I used a white-sounding name on my resume and got way more interviews, our meeting food keeps getting eaten, and more

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

1. Coworkers keep eating the food for meetings that they’re not attending

I work in an office where it is common to have catered lunches for executive meetings. The conference room is too small to set up the food inside, so it is usually set up buffet style in a common area outside of the conference room, which is right across from my desk. I think it is very rude when staff members who are not part of the meeting help themselves to the buffet, not knowing if all meeting attendees have even arrived. If it is a meeting that I have organized, I have to remind them that there may be latecomers attending the meeting who would still like to eat. The response is dirty looks and I’ve been told that they should be on time!

I have tried sending out emails prior to meetings explaining that any leftovers will be available in the kitchen area after the meeting and was referred to as the “lunch nazi!” I don’t oppose anyone who cannot afford lunch helping themselves after the meeting is over, but some of these folks are on the higher end of the scale and could afford to buy lunch for the entire staff! Do you think this is rude or am I just being old-fashioned and petty? What do you suggest?

They’re being rude. It’s entirely reasonable and normal to tell people to leave food alone if it’s for a meeting that they’re not part of.

Is there really no way to set up the food inside the meeting room instead? If not, then your office needs a policy that food for meetings is off-limits to non-attendees until the food is relocated to the kitchen afterwards, and you or whoever has the standing to do this needs to enforce it. If people are snarky about it, they’re being rude and you should ignore their snark. (If the problem is coming from higher-ups, someone like a well-respected office manager needs to tell them to cut out the rudeness and that you’re only enforcing an office-wide policy.)

2. Candidate said he would send a reference list and I haven’t heard back

I’m at kind of a weird point with an applicant and I’m not quite sure if it’s a red flag or not. I did in-person interviews with four people over the course of two weeks. I got together with the other interviewers and we decided the best applicant was the first guy we talked to, a little over two weeks ago. But before I can offer him the job I have to check his references, so I emailed him on Monday asking him to provide me with a list. He responded during the day on Tuesday saying he’d work on it that night. Well, it’s Wednesday night and I still have no references.

I realize one extra day is not that long of a wait and if he emails me tomorrow morning, great. I’m just confused why he didn’t already have a list of references ready. The interview process has been dragging on for two months, he was one of the top four candidates and he knew it. I’d think getting your references ready is a normal preparation step. He obviously did a lot of prep work before his interview. Like, I’m pretty sure he read a bunch of scientific papers about our teapot building machine, so it’s not like he’s incapable of being prepared.

So I guess my question is, should I be worried, or is this normal?

There’s definitely nothing conclusive here but it’s one of those things that’s so different from what you normally see from strong candidates that I can understand why you’re taking note of it. It’s totally possible that he’s just having a hectic week at work or something, and I don’t think it’s a big deal if you ended up hearing back on Thursday (yesterday). But yeah, if you didn’t end up hearing from him on Thursday, I’d raise my eyebrows at that. It could be a sign that his enthusiasm for the job is waning, or that he’s not great at follow-through, or hell, maybe his email just got lost in the ether. It’s certainly not something to disqualify him over, but if he does get you that reference list, it would be smart to ask his references about his follow-through and sense of urgency.

And for readers who are thinking that a few days shouldn’t mean anything, it’s mainly that this is a deviation from how this normally goes. Even if he just wanted to confirm with his references that they’re available this week (which is reasonable), it’s the lack of communication since the call that feels off. And yes, I know that employers routinely take far longer to get back to candidates and yes, it’s a double standard. It’s still a thing that often carries more meaning when a candidate does it.

3. I used a white-sounding name on my resume and got way more interviews

I am a black female and I have an unusual name or as some may call “ethnic.” I’ve been unemployed for three months and am doing all that’s required to find a job. I’ve followed your blog for many years. I changed my name to “Shauna” (which could plausibly be a nickname from my real name) on my resume. After doing that I received more calls and interview requests in two weeks than I have these past three months. What really sucks is that I reapplied to the exact same companies I had applied to with my real name, and three of them called “Shauna” back for an interview. Yes, when I interviewed they were shocked that I am black, but at least one of them didn’t care because they called and offered me a job this morning. I asked to think it over.

Alison, I don’t like the name Shauna. I feel like a fraud. I am very proud of my name. I love it but I need a job. My friends and family tell me to get over it, take the job and start going by Shauna. If I take the job and fill out paperwork, the HR lady is going to know my real name and may withdraw the job offer. What do you think of this practice of changing your name on a resume to get a job? Below is a good article on it. I really value your opinion.

Ugh, I’m sorry. This is a pretty well-documented thing; studies have shown that even people who consider themselves progressive and non-racist have unconscious biases that can come out in ways like this, because of the way society has wired us. It’s horrible.

If you want the job, you should take the job! When you accept the offer, just say, “By the way, for when you get the official paperwork started, I want to mention that my full legal name is ___.” It is very, very unlikely that this will lead the offer being withdrawn. They know you now, and they’ve already decided that they want to hire you. “Shauna” got around the unconscious bias that can otherwise be in play before they get to know you. But you’re through the door, they’ve hired you, and you should use your real name. (Plus, from a purely practical standpoint, they’d run into some legal issues if they suddenly withdrew the offer after this.)

4. How to ask a coworker to stop talking about my wedding

I started as an assistant at a university about six months ago. This is my first career-track job I have had, so I’m just trying to get a sense of office norms. Your blog has helped a lot! I even got the job after asking the “magic question.” My coworker started about the same time as me and is a couple years older than me, and quickly found out that we are both getting married around the same time. We have a lot (sometime extreme amounts) of downtime and a lot of mindless tasks to do, so we often wind up talking. She *loves* to talk about her wedding plans and asks me about mine constantly. I really dislike talking about my wedding, especially at work. It’s nothing against weddings, I’m definitely excited for mine, but I’m not the stereotypical “blissful bride” and I dislike how much people treat getting married as some sort of accomplishment. I’d rather they focus on my actual accomplishments.

While I partake in the wedding talk to an extent, I have been finding it really hard to get her to stop talking/stop asking me questions about it. I have tried just segueing into other topics, but she always reverts back, and the times I’ve just said I’d rather talk about something else makes me seem overly negative. (People really expect women to love talking about their weddings! I get odd reactions when I tell people I don’t.) I’m just not sure how to nicely tell her, and others, that I’m just not that into wedding talk.

The easiest, most effective way is probably to make it about you needing an escape from wedding planning stress. You could say, “Work is my one place where I can get away from talking about the wedding. While I’m here, I’m wedding-talk-free! Thanks for understanding.” Or “I’m getting stressed out by all the wedding talk, so I’m making work a wedding-free zone for me.”

That said, people are remarkably weird about this, and you’ll probably have to enforce this a couple of times before it sticks.

Or you could be more straightforward: “I I feel like men don’t end up talking about their wedding planning at work, and I’m trying to avoid doing it myself.”

Frankly, if you wanted to, a totally different option would be to say, “I’m actually leaving all the planning to Fergus. I’m not involved at all, and it’s great.” This will probably draw you into a conversation about how unusual it that is, how can you trust him with it all, etc., but it would be a nice blow to strike for wedding-planning-equality.

5. Is this a veiled rejection?

I was invited by a company for a job which was not posted yet — most likely I was the first candidate. After the first round, I was invited for the final round. They came back to me on time and said, “You made a good impression but we want to see more candidates, so this will take time, 2 to 4 weeks.” They are aware that I am dealing with other companies and had other final interviews.

Can I already be considered as being rejected?

What?! No, that’s quite a leap. Take what they said at face value. They interviewed you before the job was even posted and they still need to talk to other candidates (because the point of hiring is to hire the best person, not just the first good person you talk to). They’ll come back to you once that’s done.

If you get another offer in the meantime, then contact them immediately, let them know you have another offer that you need to respond to within X days, and see if they like you enough to speed up their process and make you an offer. But until that happens, all you can do is wait and let the process play out.

{ 767 comments… read them below }

  1. Dan

    #3

    Yup, do what Allison says. If they yank your offer, I can’t imagine a legal case that would be easier to win.

    1. Seal

      It is not at all uncommon to go by a nickname, so the HR person shouldn’t bat an eye when you use your real name on your paperwork. I know many people, myself included, who go by nicknames that are not obvious derivatives of their given names, or go by their middle names.

      For that matter, you have every right to go by whatever name you prefer. If you don’t like using Shauna, tell your new boss when you start you’d prefer to go by your given name and introduce yourself to your new coworkers that way. No one should bat an eye over that, either – your name is your name.

      1. Kyrielle

        “You know, I’ve been going by Shauna lately*, but more and more I’m realizing I’d rather use my given name – (Name).”

        * …for job applications and interviews, and only very lately, but it’s true.

        1. SometimesALurker

          That’s what I was thinking, too. Or “I’m transitioning back to using my given name — (Name), please call me that.”

          1. Emi.

            I would use a different word from “transitioning” because it sounds like gender transitioning, and even if both names are clearly women’s names it could be confusing or distracting.

          2. hayling

            I agree that some version of this would totally work, maybe try “I am going back to using Shaniqua”?

        2. Kimberlee, Esq

          Yeah, it’s super easy. “I was trying to go by Shauna for a minute, but just can’t get used to it. I’ve decided to switch back to ” Nbd.

        3. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist

          This may even be too much justification. “In the past I’ve used Shauna, but here I’d actually like to use my full name, Shaniqua.”

          I go by my middle name and have never, ever had to justify it in any more detail than that.

          1. Sam

            Yep, I had someone do this recently – his legal (Chinese) name was on his application info, but he’d also listed a preferred name that was clearly anglicized. Afterwards, he just said, “Actually, I’d like to go back to using my legal name. Could you change that?” And that’s all there was to it.

            1. Elizabeth H.

              Same, I have experienced this too with a few grad students from either China or India, who had “set up” an American name/version or nickname of their name at some point but were using their regular/legal name anyway later on.

            2. Mallory Janis Ian

              One of the tenure-track professors in my department recently went back to his Chinese given name. When he was hired a couple of years ago, he was going by “Sean” and signed all his emails that way, but lately I’ve noticed that he’s using “Xiao” exclusively.

          2. Noah

            Agreed, I go by my middle name pretty much everywhere. “I usually go by Noah,” is all I ever have to say.

        4. OP#3

          Thanks! I really like this suggestion. I’ll probably end up saying this or something similar like it such as “You know because some people find it hard to pronounce my given name, I’ve been going by Shauna but more and more I’m realizing that I’d rather use my given name which is Shanette. Besides, it makes my mom happy. ” Something kinda direct and cute at the same time.

        5. Erica

          I like this.

          I’ll also note that while I absolutely benefit from white privilege, I go by a name that you can’t even pretend is a related nickname to my legal name. No one, ever — no employer, client, or anyone responsible for cutting me a check that I have to be able to cash — has ever batted an eye when I subsequently specified that legal documents and checks need to be under my legal name. For that matter, when I incorporated a small business, the LAWYER went ahead and filed the official paperwork listing me as Legalname “Nickname” Lastname.

          Going by a name that differs from your legal one is pretty common, so I don’t think this will be a big deal at all. I doubt the company will think much of it.

      2. JGray

        I work in HR and we would not batt an eye if someone filled out an application with their nickname. I see this as no different than someone writing Bob when their legal name is Robert. Also remember that there are lots of people that go by their middle names. So an employee who goes by their middle name- lets says its Kate- will still have their entire record with the employer record reflect the legal name. You could just mention I actually like being called (insert name here) and I am sure that your supervisor and coworkers won’t think anything different.

        1. Rusty Shackelford

          It is actually different from all of your examples. It’s not someone who goes by Bob when his name is Robert. It’s someone who applies as Bob, introduces himself as Bob, sits in an interview as Bob, possibly sends a thank you note or follow up communication from Bob, doesn’t correct the person who calls and says “Bob, we’d like to offer you the job,” and then gets hired and says “Actually, I go by Robert.” And it’s fine and it’s do-able and there’s nothing wrong with it other than it needs an explanation.

          1. De Minimis

            We actually have a Rusty and that’s not his legal name….this is pretty common and I don’t think anyone would notice it. We have four people who go by different names—and none of them are cases of “Robert” versus “Bob,” “Mike” vs. “Michael,” etc.,

            1. Rusty Shackelford

              Yes, that is very common. But it’s not what’s happening here.

              This issue is not that she’s using a nickname. It has nothing to do with whether a particular name is her nickname or given name, since as you said, TONS of people use nicknames. It’s that she introduced herself by a nickname, used it to apply and interview for a job, and once hired, is planning to change to a different name. That’s the part that’s unusual. I’m guessing that if you got Rusty’s resume, called Rusty, interviewed Rusty, offered the job to Rusty, called him Rusty the entire time without being corrected, and then he showed up on day 1 and said “Actually, I go by Frank,” you’d be confused. This isn’t a case of someone having one legal name but usually going by a nickname. This is a case of someone consistently (as far as her new job is concerned) using a nickname and, once hired, changing to her legal name. It’s unusual enough that someone’s going to ask why, so she needs a very quick explanation handy.

              1. Simonthegreywarden

                I used my nickname – which is not a normal nickname for my full name, think Zan for Suzanne – on my resume and at my interview for my current job, along with my maiden name. However I actually got married between when I submitted the application and when I was hired, so when I showed up to finish paperwork, I had decided i wanted to have my full formal name used. I asked to have that on my business cards, my boss agreed, and I have kept it that way. Where I work no one treated it as being unusual.

              2. NonProfit Nancy

                You and I seem to be in the minority (I see a lot of comments that say, “if anybody has any issue with this, it’s their problem”) but I agree with you; I think it’s a little strange for exactly the reason you state: the OP introduced herself with a certain name, and if she actually wants them to call her something else, I think she’ll need a one-sentence transition to explain the new name. That’s all.

