age, and many of my older friends have names like that.

        Would you have told Johnny Carson to change his name?

    3. Lanya

      Names are definitely a big deal, and people do tend to judge a book by its cover. Personally, I will not be taking my fiance’s last name because it is very “ethnic-sounding”, and his ethnicity is not currently favorable in our region of the U.S.

      1. Lila

        Me too! Funny but my husband and I we are having an argument about me taking his name as we speak. And we have been married almost 5 years!
        There are many reasons I do not want to take his name, but one of them is because his last name identifies with a specific religion, which I have no issues with at all. But I have not converted to his religion and I feel taking his last name would give the impression I have.

        1. Lanya

          Lila, I have the same problem. My fiance is Iranian, and his name is so unusual that people frequently ask me what ethnicity he is. Unfortunately, in my part of the world (white middle-class Philadelphia suburbs) , when I say “Iranian”, people over 50 tend to recall the Iranian Hostage Crisis, and people under 50 generally think “Muslim Terrorist”. It’s a shame, but I have actually gotten jokes about these things, to my face. So, in general, I have now resorted to saying he is Persian, which is still correct, but more vague, and results in fewer assumptions. It’s a shame. His name is beautiful, but at least for now, I am keeping my own.

          1. Marie

            That’s a shame. I have a lot of Iranian friends I got to know when I lived in Europe. One of them, Ali, changed his name tag at the currency exchange he worked for to “Carlos” so people wouldn’t assume he was an Arab (he thought he looked South American enough to go with a Spanish name). Strangely enough, it wasn’t the Europeans he had a problem with- it was the Arabs. He said he got really tired of them thinking he was an Arab and would give them discounts. Anyway, it isn’t just here that names can be an issue.

      2. Diet Coke Addict

        I took my husband’s Asian last name. I am white. I have gone to interviews and had people say “Oh! You’re not Chinese!”

        1. Neither is my husband.
        2. What the hell.
        3. To my face, you say this???

        1. Dan

          There was actually a Seinfeld episode about this – I guess it’s not so funny when it’s happening to you :-(

        2. EE

          I recently made a new friend. Both of us had recently married and both had few other married friends. We talked a little about changing names, which we both had. She said, and I quote!

          “I took it to troll people.”

          She is white and has taken a very common SE Asian surname. She enjoys discomfiting people a little when they have expectations that are thrown off when they see her.

    4. Anoners

      I think *maybe* it depends on where you are job hunting. I live in a very major city, and people wouldn’t think twice about this (we actually have staff members with way more unique names). I would like to think that people aren’t going to judge you for this, but maybe I’m just being naïve?

      1. Anoners

        Also, maybe names are more of a big deal in the US than other countries? I’m not saying that in a THE US IS A BAD PLACE kind of way at all, but a lot of the comments on this one have thrown me off. Anywhoo, just do you Star!

        1. Meg

          I’m not sure if you’re from the U.S, but there’s been a trend here over the past few years of people picking much more unusual, unique names for their children. While this has definitely helped break away from the standard list of “traditional” names, it’s also garnered a fair amount of ridicule in the media who like to paint a picture of hippie New Age parents creating special snowflake children. Some of it is overhyped, of course, but the opinions ARE there.

          There’s also several studies that suggest hiring managers really DO make decisions based on the candidate’s name (i.e. traditionally “black” or “ethnic” names are less likely to be chosen for an interview than “white” names). It’s horribly unfair, but true.

          1. fposte

            Also, changing spellings of established names. There must be 45 ways to spell “Mackenzie.”

            Sadly, the wonderful “Baby’s Named a Bad, Bad Thing” site has redesigned, and you can no longer browse through categories like “When You’re in Love, the Whole World Is Welsh” and “Brought to You by the Letter Y.”

            1. Anonymous

              I LOVED that site!!!!!!!!!!! I was so sad when it changed – I often cite “Brought to You by the Letter Y”

          2. Marie

            I don’t know about it being just the last few years. Back in the late 80’s I worked with a young lady named Lady Love. Her sister was Ginger Snap. She told me her parents were hippies.

        1. Ruffingit

          There was a Seinfeld episode about everything. For a show about nothing, they sure covered everything. :)

      2. Anonymous

        I hate to say it, but I live in San Francisco and I would do a double-take if I saw the name Star. Sorry.

        1. deedee

          I am in my fifties and had one classmate in elementary – high school named Star and another named Starr. Both with Christmas birthdays. This was way before hippie names. There was also a Beverly Cleary book (I think?) where the character had a baby sister named Star (or Starr?) Star is really not that unusual of a name in my opinion. But yeah, I am old.

      1. Elizabeth West

        There was a joke on Roseanne, where Becky complained about her name:

        Becky: “I hate my name. It sounds like a chicken noise. Becky, beck beck beck beeecky.”

        Roseanne: “Hey, it was the ’70s. You could have been named Frampton or Chablis!”

    5. Mena

      Here is a hint from a hiring manager … I don’t read the names on resumes until after I review the entire resume. Why bias yourself with silly perceptions of names and assumptions about gender? The name is really the ONLY thing on the resume that doesn’t matter to me.

        1. Judy

          And I, as not a hiring manager but a senior employee who reviews resumes and makes notes for my boss, received a zipped up file of everyone’s resumes Smith_Wakeen.pdf, Jones_Jane.pdf, etc.

          Not sure how I would not notice the name as I’m clicking on it.

          1. Jamie

            That’s how I always get them – unless someone redacts the name before you get them I don’t know how you’d avoid seeing the name.

    6. Anonymous

      I wouldn’t think anything of a name like “Star”, unless the last name was Wars. Then I’d laugh, but still read your resume. Your name isn’t that unusual, and there are so many young folks out there with different names these days. Don’t worry about it and don’t overthink it.

      1. Marie

        Good point. I would even go as far as saying the name would draw attention to the resume and if well-written, might even help her get on the interview list.

      2. Mander

        Maybe there are just more hippies and artists in my home state than other parts of the world, but “Star” doesn’t seem all that unusual to me. I have met or know of more than one, although for some reason it is usually spelled with two r’s.

    7. holly

      what do hiring people think about using first and middle initials instead of names? does that make a difference?

      1. Ask a Manager Post author

        You mean only initials and then a last name? I’d find it hard to know how to address you when I emailed you. (Normally I’d address you by your first name.)

        1. holly

          thanks, i use my regular first name and don’t plan to change. just wondered if it was a solution or not.

      2. Anonymous

        It’s something I would wonder about, and probably ask you about in your interview. Names really are not deal breakers. At least not on the West coast. There may be regional variations, though.

    8. Anon - until now

      I’m a long-time lurker, but now I have to out myself to disagree with Ivy’s take on this. I was named after a fictional character in books that enjoyed niche popularity in the 60’s and 70’s, but were recently made into blockbuster movies. I’ll spare you the guessing: my full name is Galadriel, from Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings. Let’s just say that type of name was really unusual for my generation.

      I go by a shortened version (Gadrie), which isn’t spelled how it sounds (pronounced GAY-dree), so EVERY TIME I meet someone new I have to go through the pronunciation (no, it’s not Deidre…GAYdree) (no offense to any Deidres out there), and usually the full story of the origin, because people want to know. Then I just laugh it off and say “Hippie parents. Good thing they stopped having kids after me and my brother, because they’d have ended up with Bilbos and Frodos. Haha.”

      I don’t feel like anyone has ever discredited me, my resume, my qualifications, etc. because of my name. I’ve never asked a hiring manager what their first impression of my resume was considering my name, but I don’t think it’s ever stopped me from getting an interview and serious consideration for whatever position I’m seeking. The only comment I’ve really gotten is from people I’ve worked with over the phone or email – when we meet in person the first time, a few individuals have said “Wow, you don’t match the picture I had in my head at all.” I’m not sure what they think a “Gadrie” should look like, but apparently I don’t fit the image!

      At any rate, I agree with other commenters who say there are so many unusual names these days, most people won’t bat an eye. I certainly wouldn’t. So be confident, don’t feel apologetic about your name, and let your qualifications speak for themselves.

          1. Jen S. 2.0

            I wonder if we know the same Lorien? She introduced herself by saying, “Like the car, DeLorean, without the De.”

    9. Lils

      I have a first name that strikes many as beautiful and unique. I’ve met less than a handful of other people with my name and I believe that my name has opened doors for me both professionally and socially.

      I have two friends who have changed their professional (and in one case, legal) first names from the hippy-dippy moniker their parents gave them. They’ve had better luck with job searches and proposals getting accepted. Before changing, one constantly got the comment “You must be joking.” (How rude is that?!) Having benefited from having a name that indicates I am a professional and is memorable but not distractingly so, I would recommend changing if you have a weird/bad one.

      Not that I think any of this is fair, mind you. I like Mena’s advice about not reading names till you’re finished reviewing the resume. But I guarantee not everyone does that.

    10. Anonymous

      Maybe change all biz cards and email signatures to

      S. Middle Last
      XYZ Company

      but sign everything as Star

      Thanks!
      -Star

      S. Middle Last
      XYZ Company

      I could see it being an issue for a sales person as not getting your foot in the door, but once you’ve made contact you should use your name in all correspondence and communication.

    11. Aim

      Met someone wither the name Notorious. Will havoc an impact on hiring managers, whether they want it to or not.

      1. Jamie

        When it’s that extreme you’re correct, and it’s not fair but it will.

        A hundred years ago I temped in the finance department at the home office of huge university with branches all over the country, just entering names into the AS400 8 hours a day (it was as awesome as it sounds) so I’d see tens of thousands of names. There were two I will remember for the rest of my life.

        One was a woman and her first name was Velvety. Of course legal names are on paperwork, so I wondered what she actually went by because I cannot wrap my head around going through life telling people that you’re velvety. Adjectives are generally a bad idea, but this seems to indicate her mom didn’t think she’d become anyone who would need to command respect.

        The other one was a man and my hand to God his legal first name was Prettiest. His last name , which I won’t type because I’m not going to toss some strangers full name onto the internets….but it was a very typical and common last name…which also happens to be a very common euphemism for penis.

        That one stopped me, I had to check my spelling on that a couple times because I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. Some parents somewhere looked at beautiful newborn baby and named him “Prettiest (Slang for Penis.). Talk about pressure…if that’s you’re name you’ve got a lot to live up to.

        I know names are a highly personal preference thing, I go by my middle name so exclusively I didn’t even answer right away in the hospital because they used my first name and I tend to forget that’s me (and I don’t do the “call me Jamie” thing when it comes to medical stuff…I don’t care what they call me as long as they submit the paperwork with the name the insurance co will approve .) I never bothered to get it legally changed since it want worth the hassle and I don’t really care what the instance co and IRS call me…but those two? I’d have headed to the courthouse on my 18th birthday to change either of those.

        So a good rule of thumb for new parents…stay away from the adjectives.

  2. Sourire

    #5 – Is the drop in hours unique to you, or have other part timers had their hours dropped as well? Your drop in hours certainly could be due to your change in availability, but I wonder if the 20 new hires are just as big a factor. Unless your company just lost of lot of workers, or these 20 are only seasonal temps who are only working extra seasonal hours, it seems likely that there are just less hours to go around. You can’t take X amount of hours and divide it by Y+20 and expect that number to come out the same as X divided by simply Y, as it was previously.

    1. Meg

      A common practice with Walmart and Sam’s Club is to cut hours of long-term employees who were making $9+ by 10-20 hours a week per employee (saving a minimum of $90/week/employee), and to give 15-20 hours to new seasonal empoyees paying $7.50/hr.

      So if you lost 10 hours,and you’re getting paid $10/hr, they save $100. Another employee loses 10 hours, and she gets paid $11/hr, they save $110 for a grand total of $210 saved. They hire 1 new employee, seasonal, and can pay them $8/hr for 20 hours, costing them only $160. They made $50/wk by hiring this ONE person.

      Why are they cutting the long-term employees hours? Because they make more per hour, $11+ in some instances, simply because of the annual performance increase. They make more per hour, so cut their hours, and hire someone who can work for half the difference.

      As far as labor board goes, you’re kinda screwed because you’re part-time. If you were full-time status (which, again, is common for part-timers to work full-time hours, and when you bring it up, the management reduces your hours instead of making you full-time status), you can most certainly take it to the labor board as for Walmart/Sam’s Club, 36 hours is considered full-time. So if you were full-time and only getting 25 hours, and you take it to the labor board, the unemployment office will notify the employer, and either fine them (and you get paid by Unemployment for the difference in hours) or your employer will have to increase your hours to the minimum full-time, or your employer will drop you to part-time.

      Source: I was a salaried employee of Walmart for some time.

      1. Kim

        I’m actually a part-timer but whats going to happen to me if I do Unemployment? The only thing the company can do is just boost up my hours right?

  3. Lynn

    I think Star is a perfectly normal name for a woman. I really don’t think it would play any part in you not getting a job.

      1. Verde

        Low class? Really? I know several people named Star (and Meadow, and Destiny, and so on) and they are fantastic people. That seems harshly judgmental, but then I guess that’s what the OP is worried about. It could be a generational or regional thing, I don’t know, but that’s a lot of judging based on a first name.

        OP, use the name *you* like and are *you* comfortable with and let your work speak for itself.

        1. EngineerGirl

          Please Verde, don’t give advice based on the way you want the world to be. Instead give pragmatic advice on how to deal with how things really are, warts and all.

          Here’s the truth – people judge based on your name. You’ll never get the chance to let your work speak for itself because you won’t get the interview – at least you won’t unless you are head and shoulders above everyone else in qualifications.

          Here’s the ugly truth:
          http://www.chicagobooth.edu/capideas/spring03/racialbias.html

          Star sounds black. Or new age. But it doesn’t sound mainstream and yes some idiots will discriminate based on it.

          Practically, use your middle name.

          1. Amber

            Also consider that if someone hires based on just a name then you don’t want to work there. I sure wouldn’t.

            1. Mallorie, the recruiter

              I agree with Amber. Going with your middle name is totally up to you. But if you decide not to, just remember, your name may be “holding you back” from the kinds of people you wouldn’t want to work for anyway.

              I see really strange names all day and really don’t think twice about it. But I KNOW that there are people who would absolutely have judgments on a name, even if only subconsciously. Those are not the kind of people I’d want to call my coworkers!

            2. Canuck

              +1 OP #4, I have a unique name too (my parents named me after a character in a science fiction novel), my middle name is not mainstream either. When I meet new people I am always dealing with the “Wow, that’s such a pretty/unique name.” conversation, it’s just a fact of life for me. I wouldn’t want to work for a company who would or wouldn’t hire someone based on a name. You should use whatever name you want. I would never use another name other than the one I have, because that would just seem weird to me and frankly, I really like name and wouldn’t want to go by anything else. But, if you want to go by your middle name, that’s fine, it’s totally up to you.

              1. Lanya

                P.S. I really want to name my imaginary firstborn son Anakin, but I don’t think I can saddle him with that. Maybe as a middle name.

                1. Susan

                  I know that at a prior job we had a Princess Leia . Never met her, just saw the name in the employee directory.

                1. VintageLydia

                  In an alternate universe I would absolutely name a daughter Trillian. The traditional Irish/Celtic/Gaelic names I favor in general are weird enough, though, at least to Americans :P The only reason my son’s name isn’t Alistair (favorite all time male name hands down no exceptions–and not that weird even!) is that it would likely be shortened to Al (my least favorite male name hands down.)

                2. The IT Manager

                  Apparently “Ford Prefect” is funnier if you’re British and know that Prefect was model of Ford.

                3. SimonTheGrey

                  *I would name my son Alistair (or Alastor), but it happens to be the name of a character in a video game that I geeked out about HARD, and my hubby is a little resentful of that fact.

                4. VintageLydia

                  I LOVE THE SAME GAME! But I loved the name before the game was a twinkle in Bioware’s eyes. Hubby knows that, though he teases me about it, anyway :P

                5. bearing

                  (Reply to The IT Manager who said:)

                  “Apparently “Ford Prefect” is funnier if you’re British and know that Prefect was model of Ford.”