                1. NonProfit Nancy

                  Update: maybe part of the debate is on how different the name and nickname are. If it’s a common nickname for a name, I’d agree that this isn’t even worth mentioning (Joe for Jose, for example). I guess I was picturing the “white sounding” name the OP used not being a direct equivalent – such as Shauna for Shaniqua. Like you could see how it’s related, but it’s not just a common short form of the same name, so IMO it just seems a little strange that you introduced yourself by a different name than you want me to call you.

                2. Rusty Shackelford

                  Update: maybe part of the debate is on how different the name and nickname are.

                  That’s not what I’m talking about, but I think people are getting hung up on that. To me, it doesn’t matter if “Shauna’s” legal name is Shauntelle or Prettydaisypumpkinflower. It’s the sudden switch from the name she used to introduce herself, very recently. And it’s not going from legal name to nickname, which is a more natural step. And it’s not a big deal, but I do think it’s going to come up, and she’s going to want a very simple, like you said, one-sentence transition.

                3. NonProfit Nancy

                  (Reply to Rusty): Yeah, but the more I thought about the example below I realized I probably wouldn’t even care if it was something so 1:1 that it was “Tom” for “Thomas,” even if they had initially indicated one or the other. If it’s Shauna instead of LeShaniqua I think that’s a bigger issue.

                4. babblemouth

                  I agree that it’s a little strange, but it’s also the kind of strangeness I would brush off very quickly. And definitely not in the “take away this job offer” league.
                  Frankly, if I was in the employer’s position and found out the reason for the name change, I would just empathise with Not-Shauna, and rage at racial prejudice.

              3. Elizabeth H.

                I agree. Many people are expressing the general sentiment that it’s a normal and noneventful occurence that people sometimes change what they prefer to be called vis-a-vis nicknames or real name and I think this is nice and positive. But I appreciate that you clarified it like this because it just IS a more unusual situation, although certainly not unprecedented as others have attested to as well!

              4. Alienor

                I don’t think it’s that unusual, but I work with a guy who goes by a name that is a nickname having nothing to do with his legal name–for the sake of argument, let’s say his legal name is “Jonathan” and he goes by “Chris.” We’re required to have our legal names as our email addresses, so his email address is jonathan.lastname at companyname dot com, and his email display name says “Jonathan (Chris) Lastname. No one seems to think anything of it.

                1. Rusty Shackelford

                  That’s not the point. It’s not about her nickname being a “valid” one for her legal name. It’s about the sudden switch. For your guy to be an apt analogy, he’d have to apply as Chris. He’d introduce himself as Chris at the interview. He’d never correct you when you called him Chris. And when he was hired, he’d show up on day 1 and say “Actually, I don’t go by Chris, I prefer to go by Jonathan.” You don’t think anyone might wonder what’s up with that? You wouldn’t wonder why he introduced himself as Chris last week when he really wants to be called Jonathan?

              5. Annonymouse

                Not quite – OP has said “Shauna” could reasonably be a nickname for her real name.

                You could reasonably say “I feel it’s more professional to go by my full name and not a nickname.”

                It’s not more deceptive than me interviewing as “Ann” and later deciding to go by “Annonymouse” once hired.

                I mean if I interviewed as “Ann” and later decided to go by “Velvet” or “Starla” it would be weirder – there is no clear link between them and my interview name.

                1. NonProfit Nancy

                  But if you introduced yourself as Ann, I think you’d still want to have a one-sentence transition: “I used to go by Ann, but I’ve decided to start fresh as Anonymous at this job, so I’d like to go by that.” That’s all that’s required, an acknowledgment that you started out with one name, but are planning to change it.

                2. Rusty Shackelford

                  It’s not that it’s deceptive. If you’re replying to me (sorry, can’t tell), I never called it deceptive. I just said that it’s an unusual enough way of doing things that the LW should think of a simple explanation, rather than everyone who thinks no one will bat an eye. Because I’m pretty sure if someone referred to themselves by a nickname for several formal encounters, and then when hired said “By the way, I go by Formalname,” you’d wonder what was going on. People generally go from formal to informal, or consistently go by a nickname but use their formal name for paperwork.

                1. unicorn

                  Rusty, you have a point, but I don’t see why you’re commenting over and over about it. The issue you bring up is not that big of a deal. Yes, they need to be prepared to offer some explanation other than “I introduced myself as X and now I go by XY.” This is easily amended. As others have suggested, all they have to do is say, “I introduced myself as X and now I’ve decided to revert to using my legal name because [professionalism] (or) [because I want to start fresh] (or) [because I want to embrace my roots] (or) [because I got tired of the old nickname]” or any other similar, simple explanation that’s not really untrue. Case closed. When people change their names I normally don’t see much eyebrow raising in general, let alone if they change back to their legal name. It really doesn’t require much of an explanation. But it is indeed possible that the question will come up, so it is good to have an inoffensive explanation handy.

                  Now my brother recently changed his LEGAL last name for no reason other than to sound “Gothic.” I’m still baffled and shaking my head. Honestly I think his last name makes him sound like a comic book or video game character, like maybe he’s from Gotham City. No one has that last name. He does play a lot of video games. If you’re ambitious career-wise, unless you’re going into the video game industry, I would strongly advise against that type of name change. l o l

          2. Lovemyjob...truly!!!

            This is me. I go by a shortened version of my name in my day to day life – but verbally only. My full name is literally on everything I do both personally and professionally: my signature, my email signature, my desk name plate, my voice mail, how I introduce myself to family doctors, teachers, etc in writing and on the phone but when I am speaking to someone face to face I will introduce myself as the shortened version of my name and insist they call me that. The long form actually makes me feel like I’m in trouble since only my mother uses it. LOL! Only one manager in my entire 20+ years of working questioned it when I asked her to use my shortened name. She didn’t understand why I didn’t just use the short name. My reason? I like the way my name looks and sounds but because everyone but my mom used the short version and my mom always used the long version, especially when she was upset with me (complete with middle name) I just started to cringe when people said it aloud.
            All this to say, LW – use whichever name you want. Nobody is going to question it. People change things about themselves all the time and there’s seldom the big drama that they were expecting. :) BUT…if there’s drama, post an update. :)

          3. Misc

            Honestly, I didn’t even realise til I read your later comments that this example was meant to be a bad thing. It just sounds normal to me.

            Names are contextual, and for both day to day or new contexts preferences can change.

      3. AKJ

        Yes, I go by my middle name and have for ages – I use my full name for my resume (first, middle and last) and then I introduce myself using middle name and explain that is what I go by. It has only been an issue once, and in that case it was a red flag regarding that company’s attitudes in general. No one in HR has ever made a big deal out of the fact that the name on my official paperwork is not the name they know me by.

        1. Elizabeth West

          I do this too–but it’s annoying sometimes when HR only knows me by my legal name. At Exjob, we got plaques for our first year of service and mine had my first name on it. Which I don’t go by. Ugh.

    2. neverjaunty

      And I doubt they’ll yank the offer. That would mean admitting to themselves they had biases, which of course nice people don’t have.

      1. Kath

        The people who are screening resumes with Africentric names out also aren’t really into hiring people with white-sounding names that turn up at an interview and are – surprise! – so not white. It’s about race, rather than any iffy class bias associations with certain names, so I think you’re probably fine if you’ve gotten this far. It’s not as though they’re going to suddenly realize you’re black when you reveal your name, y’know?

        1. Natalie

          Although it’s likely that this is implicit bias – rather than explicitly trying to screen out black names, the name was tripping various subconscious beliefs around race and class. If that’s the case, once the LW has gotten past that screening step and is a known quantity, she’s less likely (not unlikely) to run into the same issue.

          1. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist

            Which always makes me wonder why parents give kids names that trip various subconscious beliefs around race and class, from a brutally pragmatic perspective. I mean, don’t get me wrong – I know damn well those subconscious beliefs are wrong and harmful. But given that they’re the terrain we all walk on, is it not prudent to avoid the avoidable land mines?

            1. Lemon Zinger

              It is. Read Freakonomics. There is a wonderful section on how names can influence opportunities in the workforce.

            2. Natalie

              I imagine some people are simply not thinking of implicit bias – so much of our national conversation is around explicit bias that it’s easy to ignore implicit. Other parents might, sadly, may be assuming it won’t be an issue for their child because of all of those biases, explicit and implicit. Other parents may be defiantly naming their children according to their cultural mores and not the man’s/

            3. Zahra

              So, because people are racists (consciously or not, as I said, intent is not magic/a “get-out-of-jail” card), I should deny my heritage and not give my kids a name from my own culture and instead use a “white” name? Just so people with conscious and unconscious bias can continue to live in obliviousness of their own racism, classism and privilege?

              Do you realize how hurtful it is to say “is it not prudent to avoid the avoidable land mines”?

              1. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist

                Do you realize how hurtful it is to be denied opportunities due to something as simple as your name – which you had no input on?

                Also, don’t assume I’m white, or that my given name is not highly characteristic of a certain culture, or that I haven’t grappled with this question for real. My parents dumped me right on a land mine. And there’s plenty of names that are an authentic reflection of heritage and culture they could have chosen, but didn’t.

                1. Zahra

                  Being non-white doesn’t mean a person is not racist.

                  And I do know about being denied opportunities. What I’m saying is that we won’t solve this situation by pandering to the bias of privileged people.

                1. Venus Supreme

                  Agreed. I literally JUST had this conversation with someone. If Jamal is an important family name, name your kid Jamal. It means “beauty.” The last thing I’d want to do to a family name is get rid of it because it’s not white enough.

                2. Fortitude Jones

                  Yup. And unfortunately, that’s what my mother did to me. She gave me the whitest white girl first name she could think of (but gave me a black middle name) because she said I was already going to have it hard enough in life as a black woman – she didn’t want to saddle me with a first name that was going to make it worse. As if my name alone would shield me from reality, lol. It hasn’t, though I admit I could have it much worse than I currently do.

              2. MashaKasha

                I agree. Plus, you never know what can pop into people’s heads. One of my sons has been getting comments recently that he has a “non-white first name” and someone actually did say that he “won’t be getting many callbacks with this name on a resume”. It is an Eastern European name that was common in his country of birth the year he was born. You just can’t plan around people’s ridiculous racist assumptions, and truth is, it’s not right for them to deny a person a chance of employment based on these assumptions in the first place. I would work more on nipping this attitude in the bud and less (as in not at all) on coming up with workarounds for it.

                PS. Back in my home country in the 80s, I changed my father’s (very ethnic) middle name on a college application to get into my college of choice, which had an unwritten policy not to admit people of that ethnicity. It worked. I’m not happy that I had to do that. My dad’s siblings had all changed their names to be less ethnic in order to avoid discrimination. Not happy about that, either. We cannot normalize that kind of thing, it’s insulting to those on the receiving end of it.

              3. Jenna

                I agree with you Zahra.

                I’ve read Freakanomics (among other sociological/economic texts). I agree that there is bias, especially because of the demographics of the people who are currently in positions of leadership. That’s not a reason to expect someone to deny their heritage and culture. Here’s to hoping that, in the future, there are just as many Aaliyahs and Maliks in leadership roles as there are Emilys and Jacobs.

            4. Manager Shmanager

              If people pander to the bias, how will we ever evolve beyond it? Parents should be able to name their children whatever they wish, as befitting the personality and culture of the family and child. Just as everyone should take pride in their name and not worry how others might associate unfair perceptions to it.

              I know we are not there, as the letter writer’s experience demonstrates, but the responsibility is on those holding the bias, rather than those that are victims of it.

              1. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist

                It’s not pandering to the bias. My son’s name is reflective of his – and my, and my wife’s – heritage. It’s just also not going to trip any land mines.

                1. Tea

                  How is it not, though? I think calling race a “land mine” is really…… just not a great way to characterize it– it sounds like what you’re basically saying is, “Don’t give (racist) people a reason to think of you as anything other than white. Don’t remind them that you might be [whatever race you are], because that will trip all sorts of problematic land mines (racist beliefs they have) and work against you.”

                2. Zahra

                  To be clear, it’s absolutely okay not to want to fight this fight. It’s also absolutely okay to say that it’s a hill you’re willing to die on.

                3. Jessie the First (or second)

                  If a name reflects someone’s heritage, it sounds dismissive to refer to that as “tripping land mines.” It takes the focus away from the problem – the implicit bias people have – and puts it on the family – now the problem is that they chose a name “wrong.”

                  It is good to be aware of the nuances around naming, and fine to decide to choose a name that will not meet with resistance from implicit racial bias (and fine to decide to choose a name that reflects what you want from your own personal history or heritage, racial biases be damned). But that wording – land mines – just sticks in my craw because of where it puts the blame/focus.

                4. Use My Actual Name

                  I wouldn’t be too sure on that. Context and geographic location matter.

                  I have a very common “white girl” name in the USA/Canada/UK/Australia. No one here would have difficulty pronouncing it or think it strange.

                  I spent several years living and working in Germany and Eastern Europe.

                  No one could pronounce it. No one.

                  What happened?

                  (1) People would try and use the “long form” version of the name. My parents did not give me the long form version. So people were calling me by a name that wasn’t my own.

                  Think someone is actually named “Bob” but people call him “Robert” because it is easier.

                  (2) People would use an “adjacent name”. Think someone calling you Kelly instead of Kerry.

                  (3) People would avoid working with me/talking to me b/c of their frustration about my name.

                  So simply trying to “not trip any land mines” is futile. Absolutely futile.

                5. Simonthegreywarden

                  I have had the black students I work with talk about this very frankly. In their own words (direct quote) they will talk about having ‘ghetto names’ and how they wish their names had nicknames that ‘were white’ so they didn’t have to wonder if they were getting rejected for jobs because of race. At the same token, they are very passionate about the names they want to give their children (or have given their children), and want to continue on an ethnic tradition. One of them has said before that she wished she had not given her son a name with an apostrophe because she is afraid it will be judged when he is an adult. In those instances, it is not my place to offer advice or comment (and I know I can’t, I’m a white woman with literally the most common name for women born in my year, and there were at least 8 blonde girls with my same name in my graduating high school class). I do reaffirm to them that it’s ok to use a nickname to apply for jobs, it’s ok to not want to change their names, it’s ok to feel sometimes like they are “selling out” if they do change their name, and that most of all, they have to do whatever they feel is right for them.

                6. One of the Sarahs

                  Re tripping line mines – ouch, that hurts. My nephew’s middle name is the same as his father’s and grandfather’s – named after his great-grandfather who was a bomber in WWII who has this amazing life story about fighting for Poland, then escaping across Europe to join the French airforce for fight the Nazis, being captured, escaping a prisoner of war camp, then escaping across the channel to fight for the UK air force. It’s also a *very* Polish name.

                  My sister has never faced racism before marrying her husband, who has this amazing, very Polish surname, but suddenly is having a little bit of it – the estate agent who promised her she wouldn’t let Poles into her house, eg. She was a bit worried about the combination of an ambiguous first name (think Peter) with a very Polish surname, and a very Polish middle name. But denying her husband the chance to honour his family would be so wrong – as would trying to give her son a “more British” first name, when they both have reasons for what they want to call him.

                  My TL;DR is that it’s up to the rest of us to confront our biases, and not criticise people for naming their children, because “this is a powerful name I love” should be the deciding factor, not trying to think of a racist-proof name.

            5. ThursdaysGeek

              Because they like the name and think that surely, in 18 years when this is an issue for my kid, we will have moved past this?

            6. MeanHRLady

              I have to somewhat agree with The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist on this one. Unfortunately people in the hiring field have unconscious biases. It’s a fact of life. It’s wrong, I wish it would change, but it is what it is.

              My feelings are that it’s not so much that “ethnicity” or “non-white” names are easy to spot and are discarded, it’s that they’re sometimes difficult to pronounce. I will think twice about contacting a candidate via phone because I’m terrified that I will butcher someone’s name. My maiden name was difficult to pronounce so I know how it feels when someone always mispronounces your name. Instead, I’ll typically email the candidate so I don’t mispronounce their name. That way they can reach back out to me, and I can hear them pronounce their name so I don’t sound like a total idiot on the phone with them.

              1. Use My Actual Name

                ” I will think twice about contacting a candidate via phone because I’m terrified that I will butcher someone’s name.”

                But in an increasingly global world, this will unavoidable.

                I have a very, very common white girl name. Asians and Eastern Europeans and native German speakers can not pronounce it.

                You are assuming that the person is living and working in one country (presumably the USA).

                That is no longer the world we live in.

                People have to get used to being out of their comfort zone and simply asking “can you pronounce your name for me” or “Is Zakhira there”? If he/she says yes you then ask “am I pronouncing that properly” and go from there.

                Your discomfort is no excuse not to show basic respect. If you are an HR person and don’t know that, I’d really wonder about the quality and diversity of candidates you are getting.

                1. Elizabeth H.

                  Re. Marisol: I don’t know if ‘disrespectful’ is the exact right word, but there IS a difference if you email people with ethnic names while you phone call people who are likely to be American/native English speakers/white. You connect with people differently over phone than over email and the end result is categorically that you are systematically giving people a different interview experience based on their presumed background.

              2. Pommette

                There are studies backing this perception up (one came out a few years ago looking at “stereotypically” West European names+hiring responses in the USA: names that were hard for English-speaking Americans to pronounce got fewer call-backs than others).

                I moved to an English-speaking part of the world as a young adult. I have been here ten years. In that time, no one (except for the occasional people who also speak my first language) has pronounced my name correctly. Some people try, and get pretty close. Some people try and fail horribly. No one gets close without asking for guidance. I honestly don’t feel hurt or offended by mispronunciations, or offended when people ask for guidance. The one thing that scares me the most, and that would offend me, is the idea that someone might avoid reaching out to me because they were worried about mispronouncing my name!

                (No offence to you: it sounds like you found a process that works well. It’s probably also a good way to catch those candidates whose names look common but are in fact pronounced in a slightly different way).

                That said: people everywhere have unconscious biases. And once we become aware of those biases and of the ways they play out, there are lots of things we can do to avoid acting on them!

              3. TL -

                Really? I work in a very diverse field and there are a ton of people whose names are difficult for most Americans to pronounce from the written version. We generally either ask someone who’s familiar with the language or google, and then double check: “Hi, is Vulcania? Am I pronouncing that right?”

                I’m not offended when non-native English speakers say my English name wrong. I don’t think they’re offended if I get a non-English name wrong on the first try. Just ask.

              4. Zahra

                My name isn’t hard to pronounce (it’s literally pronounced as written, nothing to trip you up in the spelling), but the combination of syllables is unusual enough that people trip over it.

                Frankly, as long as you make a good faith effort, it doesn’t bother me nearly as much as if you obviously decided not to bother trying to sound out my name. For people I will doing be doing business with on a regular basis and didn’t bother with a minimal effort, I will ask them to take a few seconds, re-read my name and try again. (Oh yes, I can be that kind of very direct person. I won’t say rude, as it is rude not to even try to say someone’s name correctly in the first place.)

                I think you’ll find that most people won’t hold a grudge against you if you stumble a little.

              5. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

                But the solution to grappling with a “difficult to pronounce name” is to do exactly what you suggested—ask how to properly pronounce it, and practice saying it correctly. Not to avoid calling someone because of fear of your own embarrassment; that’s penalizing the applicant for your hang up.

                As a fundamental matter, we should all strive to say people’s given names correctly, even if it is difficult for us. I grew up bilingual. Most of the given names from my ethnic community are written phonetically in English for ease of translation, because our alphabet has over 35 letters and 10 vowel/stress/tone modifiers (most of our names, however, can be easily pronounced with all the phonetic sounds that exist in English). And people still can’t pronounce those names, not because they’re difficult, but because they have a mental block that goes “oh, that name is foreign; I can’t say it.” Meanwhile, English-only speakers have the bizarre idea that their names are somehow “easy” to pronounce—they’re not!

                We live in a diverse world and in an increasingly diverse society. We have to push each other to do better on things like this, not to indulge the embedded biases we all have.

                1. Elizabeth H.

                  I agree completely re. striving to say people’s names correctly. I think this is really important and that a ton of American native English speakers don’t try hard enough. I’ll admit that I consider myself innately pretty good at knowing how to pronounce names (I have a lot of background knowledge about various languages, and I also think it correlates with being good at spelling, which I am excellent at) but I also will actually look up and read about pronunciations and I remember everything I hear. I think a lot of it is laziness and some weird discomfort with admitting you don’t know something and it makes you feel better to pretend that it’s not important if you can’t do it well. The funny thing is that while I speak a couple languages I’m very shy and self-conscious about speaking out loud – I am NOT an innately good-at-languages person (I even *taught* 1st year Russian as a non-native speaker, and I still feel self conscious) – but I don’t feel that way about names at all, I feel that it’s much more important to say it correctly than to avoid the feelings of self-consciousness.

              6. Formica Dinette

                FWIW, I have pretty good luck with finding name pronunciation online, as well as what gender they’re typically associated with.

              7. ThatAspie

                Disclaimer: my skin is as white as the driven snow, the only non-white people in my family tree are way too far back to count for much, and my name, while unusual, is just the Celtic version of a very common Welsh name.

                That being said, I can contribute here, because people often misspell and/or mispronounce my name (again, it’s the rarely-used Celtic spelling of a super-common Welsh name, although recently many celebrities have risen with names that are in between the two spellings). I’m not going to tell which name it is, but I will say that the Celtic version has two letters that don’t appear in the original Welsh spelling, and that one of those extra letters is silent.

                I got more than my fair share of crap for my name growing up, and even nice people sometimes (read: often) struggled with my name. I’ve had people miss letters spelling it, pronounce the silent letter, and even mess up on vowel pronounciation (the pronounciation is the same in both the Welsh and Celtic spellings, it’s just the written form that’s different.) As a kid, I often got mad at people who misspelled or mispronounced my name, even though I knew that very few of them did it on purpose. I even fantasized about changing my name to something else, maybe even just the more common spelling. But now, I’m an adult, and I simply spell my name out for people (“[letter] as in [word that starts with that letter]” format) and correct them if they still screw up.

                Here are some tips for avoiding name-butchering and issues that go with it:
                – If you’re unsure, ask.
                – If you mess up, apologize and correct yourself.
                – If someone spells out their name for you, listen.

            7. Pebbles

              Here’s a counterpoint to consider though: you will NEVER find a name that will be perfectly acceptable to all people. I have a very bland first name, that was #1 of all girls born during a particular set of years in this country. Yet kids still found a way to pick on me, making variations of my name (the creativity of kids astound me!) that were hurtful. I remember many of those kids by name and will never name my own kids if I have any by any of those names.

              Whose to say that you give your child what you think should be a perfectly “acceptable” name and some hiring person has had a negative experience with someone else with that same name (“oh, we had a Frank here once and he always came to work drunk”) and uses that to affect their judgment when it really shouldn’t?

              1. Use My Actual Name

                Agreed. I have a very basic “easy” white girl name. The majority of non-English speakers on this planet cannot pronounce it.

                We need to stop assuming everyone is a white English speaking American.

                We need to start showing the basic courtesy of calling people what they want to be called.

                We need to learn that our own discomfort when we run across something we don’t know – be it someone’s name or some other fact about them – is no excuse not to try. It’s no excuse not to be courteous.

                1. many bells down

                  I gave my daughter a gender-neutral first name that is more common in the UK than in America (where we are). It’s 5 letters long. Two things generally happen: people pronounce it wrong, or people assume she’s male. The latter happens most often. It’s happened even when I say something like “I’m calling about my daughter, (Name).” and they reply “Okay, what’s his date of birth?”

                2. MashaKasha

                  ^ That’s what keeps happening with my oldest son’s name. It is a pretty common, Eastern European name. People here in the US have always looked at his name and assumed he was a girl. In one case, he and I were standing in front of a college admission official, handing his papers over to her, and she still asked, “Is this about your daughter?” I do not have a daughter…

            8. Maurge

              I’m white and have a very black-sounding first and last name. (Think “Tyrese Washington”). In my case, my mom read my first name in a magazine, thought it was lovely and didn’t do any further research. She had never heard the name before (she doesn’t know many black people) and didn’t associate it with any race.

              1. Mallory Janis Ian

                My husband’s doctor is named Jamal, and we were expecting a black guy when he made his first appointment with him. We were actually kind of excited that we were finally getting some diversity in our 90% white small town, having both come from places with way more diversity than that. But no, the doctor is a white guy named Jamal.

                1. Anon for this

                  My name is Tyson. I’m from a 95+% white small town in the midwest. For whatever reason, Tyson was a popular name in my hometown when I was born; I can name a half dozen other Tysons around my age from my hometown, all white.

                  When I went to college, my roommates told me they assumed I was black when they found out my name, presumably because some of the most famous Tysons (Mike, Cecily, Beckford) are black. My hard-to-pronounce last name (which is just German and super-common in areas with lots of people of German ancestry) probably didn’t help, as it likely just seemed “exotic” to 18-year-olds.

                  It had never occurred to me (or probably to my parents, who personally know approximately 0 black people) that I might have a “black”-sounding name!

            9. Lora

              They can change their names when they are old enough, if that’s a thing they would like to do. It’s just paperwork. Know several who have, and also a great many Asian folks who have Western nicknames. Have colleagues who are fraternal twin sisters who both had the same major in college, and the names they picked were “Amy” and “May”. I thought it was pretty cute, myself.

              1. Marisol

                Well, changing your name may be easy from a legal perspective, but it’s not necessarily an easy decision. And practically speaking, it can be a challenge negotiating the change with the people in your life–friends and family who you grew up with may not want to switch (and it may seem weird to you to ask them to change as well) and if your old friends and new friends get together, you may find you have two different names you go by…it’s not a simple matter.

            10. Lovemyjob...truly!!!

              My name is very common across white and African American communities. In my graduating class there were 6 girls with my name, split evenly 3/3 for each race. I am white. I have had interviews with people where they’ve commented that they were expecting a black woman. I also go by the shortened version, which is Asian sounding. I had a co-worker who, when hired was told he’d be working with me, was surprised I wasn’t an Asian woman.

              My daughter, who is white, is named after her Italian great-grandmother and we’ve been asked if she’s Spanish because of how her name sounds.

              Names are a weird thing. Just a single encounter with a person of a certain name can color that name for you. I have a bias against the name Cheryl. Every single encounter I’ve had with a woman who was named Cheryl (all spellings) has been awful. And every teacher I know has a list of names not to name their kids based on the classroom roster.

            11. Marisol

              My mother intentionally gave me a unisex name for this reason, and I appreciate her for that. The way I see it, life brings you enough struggles without you intentionally choosing them. Choosing the path of least resistance can be a wise move.

            12. HannahS

              No. The answer to “people are racist” isn’t “pander to it” because racism doesn’t go away unless fought. It gets stronger if ignored, not weaker.

              It’s not as even as pragmatic as you think. What if the political climate changes, and certain ethnicity become seen as model minorities or go from model minority to dangerous? Jia Yi goes from being “good student” to “dangerous.” What if your kid moves? A black woman in Quebec could name her child Monique or Jerome and have it be seen as a very common, “neutral”, French name, but as “ghetto” if she moves to the States. Or, because the kid’s not named Alitash or Tariku, they’ll always be clearly a foreigner if they move back to Ethiopia.

              1. One of the Sarahs

                Yes! I’ve got a very stereotypical Irish surname – if it were the 1980s when the IRA were active here, I’d probably be stopped at UK border controls, and getting hassled. In 2017? It’s completely benign. Similarly, a girl I was at school with, whose parents left Iran because of the regime, was seen as completely benign in all her travels to the USA as an actress, but now could be banned. We just don’t know what will happen next, so name kids things you love.

          2. Lissa

            Yeah, I thought that too. I’m sure that many of the hiring people would say “Of course I’d be just as likely to hire a Latoya as a Lisa!” but in practise, nope. Kinda like how a lot of people (men and women) will say they aren’t sexist but automatically ask the guy in the room the questions. But if you asked them “could the woman be the one in charge” they’d say sure.