                  Yes, if you wanted to translate the joke into American, he’d be Ford Escort.

            3. Natalie

              Not everyone is going to want to make that same choice, though. Maybe Star is in a particularly hard-hit area of the country or in a small field and can’t afford to reject companies based on these sorts of criteria.

              1. A Bug!

                Agreed. There is not always the luxury of turning down work.

                The world sucks, and it would be nice if it didn’t, but sometimes you have to play the game before you can change the rules.

                1. Dan

                  I kinda wonder what it must be like to be in a position to be picky about my employer and coworkers.

                  Even if I had a ton of money in the bank and could fend off bill collectors and put food on the table, I wouldn’t want to shrink my savings unless it was a real emergency.

                  Meh, I guess I’ll never know…

              2. Jennifer

                It might depend on what kind of career Star wants to have, too. If if’s in a high powered, conservative (in my opinion, hell) field, then maybe a name change would be better. But other than that, I’d rather work somewhere that’s okay with that name anyway. Besides, Star is an awesome name.

                I work at a college, though, and some names people give their kids are just horrible. I’m talking sound INCREDIBLY dirty/porn star/poop joke, really bad spelling, multiple apo’sto’phe’s in the name, pun names…. Yes, I’m judging, but I just feel sorry for those kids having to go through life named something that sounds like they have diarrhea. (And no, I’m not gonna elaborate because everyone Googles themselves.)

            4. Anonymous

              It isn’t about hiring FOR a name. Same example with stop looking for what IS legal vs. the absence of a law.

              The reality is some company still let HR do initial screening and while the hiring manager wants qualified people, the screener is looking for ways to cut people. Same as location on a resume. Ie – 2 hours commute for an average resume?? This is a way to cut regardless of how discriminating it is, and you never know since you are not called.

          2. Sourire

            So we should change our names or go with middle names that sound more white? I guess it’s a pragmatic solution for this instance, but it’s also a very short-sighted solution that is akin to taking one step forward and then two back. I am never going to argue that racial/ethnic/gender etc bias doesn’t exist, but I will certainly argue the answer is not to conform to the majority. All that does is perpetuate the problem.

            It is likely that OP’s name may affect her job search, and it is her prerogative to go by another if she so chooses (and I would not judge her for it), but as more and more of the Stars of this world that keep their name, convention and bias will more than likely shift to accommodate that. We could have made the same pragmatic argument if a woman asked Alison about wearing pants to work years ago. It absolutely could have negatively affected that woman’s professional image. But I sure am glad women like her went ahead and did it anyway, because I really do love wearing pants to work.

            1. EngineerGirl

              We didn’t do it anyway. We played “the man” for many years to get the foot in the door. And as we rose up the ladder we softened the rules.

              Sadly, if you are among the first you’ll have to make sacrifices just to get in. And using your middle name is a small sacrifice in my book.

              But as the first woman ever in many departments and the first civilian woman ever to be deployed to certain sites I don’t think of it as “selling out” to look a little more like the guy in charge. Once you are in you get to change the rules – from the inside.

              Doing things “for the pinciple” needs to be saved for the big stuff. Using your middle name to help the others feel more comfortable with you is NOT the big stuff.

              And by the way, Alison could wear pants because those of us that went ahead of her wore awful navy suits and Dianne Fienstein bow ties and learned football so we could bond. You have no idea the sacrifices we made.

              Conform enough to push the agenda forward

              1. Sourire

                Bad example with the pants I suppose, forgive me. I’m sure you could understand what the general idea/sentiment was however. Agree to disagree on the general principle. I do think it’s the big stuff, because it revolves around ethnic and racial bias and those are battles worth fighting in my opinion.

                Like I said, I would find no fault with OP if she did decide to use her middle name, and agree it’s a practical and pragmatic choice. I just don’t think it needs to be the only choice.

                1. EngineerGirl

                  Really? Its lack of perspective I suppose. You think it’s a big deal because you don’t realize the sacrifices paid by previous generations. Women assaulted for working on the assembly line. Blacks having to deal with co-workers that hung up white hoods. If you told those groups that all they had to do to fit in was yo change their name they would laugh for joy.

                  Each generation gets closer and closer to equality. The sacrifices get smaller with each generation.

                  But refusing to use a white middle name to get your foot in the door in a soft economy is not the hill to die on

                2. Sourire

                  I get that. I am not trying to marginalize any of the horrendous things people have gone through and will continue to go through based on inequalities and prejudice.

                  Things are better now for many groups than they once were. They will continue to get better by pushing the status quo rather than bending to it. One person changing his or her name is not going to matter in the long run, this I know. But when people continue to do that, it only perpetuates the bias and inequality. The battles may look different now, but that doesn’t necessarily diminish their importance. What I meant by stating it is the big stuff was not to imply it is the same as fearing for one’s life simply by going to work. Rather, it is “the big stuff” because this is where change can be made in our society at this point. Is it an equal struggle no, of course not. Is it one that is important due to the significance it could have on socioeconomic inequality and racial/ethnic/other prejudices, absolutely. At least in my view.

                3. Cat

                  Engineer Girl, I think that’s an unreasonable position. It’s not a lack of perspective – it’s a shift in perspective. As challenges change (and hopefully lessen) someone still needs to keep the ball moving forward. And in this case, that might be by keeping their name and dispelling associated stereotypes. Nobody is obligated to do this one way or the other and, yeah, you should be aware of the challenges, but you are not dishonoring people’s sacrifices by not changing your name. You’re choosing to make your own for your own reasons.

                  Also, getting in the door isn’t the only thing. People can take stands on hiring just like they can take stands on what happens after they’re hired.

              2. Ask a Manager Post author

                Wait, am I the pants-wearing trailblazer in this example? I don’t think I’m the right generation, but I’m glad to be a trailblazer for fleece right now.

                1. Sourire

                  I intended you to be the advice giver to my pants trailblazer, but please do go right ahead and fight the good fight for fleece. I think we ALL can agree that is the big stuff :)

                2. AnonAnony

                  I have a friend who freaks out at the very idea of people wearing fleece in professional and formal situations. I now live in the pacific northwest, and I have come to adore the “dress fleece” that is our outerwear 10 months of the year!

              3. Jake

                I could not agree more. People get caught up in rebelling for the sake of principle. That gets you nowhere, there are only 2 ways to instate fundamental change, and one is much easier than the other.

                One is to do exactly what you said. Conform enough to get to a position to change the rules.

                The other is organized, wide-spread disobedience. This take effort on the level of MLK Jr. 99.99% of people don’t have the skills to even pull it off.

                Individual disobedience gets you nowhere closer to instating real change. It might make you feel good. It might make some very small aspect change, but it certainly isn’t enough to end name discrimination.

                1. AMG

                  Exactly. You aren’t trying to change society; you are just trying to get a job. Star sounds a bit low-class and stripper-ish. It should have no bearing on how you are perceived as a person, but it will. I’m sorry, but I suggest using your middle name.

                2. Kara

                  I’m sorry, but I have to agree with AMG. The first thing I thought when I read the name “Star” wasn’t any ethnic reference – it was more of a low-class reaction. The first thing I thought of was a stripper or adult film star. Either that, or a love child of a hippie. I too suggest the OP using her middle name. Its an unfortunate society that we live in when people are judged by their names, but if your objective is to get a job being a trendsetter isn’t always going to work to your advantage. Some hiring managers might look at Star and think, “Hey, now that’s a unique name.” But its more likely that they’re going to have the same negative reaction as many people on this thread.

                  This is one of the biggest reasons I gave my children mainstream names. instead of something artsy and creative…like Apple, or Blue Ivy, or North… I figured they’d thank me one day when they are respected in their careers.

                3. JuliB

                  If we look at it from the other side, how many of us might crinkle our noses if we had a resume from Reginald Morgan Wilhelm IV? Might we make some judgments (perhaps unconscious) against that person?
                  ~
                  I think one thing I could possibly be concerned with in terms of a someone names Misty (referred to above) is that I would subconsciously fear that they might be a special snowflake.

                4. AMG

                  And I’m sorry Star. I wasn’t very caffinated when I wrote this. I don’t mean for this to sounds personal and rude. I am giving you my unfiltered, honest opinion. I think this is a harsh topic with a group of folks who aren’t afraid to tell it exactly as they see it. I commend you for taking a hard look at this and seeking an uncomfortable answer. I hope you will send us an update and that it’s a positive one. Sending you prosperous, positive, employed vibes!

                5. Nonprofit Office Manager

                  Sometimes “feeling good” is the only desired result in terms of individual disobedience. When I was 19, I worked at Red Robin (chain of burger restaurants) while I was in college. One day, they wanted everyone to wear buttons that said something like “I go crazy for bacon burgers!” As a vegetarian, I refused to wear the button. Had the buttons said “Try our new bacon burgers!,” I would have worn one with no problem. But there was no way I was going to submit to a forced *personal* testimonial for something I didn’t believe in. In this instance, I wasn’t trying to make the company stop selling bacon burgers. I wasn’t trying to get other people to stop eating bacon burgers. I wasn’t trying to get my coworkers to rise up en mass to protest the buttons. I simply didn’t want to (and did not) wear a button.

                6. Jamie

                  @ Kara

                  The first thing I thought of was a stripper or adult film star.

                  I know it’s not fair, but these knee jerk judgements do exist. I had the same initial thought that it’s sounded adult industry…ethnicity or hippies didn’t even occur to me until I read it here.

                  I think the best path to change is not pretending that people don’t make ridiculously unfair, biased, and wrong snap judgements – but acknowledging that this is a thing and making sure we’re addressing it when we fall into it and challenging ourselves to recognize when we’re being unfair and ridiculous so to deliberately combat it and banish our own bias.

                  We may not be able to help having some internal biases, but we can absolutely make sure we don’t act on them.

                  The thing with this specific situation is she’s in sales. So she doesn’t just need to have an employer which wouldn’t have a problem with it, she’d have to find an employer who didn’t care if their customers had a problem.

                  That said I don’t know that it’s unusual enough that anyone would care – but there is nothing wrong with using one name professionally which is a little more mainstream and still going by whatever you want to be called in your social life.

              4. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.

                “And by the way, Alison could wear pants because those of us that went ahead of her wore awful navy suits and Dianne Fienstein bow ties and learned football so we could bond.”

                Nevah!

                I picked that hill and didn’t die on it.

                I’m a woman of certain age who as a young un hit a nearly exclusively male industry in the early ’80s, bought a copy of Dress For Success, read it, said “eff that crap” and threw it in the trash.

                I did learn “male” power body language/words and did learn “male” negotiating techniques (they were male back then peoples), but they weren’t getting my wardrobe. And I never learned to golf. Or drink during 3 hour lunches.

                They work for me now.

                :)

                p.s. true confessions, I did have a few bow tie blouses okay, I had them, but I didn’t WEAR them.

                p.p.s. I like football.

                1. nyxalinth

                  I was in my early teens (14) when I read that book in 1980. They had it in our school library, I’m guessing for older girls about to graduate or going into their first jobs. I remember reading it and thinking it didn’t entirely make sense to me and deciding I’d wear what the heck I wanted, thank you! I was so naive, lol. Anyway, 3 years the whole question of what to wear when I began working was solved when I joined the Navy :D

                2. Natalie

                  @ ExceptionToTheRule, I assume someone found a warehouse of them from the 80s and figured they could make some quick money.

                3. fposte

                  I love the line from the Lily Tomlin about those: that they’re “something like a tie and something like a scarf and they don’t threaten anyone because *you don’t look good in them.*”

                4. Katie in Ed

                  Yeah, female hipsters have appropriated a lot of office girl chic. Reminds me of when a thrift store clerk told me she was going as an 80s secretary for Halloween so she could easily transport beer in a large briefcase.

                  I imagine her costume lacked the requisite tennis shoes required for walking to and from the Metra.

                  But I’m going to put myself out there and defend the bow tie blouses. I love the patterns they come in, and they’re usually full sleeved, which means they can cover tattoos. I was never forced to wear them, so I suppose that makes things different.

              5. Juni

                THIS. I have a weird name (no, it’s not my username, it’s really and truly weird, thanks hippy parents) and used a nickname for years to get my foot in the door. Now I am in a management position where I hire people, and I take all comers, regardless of name. I even instituted a name-white-out policy on shared resumes for prospective candidates at my previous organization. It didn’t stop other racist/classist hiring managers from making decisions in-person, but it got people in the door, and I’m proud of that. Someone once mentioned that in the year I’d been there, “there sure were a lot of new people with weirdo names, maybe [I] started a trend,” and I just smiled to myself and thought, yup.

            2. CoffeeLover

              I suppose it just comes down to whether you’re more concerned about putting food on the table or about fighting the good fight. Personally, I like to take the easy road rather than the high road.

              This is coming from someone with an unusual first name and no middle name to take advantage of. I say use your middle name.

              1. Anon

                Seriously this. As much as those of us with ethnic-sounding names *want* the job market to treat us equally, we need to work. Or we’ll starve.

                “Fighting the good fight,” gets a label of “difficult” or “over-sensitive,” or otherwise unemployable – especially in the applicant stage.

              2. Jen in RO

                I agree with you and EngineerGirl. We live in the real world, where sadly things aren’t the way they should be, and we need to take this into account.

                (OP, it doesn’t help you, but Star sounds like a lovely name to my foreigner ears :) )

                1. Windchime

                  I’ve known two women named “Star”, and neither was low class or “stripper-ish”. So I’m kind of befuddled that it would even be considered a weird name. I have read the studies showing that there is bias against ethnic-sounding names, but “Star” doesn’t fit that category for me. But that’s just me.

                2. ThursdaysGeek

                  @Windchime, I agree – I didn’t hear anything out of the norm in the name. Perhaps hippy parents, but as we are both from the northwest, hippy parents are pretty mainstream, and Star sounds like just another name.

          3. Xay

            But putting a white sounding name on your resume isn’t going to help you when you show up on the interview and *gasp* find out you’re not white. I have an African first name and European derived middle names and I used to play that game. But I realized that if a company isn’t going to consider my resume because I am black, they certainly aren’t going to give me a fair shot at the interview when they see I am black.

            1. Ask a Manager Post author

              I think it still helps because it gets you in the door and you get to demonstrate your competence. As opposed to be unconsciously dismissed because their image of someone with your name is of someone unprofessional / uneducated. Once they talk with you and they see that’s not the case, some/all of that goes away.

              Now, obviously, if they don’t want to hire a particular race, that doesn’t matter. But it’s often much more subtle/unconscious than that.

              (I’m not advocating changing names, by the way — just responding to this one particular issue.)

            2. Jax

              Those must have been awful interviews, and I see why you wouldn’t want to go with your middle name after that.

              “Star Smith” might get weird looks and shuffled to the bottom of a conservative pile of names. Using a middle name like “Sarah Smith” might be white enough (or middle class enough, or whatever) to score the interview, but it could be a bad fit anyway and waste everyone’s time.

              “Star Sarah Smith” seems like a good way to compromise. Too me, it grounds an unusual first name, but YOU are still there. Nothing is hidden.

              I’m saying all of this as a “Jacqueline”. I wonder if my name draws weird conclusions and I get pushed aside. Maybe they think I’m pretentious. Or maybe they have no idea how to pronounce it or are afraid clients will NEVER EVER send emails correctly to jacqueline@company.com

              1. Xay

                Yeah, it’s wonderful when you realize the interviewer is surprised and somewhat disappointed that you are black. Especially when you “sounded so different on the phone.” Interestingly, I didn’t notice much difference in # of interviews when I switched to using my first name.