            1. Turtle Candle

              And part of the problem, part of what makes it so insidious, is that human beings are really, really good at rationalizing things–especially things related to human behavior. We really like making up a story that makes another person’s actions make sense to us. You see this on advice columns all the time, where whenever someone writes in with something ridiculous or egregious–“my coworker kicked me repeatedly in the shins after I disagreed with her in a meeting” or etc.–there are always a number of people attempting to invent some reasonable excuse for it based on zero evidence in the letter, like “maybe she’s on a medication that affects her behavior!” or “did you perhaps run repeatedly into her foot and not notice it?” People like to make up stories that make other peoples’ behavior into a story that make sense, and often a farfetched explanation is more enjoyable and satisfying to make up than “she kicked you because she’s a bully and a jerk.”

              But we especially like to do it when it comes to rationalizing our own behavior, especially so that we can go on thinking of ourselves as good people. So even if you point out, “Hey, did you realize that you automatically deferred to the white person (or the man, or whatever) in the room?” the vast majority of people will instantly come up with some reason other than than racism (sexism, etc.): the one they deferred to was sitting at a particular position at the table, he was dressed ‘more professionally,’ he was the one with the laptop (or he was the one without the laptop–that one spins neatly on a dime), or even a vague ‘he spoke more professionally’ or ‘he held himself in a more authoritative manner’ or something (which overlooks that we are culturally primed to see the speech of a white person or a man as more professional or more authoritative or whatever, just by dint of their race or sex or etc.), on and on–anything but ‘he was the white person’ or ‘he was the man.’ (There’s also a strong element of fundamental attribution error to this: he didn’t listen to Leshawn because he’s racist; when I didn’t listen to Leshawn, it was because [pick any of the reasons above].)

              And what makes it most insidious is that most of us actually believe what we are saying. For some people who are blatantly and consciously bigoted, it’s an ex post facto excuse, but for most people for whom these biases are largely unconscious or implicit, we believe what we are saying. We really do believe that we’d be just as happy hiring a Leshawn as a Larry, or a Janice as a Joe. It’s just that we’re deceiving ourselves, and our self-deception is hurting others.

              Which is why it’s so difficult to combat–and so important that we be consciously aware of our tendency to bias and actively work to counteract it, rather than brushing it off as, “Oh, I’m not racist, so obviously I had a really good reason not to hire Leshawn.” We really have to work hard to get past it, to actively interrogate our own justifications, and it’s tough work but it’s absolutely necessary to do. (I mean, I have to do it re: sexism even though I’m a woman! Implicit biases are incredibly pervasive that way.)

              1. maybefriday

                Okay so I’ve never commented here before, but I finally had to jump in to say I agree with this a million percent.

              2. Lissa

                Yeah, especially when somebody has it in their heads that only a *bad person* would be more likely to hire Larry than Leshawn, and they’re a *good person*, so in their case, it couldn’t possibly be that! It must be one of the many other reasons! people look at it as binary. But, the point of unconscious/implicit bias is that being a good person does not help you here, not even a bit. It’s been put in there by society and takes a lot more than just wanting to be good/non-bigoted to actually change those things.

              3. margarets

                + 1 kajillion internet points

                I interviewed with a small local consulting firm last summer. I was able to suss out that in over a decade, they had hired ONE person who wasn’t a white able-bodied male (most of whom had very Anglo names, and 50 bucks says they were straight too). That person was… a white able-bodied female with an Anglo name. This is in a very multicultural city too so they would definitely have had more diverse applicants over the years.

                But I’ll bet they honestly think they have no biases, even they’ve even noticed their pattern.

            2. Pommette

              Agreed. But once we move past pretending that we don’t have all kinds of weird biases, it becomes possible to take steps to reduce the impact of our biases.

              Name-blind applications are a simple classic (it only works for the first step of the application process, but it’s already an improvement on what is happening in most places).

              Self- and group-monitoring also works. Have someone count how many questions get asked of men, and of women, when your group meets with clients/colleagues, and discuss the results (in a way that isn’t accusatory, just matter of fact: why did this happen this way?). Over time, the count is likely to get more even. It’s awkward and slow-going, but it can change the way things work!

              1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

                We do this in meetings—we assign a timekeeper, a facilitator, and a peacekeeper. The peacekeeper’s job is to watch the dynamics of the meeting and to intervene (this can be by noting someone has been waiting to speak for days, or repeating a valid point that was made then ignored/dismissed inappropriately, etc.).

              2. Turtle Candle

                Looking at metrics (like ‘how often do we ask a question of a woman vs. a man’ or ‘how much time are various people actually talking’) really is sobering and eye-opening. I had a situation at work recently-ish where we have an entry-level role (let’s say, oh, Rice Grain Handler) that has two possible paths leading from it (let’s say Rice Grain Analyst and Rice Grain Tester). They’re both valuable jobs, and they tend to correlate to different skill sets, but due to the nature of the industry, Rice Grain Tester has more room for upward mobility and leads to a career track with, on average, more prestige and better pay.

                We had thought that we were nudging people toward one track or another based on ability. Janice would make a great Rice Grain Analyst because she’s organized and data-minded. Bill obviously should be a Rice Grain Tester; he’s got a really good grasp of the dynamics of the project. Joe can’t be a Rice Grain Analyst because he’s so bad with the numbers; Sally would fit the bill nicely.

                You can see where this is going. But the thing is, in the moment, when we were making these assessments, it was shockingly unclear to us (especially since we were thinking purely in terms of the Analyst/Tester split, and not in terms of what it meant for their careers as a whole, and Analyst and Tester are on the same level; the difference comes in the future). For each one we had what we felt was a really genuinely good reason to put the woman in the Rice Grain Analyst role–and most of us making these calls were women, even. Each decision felt rational and we couldn’t see the pattern when it was one role here, one role there, over years.

                It took one of my coworkers calling a meeting with us and saying, “Do you realize that in the past three years we’ve only put women in Rice Grain Analysis?” to make us go, holy crap, that is baaaaaaad, and the chances that it’s pure coincidence were very low. We just didn’t see it until the numbers were there and we couldn’t rationalize them away.

                (We have since made a sincere effort to fix this, or at least to improve it, including making it more possible for people in Rice Grain Analysis and Rice Grain Testing to switch between roles after the fact. But it was amazing to me how easy it was to simply… not see it, even as women ourselves.)

                1. Tau

                  I can really see this happening, unfortunately. :(

                  There may be something similar going on at my company. We hire entry-level people and train them up in different streams…… and I can’t help but notice that even when women start in the typically extremely male-dominated technical stream, they often end up switching roles to the more typically female stream that’s more about interpersonal communication and less technical. (And, also, less lucrative as a career.)

                  I started a bit over a year ago in the technical stream and am still there. And… I don’t think anyone will try to push me out. I think it’s going to be far more subtle than that. I think that what will happen is that if I mention any interest in the, let’s steal your terminology and call it the Rice Grain Analyst Stream, that will be taken up far more than if I were a man, I’ll be encouraged to look into it far more than the guys would, if the Testers need to do any analysis tasks I’ll somehow be seen as the most suitable person for them… on the surface, it might even look like my employer was being *more* supportive of me than the guys.

                  …I actually think Rice Grain Analysis looks quite cool and really important, and I wouldn’t mind knowing more about it. But I’m very very careful to avoid stating that interest particularly loudly or where certain people could hear it. At the end of the day, although Rice Grain Analysis looks cool, I want to be a Rice Grain Tester, and unfortunately enough I suspect I might have to defend that.

                2. Turtle Candle

                  @Tau, that sounds very similar to what I’m talking about. They’re both technical roles, but Rice Grain Tester is much more technical, and leads into a further, increasingly-technical track; Rice Grain Analyst is also technical, but less so, and features more soft skills and more skills that can be coded as tending towards administrative work (being very precise and organized, being able to lay hands on information for other people quickly, and being able to write up comprehensive and accurate/coherent notes on projects, among them). So it’s easy to see in retrospect how easily we slipped into recommending women for the Analyst roles… but until we got the numbers, we didn’t even see it.

                  I wish you a great deal of luck in navigating that. For what it’s worth, I think that keeping your interest in your equivalent of Rice Grain Analytics under wraps until you’re well and thoroughly on the Rice Grain Testing path is smart. I hate to say that, but yeah, I think you’re right on that front.

                3. One of the Sarahs

                  Just wanted to give you kudos for accepting what was wrong, and finding ways to change it

        2. Gandalf the Nude

          You make it sound more intentionally nefarious than it usually is. Most of those folks aren’t screening applicants out because the name makes them think the applicant is black but because the name makes them think the applicant is a certain insidious stereotype of a black person. But if they meet and the applicant doesn’t fit that caricature, then everything is fine, interview on. Because it’s not black people they don’t want to work with; it’s those black people, or even those Asians or those Latinx, the ones that don’t meet their standard for assimilation, which even most progressives have.

          It’s awful, and we need to find a way to fix it, but it’s important to remember that the David Dukes of the world who do this.

            1. OP#3

              Yes Gandalf! The names make them think the applicant is a certain insidious stereotype of a black person. I have dealt with this my entire life from high school, through college and through different jobs. I cannot count how many times I’ve heard “you’re so different” or “you’re not like other black people that I know” or “at least you’re not like that” or “I can invite you to my party because my racist uncle would like you even though he doesn’t like most black folks”….the list goes on and on.

              It doesn’t (or does, actually) help that I sound white as well….which translates to I just speak proper grammar. For example (and I have MANY), in my previous job people called to get loans. Eventually they had to come in to meet with me and sign paperwork. One white lady came in and when I introduced myself she said no, I’m here to see the lady I spoke with over the phone. I told her it was me and she refused to believe me. She said, the lady I I’ve been speaking with is white. I then told her the personal things we discussed during our many phone conversations and she was pissed. She asked for my manager or another representative. In her mind my voice and my intelligence didn’t match her viewpoint of black women.

              1. Coco

                That is so disgusting, and I’m so, so sorry you have to deal with that shit. I really hope your manager set her straight.

          1. Parenthetically

            I remember reading recently that some companies were banning photos and names from applications for just this reason. It makes me feel quite sick to think that Joseph is going to get more interviews that Jose and Michael more than Malik, and just removing names from that early application process seems like it’d be at least a good first step while we, you know, fix an entire society’s unconscious biases.

            1. anonykins

              On the flipside, I’ve worked in SE Asia, where photos on resumes are expected. A black coworker actually appreciated that she could include her picture as she felt it automatically ruled out companies where race would be an issue. Only helpful if you can afford to be picky like that, of course.

            2. Justme

              Also, John tends to get more interviews than Jane even with the same education and qualifications. Stanford has done studies on it. It’s fascinating,

          2. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist

            I think oddly-spelled or bizarre names tend to turn employers and others off even if there’s no racial undertone. I’m NOT denying that people respond in a biased way to characteristically minority-ethnic names, not at all, but there’s also just kind of a “Oh, that’s weird” reaction that some names engender.

            My wife taught a kid named “Future” for a while; now she’s got a student named “If.” I’ve taught college students named Betheneigh and Mykynzye. I had no idea what ethnicity each one was when I first heard the name spoken or listed on my class roster, but I still went WTF. Parents, this is not a reaction you want your kid’s name to inspire.

              1. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist

                Right and wrong, respectively. S’ok, you can still play in the majors. :D

            1. Bwooster

              “but I still went WTF”

              You’re a teacher. Maybe you should have queried your own reaction a little bit before you queried the judgement of the parents? What input do kids have on how they’re named? A lot less than the input you have into your own reactions to those names that’s for sure.

              1. the gold digger

                I query the judgment of a parent who deliberately makes up an alternative spelling for a name that already exists. What’s wrong with “Bethany” or “Mackenzie?” Why make things more complicated than they need to be?

                1. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist

                  And think of how many times daily or weekly you use your name. “My name is Bethany,” nobody has any trouble with. Betheneigh is going to have to say, “Except instead of Y, it’s like neighbor, n-e-i-g-h. Yes. With an H at the end.”

                2. Bwooster

                  “I query the judgment of a parent who deliberately makes up an alternative spelling for a name that already exists. ”

                  I think you meant to reply to the person above me as I’m not sure what relevance casting aspersions on parents of the children who are the once who are subject to the judgement of their teacher have anything to do with my comment.

                3. many bells down

                  I’ve had to spell my first name for people because they assume that since it’s so common, I probably use an alternative spelling. I’m named Jennifer. I met someone just last week whose wife is “Jennipher”. It’s like they want it to be complicated!

                4. Pommette

                  I have had to spell my name out for people since childhood (my parents went with a “creative spelling” of my name). And I now have to do it for both my first and family names (I moved into an English-speaking area, and my name is unpronounceable/un-spellable to most native English speakers).

                  It’s really, really not a burden.

                  Once in a while it sparks a fun conversation when I wasn’t expecting one. It makes it less embarrassing for me to ask people whose names I am not familiar with for guidance on correct pronounciation. And ultimately, it reminds me of my connection to my family.

                  (I would add that at this point, there are enough spelling variants on ‘Bethany’, ‘Jennifer’, etc. in circulation that even people with what was once the “typical spelling” are going to have to spell it out on a regular basis).

                5. Lovemyjob...truly!!!

                  Not sure if you’re familiar with the show Modern Family, but your comment “why make things more complicated than they need to be?” reminded me of a scene from that show. The gay couple – Mitchell and Cameron – are in a shop owned by their gay friend Longeness. Longeness introduces them to a new employee who introduces himself as Joe. Mitchell asks “Joe? That’s it?” and the kid answers in a pretentious tone “that’s Joe, spelled J-E-A-U with a silent X” and then Mitchell acknowledges the name with a snarky “Yep, there it is.” It should be up to the person with the name to decide how complicated they want to make it, not the parent.