            3. Jamie

              I see your point on this. As a woman with a unisex name in a predominantly male field in an even more predominantly male industry I wouldn’t want an interview with a sexist company just because they assumed I was a man. Waste of my time. But as Alison mentioned, it’s often not a question of card carrying sexists or racists…it’s people subtle and often unconscious bias. So if they wouldn’t have called me if my name was Elizabeth, but they do and in talking to me they think I’m pretty awesome even if they were surprised by that my voice was a higher pitch then expected…that’s not a waste of my time. Maybe they pick me, maybe they don’t, but they had an encounter with a woman in the business who could maybe change their perceptions.

              I’m not going to go out of my way to provide teachable moments…just saying when they happen there can be collateral good.

              So I guess what I’m saying is I wouldn’t to work for a place that had a problem with my being a woman, just as I’d never want to work for a place that wanted to hire me because I’m a woman – my gender shouldn’t be either a detriment or selling point. But I know a big percentage of people who’d see my resume would assume I was male…stats 101 tell you to go with the odds if forced to make an assumption…but I don’t counter that by bragging about my second X chromosome in my cover letter either. It is what it is and if it’s a big deal for other people that’s their problem.

          4. Laurel

            EngineerGirl, er, did you really just say this?: “Star sounds black. Or new age. But it doesn’t sound mainstream and yes some idiots will discriminate based on it.” I’m speechless. I suspect you’d argue “I’M not a racist fool, OTHERS are!” But I’m not buying it. Are you really suggesting that we should avoid names that, in your opinion, “sound black”? You said we should be pragmatic, and not give advice according to how things should be. I don’t agree with that. I don’t agree that anyone should be ashamed and seek to hide their ethnic background. As someone else said above, who wants to work for an organization that cannot accept who they are at such a basic level?

            1. Ask a Manager Post author

              I don’t think that’s how she meant it. I took it as an acknowledgement that many people hear some names as African American. That’s backed up by reams of data, and we have to be able to talk about it, because otherwise we can’t talk about the fact that, for instance, some job candidates are discriminated against because of their names (which is also backed up by lots of data). In fact, here’s a great article on that by Rich Jones, who sometimes comments here: http://www.thefreedomchase.com/2013/11/06/keisha-kylie-name-based-discrimination-racism/

              1. Twentymilehike

                Why interesting is that I’ve know a few Stars, and none of them were black. In fact, they were all white. Actually, they were all white and blond, now that I think about it ….

                1. Kelly L.

                  Though I went to college with a black Etoile, which means the same thing but in French. I always thought her name was gorgeous.

                2. Elizabeth West

                  I have heard so many weird, made-up names around here (city on the cusp of white, rural America) that Star, Blue Ivy, and North don’t sound that odd to me. The popular ones lately are the –adyn variants. Haydyn (my great-niece’s name; I actually like that one), Brayden, Cayden. I’m surprised no one has used “Maydyn” yet.

                  Someone even named their kid Colt. Soap opera name!

              2. MW

                My issue with this comment is “black OR mainstream.” When will African Americans, who have been in this country for hundreds of years, be considered a real part of society, not the fringe?

                1. Laura

                  Or more accurately, helped BUILD this country for hundreds of years while being systematically and categorically denied most of the traditional rewards for doing so.

              3. Ellie H.

                FWIW Star doesn’t sound black to me. It sounds really white. But it is interesting to me that so many people here seem to have such different impressions of the name. To me, “Star” doesn’t sound like a “low class” or “stripper” name either. I associate it with the kind of people who joined a commune or something in their 20’s, named their kid Star, and then later became professors. (Ahem, like some people I may or may not have been raised by. I have a kind of “unique” name too.) If I had jump to a final impression just based on the first name, I would guess that “Star” is someone from an upper middle class background who went to a liberal arts school like Wesleyan or Oberlin. That seems like a somewhat different impression than others have, though.

                1. Wren

                  That was my thought too. Star is the least black sounding name I can think of. And I say that as a biracial girl who almost got named Heidi.

              4. Anonymous

                I see the name Star and I read white daughter of hippy/pagan/alternative lifestyle parents. But even if the name was Shanequa or Anakin or something I can’t begin to pronounce, it doesn’t matter to me. Skills and experience matter.

                I think the name topic is another manifestation of the difficulty finding jobs today for young people. It’s generating fear, uncertainty, and superstitous behaviors.

                I have a really odd name (thanks white 50s parents who gave me an “ethnic” name!). I get comments on it all the time, but it has never held me back. Only lack of skills has done that. It’s annoying now, though, as some Hollywood folks have used my “cute” name for their daughters. Now it’s becoming fashionable.

            2. Anon

              I’m actually glad EngineerGirl pointed out the elephant in the room. Being aware of the kinds of racist messages in our society isn’t the same as being complicit with them.

            3. EngineerGirl

              Laurel, please read what I wrote and take it literally.
              I never said anyone should be ashamed. I never said anything about racist. I’m not suggesting you need to avoid names that sound black.

              I am saying that there is plenty of evidence (and I provided some of it) that people are penalized by certain names. Please don’t shoot the messenger for tellng you about the secret rules. I didn’t make them.

              And as others pointed out, it may not be the organization that is that way. All you need is one individual that is the gatekeeper, and that individual may not even be aware of their own biases.

            1. AMG

              I thought of that too! Love that movie. I always wanted to be like her when I was younger because of that movie.

            2. Jamie

              I have a weird Jami Getz story…I’ve been so quiet all week don’t be mad at me for going off topic just this once…

              I met some one when I lived in Mass who was absolutely fascinated with my accent. He loved it when I spoke because he was always trying to figure out who I sounded like. It’s like that little brain itch when you see an actor you know you’ve seen but can’t remember where and it kills you…except you can’t imdb for “who does this girl sound like?” It drove him crazy because I’m from the Chicago area, but he said I didn’t have a true Chicago accent (which I don’t), and the person he was thinking of didn’t sound like me in pitch or sound quality, but the dialect and accent was identical.

              He finally figured it out and was so happy…so he asked me if I knew who Jami Gertz was because it was her. I said I didn’t know her personally but we went to the same high school for a few months – she was a two years ahead of me and just before I left for boarding school the cafeteria was decorated for her goodbye lunch since she was leaving for Hollywood because she had gotten the role in Square Pegs.

              We grew up within a couple miles of each other.

              I don’t hear it personally, but how good was this guy’s ear for dialect that someone who had never been to Illinois that he nailed it within 2 miles. Our little corner of the world must have a very specific way of speaking.

              I apologize for the digression…back to the topic.

          5. Portia de Belmont

            Names certainly can hurt you. This is a battle I fight every day. My father was a Norwegian immigrant, and I am named after his youngest sister. (She hated it, too!) While I understand why they did it, saddling a child growing up in the American Deep South in the 50’s and 60s with such a strange name was cruel and unusual punishment. It painted a target on my back for every bully around. No one can pronounce or spell it, so to this day almost every relationship starts with an apology and embarrassment. Star, if you like your middle name, try using it, just to see if it makes a difference – and let us know how it goes.

            1. fposte

              Though there’s some interesting research that suggests people with unusual/teaseworthy names are more resilient and easygoing as adults. (I haven’t looked closely enough to see if there’s survivor bias and they ignore the people who hated their name so much they changed it.)

              It’s funny, because Nordic is one of those origin cultures the US has historically not had problems with, but I suspect that USA-unusual Nordic names (I’m picturing an American Hjordis) could also influence people against you on a resume. We don’t like the unfamiliar.

              1. Anonymous

                Incognito, the embattled Dolphin football player, whose family ditched their real name once they landed on Ellis Island, doesn’t strike me as resilient and easygoing.

                1. fposte

                  Aside from the fact that it’s a tendency, not a guarantee, he’s named Richard. That’s not exactly an unusual name.

              2. Portia de Belmont

                I think part of the problem is also that unless you know Nordic culture, my name is totally gender neutral. Dagmar, Hedwig, or Kaaren (also family names) at least offer a place to start, as recognizably female names. On one hand, that’s cool, because I am evaluated strictly on my skills and presentation, with no preconceived notions; on the other it’s bad, because I’m sure that more than a few of my resumes have wound up in the reject pile because people just didn’t want to cope with trying to “understand” my name.

                1. fposte

                  Urgh, could be. I’d be really interested to see name-bias studies with more nuance–do people with unusual names for their region have less name bias, for instance? Or does everybody struggle with some names, and is the name-blind approach mentioned here really something we should try to make the norm?

          6. EE

            “Please Verde, don’t give advice based on the way you want the world to be.”
            Probably the wisest sentence I’ll hear all day.

        2. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.

          I think the name “Star” is great. It stands out to me and I’d be more likely to pay attention to your resume *but*, I mostly get involved in hiring for creatives – graphic design, writing, marketing, etc., so your target marketing matters. “Star” is a powerful word.

          The idea that African Americans have to Caucasian up their names to get an interview bugs the crap out of me. We recently hired an asst CFO with a serious CV and a name that implies she is the product of a particularly creative African American mother…both with spelling and the idea that that adjective could actually be turned into a name.

          It’s people like our new asst CFO who are going to change things, because she rocks her given name along with her CPA, MBA and job title.

          Outsider opinion: it’s a hill worth taking.

          1. AB

            “Outsider opinion: it’s a hill worth taking.”

            I wonder, though, what is the “right hill”, here?

            I like the link posted to the study showing that “applicants with white-sounding names are 50 percent more likely to get called for an initial interview than applicants with African-American-sounding names”.

            So, the “right hill” to take here, in my opinion, would be to:

            1) use your “white-sounding” middle name to get a job;
            2) immediately after hired, proudly start using your first name again;
            3) make a point of fighting against bias when you are in a position to hire / influence hiring managers.

            1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.

              Hey AB, I agree with you in that if I were in the position, those are the choices I would make but it sure wouldn’t sit well.

              I wasn’t involved in the asst CFO hiring so I have no idea what name she used on her resume. I just know the name she was introduced to the company with.

              We ALL need to fight the bias. It’s ridiculous. (And it’s more class-ist than racist IMHO).

            2. Xay

              The problem with your scenario is that we don’t know whether people who screen out resumes for having African American sounding names are any more likely to actually hire someone who presents as African American in the interview. There is no data or research on whether people who are likely to screen out resumes based on African American sounding are likely to hire an African American based on the interview.

              1. TL

                I think (I read this somewhere a few years ago) there’s also the perception that if you have a black name (like Laquisha) you’re one of “those” black people, but if you have a white-sounding name like Meg, you may be a black person, but you’re not “that kind of” black person. (Still incredibly racist.)

                And it’s all rather unconscious, which really adds to the problem.

            3. fposte

              Sure, but you’re assuming a few things. Firstly, that Star the OP is white and that therefore the perception of her as African American is a misperception; secondly, that Star as a name reliably reads African American (opinions here are pretty mixed); thirdly, that she’s in a field and and area where the racial perception would be a problem.

              I don’t think we have proof of any of this. And while if Star wants to use her middle name for the hell of it, for some people that would be a big deal and not something they’d do without more solid indication that it would be an advantage.

          2. tcookson

            I have a baby-naming book, “Beyond Jennifer & Jason, Madison & Montana”, that, instead of listing names by their purported meanings, lists them by how names fit into the real world. It purports to provide a yardstick for measuring the effects of an unusual name, a unisex name, a fashionable name, or an ethnic-sounding name.

            So I looked up Star, and it is listed as a hippie name that came into use in the sixties, but also as a name that has become familiar enough to most people by now (and by “now”, this book is referring to its publishing date of 1999) to not be considered terribly unusual. It’s interesting to me that the name is reading “black” to so many people, because the Stars I’ve known and known of have fit more the aforementioned profile: white with kind of hippie parents.

            The name Destiny, to me, though, sounds like the baby was named by a teen mother who thought it sounded really cool at the time. It doesn’t sound like something that grown, established adults would name a child.

            1. Anon

              Agree – these type of names reflect more on the person’s parents in my mind than they do on the person themselves. Unless the person lists their name as:

              Jane “Star” Doe

              1. Dan

                “And now… coming to the stage… put your hands together for DESTINY…”

                Yeah, that’s the first thing I thought of :-/

              1. voluptuousfire

                I call them aspirational names: Bentley, Destiny, Chanel, Prada, Gucci, Paris, London, Cash, etc.

                As someone said, it sounds like something a teenage mother would name her child because it sounds “pretty.”

                Or just plain odd: Zakk Wylde of Black Label Society called his newborn son Sabbath Page. Personally, I kinda like it because I’m prone to liking outlandish names. (He was named after Black Sabbath and Jimmy Page of Led Zepplin, respectively)

        3. Lindsay J

          I don’t think anybody here is saying that they feel that somebody named Star or Destiny or Champagne or anything like that *is* low class.

          However, we are acknowledging the fact that other people (misguided as though they may be) might unfairly judge somebody with a name like that, and, in this economy you don’t want to put yourself at any additional disadvantage when it is so difficult to get hired to begin with.

          As a compromise, if I had a name like Star I might use my first initial and middle name while job hunting, (so, go by S. Kathleen Johnson or something similar), and then once I was hired explain that my first name is Star and that I prefer to go by that. That way I am allowing my work to speak for itself and showing that people named Star can be high performers, while not necessarily being disadvantaged by my name during the hiring process etc. If I did sales or some other job with high levels of client contact I might be okay with my email being skathleenjohnson@company.com or whatever, again to avoid having to have my name as a first impression, and then just sign the emails with my first name.

          It also depends on your geographic area. The city where I am now I don’t think a hiring manager would really blink at the name Star because there are a lot of people with non-traditional names. In the suburbs where I grew up a name like Star would be out of the ordinary, so instead of being a neutral like most names it would be a curiosity – we wouldn’t automatically think anything bad, but it likely would draw attention towards the name and away from your accomplishments.

      2. Sourire

        To me Star just sounds very free-spirited and easygoing.

        Of course, what we should remember (yet very rarely seem to) is that a person’s name is reflective of her parent’s values and personalities, and not of the person herself. Judging someone by her name is silly, as she had no control over it whatsoever.

        1. Anonymous

          Totally agree with Sourire.

          I don’t get feel any negative associations with the name “Star” at all. I’ve never heard it used as a name before, so, if nothing else, my interest would be piqued.

          1. Lindsay J

            But even your interest being piqued means that your attention has been drawn towards the name, and away from her accomplishments in a way that wouldn’t happen if her name was Mary. Her name is still a factor in the way you’re thinking about her, rather than just a neutral.

        2. Sue

          In the UK, you do have control over your name. Anyone over 16 can apply for a deed poll to change their legal name, plus there’s no obligation to actually use your legal name providing you’re not intending to defraud or deceive. I have a friend who I’ve always known as Eric. We only found out that isn’t his legal name when some of us tried to visit him in hospital and the staff had no idea who Eric was.

          1. Del

            Is there a cost associated with the deed poll?

            I ask because anyone over 18 can legally change their name in the US, but it’s not an inexpensive process; at the minimum it’s usually a few hundred dollars. I’ve been wanting to change my name for ages, but it’s just too expensive to be practical right now.

            1. Ex-Mrs Addams

              No. You can pay a solicitor to draw up the paperwork, but it’s not necessary. All you need is a document that states from x date you are no longer going to be known as Bob and will instead be known as Wakeen. Bob/Wakeen needs to sign it in both former and new names, and then you need to get it signed by 2 non-relations and it’s done. When my partner changed his name, I created the deed poll document in Word, and we printed it off at home.

              1. Del

                Wow, I am deeply jealous c: That sounds like such an easy process!

                In my part of the US (and it does vary some by state, but I don’t believe all that widely) you have to go before a judge (so court fees) and swear that you’re not changing your name with intent to defraud or escape obligations, and the court will order you to take out an advertisement (and pay for it, yep) for X period of time to announce to the world that your name will be changing. It’s a pretty ridiculous process overall.

                1. Marie

                  Yes, that does vary by state. I had to change my name because my European divorce (because I was married to a Swede and lived in Europe and a divorce there was only $60 and no need to go to court) did not change my last name. When I got back here I filed the court papers, spent 10 minutes with the judge and it was done. I did not have to take out an ad.

              2. Loose Seal

                I’m jealous as well.

                Also, in the US, the judge doesn’t have to grant your name change after you’ve paid the fees. It depends on whatever they feel like that day.

                Back over the summer, a judge in Tennessee told some parents they couldn’t call their baby “Messiah” and unilaterally changed the baby’s name to “Martin.” The parents were only there to change the baby’s last name. I do think that judge is under review by the judiciary board for religious bias now.

                1. Marie

                  Not just a US issue. In several countries in Europe, you have to get permission to name your baby something BEFORE you can name him/her. Unusual names are often rejected because they are concerned the child will be bullied later.

                2. Kelly

                  Actually, for a judge to deny you a name change, he/she typically needs to suspect that you’re trying to do it for illegal/fraudulent reasons (like trying to hide debt or a criminal history). A name change to get a name that looks better to an employer is perfectly acceptable (and unless you have strikes against you like I mentioned above not liking your name is acceptable too).

                3. Kelly

                  I should mention my comment applies to those living in the U.S., and that if you’re trying to change your name to something very offensive (like who I’m replying to suggested) that can be denied too.

        3. Anonymous

          “as she had no control over [name] whatsoever.”

          Not true. Certainly not true of the given name on a resume or letter sent to most jobs. I know many people who have changed their given name for job search purposes.

          1. Anonymous

            Indeed.

            I do my professional work under a common nickname — think “Beth” instead of “Elizabeth,” though that’s not actually it — and actually now have enough of a public portfolio built up under the shortened name that employers think it’s strange to see “Elizabeth” on top of my resume. So I’ll be changing it to the nickname next time I apply for anything.

      3. Nikki T

        Star? It doesn’t sound any which way to me. Star, Skye, Sunny…

        This is an interesting discussion.

      4. The IT Manager

        I’m sorry Star, but my first impression of the name (not the person) is that it sounds like a porno or prostitute name. A “sexy,” easy to remember name that someone in one of those professions chooses in order to hide their real name.

        Now if I were a Hiring Manager (which I am not) and I get a resume with the name Star, I don’t think I am going to hold it against you because obviously you’re not a a porno actress or prostitute since you’re apply for my job.

        TL;DR: I don’t think that it is holding you back in the work place, but it may give people a pause.

        OTOH “Star” is easier to say and remember than “foreign names” that are unpronouncable or unrememberable to non-foreigners.

    1. Anonie

      Sorry but Star is not a normal name. It sounds like the name of someone who works in the pleasure industry. I would use my middle name if I were the OP

    2. Colette

      I don’t think it’s a normal name, but I would question the hiring practices of anyone who didn’t hire someone because of it.

      From a practical perspective, do hiring managers really start by looking at the name on the resume rather than the content? I can’t imagine I’d do that (although I would obviously look at the name after I’d made a decision so that I could communicate it).

      As far as the OP going by her middle name, do her references know her by her middle name? Former colleagues who might recommend her? If not, she needs to be clear to everyone the hiring manager might talk to that she is going by a different name.

      1. Natalie

        “I don’t think it’s a normal name, but I would question the hiring practices of anyone who didn’t hire someone because of it.”

        The real risk is probably unconscious bias rather than a manager who explicitly thinks “I’m not hiring her, she has a stripper name!”

        Many years ago, we had a job candidate come in my office who was named Misty. I didn’t realize it until a few days later, but I had completely written her off as a professional adult because of her name. (I was not at all involved in hiring.) A lot of people make unconscious judgments and never become aware of them.

        1. Ask a Manager Post author

          Exactly. It’s often not a conscious thought process. And it’s often not “this person sounds like they’re (fill in a race or other group).” It’s often “this person sounds uneducated / unprofessional,” with the person really processing the fact that they’re just basing that on the name.

        2. Colette

          I can understand that that’s a concern.

          When I look at resumes, I start with the content and don’t look at the name until I have already formed an impression – but the resumes I’m looking at have Indian names, so they typically don’t have any connotations for me. Of course, not everyone will look at things the way I do, and unconscious bias is a potential problem.

      2. Marie

        Yes, I look at the name first. It’s not because I want to but it is because that is the only thing I can see before I click on the link to get the application and resume. A name like Star, though, is unusual enough that I would probably pick it to look at first, but maybe that’s just because I got a boring, common name.

    3. Lora

      I used to work with a blond, blue-eyed man named Star. He was a great project manager. His parents were hippies. It was always something of a surprise for new people to walk into a conference room and meet him, but after a few minutes they got over it, and now he’s memorable enough that people ask for him. There are plenty of similarly competent colleagues where he works, but it seems like every single one is named Kevin, and he’s the only Star.

      Then again, my field is known for being very international, with plenty of unusual names. I have loads of colleagues whose names in no way match their ethnicity or socio-economic status, whether through having creative parents, names changed for convenience or via marriage. After a while you stop noticing.

      1. Anonymous

        Yep, I once worked with a blonde, blue-eyed guy named Tyrone and he said people always, always assumed he was Black. and true to form, we often experienced just that when we meet people for the first time who only knew us by name. ‘You must be Tyrone,’ they’d say confidently while reaching for my hand. We’d just look at each other and politely correct them. The embarrassment on their faces was priceless. Even during telephone conversations with him, they’d often stop to remark, “You don’t sound like a Tyrone.” For the record, Tyrone got a kick out of people thinking he’s Black. It gave him’ swag’ or something.

        1. tcookson

          My husband’s doctor’s first name is Jamal, and for the longest time I just assumed he was black (I go to a different doctor in the same practice). I was surprised to find out later that he is a white guy.

        2. TL

          My older brother’s name is Daryl and he got a real surprise when he moved to Georgia and realized it was not a common white name.

          1. Loose Seal

            Is your other brother Daryl too?

            (Please tell me I’m not the only one on here that’s old enough to remember where that comes from?)

            1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.

              Ha, I read this comment earlier but didn’t have time to respond then and ask about the other brother Daryl.

              In other news, between that comment and your user name, I know what you do with most of your free time. (Me too! :) )

            2. TL

              My mom told us that all. the. time. :)
              (My brother introduced my other two brothers as Daryl a couple of times, actually.)

        3. Elizabeth West

          Most people I know shorten names anyway–“Tyrone” would become “Ty” very quickly, which could be either/or. FWIW, the only person named Ty that I’ve ever met is white.

        4. EE

          Question from an Irishwoman: Why is it so common for black Americans to be named after an Irish county? If an Irish county were to become a common name in America I would have expected it to be like our longest river (the River Shannon), which Irish-Americans gave to their kids.

          1. fposte

            They’re not really named after an Irish county, though, any more than the Peter you know is named after a rock :-). The name’s been around for a while in the US, and it probably mostly hit consciousness there with public figures like Tyrone Power and Tyrone Guthrie (who both actually had Irish origins to account for it). Why it got a bump in the South in the 1960s and 1970s is anybody’s guess, but while there’s certainly plenty of Irish influence in the region, I suspect it was more in response to knowing a few Tyrones locally and the onset of America’s love of names involving the letter Y.

            1. EE

              Interesting, thanks! I’ve never heard of the two famous Tyrones you mention.

              Despite the Y-love I suspect it’ll be a while before Mayo will catch on as a name in the US…

              1. fposte

                Now I want to have twins named Mayo and Naise and to claim that it’s because I’m French-Irish (I’m not, but that will be the least of their worries at that point).

    4. Vicki

      I agree with Lynn (and not with PEBCAK – lower class? Seriously??)

      When I first read the letter I thought, “Star. OK. What’s the question again?”

      This from someone who grew up in central Pennsylvania surrounded by Jennys, Debbies, and Cathys.

      It’s a pretty name. It’s yours. Stop worrying about it.

  4. PEBCAK

    2) Are you getting professional help? This is extreme enough that you should seriously consider seeing a therapist who can help you work through this type of anxiety. You want to talk to someone NOW and have an established rapport so when you are again stressed out like this, you have somewhere to turn.

  5. Twentymilehike

    I always thought of star as a completely normal woman’s name! I grew up with several of them (must have been a generational thing). I wouldn’t automatically assume that it discredited you, but it could also be regional. I live in California, in a highly professional corporate setting, and I’ve worked with a lot more unusually named people.

    1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.

      Ha!

      This is true. East Coaster here. Professional client name will come through, say “Solstice” and I’ll yell out to the group, “I got a Solstice here, guess the state!” And they’ll yell back “California!”

      1. De Minimis

        I don’t think Star is an unusual enough name to warrant changing for professional purposes.

        It’s unfortunate, but if I had a “foreign” or “ethnic” sounding name I probably would use a different name, the bias against candidates with those names is certainly real.

    2. Anonymous

      It’s regional. I actually think of Star and Starr as not-terribly-uncommon girls’ names in the South–all of the ones I have known have been from Texas, Florida, or South Carolina. In, say, Boston it would get more double-takes.

      1. Xay

        I agree – I grew up in NC and GA and Star was about as common a name as Jennifer.

        I’ve been surprised by some names when I have reviewed resumes and applications but never enough to blind me to the person’s qualifications – based on these comments, I must be the exception. Short of a politician, I don’t understand why certain names are so offputting.

        1. anomnomnomimous

          Really? What generation are you guys from? I’m a millennial from Georgia and the only time I’ve heard the name “Star” was people joking about strippers and porn stars, and a four-year-old neighbor’s cat.

            1. CEMgr

              People in the entertainment industry are judged differently. Creativity and uniqueness are valued, whereas conventionality usually is not.

          1. Liz in a library

            I’m almost a millennial (just a hair too old) in SC, and I’ve also never met a Star. Very interesting!

            1. De Minimis

              Generation X person here. I’ve actually never met a Star, but have met Starlas, Skyes, etc., and none of those were considered weird.

              1. the gold digger

                There was a Star down the street from me when I was a kid. I lived on a military base. So it’s not that extreme.

                However, I might think not so much of it on a job application for VP of Finance, much as I think a Tiffany will never hold that job.

      1. fposte

        Can you expand on that? I’m not seeing anything that suggests it, and it’s not listed among the housing or employment office’s causes of complaint.

  6. Another Anon

    Q4. Whether or not people make some sort of negative judgements on your name, OP, your name is not discrediting you. It’s people being discriminatory.

    I know you know this, I just wanted to make this point because I’ve seen so many articles, posts, random comments, etc. that suggest that some names really ARE terrible names (guess which ones…hint: not Philip or Elizabeth) that reflect poorly on their bearers. The problem isn’t the name–the problem is people who judge people based on their name, often using names as a proxy for race, class, etc.

    I think you are the best judge of whether this has been an issue in the past. Hopefully future hiring managers, clients, et al. will be less asinine than your old manager, but I think it’s totally up to you how you want to deal with that.

    Maybe you want to move forward using your first name, because it’s really important to you and you think most people don’t care. Or maybe you want to use your middle name, because you don’t want to risk it.

    I don’t know the logistics/legal issues of going by one’s middle name (is it okay to put that on a resume?), but aside from that I think with something as personal as your name, you should make the choices that feel best to you.

    Good luck!

    1. EngineerGirl

      But understand that there are consequences to the choices. You don’t get to choose the consequences but you do get to decide if you are willing to live with them.

    2. Jen in RO

      Some names really *are* terrible and unfortunately they do reflect on their bearers (instead of the parents who chose them). I am so baffled by the trend of giving kids “youniique” names for the sake of… what, no one being able to spell them, ever? It’s not fair, but some of these kids might face ridicule as they grow up.

      1. Anonymous

        Or “Reince”? W T F kind of name is that? Not made up maybe, but how you gonna spell that?

        The kid will have to live with it. Why can’t he have a normal name? It’ll hurt his job prospects for sure.

        1. Jen in RO

          Ok, I’ve been trying to figure it and I can’t. How is “Reince” supposed to be pronounced? I get my usual dose of stupid names from STFU, Parents, but this is new to me.

          1. Jen in RO

            (I googled and I see he’s a politician, but I haven’t heard of him on this side of the ocean. I was sure Reince is a girl’s name!)

          2. ExceptionToTheRule

            I believe it is pronounced Ren-ce (silent i?). Which just conjures up images of the old Ren & Stimpy cartoon for me.

          3. fposte

            I’ve heard of it pronounced like “rice” with an n. I think the contemporary kind with this name would spell it Rynce and still have to fend off people calling him “Rinse.”

      2. Lindsay the Temp

        My biggest peeve is names that use a noun (or hell, a verb, or adjective, or any other already recognized word), and spell it wrong on purpose. Yes, your child WILL be ridiculed, and their name miss-spelled, and pronounced incorrectly for the rest of their lives. Take shame in what you’ve done.

        1. tcookson

          I saw a teen on Judge Judy one time whose name, that his parents gave him ON PURPOSE, was “Nefarious”. For real. Judge Judy asked his mother if she knew what that word meant. I don’t remember what the mother said.

          1. anon-2

            I went to high school with a young lady — who is still a good Facebook friend — I will not give her name, but it obviously was one that carried huge, potential obvious “joke” status.

            If you knew it, you’d think “what type of parents did THAT?”

            If you remember the movie “The Outsiders”, where two high school boys were named Soda Pop and Ponyboy — well, this is in that genre.

            1. De Minimis

              The two oddest names I’ve seen were only odd in relation to the full name….I worked with a guy once whose name was Henry Henry. His first and last name were the same [he actually had some other name as a middle name, unless he just made up a middle initial.] He would sign notes as “H2”

              I knew another guy named Rhett Butler. You know he heard his share of jokes.

              1. tcookson

                I know a woman whose first name is Allison, and she married — and took the name of — a guy whose last name is Allison. So now she’s Allison Allison.

              1. anonintheuk

                I had a former colleague who wanted to name her son Michael, but spell it Mykul. The rest of us pointed out that people would assume she was illiterate.

        2. Mints

          I think what’s weirder than unusual spelled modernn names are biblical names from pretty bad characters. Like Cain or Delilah. I’m just like- You know he murdered his brother, right

        3. Dan

          I know someone who needed to be aggressively talked out of giving her son Marco the middle name “Polo”

          SMH :-|

    3. Vicki

      Thank you for writing this, Another Anon (although, I have to say, there is some irony between your comment and your “handle” here. :-)

  7. Jake

    Judging by the comments, I’m the oddball, but I’ve never seen or heard of discrimination according to name in my workplace, and I work for a VERY conservative company in a VERY conservative industry.

    I grew up in a town and household that was racist (not the violent kind, just the judge those of a different skin tone kind), sexist and definitely would have discriminated against the name Star. When I went away to college it was awesome to see there was a place where that wouldn’t be an issue. I worried than by getting into the construction field, I’d be going right back where I was originally.

    I am pleasantly surprised to find that 98% of the people I work with don’t care about anything but results. If your name is Aiownmensaswatchenstein or Starlight, but you do good work they will respect you far more than John Smith who is average.

    We’ve hired folks from all different backgrounds with all different types of names, so I know it isn’t just an inaccurate perception of mine.

    The people making these decisions are older men with extremely conservative values, yet they are still like this.

    Maybe it isn’t like this everywhere, but it is here.

    1. fposte

      Most of the time, this effect isn’t a conscious or overt one, though, so it’s not something you’d actually see. Additionally, it can take the form of people named something from the B column needing more credentials to make the interview, so it’s discernible only when you look closely at patterns of rejection, interview, and hire. The fact that the company has hired names from the B column doesn’t in its own right mean there’s no unconscious discrimination–this stuff is really tricky.

      1. Mints

        Yeah, (almost) no one says out loud “Let’s not call Laronda because she sounds black” they just happen to choose Janes and Johns as the most qualified in every round. You can only see the effects in the aggregate

      2. Jake

        While that is 100% true, we have so many people on this project from other countries, with non-traditional names, and of all different races. Sure, it could be possible that we subtly discriminate, but when a larger percentage of your workforce fits into those groups than the general population, it is hard to say there is discrimination.

  8. Elkay

    OP #1 – I think it’s a great thing to do, especially as the list is published at the end of the year so you may raise awareness of a cause that others will donate to in the future.