                  Names are important. They’re the labels we’re literally given at birth. I thought long and hard about the names I gave my two kids and while I liked unique and different, I knew that I wasn’t the one who would have to carry that name into adulthood. That’s not to say I went the boring route. My kids are the only ones with their names in all of their classes / schools but the slightly old fashioned names aren’t eyebrow raising by sound or spelling. I didn’t name then North, Rainbow or Espn nor did I name them Izahbelle, Eyevee, or JayTee.

              2. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist

                I’m going to push back on this; the names are weird. The parents knew they were picking weird names. I think that’s bad judgment. The kids certainly don’t get any shade from me, but the parents do.

                1. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist

                  And why do I think it’s bad judgment? Because as someone who goes by his middle name, having to correct and spell and explain one’s name gets insanely tiring. Because Betheneigh and Mykynzye will spend their entire lives having to patiently spell out their names every time they register for classes, call customer service, or sign up for a service. Because Future will spend his life saying, “No, yeah, Future. Like, Back to the. It’s my name.” while people raise their eyebrows at him. And because poor If got bullied nonstop.

                2. Gandalf the Nude

                  I think you’re projecting an awful lot. As someone with a quite Western/English surname that I have to spell every time I give out my email address, call customer service, etc., it’s really not that big a deal. It’s part of having a name. Plenty of folks with different national origins and other cultural backgrounds have the same problem, but I hope you’d be affronted if someone suggest their parents ought to have given them a different surname in order to fit in locally.

                  And I hate this notion that we were supposed to stop making new names centuries ago. Considering how many currently popular names were originally just words in an old language, why on earth can’t we make names out of words in current language? Being different wouldn’t be nearly so hard if folks put more effort into overcoming their initial reaction to meeting someone different.

                3. Bwooster

                  “I’m going to push back on this; the names are weird.”

                  ….? I’m not entirely sure what you mean by pushing back. Isn’t this a basic restatement of what you said before?

                  “The kids certainly don’t get any shade from me.”

                  See…I really believe you think that’s true and yet….here are your own words disputing this very assertion…

                  “I had no idea what ethnicity each one was when I first heard the name spoken or listed on my class roster, but I still went WTF. Parents, this is not a reaction you want your kid’s name to inspire.”

                  After all, if the kids get no shade, than what harm is the reaction?

                4. INFJ

                  I can see both sides. My SO and I poke fun at how his brother and wife named their first child. (She has an unusual spelling of a common name and will always have to spell it out.) But on the other hand, he has a very common last name that I ALWAYS am asked to spell out whenever I give it. (Our pets have his last name, some domestic accounts are under his name, etc.)

                5. WellRed

                  The book Freakonomics addresses weird names, and weird spellings of names and the impact it can have down the road. It’s fascinating.

                6. kittycritter

                  I hear you and agree with you – I know people are going to push back on you for being “judgmental”, so I just want you to know that I, being someone with a strange first & last name that is perpetually mispronounced/misspelled, do find it quite tiring to have to pronounce and spell my name out for literally anyone I ever have any kind of dealing with where it’s necessary for them to record my name for the transaction. I *wish* that my parents had just given me a normal first name that I wouldn’t have to spell out every. single. time. People always butcher my name, and it’s so embarrassing to me!!

                7. Bartlet for President

                  Gandalf the Nude: on the flip side, I find it endlessly annoying to constantly spell my name and/or have it written incorrectly. I have a traditionally spelled name, but it is very similar to another name that is apparently far more common (although, I’ve never met a single person with that name!). The number of times I get called the other…well, at this point I just answer to it because I’ve given up trying to correct it.

                  To make it even more fun, I’m named after a living relative. To differentiate between us, we go by First Name + Modified Middle – except, my own parents sometimes call me the other name! Iv’e gotten birthday cards (and checks) made out to the wrong name, and I think my mom calls me the wrong name at least once whenever we spend time together.

                  Basically, I’ve accepted that I have to answer to multiple versions of my name and it pisses me off.

                  [To make things even more fun, my last name was butchered by the US Military and now it sounds like it is from a group of European countries. Living in two of those countries made me nutso because I’d have to explain that no, I wasn’t from the country, and no, my family wasn’t either, and yes I know the name seems like it should be, but see the military changed the name, and there are no relatives with the name outside my immediate family.]

            2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

              Sometimes the spelling is a cultural issue. It doesn’t look like it, in this case, but there’s plenty of folks with Welsh/Irish/Gaelic names that could have anglicized their names and purposefully chose not to. Similarly, there are plenty of accepted alternative spellings for names (e.g., Ashleigh and Ashley), in part because names often don’t evolve with only one spelling.

              But how awful would it be to be told your name is spelled “wrong,” when that’s simply how your name is spelled? I think it’s really important not to imply to people that their names are somehow wrong; if they spell their name a certain way, then that’s how they spell it, and it’s the right way to spell that particular person’s name.

        3. K.

          I’m black with a last name that is associated with a particular ethnic group that is NOT black (e.g. Fiorello or Krakowski), and I’ve gotten plenty of double-takes and insinuations that I intentionally misled interviewers with my last name. White people (in my experience it’s only white people who do this) will glance down at my left hand after I introduce myself to see if I’m married, and then look back at me in confusion when they see that hand bare. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve scheduled an interview, gotten to the site and checked with the receptionist, and had them demand ID and do double takes at it when they see that yes, my last name really is what I said it was and yes, I am a woman of color.

          1. Gaia

            I’m sorry, people insinuate that you *misled* them with your last name? Like, what, they thing you legally changed your last name (or outright lied)? They don’t realize how insane that sounds?

            1. Use My Actual Name

              I’m a “white girl” with a white first name and a very Asian last name. My husband is third generation Asian American.

              You should see the looks when people meet me.

              What they don’t know is I am culturally white, but have a grandmother who was a registered tribal member and another great-grandfather who was the son of a slave.

              It’s amazing how white people treat me when all they know is my first name v. when they hear my full name first and expect an Asian woman.

              1. New Bee

                I have what people assume is an Asian last name, paired with a clearly “ethnic” first name that has lots of spellings across cultures. I’m a Black woman married to a White man–not sure who people expect to see, but sometimes I can tell I’m not it.

            1. K.

              Yep! Racism is real and everywhere. (I’ve spent my entire life in major “liberal bubble” coastal cities and I’m in my mid-30s – this isn’t Jim Crow south in the 50s stuff). In one particularly egregious case, I ratted a really nasty receptionist out to HR and ultimately opted not to continue with the hiring process. My parents (especially my father) got it all the time too, particularly as they advanced in their careers. Seeing my two black parents with “misleading” names in high-ranking positions was jarring for some white people.

              1. Code Monkey, the SQL

                I… I’ve got nothing. That doesn’t even compute – that you should be penalized for not having a name the fits with the interviewer’s expectations of your race. That is really, really awful. I’m sorry.

              2. General Ginger

                This is awful. I am so, so sorry this has been your AND your parents’ experience.

                (I’m sure I’m being far too generous trying to infer any sort of serious logic to this absolutely racist bull, but I can’t comprehend how these interviewers are even getting to the “misleading” conclusion. Do they seriously think that there are no POC in Western or Eastern Europe, to use the last name examples you gave? Have they also never heard of adoption? Of people historically changing their names/having their names changed upon immigration?)

                1. Nolan

                  My partner is an Asian adoptee with a Polish surname and he gets a lot of funny looks and double takes as well, though nothing as bad as K’s experiences, afaik. I’ve always been confused by other white people’s reactions to it, all the “how did that happen”s and “where’d you get that name”s are so damn frustrating. Like, really? There’s several really common possible scenarios, and none of them are your business!

                  The only time anyone ever had a legit question was from a Kazakh friend of mine, because Kazakhstan is in central Asia and apparently his surname passes for a Kazakh one as well.

                  And then if we have kids that’ll add a whole new layer for nosy people to speculate about }:(

          2. ThatGirl

            I realize this is not the same – but I have an unusual first name that to some people sounds black or Latin (and my (married) last name is Czech but sounds potentially Eastern European/Middle Eastern) so when people hear/see my name first and then meet me, they are often confused that I am as white as can be. This even happened with my husband’s ex-boss, a black woman who was sure I would be black too.

            1. designbot

              My legal last name leads people to assume I’m Mexican–it’s not even actually a Mexican name, it’s a misunderstanding based on a mispelling, but everyone makes the assumption when they haven’t met me before. I still go by my maiden name at work for other reasons, but it’s super neutral (it’s pretty 50/50 whether the person with this name will turn out to be white or black), and this whole discussion is making me see what a happy accident that’s been for me. I never factored these thoughts into that decision and it sucks that other people have to.
              There’s a part of me that wishes the LW could get away with calling it out, like, “oh, I wasn’t getting a lot of success using my given name, and someone tipped me off that submitting under a nickname might work out better for me.”

                1. Gaia

                  Eh, I actually think that is a little risky. It shouldn’t be, but especially if the bias isn’t intentional the LW risks riling up the hiring manager and ending up in a situation where there’s a lot of overt aggression.

              1. Jessica

                That’s what I would want if she were my new hire. I’d like her to call it out even more directly, because it would be valuable feedback on our hiring practices and my unconscious bias. But I probably wouldn’t have advised LW to do that, because too dangerous. :-(

          3. moss

            Fellow white people: part of being an anti-racist ally is not being disbelievingly astonished when someone reveals racist actions directed toward them. Yes, racism IS THAT BAD.

            Not calling anyone out specifically, it just needs to be said. Our actions as allies include believing what people of color tell us is happening to them.

              1. Code Monkey, the SQL

                I apologize K. I do believe you. I’m appalled, and angry that I didn’t know before now that some people would sink that low.

            1. neverjaunty

              While this is a good reminder, it’s also the case that expressions like “are you serious” and “unbelievable” are generally meant to convey shock and disbelief, not skepticism. I don’t see anyone questioning here that OP is telling the truth.

              1. moss

                It may not be intended but since disbelief is what those responses literally convey I would just ask that responders be aware of how hurtful that is and choose different words.

                1. New Bee

                  Yep, and it can come across as annoyingly naïve–“Gosh, I’ve never had to think about this common obstacle (because privilege)!” Congratulations?

                2. LBK

                  I think most people who are familiar with American English understand common turns of phrase…I really don’t think most people outside of Amelia Bedelia would take a clearly incredulous phrase like “Are you serious!?” literally.

                3. Parenthetically

                  LBK, I certainly know plenty of grammar pedants who will snippily correct someone who uses those expressions idiomatically.

              2. Lissa

                Yeah — when Alison says “What?!?!” in her responses I never take it as skepticism, just horror/being appalled. Also, er, if somebody has never encountered this before isn’t it good they are encountering now and now realize it happens?

              3. INFJ

                Or outrage. If anybody tells me that they were treated in a truly appalling way, I’m sorry, I’m going to be upset for that person. I’m going to say, “wow, that was awful.” What should I do? Just shrug and say, “yeah, that happens, no bd.”??

                1. moss

                  That’s not what I said. “Wow that was awful” is not the same thing as “I can’t believe that!”

                2. hugseverycat

                  I think it would be kind of like – if every time a person mentions having menstrual cramps, all the men in her life are like, “WHAT?? Seriously?!?!? I can’t believe you have to deal with that every month!! That’s HORRIBLE!!”

                  It might be nice the first time, but by the time she’s had a few years of periods under your belt it would get kind of old, and she might start to wonder why men don’t know this really basic fact about the approximately 50% of the world that has periods?? She might start to be like “Um, yeah, seriously. This happens all the time, why haven’t you figured it out by now? Do you even know any women?”

              4. MashaKasha

                Yes, I’m pretty sure that “I can’t believe she did that” is a polite form of “OMG what a f-ing idiot, that’s terrible”. It’s not like people actually have trouble believing she did this.

              5. turquoisecow

                Yeah, thanks. I believe you (and others here) 100%, but I think I’m still allowed to express my astonishment without being accused of racism.

                I’ve had issues with my name (it’s simply spelled, but not the most common), but I don’t think it’s ever denied me a job, since I’m white. I accept I have privelege. I’m not sure what you want me to do about, though.

            2. Tomato Frog

              Similarly unhelpful: assuming that you are incapable of doing anything similar because you’re not super racist like those people. Unconscious bias is unconscious.

              1. Clinical Social Worker

                Now I know that when I review resumes I will cover up the names of applicants first.

            3. AnonEMoose

              This. It’s very similar to what happens when women talk about harassment (for example), and men start jumping in with “you’re exaggerating,” “not all men,” “it’s a compliment!” and so on.

              I don’t want to believe that racism is still this prevalent; it sickens me. But that doesn’t change that I NEED to hear about incidents like this. Others have to experience it; the least I can do is try to be a respectful listener, believe them, and do what I can to use what privilege I have to help where that’s possible. And use what I’m hearing to catch and examine toxic thoughts and attitudes when I see them in myself (I hate that this happens, but not acknowledging it just makes it worse in the long run).

            4. Petronella

              “Fellow white people: part of being an anti-racist ally is not being disbelievingly astonished when someone reveals racist actions directed toward them.”

              THANK YOU for this. The gobsmacked reaction is so predictable and so tiresome.

            5. Gaia

              I don’t see anyone saying they don’t believe it happens. I think some people are horrified and outraged and using colloquial phrasing to express that.

            6. Mrs. Batts

              Thank you for the reminder on this. Language and expression is powerful. Even if you believe it happened, expressing shock reveals how much we as white people need to be paying more attention. Yes it’s happening, all the time and when we hear about it and react shocked, that says we’re not paying attention until it’s in our face. We have to do better.

          4. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

            Ugh, K, I’m so sorry. I’ve had this happen, too, and it’s amazing when interviewers suspiciously grill you about your “real” name, as if you couldn’t possibly have the name you were given. I haven’t had anyone demand ID, but I think that’s probably to do with the different racial experiences of different communities of color. I do keep track of who reacts this way, though, and I don’t accept offers from organizations like that, and if they ask why, I tell them frankly about my experience (I don’t call them racist, I just describe what happened and stick to the facts)—but I recognize this is a privileged position to occupy.