    1. OP1

      Thank you for helping me look at this a different way! – I never looked at it as a way to potentially raise awareness and will make my donation very proudly now.

    1. Sydney

      Personally, I think Star is a name that’s common enough now (I’ve known about ten Stars in my life, and I’m only 24) that you shouldn’t worry. My great-great aunt was Star.

      But, if you’re worried, you can always do S. Middle Last on your resume. Because it’s really just about getting an interview; once you’re there, you’ll stand on your merit and not your name.

    2. CAA

      I’m curious about what field you’re in if you wouldn’t mind saying. I definitely don’t think this is a concern in a tech company, especially one on the coasts.

      We have a lot of Chinese employees who’ve picked an English name to go by (they don’t have to, but most choose to), and as a result, I’ve worked with Jelly, Yogi, Bobo, and a couple of Neos. In this environment, Star doesn’t even stand out.

      1. Star

        Hi there –
        I was a sales consultant for an IT firm, previously business analyst/project manager for the same firm.

      2. Jennifer

        Jelly, Yogi, and Booboo? Oh man, the jokes write themselves. Do you have a lot of pic-a-nic baskets at work? Etc., etc…..

      1. Star

        Are you ready for this: Star Amber Danielle Marie (and a very simple last name, let just say ‘Smith’).

        If I do decide to go with my middle name I would put ‘S. Danielle Smith’ on my resume.

            1. Emily, admin extraordinaire

              Hah! I knew it. That name just screams our generation (fellow 1980 baby here– did you know that 1980 is divisible by 11, so that every year our age is divisible by 11 the year is, too, i.e., we both turn 33 this year and 2013 is divisible by 11? And that since we were born 20 years before the year 2000, we can determine how old we’ll be by adding the first two digits of any year in the 2000’s to the last two digits? So in 2023 we’ll be 43, and in 2045 we’ll be 65, etc.? There is awesomeness in being born in the 80s).

              As someone with an Extremely Common First Name, I kind of envy you your Star. But it would never work with my last name (which is a common prepositional phrase), so oh, well.

              1. EE

                I know these aren’t prepositional phrases, but my mind immediately went to Mrs Bedonebyasyoudid and Mrs Doasyouwouldbedoneby from The Water Babies.

        1. Ellie H.

          I have five names too! I dislike all of them to varying degrees, and most of all I hate having so many names.

          1. Star

            Me too! It’s a ridiculous amount of names for one person. Oddly enough I have 3 sisters & 2 brothers and they have ‘normal’ names.

    3. Elizabeth West

      Star is cool and I certainly wouldn’t judge you by it. For a sales rep, it’s great–it’s easy to remember. It’s not like your name is a rude word, or anything weird like DotComGuy.

      I once dated a guy whose last name was Butts. There were other reasons it didn’t continue, but I do have to admit it: although I ‘m pretty laid back about stuff like names, I’m kind of glad I didn’t end up sharing that one. Imagine if I had become a teacher–“Class, my name is Mrs. Butts.” It would be pandemonium.

      1. JMegan

        I have a friend who is a grade 7 teacher, and whose husband’s last name is Birch. She did *not* take his last name when they got married – it’s just too easy to change that R to a T!

      2. Vicki

        My 4th grade teacher’s name was Mrs Dumm (pronounce Doom, which, for a teacher, isn’t any better than Dumb). That plus the fact that she was close to retirement and seemed to have stopped enjoying children years ago combined to make things difficult for her.

        But we’re talking about 4th graders.

      3. Jake

        We had a Mrs. Butts in 4th grade.

        She was mocked by everybody except her current and former students. By them, she was highly respected to the point where fights broke out when people made fun of her.

  9. Sharon

    Re #1: please do donate to the domestic violence shelter! For the last few years I’ve been volunteering heavily in dog rescue charities, and planning to request a donation from my company next year. There’s no shame in ANY charity. I recently got a donation request from a coworker who’s wife works for a place that provides aid and support to hookers and drug addicts in my local Big City, and I jumped to support his cause. Compassion knows no boundaries.

    1. OP1

      Awesome. I am jazzed to make my donation now and am happy to help one of the little guys! I know the money will go to help someone else in need. Thanks for the positivity!

  10. Brandy

    #1.- I have given to all kinds of charities that qualified for the company match.

    Now that I’m reflecting on it, I’ve even donated to some pretty comtroversial groups (in honor of friends/lived ones who har listed these causes)- charities that find stem cell research, NAMI, suicide prevention groups, women for reproductive justice, groups that support imbedded reporters in various controversial war-torn countries… I don’t happen to care if my name IS attached to these groups, but it happens not to be. Worst they can think of me is that I support reproductive rights, progressive science and preventing/treating mental illness. All of which are true.

    1. OP1

      I really like your attitude towards the charities you’ve donated to…I’m going to adopt it when making my donation and requesting my company match tomorrow. Thank you for your great spin on things!

  11. FD

    #4: If I saw Star on a resume, I might think that your parents were sort of hippies, but I think I’d be more concerned with your actual accomplishments than your name, particularly given that you didn’t pick it. Are some people going to be biased over it? Is it possible that I’m giving myself too much credit that it wouldn’t bother me? Possibly. I think what it comes down to is what other people have said: Are you in a position where you can afford to let companies and people that might be biased towards you because of your name self-select themselves out?

    If you’re in a reasonably good economic position and your field is fairly healthy, I would probably be disinclined to change my name. Companies that aren’t so shallow are likely to be better places to work in general, I would think. But if you’re not in a good economic position or your field is too small to be able to afford to exclude some companies, then maybe using your middle name would be better. It sucks and it’s not fair though.

    #5: It sucks, but shift work is often like that. They might not even be ‘punishing’ you per se; it’s possible there just aren’t 20+ hours available at the times you can work. If you’ve been with Sam’s for several years, you might want to think about looking for another job that can offer you more hours at those times. You have several years with one company to show on your resume, which should help a lot.

  12. Brandy

    Star- I think busing your first name may depend on your last name as well. If your name is, say, Star Maria Lightning, or Star Maria Robinson. I think a “mainstream” last name softens your first name and you should be fine using it.

    You could also put your name on your resume as:
    – S. Maria Lightenig
    – Star “Maria” Lightening
    – Star MariaLightening

    I think even if you continue to use Star, including your middle name on the resume may formalize it a bit.

  13. Julia

    To #5: I am a hiring manager in retail and when I look at applications, the first thing I look at is availability. I will seldom consider someone whose availability is not open, even for a part time job. When jobs are advertised as “flexible hours” the flexible is for our needs, not the associate’s. And hours do change from week to week, based on the needs of the business. However, if you are the only one being treated this way. I would bring it up to your manager.

    1. KellyK

      You should advertise that then, because that’s not what “flexible” implies. If you need 100% availability, why not just put that in your ad?

    2. fposte

      Granted, I’m not in retail, but I’ve never heard that interpretation of “flexible.” I’d be curious to hear what people with more retail experience think.

        1. fposte

          Even in the ads? Because that’s a field that draws a lot of entry level, and I’d think that would cause a lot of time-wasting confusion for those hiring.

          I mean, I think there ways to frame it that make it clearer: “We require flexible hours” vs. “Perks are: employee discount, flexible hours.” But if there’s no framing at all, there’s going to be a lot of misunderstanding there.

          1. Anonymous

            Sometimes the ads will say they need someone who is available 100% of the time, but usually it just says flexible.

        2. Gilby

          Not sure why this is an issue. Retails hours are whatever the store is open. I have known absoltutely no one who has ever not understood that in retail that they are open all day/night and so on and that you might have to work at anytime and anyday. That IS retail.

          Phrase it anyway you want, flex hours, 100% availability or whatever. If I had a candidate when I was working retail, that applied and didn’t know that what working retail entails, hours wise, I wouldn’t hire them.

          Lets stop giving people an out for not using some common sense when it comes to working this type of business.

          1. Lindsay J

            But that’s not necessarily the way that most retail scheduling works. In many of the retail establishments I have worked at, many of the employees had set schedules – you were either straight day shift on a 9-5, or a straight night shift working 5-Cl, with one or two breakers working a 12-8 or so.
            Some part timers had variable schedules but it was more the exception than the norm.

            So it’s not just the way retail works, and penalizing somebody for misreading an ambiguous statement is kind of silly. If you really do this I am sure you have missed out on some good hires.

            1. Gilby

              The point is still, if you tell your manager you need to change whatever hours you work, it still makes an impact on the schedule.

              So that person who works 9-5 now, can’t work until 5 anymore but only till 3 has changed her schedule. She now wants other hours.

              The manager can place someone else in those hours and that 1st person might not have a lot of hours anymore because of their restriction in availablitly. That is apparently what happen to the OP.

              I do not think it is silly at all to expect any potential retail worker to know working retail hours can likely be varied and they need to be flexible. I think it is a completely fair expectation.

              So my question is this:
              You work 5-Cl and Susie needs a schedule change, will you be OK with loosing hours because Susie can’t work 9-5 anymore? She wants you hours now.

              1. Marie

                Agreed. I worked a lot of retail in college and in all of the places I worked, none of them had set schedules for the employees. It varied from day-to-day and some weeks I would get 30 hours and others I would get 10. I also had days where I worked until midnight and then had to come in the next day at 7 am, while in school full-time. Flexible means the employee must be flexible in when they can work because they serve at the convenience of the manager and can be scheduled for whatever. Some managers are better than others at trying to accommodate employees desired schedules but many are not. I missed a lot of classes due to having to work during them.

          2. Amy

            I worked retail for 10 years in several different types of shop, and never worked the kind of hours you describe. I had fixed hours, never worked before 8am or after 10pm, any overtime was offered to me several days in advance (yes, ‘offered’, not ‘given’), and I was very rarely called in short notice.

            Maybe because I’m British that makes a difference (I’m sorry, but most of American labour law is scandalous to us)- but I certainly wouldn’t call it “common sense” to assume that a retail job requires 100% flexibility. Hours outside the 9-5? Of course. But certainly not “any time and any day”. We had day shift people and night shift people, and neither was expected to be called in for the other.

            Heck, in the UK retail work is done mostly by people who aren’t very willing to be flexible- students, women with families who want part time only, and older people who deliberately moved into retail because they don’t want a job where the company owns their entire life.

        3. ThursdaysGeek

          That seems like quite a lot to expect, when what is offered is usually part time and minimum wage.

      1. Diet Coke Addict

        I’ve done my share of retail and never encountered that interpretation of flexible. If someone advertises “flexible hours”, I’ve only ever encountered that to mean “work around unusual schedules” and therefore suitable for high school and university students, retirees, stay-at-home parents, and people working around another job. If you need open availability, advertise “Requires open availability.” People do all the time and they still have employees.

        1. Lindsay J

          Yes exactly. I’ve done retail for 10 years and that is the way I have always seen flexible schedule and open availability used.

      2. Anonymous

        That’s been true in my experience. At my old job there was a computer program we used for scheduling (so many issues with it don’t even get me started) and it got worse once we implemented it. If you had completely open availability you got a ton of hours and the most desirable shifts. If you could only work daytime weekdays and Saturday, good luck getting more than 10 hours or so. The program would schedule the open people the daytime shifts (even though they were available at nights and they were the most needed shifts) the person with lower availability one shift during the week and one on Saturday. It was baaaad.

        I did know some managers who scheduled like that even before the program. It’s like they wanted to “punish” people for not being totally available. As you can imagine its damn near impossible to work a second job that wasn’t totally a night job (had one coworker who worked days and evenings at my store and did night time stocking at the other. The shifts were totally seperate and had no possible overlapping hours which is why it worked for her. She was able to have “open” availability for both jobs.)

        This is why I get upset when people say “just get a second or third job!” when they aren’t getting enough hours at the first. It’s just not that easy.

          1. De Minimis

            When I worked retail they were happy to accommodate students, but those employees were expected to work all weekend and usually at least a few evenings.

            People who had open availability usually ended up with a fairly stable work schedule during the week, and only one close and one weekend day.

            1. Gilby

              Yes I have seen that happen as well. Like one poster said there are people that can have a reg sched in retail, but it is still the descretion of the managment/store to change hours anytime they feel a need.

              That is what I think is missing here. There is no ” contract” that states Susie hours will never ever change. Nor is there one that says if Susie wants to change her hours and not work her ” reg” schedule that , that can be accomodated.

              I always asked my reg employees when needed, Please help me out and work these funky hours for me I will give you a 3 day weekend as soon as I can. It was called compromise. It was never a problem.

              Again, it goes back the the crux of this discussion regarding what working retail hours means. Being flexible.

              It is kind of like a CPA during tax time saying he doesn’t like working OT. Or a OB doc not like being woke up at 2 am to delivery a baby. It is just the nature of certain businesses.

    3. Al Lo

      One thing I appreciated about working at Starbucks was that for part-time work, they required availability of 150% of your requested hours — so, if you wanted to work 12 hours/week, you needed to be available for 18. Management, full-time, and weekend-only employees had different criteria, of course, but when I worked part-time, it was really great to be able to give them my 40 hours of availability for my 25 hours of work/week. Even in retail, I always took the stance that the job didn’t own me (and I was fortunate enough to work in places where I could maintain that work-life standard).

      In terms of flexibility, Starbucks was always pretty good — I didn’t have the snafus trying to book time off that I hear from people who work at other retail or food service establishments; for the most part, I got the time off that I wanted/needed, with very few exceptions.

    4. Jamie

      But how many people have 100% open availability for a part time job?

      One of my sons recently quit a job at a grocery store – gave and worked his two week notice and left on good terms even though emotionally he wanted to just tell them off and bail…he’s like “I know mom I will never know when ill need a reference or work with someone for here again later…I was professional even though bagging groceries isn’t my profession.” Just imagine that said with teenage sarcasm and rolled eyes…but the point is he did it right.

      Where was I? Oh yeah, so the very day he gave notice he applied at a clothing store in the mall and they hired him on the spot. Didn’t hurt that he was wearing clothes from that store, looks good in them, and did that on purpose. He’s very savvy for someone so young and inherently lucky, he just falls ass backwards into opportunities …it’s eerie. So this is his second retail job and he had one in fast food in high school and all of his co-workers have school like him or some of the older ones have other jobs.

      They do something reasonable for scheduling which I think is smart. They get their scheduled shifts and then have other days where they are on call…where they are expected to come in if needed. His manager has him on call on days he’s not in school…works out really well.

      Oh and too funny…his title? Stylist. He folds jeans and sweaters and rings up purchases…but officially he’s a stylist. Cracks me up.

  14. marty

    “When jobs are advertised as “flexible hours” the flexible is for our needs, not the associate’s.”…

    Yessir…pretty well states the new economy…..low wages, part-time, no set schedule….after all, the employee is just a replaceable, disposable “part” to be plugged in as needed. Do you ever give a thought to how your employees actually live? Not having any certainty about income, schedules, etc?

    But I’m sure you and the managers are doing quite well.

    1. Gilby

      I worked retail for years and made out schedules as well.

      Yes that is retail. No one every said workers get rich working retail. Working retail hours stink. That was the way it was 30 + years ago and that is the way it is now. Retail does not always have set hours as store hours can change.

      When people apply for jobs in retail many of them state… I go to school Mon, Tues and Thurs from 8-2 and I can work ” X ” hours. And a mom that says my kids are in school so I can work 8-3 M-F and someone else says I can work every night to close the store and so on with other employees.

      So the manager puts together a puzzle filling in the hours needed according to what people can work.

      If only one of those people have to change their hours, it potentially messes up the whole schedule. So then yes there is the risk of loosing hours. That is because someone else could already have the ” hours” that you now want.

      Why should other people loose hours because of your needs changing? If a manager can give them other hours great, but if not that is not the managers fault that the employees hours have changed.

      Most people choose to work in retail because of the fact that they can go to school and still work FT somewhere else and PT in retail. It fits, school hours, full time work hours and anyone else that needs non 8-5 type office hours.