            The part I find most frustrating is when white friends don’t believe this happens (including white folks who identify as allies!), or they assume I’m over-exaggerating about how frequent this experience can be.

            1. Jessie the First (or second)

              I love that you tell these companies why you are saying no to their offers. People need to be called out on this. Often.

              1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

                Sadly it’s only something I can do because I’m already pretty established in my field (and again, am in a relatively privileged position). I would have never done this when I was new to the market because I was in a way more vulnerable position.

                But this is a good reminder that folks who are more senior or who do have more political heft ought to raise these issues constructively, when they can. I’ve found if it’s done compassionately and with a tenor of concern, people will listen, even if they disagree or don’t see the conduct as inherently racist.

                1. General Ginger

                  Since you mention “people will listen even if they disagree” — would you mind me asking, have you had any strong pushback/combative/’couldn’t have been us’/etc responses?

                2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

                  @GG, I tend to work in “lefty” fields that intersect with civil rights, so there’s probably a bit of an industry skew in that respect.

                  I’ve only had one employer react really badly to my feedback, and I had one that reacted “not great,” but not necessarily terribly. The one that reacted badly, I later learned, had a notorious reputation as being a terrible workplace for women of color, with serious racism issues among the personnel (and a boss who was not willing to discipline or fire people for racially discriminatory employment conduct).

          5. VioletEMT

            Husband gets this too. He’s East Asian, except for his paternal great-grandfather, who was white (English/Irish descent, I think). But since that’s how names are passed down, his surname is Anglo. And his parents gave him an Anglo first name. So people are really surprised to see Charles Simpson* turn out to be a Chinese-looking dude. But he’s never had anyone imply that he’s intentionally misled them about his race. Model minority privilege FTW, I guess. I’m sorry that happens to you, K.

            *Not his real name

            1. AKJ

              A co-worker of mine was Latina, but with a very typically Irish last name. After we’d gotten to know each other, I asked her how that came about – as it turned out, her paternal great-grandfather had migrated from Ireland to Central America and settled there. She said people often assumed she was adopted or had married and changed her name, because she didn’t “look” like her name suggested she should, and they would act like they didn’t believe her when she said it was her real name.

            2. Chalupa Batman

              I had a friend named Maria, with an unusual but not immediately ethnically identifiable last name. She’s half white, half Asian, and we grew up in an area with a large Latino population. She always took it in stride, but it was annoying to watch people try to figure out what all that was about when she introduced herself.

              For OP-it’s totally normal to say “I’m glad to get started! One thing-I go by my full name, Tashauna, professionally.” It doesn’t matter that you go by your real name personally, too. And I’m frustrated that you had to deal with this.

            3. Use My Actual Name

              I have the opposite problem. I’m white, but my name is something like “Megan Nakamura.”

              Everyone who gets my name before meeting me assumes I’m Asian and always do a double-take when them meet me.

              I took my husband’s last name b/c my family of origin is horrible and my husband’s father was an honorable, heroic man. He welcomed me into his family.

              Amazingly, I never have this issue when meeting other persons with Asian last names. They know there are a lot of whites who have married in and don’t assume that the last name and ethnicity are identical.

          6. Golden Lioness

            That is awful. I am sorry you had to go through that.

            I am a white latina with auburn-red hair and have a name that doesn’t match the image or the latina part (It was worse when I was blonde). People ask me what’s my maiden name all the time, too. They typically assume I must be Russian, French or Italian, then they do a double take when they see my name.

            My last name is also rare and difficult to pronounce for Americans, so it becomes a “conversation piece”.

            1. Use My Actual Name

              I recently had a trial where we had a witness who was a mix of Irish and Mexican. His name honored the Mexican father who died before he was born (a soldier) and the Irish grandfather who raised him like a son.

              His name was the equivalent of Patrick Jose O’Flannagan Diaz.

              This is the glorious world we live in. People want to reduce it to simple boxes. But real people live real lives and don’t fit into neat patterns.

              1. Golden Lioness

                And even though I am sure some people look at that and struggle, I actually think that is awesome! I also think it’s a glorious global world. My grandparents are from 3 different parts of the world, so I really do have a little bit of everything mixed in. I have been lucky that most people have found it interesting, but I have had to deal with a few instances of discrimination, mostly based on my accent.

                My own name has that kind of discrepancy too. My given name is very common in both latin countries UK/US with the same spelling, so it blends either way (think Laura or Sara), and my last name is ambiguous and to some people sounds French, to some Spanish and to others Easter European… and it’s none of those things!

          7. A Teacher

            Yeah, I’m already getting my comments because my kid is African American and I’m white. She will have adoption finalized next year and she has a unique spelling of her first name from her bio mom but my last name is about as Scandinavian as it goes. She gets weird looks when she tells people what her last name will be. A friend’s mom said “but that’s so white,” and she’s in first grade.

            1. K.

              I say frequently that I’ve been getting strange looks and comments about my last name “since I was old enough to notice.”

            2. Golden Lioness

              I think that’s so sad. I have heard of people in interracial marriages with their biological kids and people assuming they are the nanny because they don’t look exactly like their kids.

              1. Lovemyjob...truly!!!

                A close friend of mine is married to a very dark skinned African American man. She’s an extremely pale white woman with red hair. Their kids are lighter skinned than their father but darker than she is. Both of them have said that when they’re out alone with the kids they have been asked who the kids belong to. Since she’s a stay at home mom she gets it more often. Recently someone asked her if she was the nanny. FWIW – the kids look like both parents when it comes to features. Her daughter is now a teen and literally looks just like her mom – barring the hair color (my friend has red, curly hair and her daughter has dark, curly hair) and skin color (my friend has skin the color of a gallon of milk and her daughter is more cafe au lait). Everything else is identical and yet people never assume they’re related. It drives ME crazy so I cannot even begin to imagine what it’s like for the four of them…to have someone question who you are in your kids life? GRRRRRR!

            3. Kate the Purple

              Ugh. I deal with a version of this a lot. I’m a first generation Asian-American, with a very obviously Asian last name, and a “white” first and middle name. Whenever someone finds out my middle name, I get a shocked/puzzled exclamation of “but your names are so white!”

              I’ve taken to not responding at all, and letting them fill the awkward silence.

              Some follow up by asking what my Asian name is, which is then followed by a look of surprise when they find out I don’t have one. If I happen to know the other person’s ethnic background, I’ll usually respond with, “Well, what’s your Irish/French/German name?”

          8. Meg

            I intentionally did not take my ex-husband’s last name when we married because I knew it would be loaded with unconscious bias. I am a white lady, but his last name was “ethnic” and white folks just can’t pronounce it (though you call customer service and get sent to the Philippines and they get it right every time). That probably makes me a bad person, but I didn’t want to fight that battle.

          9. Rachael

            I’m white and I married a Vietnamese man. That combination is starting to grow in my city, but generally it is very rare. So, as you can guess, I am a white woman with a common Asian last name.

            Asian and white people give me the most grief about my name. When I am out shopping, Asian cashiers have gone as far as getting a manager to “ask what to do” because they don’t think I’m using my own card. I had to get a manager involved at my bank when I was first married because the Asian teller refused to let me deposit a check made out in my maiden name to my new checking account with my husband. He kept on asking me how I “know them”. (Even though I had my marriage certificate ready).

            And you are right. White people are the worst. When I was interviewing with my married name I had to show my ID to prove who I was and got suspicious looks. It was ridiculous. Like, why would I try and steal someone’s interview time?

            I get A LOT of questions about adoption and people asking about China when I go out with my children (from white people). People in Seattle feel the need to show how multicultural they are by “accepting” my child and it just makes me feel that they are being condescending. …..No, my child did not speak Chinese to you. She speaks English.

            Before I married a minority I was blind to these things and even now I don’t even experience it at a fraction of the level of people of color. So I guess what I’m trying to say is….it sucks. I’m sorry it happens to you regularly.

        4. User Experience Researcher

          It’s about both race and iffy class bias associations with certain names. They’re difficult to separate sociologically.

    3. Sadsack

      Exactly right, no one will probably think twice. I work with a woman who is near retirement age. She went by her nickname for many years, decades really. Let’s say it is Donnie, short for Donatella. A couple of years ago, she decided that she prefers to go by her full name, Donatella. She uses her full name when speaking with new people, although she’s used to having people here who have known her for years still call her Donnie. OP is just starting at this company, so she can start with her real full name right away and no one would know the difference. Just say that Shauna was a nickname for a long time, but you prefer your full name now. Just say it matter-of-factly and there should be no awkwardness. Anyone who is surprised by this will get over it quickly. I am sorry that you experienced this, and I wish you well in your new job.

      1. Elizabeth H.

        Yeah, we have a family friend who went from Betsy to Elizabeth in her 50’s. My mom is polite and calls her Elizabeth in emails or whatever, but my dad is more absent minded, and when we refer to her amongst ourselves we all still say Betsy.

    4. Huddled over tea

      I wouldn’t worry about it! I go by a westernised name (though in my case, it’s because I do actually socially go by a westernised name) and whenever I accept an offer, I just send off a quick email to my contact or HR or whatever saying ‘By the way, just to let you know that I need to have (this name) on any legal documents’. It’s never been a problem!

      1. Working Mom

        I agree, as a hiring manager I would not bat an eye at this. OP, I’m sorry this happened. I agree though, take the job and move forward without worrying about the name difference.

        1. NonProfit Nancy

          Yeah, but how do you then tell them that you’re not going to go by the name you applied under? That’s the part that’s a little weird for me. I wouldn’t think it was at all odd to hear someone say, “oh, I go by Wendy but my legal name is Wen Tieng,” but I would think it odd if someone said “I applied and interviewed as Wendy but I actually want you to all call me Wen Tieng.” I would absolutely respect the applicants’ choice and it wouldn’t be a withdrawn offer consideration, but I’d notice it and think it was a little strange.

          1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

            I actually don’t think it’s weird at all—I’ve had this happen often at a variety of different workplaces.

            I’ve had applicants say that they use a Westernized name for the interviewer’s ease, but that with people they know on an ongoing basis (e.g., work colleagues), they prefer to go by [real name]. Because that explanation tends to jive with the experiences of English-only speakers, it tends to go over easily, particularly if you have a name with sounds that English-only speakers find difficult to pronounce (like the X’s in Chinese, the “gh” in Farsi and Arabic, the X in Xhosa, nearly any Irish name, or even, frankly, any Spanish name said in Spanish pronunciation).

            Given how often people butcher non-traditionally-Anglo-Saxon names, this explanation goes over pretty easily and tends not to raise eyebrows.

            1. Pebbles

              Agree with this. I have a few friends from India whose names are really long (compared to Western names) and coworkers from Poland that have a ton of diacritics in their name. They all have a shortened form of their name or a Westernized nickname that they use for interviews and English-speakers’ ease. Thankfully they’ve all been very forgiving when they hear their real name being butchered.

              1. Elizabeth H.

                I agree it’s an analogous situation, but I think it is touchier when the name in question is unusual or difficult to pronounce because it belongs to someone who isn’t from America and whose native language isn’t English, rather than because it’s racially, ethnically/culturally marked within the broad context of American native English speakers.

              2. Elizabeth H.

                (I mis-edited my sentence – should have said touchier when the name in question ISN’T from a non English language etc.)

          2. Natalie

            I think my preferred approach would be to just matter-of-factly ask for what I wanted and basically hope no one noticed, or hope they would be too embarrassed to say anything if they did notice. But I like avoidance as a strategy which is not everyone’s preference.

          3. OhNo

            That’s pretty easy, actually! I’m trans, and I did exactly this when I interviewed for my most recent job. All application materials, references, interview, etc. was under my legal, female name. Then, just before I started, I sent an email to my soon-to-be boss saying, “I actually prefer to go by [male name], and would like to use that wherever possible.” She spread the word to my coworkers, and arranged for my nameplate, etc. to have the correct name.

            If you do it before they start entering information into their system, it cuts a lot of the fuss out.

            1. JB (not in Houston)

              Yeah, there’s no reason it should be a big deal at all. A casual statement that she’s decided to use her legal name at work should not* be met with any kind of weirdness.

              *I mean, you know never how some white people will react to innocuous things, but it is not something that would usually be seen as unusual or a problem.

            2. General Ginger

              I am so nervous about having to do this in the very, very near future! I am so glad you had a good experience!

              1. OhNo

                If you ever need help, suggestions, or even just a cheering section, let me know! I was really scared to do it myself, but having some support – even from random internet strangers – really made a difference for me.

                1. General Ginger

                  Thank you so much! That is always appreciated. TBH, without the kindness and insight of “random internet strangers”, I am not sure if I would be here right now. I’d for certain still be closeted and hurting.

    5. Angelinha

      Does it change anything that they might realize they have two sets of application materials from her? She says she applied to the same company with her full legal name before applying as Shauna. (OP, I think you should take the job either way! Just wondering if this might be where some of your concern is coming from.)

      1. aebhel

        That was what I was thinking. Even so, I can’t imagine that they would be checking a new hire’s information against application materials from a candidate they didn’t even call back for an interview (and even if they did, it’s not like applying twice to the same company is particularly nefarious; if the OP had fudged her resume, that would be one thing, but going by a nickname isn’t fudging her resume by any stretch of the imagination).

        That said, I’ve never worked anywhere big enough to have a dedicated HR, so I could be wrong here.

        1. Kimberlee, Esq

          I worked in a pseudo-HR capacity in hiring, and I can tell you that the odds anyone will even notice are slight. And if they do notice and raise the question, all you have to say is 1) the truth, which is that the only difference is your name and you figured you’d get more callbacks by using a whiter-sounding name, which should immediately shut down any talk of fudging, or 2) “Oh, I forgot I already applied here! ooops.”

      2. Gaia

        At worse, as long as nothing else was different (in that they are not led to believe the second set misled them regarding OP’s qualifications, etc) I think the ‘worst’ that might come of this is they make openly question why they rejected the first application and offered her the job the second time. And that is something they *should* be questioning.

        1. IowaGirl

          Seriously. If this happened where I work there would absolutely be discussions about bias in our hiring practices and how to eliminate them.

      3. Whats In A Name

        I would think that as long as the prior application didn’t lead to an interview that it wouldn’t be an issue. We’ve often brought in candidates when their application hasn’t shown a fit in the past – even when hiring for the same positions or position type.

        Sometimes there’s a tweak that past experience might make them a better fit for in one opening vs. another, or the candidate pool is different this time around, etc.

        In the case where this is the same type of position it was normally something like accounts they would be handling or editorial they would be writing – same basic responsibilities and job description but some nuances lent to a different skill set if that makes sense.

      4. LBK

        If the system didn’t automatically flag it as a potential duplicate, I can’t imagine anyone’s doing that kind of comparison manually. The only way I could maybe see it coming up is if they decide to go back through applications they initially passed over to pull more candidates into the pool, but I don’t think that happens very often – usually if the first batch of interviews is only so-so, hiring managers look for new applicants rather than going back through old ones.

      5. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

        It shouldn’t change anything, except to put the company on notice that their own hiring practices may exhibit implicit/explicit bias. If they have two identical (or near identical) resumes, and they didn’t hire OP under her previous resume, that’s more of a legal concern for them because it supports the idea that they racially discriminate in hiring. That’s a problem for employer, but not for OP.

        1. Natalie

          Not only didn’t hire, they didn’t even pass her along for an interview. For that level, presumably the only difference between the two applications is the name.

      6. Golden Lioness

        Since it was for 2 different postings, and since she was offered a job the second time, we also need to entertain the possibility that she may have had steeper competition the 1st time around.

        Not saying that discrimination based on certain names doesn’t exist, that’s well documented, but this company seems to be OK, based on OP getting the offer.

        1. JB (not in Houston)

          I can’t tell which comment you’re replying to, so I don’t know what you mean by “seems to be ok.” The fact that they offered her the job might mean that they aren’t racist in the obvious, old-school “we don’t hire minorities” kind of way, but that doesn’t in any way negate the very real possibility that there was implicit bias going on the first time. You’re right, we can’t know that’s what the issue was the first time around. But we also can’t rule it out just from the fact that she got an offer.

          1. Golden Lioness

            Unfortunately, even though I offered the alternative possibility., I still believe the most likely explanation is bias based on her name. It’s a shame that bias still happens, or that I ever happened for that matter.

            “seems to be OK” was a shortcut. I meant that if they were going to discriminate, they would not have made her an offer even if they called her for an interview.

    6. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

      OP, they shouldn’t yank the offer, and as Dan said, you’re in a legally superior position to them on this. If you like the organization, I’d do some due diligence and consider accepting the offer. The best case is that they have implicit biases in hiring (which is a problem, but a problem that can be worked on), and the worst case is that they’re bigots. Doing due diligence will help you figure out which end of the spectrum they may be on as an employer.

      I also wanted to note that people use nicknames on their resumes literally all the time, so you shouldn’t feel like you were disingenuous. For example, in the academy and in law, it’s common for women (of all races) to shorten their names to sound gender neutral or even traditionally male. For example, Martha becomes Marty, Eugenia becomes Gene, Gillian becomes Gil, etc. And many times, those names are not the “real names” those women go by in everyday conversation, and no one bats an eye.

      What sucks, here, is not that you “whitened” your name, but that we live in a society where people with “non-white” names experience bias in hiring.

    7. TootsNYC

      Also–if the person who interviewed you was surprised by your race, they may be self-aware enough to realize that this was a tactic you needed to get past the filter. If a new hire said to me, “I know I put Joe on my résumé, but I prefer to go by Jose in person,” I’d say, “Oh, yeah, that’s a thing in the world, isn’t it; I’m sorry you had to do that.”

    8. Slacker Mom

      It’s not the same exact situation but it might help…I go by my middle name. My full legal name is listed on my resume, as is required/norm for my current field. When I have started jobs, I always let them know that. Would you be comfortable saying, “My first name is actually ____. I prefer to use that,” or something like, “Shauna is actually a nickname. I prefer to go by my full name, ____.”

      Good luck! I am sure you have a beautiful name.

    9. Tequila Mockingbird

      Many years ago I had an Asian-American colleague who said that she, too, was unemployed for years, and got no bites on her resume when her last name was “Nguyen.” But then she got married, and the name on her resume became “Fitzpatrick,” and she got TONS of responses and offers to interview.

      I hate this planet sometimes!

    10. MissDisplaced

      I think if you like the job, take the job. When you start work, you just calmly tell people which name you prefer to go by. The people you will work with are not HR anyway. It’s not uncommon.

      But it does suck about the resume and callbacks. Sigh! You’d think people would get past that by now.

  2. dragonzflame

    I feel ya, #4. I was exactly the same with my wedding four years ago- I was looking forward to it, but not in the way that I feel like you’re ‘supposed’ to. I’m now 18 weeks pregnant, and feeling the exact same way about it. I find wedding talk (and pregnancy talk) excruciatingly boring and a little invasive.

    Sometimes you have no choice but to play the game, but I found that if I was non-committal enough and didn’t go into too much detail, people didn’t get a lot out of the conversation and gave up. Also, if challenged, I just shrugged and said,’eh, I just see it as an excuse for a really good party.’ Nobody gets to question how you feel about your own life milestones.

    1. Kheldarson

      I had the easy excuse of “my mom’s planning it. So I don’t really care.” Which drove mom and my MOH insane, but I really didn’t! Hubs and I were marrying because we wanted to be all nice and legal, and if I weren’t Catholic, a ceremony with a justice would’ve been fine.

      Some people just really don’t understand the non-excitement folks.

      1. aebhel

        Yeah, that was me. So many people were so immensely frustrated because I really didn’t care about any of the minutiae. Ended up getting married in my parents’ backyard, wearing jeans. It was perfectly fine.

      2. EddieSherbert

        Yes! This is 100% me. I’d be happy just going to the courthouse but everyone one else wants a big to-do.

        My parents are divorced and remarried to wonderful people I love – and I always just tell people that my mom and stepmom are planning it all “because having two moms has to have some advantage.”

      3. Becky

        If I ever end up getting married I am looking forward to the fact that in my religion the ceremony is minimal and closed. The reception is the big to-do in my religion, not the wedding, and I don’t have to do one if I don’t want.

    2. Myrin

      Yeah, I’m the master of projecting an air of “*shrug* I don’t care that much” by sometimes literally saying that, sometimes just giving really boring answers in a really bored tone. The usual reaction to that is “OH WOW REALLY I CAN’T BELIEVE THAT HOW UNUSUAL!” the first time but weirdly, after that, people seem to be awfully proud of themselves for remembering this about me and as soon as they catch themselves starting The Topic again, they go “Oh no, wait, I know you aren’t interested in this, right?”.

      1. Meddling Little Belgian

        I have the opposite problem – we have been together so long that our engagement was a forgone conclusion. No one has asked me even one question about wedding plans or dates. We have the same issue in my large extended family with most milestone events because we are the youngest cousins, and thus the last ones to graduate, marry, have children, etc…bit of a let down. If only there were a way we could swap! :)

        1. Whats In A Name

          In my family it’s the middle kids who got lost.

          I am the oldest – we are going through the cycle with the youngest grandkids/kids/cousins now and we both got the best end of the deal…because I was “FIRST to graduate college!” “FIRST to get my masters (in the entire family actually)” “FIRST to turn 30!” “FIRST to buy a house!”…..

          The youngest graduated high school last year (20 years my junior) and it was the biggest family reunion we’ve ever had because…”THIS IS THE LAST ONE!!!!” I imagine her college graduation, wedding, etc. will be the same.

          The poor 6 grands/cousins in the middle never know who is going to show up for them, it’s really kinda a crap shoot. They are the ones I feel the worst for.

      2. OP 4

        Yupp, we are having the big wedding to please the family, but I would have been fine with a courthouse or a “destination elopement”. I started this job after getting engaged, and feel like somehow, at work, it’s become my defining characteristic, and because I sit next to someone who literally started today’s conversation talking about veils, it’s hard not to feel like it’s taken over! I really do try to stay non-committal and disinterested, but I have been told a couple times I’m being weird for not wanting to talk about what shoes I’m wearing.

        1. Aunt Vixen

          Wow – how much is there to talk about about veils? The mind boggles. (When I got engaged, my cube neighbor heard me on the phone telling my mom that Uncle Vixen had proposed, congratulated me, and asked to see the ring, and that was the end of that. She and I were Not Ideal Coworkers in most other ways, but in that respect she got it exactly right.)

          1. OP 4

            I wish people just reacted like that! Even asking to see the ring is a bit too much for me :P

            And you’d be quite surprised at how much there is to talk about veils. She owns three, and I know what they look like in extreme detail by now…

            1. Code Monkey, the SQL

              Ok, I’m fully in the “everybody’s got a hobby” camp, which is why my work conversations cover the spectrum from basketball to LoL to sushi, but that sounds plain exhausting for all but the most invested of brides.

              Three of a single-use item? Just no, thank you.

            2. Aunt Vixen

              I think “ooh let’s see the ring” is okay once from people who knew you before you were engaged. In your case, the ring was already there when they met you, so anything more than “wow, your ring is beautiful” if they happen to notice it is too much. (NB this would be true of any clothing or accessory item. “Neat glasses!” Whatever.)

              :-)

            3. Mirax

              Is she even going to be able to use three? Will she duck away to change between stages of the ceremony/reception? I admit I frequently change for dinner, but I’ve never slipped out to change mid-party!

        2. Kathleen Adams

          Nah, not weird. A bit different, sure, but no matter what anybody tells you, it’s perfectly normal to be a woman who is both pleased to be getting married while at the same time not enthralled with planning a wedding.

          I’ve been married nearly 30 years, and I assure you that it’s *not* the most important day of your life. It’s not even close. You’re going to have many days that are far more important than this one.

          In my case, neither my mother nor I are all that into weddings, but…you know, we muddled through, and it was fine. In fact it was very nice, I thought, but this was back in the days when having a low-key wedding wasn’t considered as odd as it apparently is now.

          Your coworkers will get over it, and in fact I know that some of them already are over it. There are people you work with who are thrilled that you don’t want to yammer on about your wedding all the time. I promise.

          But here’s some advice: Make sure the shoes are comfortable! Otherwise, you’ll end the day not giving a damn about your veil because your feet feel as though they’re bleeding. :-)

          1. Nervous Accountant

            Yep. Married 10 years, and I was pretty young (21) and I WISH I’d had more of a hand in planning it. For lots of reasons, I just couldn’t plan anything and was bitter about it for a long time. Eventually I got over it, and now I just can’t be bothered about other peoples’ weddings (not marriages…weddings). If I’m invited, I attend congratulate and live my life.

            You are so right–it’s one day, but there are so many many more important, even happier days to come (

          2. OP 4

            Good to know I’m not the only one! I am SO excited to be married. But the wedding – meh.

            I am just struggling with my perception at work (it’s not really where I want to be, but I recognize it’s a good stepping stone, as a recent grad). We sit in a public area and whenever anyone walks by, there is really only wedding chat going on (from her) and I hate being perceived as a “wedding” girl, because I feel I’m now looped into that perception.

            Good advice on the shoes! :)

            1. Lemon Zinger

              It’s great that you’re aware of the perception. A woman in my office has been engaged for several months (the wedding isn’t until October) and ALL she talks about is the wedding because it’s going to be huge– 14 attendants, at a fancy hotel, paid for by her wealthy parents, etc.

              I get that it’s a massive undertaking, but she’s high-ranking in our office, and where previously she was only known for her great work, now she’s “Lucy, who’s getting married in October.”

          3. JustaTech

            Oh, and no stud earring! Everyone will be hugging you and every time they do it will drive the back of your earring into your neck.

            I didn’t talk about my wedding much at all at work because two of my coworkers were very recent;y divorced and I was trying to be sensitive. Then they were all disappointed I hadn’t shared my wedding photos! (So I did.)

        3. Purest Green

          I didn’t have a wedding because I didn’t want to deal with all the work and hassle of planning the damn thing. So many people didn’t understand that, but I kept insisting that a ceremony is not a legally binding requirement for marriage nor does it affect how much you love your partner.

          1. hayling

            We eloped at the courthouse with just my husband’s sister, her boyfriend, and photographer. Best decision ever. A few people knew ahead of time (including my team, who were sworn to secrecy), but it was a surprise for the general public. I didn’t have to deal with any drama, it was a super fun day, I have beautiful pictures, and we saved a ton of money.

          2. HRChick

            I got married at the court house on my lunch hour, then went back to work. I don’t blame anyone who loves the big party and dresses and all that, but it makes me really uncomfortable being the center of attention for very long. To me, being married was important but a wedding would have been a trial.

        4. Chelsea

          Happened to me too. I just didn’t care about the small details of my wedding and people thought it was so strange. But I consider myself a no-frills kind of person and that’s just the way I am.

        5. animaniactoo

          “I think it’s weird that you’re so interested!”

          and “Okay, I’m weird. Can we drop it now?” Just own that weirdness. Totally blasé and moving right along. In part, I prefer this method because it helps increase the number of “weird” people until it becomes “wait, actually, this isn’t so weird – a lot of people seem to be saying this, so it must not be that weird”.

          1. animaniactoo

            Meant to say, it also frees you from the need to defend that it’s not weird or that it’s okay to not want to talk about your wedding so much, or anything else. “You need me to be weird for that to be okay by you? Fine, I’m weird. Moving on…”

        6. Turtle Candle

          I feel your pain, OP4. In my case, I wanted to elope, but my partner wanted a wedding. I agreed to the wedding as having one was more important to him than not having one was to me, but with the caveat that he was going to have to take on the lion’s share of the planning (I really didn’t want to fall into the trap of doing it because he wanted it and then being stuck with most of the work because of social expectations of “the bride” vs. “the groom”).