      There is no diabolical plan. Retail is just a crazy business when it comes to hours and scheduling.

      By the way, retail managment on the basic store level is not a glamour job and nor does it make a mint. And being yelled at because I won’t authorize a return of a rug one day after New Years that has beer stains, nacho dip stains and burn holes from cigarettes is not my idea of a good time in a job.

      1. some1

        “Why should other people loose hours because of your needs changing? If a manager can give them other hours great, but if not that is not the managers fault that the employees hours have changed.”

        This is exactly what I think happened to the LW.

        1. Gilby

          Yeah.. and it stinks for the LW. No question there.
          But that is not anyones fault. The LW schedule changed and this is the trickle effect.

          This is just business. Heck… I got laid off in Aug because of a restructuring in the company. Stinks to be me but what do you do? Complain to the CEO who made that decision? Nothing I can do about it.

  15. Crystal

    If Star’s last sales manager suggested that perhaps she should use her middle name, then I think I’d take that advice to heart if I were looking for another sales position. That would be particularly true if the product or service being sold was largely based on reputation or perception, such as financial management services or insurance.

    And I say this as someone with an unfortunate name for my job in accounting. Crystal dancing on a pole or serving drinks, sure… Crystal giving you advice on complicated estate tax issues, not so much.

    1. KellyK

      Crystal seems like a pretty common name to me. I wouldn’t blink at a lawyer or accountant named Crystal.

      1. De Minimis

        I don’t think Crystal is that unusual.

        Now if someone’s named Cristal….that’s a little different.

    2. JulieInOhio

      Actually, there was a sharp uptick in Crystal/Krystle, etc after the primetime soap Dynasty was on. Often certain names can be traced back to a pop culture phenomenon. I wouldn’t hold it against the person who was named that.

      On that note, best advice I ever heard on naming a child was one of those fun things in Reader’s Digest. Whatever name you’re thinking of, parents, go yell it out the back door (or up the stairs) 10 times in a row and THEN see how you like it. ;)

    3. Collarbone High

      I work at a medical school, and my advice to new parents would be: whatever name you’re thinking of, try putting “M.D.” after it, and if the result sounds more like a cartoon character than someone qualified to give medical advice, maybe rethink the name.

    4. Jake

      I’ll jump on the wagon of, I have never known Crystal to be anything other than main stream.

      That being said, I’m definitely gen Y, so maybe it is an age thing.

      Star, on the other hand seems like a regional thing. I live in the midwest, and it is not even close to a main-stream name, so I’m shocked when people comment that they know not only one Star, but several.

  16. bearcat

    I know a woman named Star. She’s a 60 year old knitter who raises show dogs (I want to say Pomeranians) and grew up on a plantation in GA. Read into that what you will. I don’t think people make assumptions about her because of her name.

    Also, for what it’s worth, Star can be short for Starla, which here, in the South US, is much more typical name. I assume your name isn’t Starla because of the question.

  17. Juni

    OP#1: I administrate corporate matching gifts from the charity side. If you work for a big company, they are using a third party administrator like EasyMatch, Truist, etc. If that’s the case, your company is unlikely to see who you are giving to, as it’s handled by a third party who keeps your information private. Your company may be able to see percentage of employees who give, or maybe even an anonymized list of gifts that an employee has failed to turn in the paperwork for (e.g. money on the table), but if you use a third-party, you’re home-free. Donate to whoever you want. Thanks for your commitment to less-glamorous charities!

    1. OP1

      I am excited to give to the organization after everyone’s awesome feedback. We’re a subsidiary of a F500 company (so think like, a Fruit of a Loom to Berkshire Hathaway) so we have local people processing all of the gifts (I will give my match request form to a guy that squeaked out a victory over me in fantasy football last week), but I will proudly turn in my form without thinking twice now. Thank you for being awesome!

  18. Anon

    #4 Are some companies going to look at your name and make assumptions as your abilities based upon your name? Sure. Is it right? No. Is is possible that a hiring manager will not hire you because of your name and connotations of race/background/experience? Yes.

    So. Whether it’s right or wrong…and it’s totally wrong, you might want to consider using your middle name as your professional name. I feel for the crop of kids coming up now named “Precious” and “Princess”. When I worked in college admissions, there were in 1 incoming class 3 girls named Princess. I do think their name may cause them hardship. And I heard from a student recently who, while he was born in the US and is a citizen and speaks fluent English, has switched to using his middle name of “Adam” instead of his very Middle Eastern first name. He told me that once he made the switch it got him more interviews. That’s sad but it does happen.

    So, if you are having children (and I will in about 3 weeks, give or take), keep in mind what name your saddle your kid with. Sure, they can change it but how ticked would you be if they did? My sister is a pediatric nurse and the things she’s seen people name their children, let’s just say some of those stories you read on the net are actually true.

    My name is fairly unique but not too out of the box and I still have most people pronounce it incorrectly. Even to the point of one woman arguing with me that it was just a variation on Kathy. No, trust me. It’s not. I know exactly where my name came from and it wasn’t Kathy. Which is a lovely name, btw.

    1. Elizabeth West

      I knew some Middle Eastern students when I was in music school who Anglicized their names because people had so much trouble pronouncing them. Among themselves, however, they called each other by their actual names, since they were usually speaking Farsi or Arabic. The English version functioned as a nickname.

      Or, as I mentioned above, they would shorten it. We had a friend from Bethlehem called Samir (easy), and we just called him Sam. But the shortening thing we did to everyone. Kathy would be Kath, etc.

      1. EE

        Man, your music school would have driven me mad. I have a trisyllabic name that, when I was younger at any rate, people wanted to shorten either to First Syllable + Ie/Y or less frequently just First Syllable. I pushed back at every turn.

        I don’t actually like my name very much but I like the abbreviations less. Finally I’ve acquired a cute nickname that husband and some friends call me so I don’t hear the name as often!

  19. Jubilance

    I have a “different” name, very unique but not all that weird I suppose. I recognize that it may mean my resume get’s sent to the circular file, but would I really want to work somewhere like that? Probably not. Sure I could use my middle name on my resume, but I can’t change the color of my skin when I show up at the interview.

    People have prejudices. It happens. I can’t control them but I can control ME – and I choose to move forward showcasing who I am, and my different first name is a part of that. I may have missed out on a job or something but any place that would think differently of me because of my name or my race or my gender isn’t a place that I want to be.

    1. AB

      “I may have missed out on a job or something but any place that would think differently of me because of my name or my race or my gender isn’t a place that I want to be.”

      See, as a consultant I work for all sorts of companies, and I can assure you, in every single one of them, I find people who make stupid assumptions based on name, race, country of origin, social class, and other characteristics. I don’t think it’s a good idea to eliminate from your pool of choices all the places where there might be people like that. It could be just an HR assistant who will let go next month for racism and would discard your resume, when in fact you’d be working for an excellent boss if you managed to pass her scrutiny.

      So, yes, even though my name is neutral enough not to require me to make any changes to it when applying to jobs, I strongly recommend to friends who might be a victim of this sort of discrimination to improve their odds by adjusting how they write their name on their resumes. If it helps them earn more interviews (and various studies provide evidence that it does), why not?

      Later you can decide whether to work for an organization that makes you an offer, based on what you uncover during the interview process. But I really don’t think it’s a good approach to ignore a strategy that can increase the likelihood of getting interviews, especially under the assumption that the culture of an entire organization can be predicted upon the attitude of a single prejudiced recruiter (it can’t).

      1. Jubilance

        And I disagree, simple as that. Granted I’ve always had the luxury of being choosy about the type of positions I apply to and accept, so I’m speaking from a sense of privilege on that front. But my main point still stands – I am who I am and that includes my “ethnic” name and my race and my gender so if someone is going to be put off by that, oh well. I’m not going to change how I reference myself to make other’s feel comfortable with the fact that I’m “different”.

        1. fposte

          This reminds me a little of that controversial research about how people respond to women’s negotiation styles. On the one hand, the total pragmatist says “Women, learn to negotiate in ways that people find acceptable for you and understand that negotiating like men hurts you”; on the other hand, there’s something to be said for the point that people aren’t going to get used to these things if they never see them.

          1. Jubilance

            Exactly, I think we’re on the same page with that.

            I actually just asked about this name topic on Twitter, and I got anecdotes from people who said they were out of work for a year or two, then changed their resume to FirstInitial MiddleName and got a job offer within a month. Now could be bias, could be coincidence, could be that their name was holding them back. We’ll never know. But it doesn’t help if people feel like they have no other choice than to abandon their first names in order to get a job.

            1. fposte

              Well, and on a personal note, I would hate to see less of your name anywhere. The world needs more Jubilance.

                1. fposte

                  Well, it makes me a little fawning, I fear, but it’s always a reminder to be joyful for me, so I’m glad it has such happy resonance for you. It’s made me think if I mysteriously developed a child I might want that for the name.

                2. EE

                  Does that mean your favourite hymn (if you’re Christian) is Jubilate?

                  I haven’t heard it since I was 18 but it’s so catchy I suspect I’ll be able to sing it at 80!

            2. Jax

              You’re absolutely right. Hiring decisions are based on a lot of things, so we can’t narrow it down to a name change on a resume. There are too many variables for each individual.

              I watched a documentary (Freakenomics? Maybe?) that interviewed sociologists who spammed Chicago with identical resumes, but one was for Tyrone and the other was for Mark. Mark was called more for interviews. In that case, “Mark” was the control group so it proved the point.

              It also went into class, talking about how 20+ years ago, 16 year old Ashley and Brittney were top names in the upper middle class. Today, 16 year old Ashley and Brittney are hanging out with “the Wal-Mart set”. It was interesting.

            3. AB

              “But it doesn’t help if people feel like they have no other choice than to abandon their first names in order to get a job.”

              I agree. I don’t think they have no other choice either; it’s just that it definitely helped increase the number of interviews for friends who had been having a hard time getting one.

              They didn’t have to abandon their first names to get a job either; as soon as they had a chance to interview, they simply went back to introducing themselves by their first name (even using it in follow up emails to express their continuing interest). They are all working now, so I don’t think disclosing their unusual name prevented them from being hired — just helped them get the foot in the door, which is unfortunate but true.

  20. fposte

    I think we have two discussions going on. Can names affect how people view you? Absolutely. Is Star’s name holding her back? We have no idea whatsoever. Where she lives, what industry she’s in, her resume hit rate, etc., all factor in to this question, and we don’t know any of this. It’s a really big leap to say that this name is hurting this person without that additional information.

    1. AB

      As someone who commented saying I’m in favor of changing your name to an initial + middle name if it can help improve your odds of getting an interview, I agree with you, fposte.

      I have no idea whether the name “Star” can hurt one’s chance to get an interview, but what I do know, based on results from studies (some of which have been mentioned in the book Freakonomics) is that unusual names are more likely to have negative than positive impact in a job search. For that reason, to err on the side of increasing their opportunities, I tell friends to use their middle name when it helps make their name appear “less unusual”. I’d rather have them use an strategy that helps put them in front of more hiring managers (who may be entirely indifferent to the most unusual name), than ignore this aspect and end up with their resume discarded by a prejudiced internal recruiter.

      1. fposte

        And it goes more broadly, in that everybody’s name affects how they’re perceived–it’s not simply usual vs. unusual.

        1. AB

          Absolutely. In the end, fposte, I think each person needs to make their own decisions, and try different strategies if the one they are using are not working. Even better if they don’t need to disguise anything just to improve their odds.

          I’d be sad, though, if someone thought less of a friend who used her first initial to increase her chances of getting an interview. At least for one it did help (the other friend who used the same strategy wasn’t looking for very long when she started, so we can’t tell if it helped or not, but another saw a sudden increase in opportunities after making the change in her resume).

          It’s sad, but the same way some people are discriminated against because they are overweight, some are because of their name and other reasons. I’m all for trying to avoid being eliminated from consideration by a prejudiced person, before you can have a chance to prove your value to a non-prejudiced manager.

    2. The IT Manager

      Also I find it funny how people variously think Star sounds like a porno or stripper name, black, hippy, or southern. It cannot be all of them.

      I personally think it sounds like a pleasure worker (not particularly African American), and as a southernern I don’t think it sounds particularly southern either.

  21. Sky (Yes, that's my real name)

    #4 – I can see it both as a pro and con. Pro being that they aren’t likely to forget you. When serving on hiring committees, I tend to remember those with different names. Maybe it’s because of my own name. I’ve found that out in the community people also remember my name. Con – I hate all of the questions (Were your parents hippies? Ugh…don’t get me started!) but I definitely use it to my advantage! Being one of those names people don’t forget, I make sure keep it on the straight and narrow both professionally and personally.

    Star, own it. It’s your name, if you don’t make a big deal of it, others won’t either.

  22. AmyNYC

    #4 – Statistically, your name won’t hurt you – the guys from Freakanomics had a chapter and follow up podcast about this http://freakonomics.com/2013/04/08/how-much-does-your-name-matter-a-new-freakonomics-radio-podcast/
    Realistically, having a very uncommon name will lead people to prejudge you – maybe it means you’re this race, maybe it means you were raised this way. It’s not fair, it’s not right and no one will outright admit it, but it will happen.
    Go with your middle name to get hired and once you feel comfortable ask your coworkers to call you Star.

    1. JenTheNiceHRGirl

      I grew up with a friend named Sunshine and she was soooo sick and tired of people asking her if she had a “sunny disposition” or if she was really a “ray of Sunshine” LOL – I once told her that I thought that her name was really cool and she said she thought that I was nuts and that she cringes whenever she tells someone her name because they always have to make some sort of Sunshine joke.

      1. Judy

        Do you know how many times I’ve heard “Judy, Judy, Judy” in a bad Cary Grant accent?

        Do you know how many times I’ve heard my cousin greeted by “Amy, what you wanna do?”

        Not sure how to get around that.

        1. Moe

          Same way my SIL does when people refer to her as “Amber Wavesofgrain.”

          “Wow, that’s really funny, I’ve NEVER heard THAT before!”

        2. JenTheNiceHRGirl

          When Forest Gump first came out, I would get the whole “jennnay” thing all the time!! LOL

          1. Jen in RO

            Jen’s not my real name, but I’ve been using it online for 15+ years. My friends’ thing was calling me Jenny from the block. I didn’t mind the song, but me and JLo? Nothing in common.

          1. TL

            If I had a child, I would name it Moulin Rouge. It would be epic.

            (I would also stop all Disney movies at the sad part right before the happy ending, so maybe it’s a good thing I’m not planning on reproducing.)

      2. Sharon

        There is about an 80% chance any new person I meet will slur-groan my name like Ozzy Osbourne after I introduce myself.

  23. some1

    #1: I wouldn’t assume you are a domestic violence survivor just because you gave to a shelter. Domestic and family violence happens in all classes, races, genders and sexual orientations and has probably happened to someone close to all of us if not us personally.

    1. OP1

      I think I was making this out to be a bigger deal in my head than I needed to, but all of your kind responses have made me so happy. I will donate proudly to the organization and hopefully will be able to pass along the help that I so desperately needed – and received – during my time of need.

  24. Calla

    4. My real name is a noun that is shared by a famous group. It’s way less common than Star. I’ve gotten comments on it (how unique / pretty / whatever) and at times I’ve considered going by my middle name just to not have it constantly remarked on, but I’ve never, ever considered the possibility that it was holding me back.

    I wonder if you could devise an experiment. Apply to some jobs as Star, and apply to some as S. Middlename. Track which is which, and which ones give you a call back. If you get way more responses with your middle name, well, then, maybe consider it for your region and industry. If it doesn’t make a difference, you have your answer.

    Re: all the principle/reality argument… what matters is what matters to you. If you’re not in a position where you can take principled stands and you decide to go by your middle name to get a job, there is no shame in that. But if you’re in the position to do so, standing your grand shouldn’t be dismissed either.

  25. JenTheNiceHRGirl

    #4) I am not going to lie, sometimes I see a name like Rainbow or Sparkle (yes, real candidate names) and it makes me smile. Those types of names do stand out to me, but not really in a negative way. I would never simply not contact someone because their parents decided to give them a name that isn’t common. However, a friend of mine did an experiment a few years ago. She has a name that is very unique and somewhat hard to pronounce based on the spelling. She was scared that employers wouldn’t know if she was male or female or that they would think she doesn’t speak English. Of course, GOOD employers are not going to think that way. Anyway, but she was job hunting and thought that perhaps she would list her middle name on her resume as her first name to see if that got her some more responses (her middle name is Ann)… and it worked! So I don’t know, maybe there is an impression that certain individuals will gather about you simply based on your name. I think that the name Star is really nice. It is unique without being bizarre. Especially for someone in sales, it is a name that will make you stand out and help your customers to remember you. Especially with my name being so generic “Jen” I often envy people who have names that are more unique.

  26. Anonymous

    #4. Yes, absolutely! In the 70’s and 80’s, perhaps even in the 90’s and beyond, some of my fellow misguided African-Americans hampered their children’s efforts in landing jobs even further by inventing African-sounding names for them that had no meaning and simply ended up seeming ridiculous. Hiring managers automatically binned their resumes; no need to waste time on a telephone screening interview in those cases. In other cases, yes, the telephone screening interview was necessary to ferret out other undesirable qualities or clear up ambiguities such as whether the last name LEE is Asian or Jewish; or if GROSS is Jewish or simply German; or if RODRIGUEZ is Hispanic or Spanish.

    Strangely, a German friend of mine informed me that a similar name-inventing trend is afoot in poorer enclaves of Germany, prompting the government to step in and demand that names be real, i.e. mean something. The wealthier Germans apparently are favoring Scandinavian names for their children. Apparently, no one wants a typical German name. The same problems will surface there too.

    1. De

      “Strangely, a German friend of mine informed me that a similar name-inventing trend is afoot in poorer enclaves of Germany, prompting the government to step in and demand that names be real, i.e. mean something.”

      Those laws are pretty old http://german.about.com/library/blname_reg.htm * I am German and AFAIK there have been no recent name changes.

      And from what i see, traditional or ordinary German names are pretty “in” at the moment. There’s little boys named Paul or Hans, and girls named Emma or Anna. http://www.beliebte-vornamen.de/jahrgang/j2012

      (* which i don’t agree with, but it’s the law here)

      1. Jen in RO

        I always thought this German law was silly, but sometimes… sometimes I wish all countries regulated names.

        An “urban legend” in my family goes that my great-aunt was supposed to be called Virginia, but the clerk who registered her (in a village) was so drunk he spelled her name Vergililia. I never saw her ID, so I can’t vouch for it, but her sister (my grandma) definitely has a regular name with a weird spelling.

    2. Anonymous

      And I meant to mention that that silly woman who went so far as to petition the court for the right to name her son Messiah, has no idea how arduous she’d made that child’s path in life. Yes, Jesus is a popular name and equally silly, but that’s no reason to follow suit.

        1. De

          That’s why I don’t like the trend of laughing about what parents name their children. Many of the names are “normal” elsewhere. I like to err on the side of just shrugging and saying “well, if they liked it…”.

        2. Jen in RO

          Well, I think there’s a difference between a Colombian guy called He-zus and an American called Gee-zus*. One is a a common name in the Spanish-speaking world, the other is ridiculous. I think it’s important to think of where your child will grow up – all my friends who are living outside their native countries have tried really hard give their kids names that sound good in both languages. You can’t help it if you’re foreign/from a different culture, but for a “regular” American living in America, I don’t get the point of “special” names.

          *I can’t spell phonetically in English, but you get what I mean.

          1. Anonymous

            At my gym, there’s a latino/hispanic guy named He-sus (Jesus) who is sometimes paged. “Gee-zus, please report to the front desk; Gee-zus please report to the front desk.” Of course, it’s done for comedic effect and it never fails to get everyone’s attention. Poor He-sus/Gee-zus.

          2. Laura

            How do you know where your child will grow up? People move unexpectedly all the time.

            Also, please tell me more about “regular” Americans, since apparently being born and raised here isn’t enough – you have to “sound American” (aka White) as well.

            1. fposte

              I understand why Jen’s comment could be read the way you’re reading it, but given that she’s not American or speaking English as a first language and we have no idea where she identifies racially in her country or our own, I’m not sure your leap to “aka White” is fair or supportable.

            2. Jen in RO

              Like in my examples, I was talking about people having babies in other countries. My Lithuanian friend had a baby with her South African partner and plans to live long-term in the English-speaking world, but she has relatives in Lithuania. She choose Emma, which works in both languages. My other friend is a Romanian living in Austria for 10+ years, so her daughter is called Mira, which also works in both languages. I hope it’s clear now.

              As for Americans, I knew I would get this reaction, that’s why I used the inverted commas. If a white guy with Irish roots, for example, was called Jose, I would think that’s weird. If someone in Russia was named Andrew instead of Andrei I would find it just as weird. And by special names I mostly meant Kaytlyin and Maegynn, creative misspellings that will make sure no one will ever know how to say the kid’s name. Then again, I’m looking at this from a country where the large majority of kids have traditional names, and creative spellings are more or less impossible because the language is phonetic. (Though a coworker just named her baby Oliver, which is a nice name, but I have no idea how to pronounce it – the English or Romanian way? I’m just glad my parents chose a very common name!)

              1. Jamie

                It’s hard when you only see it in writing, but once you know how someone pronounces their name (or in the case of babies, the parents, it’s simple…just use that pronunciation.

                I work with a couple of guys named Jaime. I pronounce it hi-me when talking to them and they pronounce it jay-me when talking to me. Both pronunciations are correct because while it may be the same root name (slightly diff spellings) our names are pronounced differently.

                It really is just as simple as knowing what someone wants to be called and using that name, trying to pounce it correctly. I knew a Jorge and in my experience all the other Jorge’s I’d known pounced it hor-hay. This gentleman said he goes by the English pronunciation usually spelled George. Okay I went with a guess that was statistically more likely, but wrong, he politely corrected me.

  27. A Teacher

    Star isn’t an unusual name, I have a Starr (with two r’s as a student) what gets me is when parents name their precious bundles of joy because they want to be different. They do this with such a lack of regard for their children’s futures. I’ve had a Chlamydia, a Unique, a Gonorrhea, a Pen’us, a Bostyn, a girl named Ura that legally has the name urapreciseangle, etc…and of all different races and ethnic backgrounds.

    1. Jen in RO

      …wow.

      How is Ura pronounced? Like “You’re a”? Like “Ooh-rah”? Were the STD names pronounced like the STD or did they have an unique pronunciation too?

      1. A Teacher

        like euro but with an uh sound at the end. The other’s sounded like stds, the mom was reading a pamphlet and thought they were “cute”

        Oh and twins named Male (pronounced molly) and Female (pronounced fuh molly). Plus one named Meow, and that’s just the start of “fun names I’ve had as both a teacher and clinician.

      1. fposte

        Thank you. A lot of these famous name stories are FOAFtale and a lot of them have some disturbing undertones.

        1. A Bug!

          You’d think, with how often these names come up from all different sources (and on the internet, it’s pretty much a given that someone will bring them up during a discussion of unusual names), that there would be something in a public record somewhere other than people’s anecdotes.

          Court records of name changes, criminal charges, civil suits, something. But no, it’s always, always presented as an anecdote, from someone who works in a school or a pediatric hospital. And I don’t mean “unusual and/or ethnic” names here; I specifically mean these persistent infection-and-or-genitalia-derived ones.

          To be clear, I am not saying that you’re lying, A Teacher. I am strongly skeptical that you are telling the truth, but I am open to the possibility. However, since proving it would require you to violate your students’ privacy, my suggestion to you is to keep this anecdote to yourself in future to avoid having yourself labeled racist by others.

          1. A Teacher

            You know A Bug! I think I’ll just leave for awhile because that’s clearly the better option. I had been a pretty strong follower and have appreciated others’ perspective even when I’ve disagreed with them over the past 1.5 years of reading. I’ve got nothing to lose by “lying” on here and even the implication of it bothers me so I guess my time is better spent just reading. Just as I don’t know you or your experience, you don’t know me or my experience.

            AAM, thanks for letting me post, I’ll miss those of you that I’ve enjoyed following for the past 1.5 years but being accused of racism–which is also how someone else read it apparently and being essentially accused of lying is enough for one day.

            1. A Bug!

              I’m sorry that this thread has made you decide to leave. But others have linked to discussions about this particular anecdote, and there are no reliable sources that support it. Given that context, I’m sure you can understand the skepticism you are seeing here. Yes, you have a commenting history, but you’re still an anonymous stranger on the internet, just as I am to you. I have no reason to trust you even if I like your comments in general.

              I would urge you to stay, if you like commenting here. Since you are not racist, this incident is unlikely to be repeated. I would certainly look down on anyone who brings it up to discredit you on an irrelevant topic, and I’m sure many others would, also.

            2. Dan

              I have to agree with the sentiment here. Sorry this happened to you A Teacher. I can’t imagine what it would be like to be called a liar by random people.

              I too have been away for a while. I took a break because it stopped being fun and am just coming back. Maybe it’s just human nature :-/

            3. EngineerGirl

              I don’t appreciate the accusations either. It seems like there is a segment of posters that make these accusations because they don’t like what the person has said – even though it is a truthful observation of something that is really happening! In many cases it is people with less experience that don’t like what more experienced person is saying about the work world. So the person is accused of bigotry/racism/meanness as a way to invalidate what they are saying. How many times have I seen here “just ignore what that person is saying. Do what you want.”

              The biggest irony? Several of these same people are upset because they are unemployed or underemployed. Gotta ask – could part of that be because you don’t want to make adjustments for how the world works? I’m not saying that’s true for most of the people here but people need to realize that the working world is NOT going to bend to accommodate their desires.

      2. Anonymous

        Ah, Le-a. I’ve had SO many people try to insist that it’s not an urban legend. Yet funnily, every time they tell it, it’s always a friend’s brother’s uncle who heard the story. Hmm…

        (And yes, like the author of the above piece, I don’t doubt that there’s a possibility that there are children named Ledasha or Le-a at this point, mainly because of the prevalence of the urban legend. But if you tell me that racist ass story where the “sassy” Black mother screams that ‘The dash ain’t silent!’ then I’m going to give you serious side-eye for being both naive enough to think it’s real and racist enough to think it’s funny.)

        1. A Teacher

          La-a, Ladaisha, Ledeja, Le’dasha, La’dasha–all pronounced the same way. Ladaisha and Ledeja were actually in the same class. I don’t think this is an uncommon name although the first spelling can be a bit challenging.

        1. A Teacher

          You know, I post here pretty regularly so I do take offense to being called a racist. The names above are real names and yes, I’ve met and dealt with each child. Most of the kids develop nicknames (like Ura) because they don’t want the name but it is expensive to legally change your name. My sister is also an ED nurse and runs into strange names frequently–including some of those mentioned because while our town is big, you can still run across the same people. I don’t question others when they post stories and I’d ask that you’d show the same respect, teach in an intercity (and country school for that matter) and you’ll run across names you don’t expect.

          1. Calla

            No one called you a racist or said you were lying. It’s just that the names you mentioned happen to be (usually) urban legends frequently cited as facts by racists.

            1. A Teacher

              Then I misunderstood you specifically, because when you said its frequently associated with racists that’s how it came across to me. I agree that most of the names can be associated with other stuff, unfortunately its more common than you’d believe from my limited bubble of life. My mom taught 35 years, I teach, and my sister is a nurse so the odd names I’ve seen and heard from the 3 of us are not ‘normal’ in some cases. It got to the point in a small town where I used to work that they had 3 Heavens, 2 Nevahs, and one Heavenly in the same class (all white) and the high school only had 400 kids. My mom even had one girl that spelled her name Brh’ttny and pronounced it Brittany. You don’t believe the names until you come across them.

    2. VintageLydia

      MIL is a nurse at a pediatric hospital and my step father used to teach. All those names and more would fit right into names they’ve run across.

  28. Katrina

    I have a “normal” name but as you can see it’s the name of a recent natural disaster and I’ve been asked on interviews how I felt with my name being associated with it! (not the first either, I was working at a grocery store when it happened and I had a customer, who was in his 80s LOL asked me if my parents named me after it). I just laugh cause I got grief from my own family about my name LOL

    If people are interested in baby name trends, there’s great site that does lots of anthropological work on it: http://www.babynamewizard.com/

    You really do have to think way in the future about how you name your child, it’s unfortunate but its how society works.

      1. fposte

        That is fascinating–thanks for sharing it! (I think it’s funny that Wisconsin, with the capital of Madison, stubbornly held out against the “Madison” popularity.)

  29. Anon

    What got to me was naming a child Responsibility. It was recent and the child must’ve been born around 2003-2004.

    1. Kelly L.

      So if his parents said, “He’s our responsibility,” it was true in more ways than one!

      That reminds me of Puritan names. They were named stuff like Resolute, or Honor the Sabbath and Keep It Holy.

      1. Jen in RO

        I didn’t know that this was a thing in the real world – it made me think of Terry Pratchett’s Visit-the-Infidel-with-Explanatory-Pamphlets.

        (Regarding names in general, see also Good Omens, where the supposed Antichrist was named Warlock and the supposed regular kid was named Adam. Except they were switched at birth.)

        1. EE

          And Bestiality Carter and all his brothers because after his sisters were all named things like Charity and Temperance his parents got the wrong end of the stick about how naming went.

      2. Calla

        Oh man, Slate has an article of some of the oddest Puritan names: http://www.slate.com/blogs/the_vault/2013/09/13/puritan_names_lists_of_bizarre_religious_nomenclature_used_by_puritans.html. “If-Christ-had-not-died-for-thee-thou-hadst-been-damned. Praise-God’s son, he made a name for himself as an economist. But, for some inexplicable reason, he decided to go by the name Nicolas Barbon.” Lord.

        I love the simple Puritan names though – Honor, Hope, Felicity, Amity, Verity.

  30. Mena

    4. Your name isn’t a reflection of you as a person, although it may signal something about your parents’ thinking …

    5. What is the Dept. of Labor going to do? I don’t understand what you’re expecting.

    1. Kevin

      I thought the same thing about number 5. Do they think the dept. of labor intervenes when somebody working part-time in retail doesn’t get enough hours? This is the is it legal question on steroids.

  31. Anonymous

    On the one hand, you can’t help people’s perceptions of names. I’ve had people tell me that my (common) name doesn’t match my personality. It’s along the same lines as, say, “Tiffany” or “Melanie”, and I’ve been told a few times that it sounds like an 80s valley girl and doesn’t ‘match’ my skill set. But if I changed my name to accommodate everyone’s opinions, I’d probably end up without a name! Or going by “Anne” or something, despite it having no relation to my actual (again, fairly common) name.

    But on the other hand, the name Star is very uncommon in many areas of US and probably has a higher risk of confusion/hostile reactions. So it’s different than a few anecdotal people having a weird association with a common name. But I also know that switching over to a middle name can be difficult in more ways than one.

      1. Jamie

        Buffy is my favorite name ever. I’ve always thought of it as a nick name, even Buffy Davis was officially Eva Elizabeth “Buffy” Patterson Davis, but I just love that name.

        Yes I do still have my Mrs. Beasley doll.

  32. Briggs

    #4 Another twist on the name game: Briggs is my real first name.

    Now tell me: am I a man or a woman?

    I’ve surprised people in interviews before by showing up female :)

    My point is, people DO make assumptions based on your name, and they DO react to their predispositions based on those assumptions. While the name Star isn’t really an extreme example, you’re probably right on the money that some people DO make assumptions based on that name … and they might not always be good ones.

    There has already been a lot of smart discussion linking this to past women’s struggles to be taken seriously in the workplace. Those women had to make a choice: do I acknowledge the bias and play the game to get where I want to go by acting like a man, or do I pretend the bias doesn’t exist and hope I only have to deal with people who don’t care about my gender? You have to make the same decision: do you acknowledge the possible bias and make a change to get around it, or ignore it and face to possible consequences?

    I don’t think either answer is right or wrong, but it’s one you need to answer and then understand the consequences of.

    1. A Bug!

      Your name rules. It is a name that belongs to a rad person, and I would hire you without even reading the rest of your resume.

  33. Anon120

    Also, don’t assume it’s your name holding you back. I know its normal to try and find blame… but if your resume is great, then you will get the call. I have a Nigerian first and last name, and my name has never held me back. In fact, I sometimes believe people expect me to have a great work ethic because it is clear that I am foreigner.
    If you really feel self conscious about Star, then use your middle name. You may get a job and think it was because you changed your name- but you really won’t know that for certain.

  34. khilde

    Since we’re talking about names, what of the name Bryn for a girl? For the European readers: what does that name do to you? Has anyone in the US ever ran into an adult female Bryn?

    1. AMG

      Yes, a good friend of mine. It’s a name you see in the US occasionally and has no negative connotations that I know of.

      1. khilde

        That’s good to hear. My husband saw the name on an application he was processing and we both thought it was pretty. I have discovered that people fall into two camps with this name: “ooh! That’s beautiful!” {mostly the women I’ve run into}. Or, “{blank stare}…..how is that spelled?” haha. They get it or they don’t, which I imagine is the case for many kids’ names these days. :)

      1. khilde

        Ah crap, I forgot about her. Well, I don’t have anything against her or her daughter. I just never intended it as a name because it was trendy by a celeb. Oh well – too late now!

      1. khilde

        And you spelled it with two ‘n’s! I imagine my kid is going to have lifetime of a misspelled name. We accidentally did that to our older daughter too. Ah well. They’ll survive :)

        1. A Bug!

          Yeah, it’s really not a big deal. Brynn is the English derivation of the Welsh anyway. (I prefer Bryn, by the way.)

        2. TL

          My name is super common and has 2 very common, similar spellings and a few not-so-common ones. It’s really not a hassle – most people just say “2 As or 1?”

          Also I don’t really care if they misspell it at Starbucks.

          1. khilde

            Exactly. My maiden name is not common, but it’s very phoenetic. My crazy family had to pronounce it the hard way, so I grew up with my last name always mispronounced. I never took offense to it because why? It actually makes more sense how most people pronounced it. So like you, I don’t think it’s the end of the world.

    2. A Bug!

      I like the name Bryn. I live in Canada and haven’t met one personally. I do know that there are several cities named Bryn Mawr in the US, and a university in Pennsylvania.

      As Welsh names go, Bryn is probably one of the easier ones for North American English speakers to grasp. And since it’s short, it will be quick to spell out as necessary. I don’t think I would expect a lot of problems for a Bryn, overall, but that’s just a gut feeling.

      1. khilde

        What a fun analysis, Bug, thanks! I did know it was a Welsh name, which seems exotic and beautiful to me. I wonder if it’s prounounced like it’s spelled in Wales? I wondered about the impression it gives in the UK because I thought I read that it was primarily a male name in the UK. At any rate, I think it’s a lovely name and hope it doesn’t become majorly trendy in the next few years. I never wanted to jump on the trend bandwagon, but also didn’t want to name my kid something so unique that it was just awful for them.

        1. fposte

          It is primarily a male name in Wales (Rob Brydon in Gavin and Stacey is a Bryn), but it’s exactly the kind of name that becomes unisex in the US. I don’t think people will have much difficulty with it.

          1. khilde

            I love you, fposte, for your encyclopedic knowledge. For real, you always lend the perfect amount of academic background and research to ANY discussion happening around here. :)

            1. Not So NewReader

              I totally agree.
              Just out of curiosity, fposte. Is there any topic that stumps you? Or perhaps any subject you just don’t care for therefore you don’t read up on it?

              I have decided though, my mental image of you is that you actually LIVE in a library.

              1. fposte

                I…kind of do, so you can just give yourself a point on that one! But I’ve also been around long enough to mostly keep my mouth shut when I’m totally out of my wheelhouse, and nobody really notices when somebody *doesn’t* weigh in :-).

                But I’m always happy when my geeky side is a feature and not a bug, and that’s one of the things I like about AAM.

      1. khilde

        Don’t know what age group you are part of, but since you’re obviously an adult :) then I’m guessing it might be of those random names you find sprinkled throughout t a large chunk of years (versus a crazy trendy name that only lasted for a while). Interesting. Thanks for the comment.

    3. The IT Manager

      I have never run across a person with that name and the only reason I would know (guess) how to pronounce it is because of Bryn Mawr.

      1. khilde

        That’s how we pronounce it; I never made the connection with the town/college until later. Luckily we did not give her the middle name Mawr :)

    4. jesicka309

      In Australia, that would have negative conotations: Google Brynne Edelston. :( She’s American, but famous here for marrying a football doctor twice her age and wearing nothing but sequins on the red carpet.
      Just a heads up. :)

    5. EE

      How will it be spelled? It looks Welsh to me, which means that the vowel would not be pronounced like the vowel in either ‘sin’ or ‘seen’.

      1. fposte

        I suspect you’re thinking North Wales–South Wales pronounces the y pretty much like i in “sin” in a monosyllabic word. And once you’ve relocated a word internationally, it established a pronunciation in its new country anyway, and “Bryn” is established with that pronunciation in US place names.

  35. Anon

    I agree that things could be easier for you professionally, Star, if you use one of your more common middle names. Not that I’m saying you should do it- it’s ridiculous to let associations with someone’s name overshadow all of the other information you have about them, and it’s not your responsibility to fix people’s stupidity. But if you don’t care either way, yeah, it could help, because you aren’t starting out overcoming those associations. You don’t have to have an unusual name to face name discrimination, though. I work with lots of people, and we’ve started joking that certain names (Brittany, Sierra, and Tyler come to mind, with extra points for unusual spelling) tend to be more work than other clients. There’s also a common nickname that I never use for my first name because I associate it with bitchiness-I literally know no one who goes by that nickname that I like. With so many Brittanys in the world, there’s no way they’re all bad news, but the association is there for me. But again, it’s the responsibility of the bias-or, not the bias-ee, to put that aside and treat everyone from Steve to Lemonjelo with a baseline of respect. If it helps, the name Star could work against you, but if the hiring manager got his heart broken by a Danielle in high school you’re in the same boat, so you may as well do what makes you happy and know that if you put your best effort out there, things will happen for you eventually no matter what you call yourself.

  36. Music

    My first name is Music. I love it. I don’t, however, love having to answer a whole bunch of questions every time I meet someone new. My husband had cards printed with answers to FAQs about my name and now I hand them out. It’s a nice way of forestalling the questions, reminding people that they’re not as original as they think (like, don’t sing me the Madonna song; it’s not funny), and moving on to whatever work we need to be doing.

    On the job front, it’s actually very helpful for what I do (which is not, btw, anything music-related). Although I will say, I get called “Magic,” “Miracle,” “Melody,” and other names a lot by people who think, “It’s a noun and it starts with an ‘M'” and then make a guess).

    1. khilde

      How have you found people respond to the FAQ card? Do they take it in the spirit you intend or is anyone put off by that? You should post it here, cause I have lots of questions that keep popping into my head! :) I just like to know about people, but I can see how hearing the same hardy-har comment over and over would get tiring.

      1. Music

        I only hand them out when it feels okay. Like, when I had a meeting with the Mayor (who made a dumb joke about my name), I didn’t give him one. But whenever I do give one out, I sort of make a joke about it. “Yeah, that’s really my name. In fact, my husband made me cards because I get questions about it so much!” (hand them one) It breaks the ice. In fact, I’ve had people ask me for multiple cards so they can share them with friends!

        The cards have answers only. The answers are:
        Yes, that’s really my name.
        M-U-S-I-C. Just like regular music.
        My parents gave it to me at birth.
        Because they were hippies.
        Yes, they still are.
        Melody.
        Yes, “Music Melody.”
        Yes, I like it.
        Yes, one brother.
        Michael.
        No, I don’t sing.
        No, I don’t dance.
        Yes, I’ve heard them all before.
        Well, now that you mention it, it does get sort of repetitive.

    2. Star

      That was a terrific idea of making FAQ cards. I am always getting asked a ton of questions about my name also.

  37. Betsy

    #4, I’m going to risk slandering myself by noting that I absolutely do judge people based on names. I shouldn’t, and I try not to let it affect my decisions, but we all have emotional reactions that color our impressions of people. When I’m reading a resume, there’s not a lot that can hit me emotionally, and the name is one of those.

    Now, I will say, “Star” is not likely to phase me one way or another, but when I see strange spellings of familiar names (like “Ginnifer”) or sometimes even uncommon names that resonate with me in a positive or negative way (my grandmother’s name, the name of the boy who bullied me in high school, etc), I do have emotional reactions, and those emotions do get attached to the candidate, whether I want them to or not.

    There are a few people in the comments saying, “If your name is going to affect people, you don’t want to work there,” but people in hiring processes aren’t robots. They bring a whole collection of experiences with them wherever they go. They probably aren’t going to say, “‘Star’, that’s a weird name, don’t want HER,” or “Man, I’ve always wanted to work with a Star!”, but if the emotions hit them fleetingly, they may feel better or worse about you in the evaluation process without ever realizing it’s because of your name.

    I would personally keep the name on my resume, because I kind of like the connotation of “She’s a star!” and I think it’s memorable without being so unusual it’s a turnoff. (I will also note that I view it much more as hipster upper-class white instead of low-class black, as some people have said.)

    However, people are more likely to have emotional reactions to it than, say, “Meg” or “Jane”, so if you really want to be judged only on the content of your resume, “S. Jane Whatever” might be safer.

    1. Joey

      Not picking on you, but why do people associate low class black as a negative? Where I’m from its pretty damn impressive to tell a story about how you’ve succeeded despite significant challenges like growing up poor, experiencing discrimination, etc.

      As an example I’d be much more impressed by a kid who went to a poor school than one who went to a rich private school and ended up in the same place.

      1. fposte

        This is a really interesting point, and I think it goes back to the issue of the name’s effect depending on who looks at it.

      2. Betsy

        That is an interesting question, and I don’t know the answer.

        I totally agree that someone with a story of overcoming adversity is more interesting and probably compelling than someone who had everything handed to them.

        I will note, however, that an intellectual argument in favor of someone doesn’t necessarily mean the same thing as the implicit associations we make. One of the most eye-opening things I have ever experienced with regards to racism and my own role in it was Project Implicit, (https://implicit.harvard.edu/implicit/) which measures the unconscious associations we have, even if we don’t know about them.

    2. Ellie H.

      I have a vaguely “weird” name (not so weird anymore because it’s become a lot more popular to name your kid it, but very weird in my cohort) so I try very hard never to make any kind of comment about someone’s name, ever. The only person I’ve ever commented on was a guy named Robert Burns (I think I just asked him if people brought up the poet to him a lot), I somehow couldn’t help myself, and felt really guilty about it afterwards.

  38. Joey

    The most unusual names I’ve seen on resumes so far are Princess [last name], Baby Boy [last name], Little Pete [last name], Crystal Ball, Trayla Park, and [first name] Loser. I’ll admit they did elicit some jokes, but I ended up hiring one and sure enough his legal first name was Little Pete. Although I would expect that those names might be a concern for plenty of successful hiring managers.

    1. A Teacher

      There’s actually a reporter on MSNBC that has the name Krystal Ball. Different spelling same name

    2. Emily, admin extraordinaire

      I knew a girl once whose name was Polly Sheets, which isn’t so bad until you learn that her middle name is Esther.

      What were those parents thinking?

  39. fluffy

    I work for an organization that is seriously committed to diversifying the work force. Back when I was hiring for entry level positions, I looked for anything in the name that hinted of an ethnic or non-English background. When hundreds of applicants all had little or no experience, I’d glom onto the LaQuishas and and the Sanchezes to try to reach our diversity goals.
    Star sounds a little Native American to me, but she would have a good chance of making my Call pile.

  40. Star

    I have loved, LOVED reading everyone’s feedback on my question. However, since there was so many good points made (on both sides of the question) I still don’t feel like I have decided what to do. Thank you all for your feedback – it definitely made for an interesting day of reading!

  41. JC

    OP #1 – As a woman, I would like to help other women and their families suffering from such a traumatic experience – that’s all there is to it. I signed up to do a Christmas hamper this year for that very reason. Please donate – you are going to change someone’s life.

    1. OP1

      Thank you. Your response made me cry (in a good way!) I can’t wait to make my donation now. As someone who is on the other side of a crapstorm that ended about a year ago, I am so excited to pay it forward. Thank you for passing on a bit of hope with your Christmas hamper, too. :)

  42. Collarbone High

    Has anyone here legally changed their name? I would love to — my last name is unspellable and unpronounceable, and I do think it holds me back in subtle ways. (For example, I work in an industry where people frequently answer their phones with just their last names, and refer to each other by their last names. But since no one can remember mine, I get called by my first name, and that lumps me in with lower-ranking positions.)

    The sticking point is my parents — they’re hugely offended by the idea. (They wouldn’t care if I got married and took my husband’s name, but changing it for MY OWN benefit is terrible, which is a whole other conversation …)

    So, I’m curious if anyone has done it for similar reasons, and how they handled family pushback, and if they did indeed notice a professional benefit from having an easier name.

    1. Anonymous

      Before legally changing it, I don’t suppose you can “train” your coworkers to go by a shortened version of your last name? Something like, “My name is Wakeeniruwawa, but you can call me Wak”.

  43. Not So NewReader

    For Star: Lots of good comments here. But I would like to go back to square one, which is ONE person told you this initially. ONE.

    Now you have numerous inputs and I am sure that your brain is whirling. Mine would be. Sleep on it. At some point one or two comments will stand out above the others. Those will be the comments that resonate with you for some reason. Start there.

    I was given a three syllable name, five letters. As a kid, I felt it was too elaborate a name, I could not fill the name. I shortened it to two syllables. I still use that shorter version.
    Only you know how you feel about your name. I had to shorten mine, once I did I started walking a little taller and opening up. My given name literally overwhelmed me.
    If you are good with your name, not much else matters.
    I think my top concern here is a false attribution. Is there something else that you could look at that could help you find a job? Job hunting is NO picnic. And it is easy to look for one magic bullet to fix many problems. I have done it many times. “Oh if I had just been five minutes earlier….” Yeah. Right.
    It strikes me that you have had previous jobs. People hired you and you told them your name is Star. They still hired you. Watch out for this pit- it is an easy one to fall into. “there is something about me that is very hard to change therefore employers don’t always like me.”

    This person that said this to you- do you respect his opinion? What could have motivated him to make such a comment? Have you ever thought of your name as a concern prior to this person’s comment? Please take a moment to look at this conversation with this person from as many angles as you can think of.

    FWIW- I think your name is beautiful.

  44. Grateful

    I’m OP #3, and I just wanted to thank Alison for the great advice! This is exactly the balanced answer I was looking for! I really appreciate you taking the time to help me out and answer my question.

  45. MR

    I’m sure some of this has been said in the comments above, but I’m too lazy right now to read nearly 450 of them ;)

    2. This is probably the 1,482nd example of someone saying ‘dream job’ in their letter to Alison, and then there being some kind of problem. Dear future OPs: Please stop referring to any job as your ‘dream job.’ ;)

    5. I hate to be harsh, but this is what you get when you work for WalMart. Despite the happy, smiling employees you see on their commercials on TV, they don’t care about their employees. At all. I’d strongly recommend you go work for another employer that cares about their employees. They do exist. Good luck!

  46. Me

    No a name will not hold you back. My name is 3 letters, unpronounceable, and hiring managers even ask me if I am a boy or girl. Its what you make of it.

  47. Jack

    I think Star’s a pretty name – makes me think more of flower child than porn star, which can’t be a bad thing, surely!

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