          He was very good about doing most of the planning and work. The problem was that everyone else still assumed that as “the bride,” I would want to talk about it at length. It was worst when it was wedding professionals (none of them seemed to believe that he could possibly care more about flowers or lighting than I did! people would actually keep directing questions and information to me even when expressly told that he would be the one handling it) but it also got awkward in social situations, where everyone was trying to be nice but really the last thing I wanted to do was to talk about the wedding even more.

          My strategy (which I will tell you right up front only partially worked, but it did help some) was that with people I was close to/comfortable with, I was right up front: “Mr. Turtle’s actually doing pretty much all the planning, partly because weddings stress me out.” With people where I didn’t know as well, something like “Oh gosh, I feel like my life is all wedding all the time right now–I’d love to talk about something else for a change!” followed by an immediate deflection like “How’s little Cuthbert’s rice sculpture class going?” helped.

          In the end, I consoled myself that at least the problem was limited in time. Once the wedding was over, I got “How was the wedding?” questions for about a week, and then it became old news and everybody moved on.

        7. Notorious MCG

          Dude, I planned my wedding *specifically* to be as low maintenance as possible. Decorations? It’s at an art gallery, don’t need ’em. Food? I want fried chicken, supply sides as needed. Flowers? Send the bridesmaids to Trader Joe’s the day before and let them bond while arranging their own bouquets. Booze? I want liquor, everyone else can make do with wine and beer.

          That’s it, that’s the end, thanksverymuch! And it was a hella fun party.

    3. SometimesALurker

      Right here with you! I’m very much looking forward to my wedding, maybe in the way I’m “supposed” to, and I’m excited about talking wedding planning details with a few friends. At the same time, I don’t care about a lot of the things that some of my coworkers care about with regards to weddings, and I also really hate the gender double-standard and the way that people treat it like it’s a bigger life milestone, than, oh, my graduate degree. I’m lucky in that my coworkers are receptive to my disinterest. My main lines have been, “You know, it’s small enough that it’s really mostly already planned,” and “You know, I’m finding that what they call wedding planning is mostly a lot of shopping, and since that’s not my thing it’s kind of a chore!” Granted, I’m in a decent work environment where a woman saying she doesn’t like shopping doesn’t cause any pearl-clutching.

      1. OP 4

        Yeah, I’ve argued the graduate degree thing with my mother once or twice. To me, my Masters took more than a year of work, involved an international move for both my fiance and myself, my final dissertation took months, and to do my research I walked a 100-mile path solo interviewing strangers along the way. That was a HUGE personal accomplishment and I got a vague congratulations from my parents and literally no reaction from anyone else. But my wedding is treated as a much bigger “accomplishment” by everyone and it drives me nuts.

        I work in a team of assistants who support multiple faculty members at a pretty well-known university in Canada… it’s my assistant team who love weddings. The reactions I get from the faculty are pretty great, actually, as I don’t think they care nor see marriage as an end game. It’s a pretty big culture difference between the two groups of people.

        1. mamabear

          OP 4, that sucks. For whatever it’s worth, I think your priorities are exactly right. Marriage is a wonderful milestone, but it’s not an accomplishment! Sheesh.

        2. twig

          Congratulations on your Masters! That sounds like a lot of work.

          Wedding/shmedding — The wedding is not important, the Marriage is.

      2. mf

        “I also really hate the gender double-standard and the way that people treat it like it’s a bigger life milestone, than, oh, my graduate degree.”

        So much this. I graduated with my MA two weeks before I got married. Nobody cared about my degree (well, my parents and now-husband did, but nobody else) and all anybody congratulated me on was my wedding. It was really disappointing because finishing my grad degree was MUCH more work than getting married and, in my eyes, actually accomplishment.

    4. SomeoneLikeAnon

      I eloped, or told key people “I’m eloping at this time on this date with this JP” so if the wanted to show up for support, cool, if not, I was still getting hitched. Solved all sorts of problems in describing my wedding to others. Then again, that solution is not for everyone, but my husband and I are really low-key and didn’t want a big wedding, we more preferred the picnic party mindset.

    5. NK

      I was excited about my wedding and pregnancy and didn’t mind talking about it, but I also found that there’s just not all that much to be said about it! I’m not a detailed party planner, so I wasn’t all obsessed with the details, and once the major vendors were chosen for the wedding there were several months where nothing was going on. And as for the pregnancy, it’s pretty much the same conversation over and over: first one, due in July, it’s a boy, feeling good, yep we’re excited!

    6. Kimberlee, Esq

      I vote that we move wedding talk into the category we’re all trying to move pregnancy talk into, which is that the pregnant person has to bring it up first. I didn’t used to think much of any of it, until I had some good friends who were getting married but their plans kept changing and then like 2 months later they had a big, messy breakup. They’d been having a hard time settling on plans because one of them was never fully convinced she wanted to do it in the first place :/ If the people getting married are excited to talk about it, by all means! I love frilly dresses! But tbh if they’re not excited to talk about, there’s no way to predict why (either OP’s reasons, or the above breakup reasons, or maybe their dad recently died and the person is bummed that they won’t get walked down the aisle by a beloved parent, whatever), and ultimately it doesn’t matter.

      1. Lovemyjob...truly!!!

        I second that vote!!!!

        I didn’t talk much about the wedding until the week of when I had some minor family drama flare up about the seating arrangement while I was working. – I know, I was surprised too! Some people really do care where they sit at a wedding reception. Who knew? – My reasons for keeping mum involved the guest list. I didn’t want people at work to assume they were invited because I wouldn’t shut up about the planning. So I shut up about the planning, they didn’t assume, and aside from hysterically crying at my desk for 20 minutes because my grandmother wanted the entire seating arrangement switched – two days before the wedding! – there was only an occasional conversation about it.

        And I echo everyone who says that the wedding is just one day. It was one day. A good day, yes, but not the best my marriage has offered me. LW – enjoy your day…and much happiness to you in the years to come!

    7. nutbrownrose

      I used to think I would be way excited to talk wedding all the time (and I was, at first), but the closer we get the less I have to say because what’s in my head is “OMG it’s February and the wedding’s in July and why does FH have such a big problem with deadlines and decisions and we don’t have an officiant or groomsmen or flowers or invitations and we’ve been engaged since Sept of 15 OMG”, and you know, that’s really not stuff you can blurt. So “oh, it’s going well, not much is happening.”
      Imaginary/other people’s weddings are much more fun to plan, turns out. Real wedding planning involves family dynamics and money, both in unusually large amounts.

  3. HannahS

    OP#2, I’m really sorry. That must feel just awful. I think that Alison is right in saying that they won’t take the job away upon finding out your real name, and you should definitely be called what you want to be called.

    1. Artemesia

      I think you can easily say, ‘oh, Shauna is my nickname, I’d like to use my full name in my official paperwork.’ And when you are introduced to colleagues, it is ‘I’ve decided to use my full name rather than my nickname professionally (or ‘at work’ if that fit better). And yes this is another sad example of how much racism there is embedded in our business culture. I am always astonished at white people who seem unaware that DWB happens excruciatingly often to black men or finding apartments ‘mysteriously ‘already rented’ when a black couple inquires is common or as in your case the Darnells and Shaniquas don’t get interviews.

      1. Gaia

        More than people who are shocked this happens, I’m always amazed at the justifications people make for doing this. No, no, they aren’t *racist* because it isn’t about *black people!* Gosh, no! It is about [insert stereotype that clearly only ever occurs in black people with ‘ethnic’ sounding names]. Totally different, you see?

        1. OhNo

          You know, I’ve been noticing that more the past couple of years, since someone pointed out how racially coded some words are (thug, immigrant, etc.). It’s pretty obvious to me when my family and friends do it, but now I’m wondering if it’s been happening at work, too, only they’re just using words that I don’t recognize as racially coded.

          1. Pebbles

            I try to push back on the immigrant one since I’m an American, but I’m not Native American, therefore I’m an immigrant (a few generations removed). I even go so far as to describe how my paternal great-grandfather came over from Norway with his wife and the first 4 of ultimately 7 kids, where they lived and what they did. My hope is that if people share their own immigration histories with each other it becomes less of a “taboo” of being an immigrant? (Not sure if that’s expressed well.)

            1. seejay

              I’ve been using the word immigrant to describe myself now because it’s what I am and yeah, I want it to be less of a “bad word” in the US. When someone opens their mouth and starts saying stupid shit about “immigrants” to me, I stop them and say “you know, I’m an immigrant, right??” It’s usually met with stunned silence. “Oh wait… you mean you’re only mad about *brown* immigrants? Just say it outright then… you’re racist. You obviously are ok about me being an immigrant because I’m white and I’m from a safe country right? Ok, go away now.”

              It usually gets people stammering and sputtering and shutting up pretty quick. I have no tolerance for stupid at this point now.

              1. Pebbles

                Ah yes, but white immigrants are hard workers and want to assimilate, whereas brown immigrants are lazy, stick only to themselves, don’t bother to learn English, and otherwise want to see our country fail/become whatever country they came from. I have actually heard this “argument” and….FLAMES. Rage doesn’t even start to describe how I felt.

                1. seejay

                  Yeah I pretty much hear “oh but you’re not one of of *those* kind of immigrants” once the figure out I’m not kidding when they find out I’m not American.

                  For serious??

                  GTFO of my face. Just admit you’re racist instead of trying to backpeddle or pad it into something else, I’ll just go on ignoring you as the footnote in history you need to be.

                  I don’t want to say it baffles me, because at this point, overt or even casual racism doesn’t, but the way some people blatantly think other strangers are right on board with it, while barely knowing *anything* about them just confuses the hell out of me. Opening your mouth up to a stranger to start spouting a racially-loaded or immigrant-negative view, you have no idea how deep you’re going to be choking on that foot, even if the person you’re talking to is white.

            2. Becky

              When I was a kid (late 80’s early 90’s) I was encouraged to talk about immigrant ancestors, and (as far as I was aware) there was no taboo around it. It might have just been me not seeing it, or it might have been my area.

              I mean most of my ancestors came from England, but they were still immigrants. On one line they go back to the Mayflower, on another my grandfather was born in the UK and immigrated with his family when he was 2 years old.

          2. Tau

            Immigrant’s a fun one. I’m German and have been living in the UK for ten years, and for years I thought of myself as an ex-pat. Then UKIP came onto the scene and anti-EU sentiment grew and Brexit happened and suddenly it was “EU immigrants” from all sides all the time. Although it’s still the case that a lot of people seem to think that only Eastern Europeans working minimum wage jobs count as EU immigrants (oh, the coworker who was astonished at the very idea that I might have any sort of issues or anything would change for me due to Brexit…), but the term is now a lot closer to hand than it used to be. I guess I got demoted?

              1. Tau

                Yeah – to be clear, I realised how horrifically racist/classist/otherwise -ist the whole “immigrant” vs “ex-pat” distinction is some years before this started happening, started calling myself an immigrant and used to quite enjoy people’s shocked faces when I did that as they were confronted with their assumptions. And then the shocked faces became rarer and rarer…

                I’m still on the extremely privileged end as immigrants go, of course, but there’s been a definite slide downwards in people’s estimation of immigrants like me over the last few years that has been, ah, interesting to watch. Although I think I might want to start watching it from further away. (Also interesting: in all the post-Brexit discussions I have not once seen Brits in other EU countries be referred to as immigrants. Not once.)

                1. Pebbles

                  That’s something that I noticed and always wondered about over on this side of the pond. I never saw or read any comments about what might happen to Brits who worked outside the UK. It was just assumed I think on Brexit that every EU country would never have any problem with a Brit working for them, it’s perfectly acceptable for any Brit to go wherever they wished, yet it is/was such a problem to have EU “foreigners” working and living in the UK? I don’t know, as I said, I’m a bit removed from what’s going on on your side of the pond.

                  And now I’m looking at recent events in my own country…*sigh*

              2. hayling

                That is so interesting! Never thought about it that way (although I rarely use the word expat, tbh).

            1. Pebbles

              At what point do immigrants stop being immigrants? If you were born in another country and by the time you were 1 month old your parents had brought you to another country you’re still going to be an immigrant even though you’ve only known your “home” country. Conversely, how many generations removed do you have to be before you can be “from” a particular country?

              This is why I push back at stereotypes of immigrants. Countries are made up constructs anyhow and we’re all just people looking to better our situation in life from wherever we started from: socially, economically, and/or geographically.

              1. Gaia

                To my mind, an immigrant is always an immigrant. I was born in this country and, yet, I am an immigrant. Why?

                My mother’s paternal grandfather was an immigrant from Italy. That makes my maternal grandfather and my mother immigrants and therefore me. My mother’s maternal great grandfather was an immigrant from Norway. That makes my maternal great grandfather and my maternal grandmother immigrants and, therefore me. Now, my mother’s paternal grandmother’s family lineage goes all the way back to the 1630s in Boston Colony as does my mother’s maternal grandmother’s lineage. Nevertheless, everyone in those lines is an immigrant and, therefore, me.

                Now, some would argue that this logic means even Native Americans are immigrants as they, ultimately, came across the Bering Strait however I’d argue that much of their culture was developed here not brought with them and there is evidence to suggest they have been here twelve thousand years so – perhaps that is when you stop being an immigrant in my mind? When human evolution means you are no longer the same ‘people’ as you were when your ancestors first arrived?

                1. Elizabeth H.

                  I don’t think this makes much sense and I think deliberately using the word in this way, which is very unusual, delegitimizes the experiences of people who are commonly understood as immigrants and who suffer from discrimination and being stereotyped because of it. Common parlance considers people who were born in America to be Americans, and people who were born in other countries but came to America subsequently to be immigrants. It’s confusing and bizarre to call yourself an immigrant when you can go a minimum of three generations back before finding someone to whom this latter definition would apply and it’s insensitive to people who are actually regarded as such. It’s a nice sentiment and I can appreciate idealism, but in reality most people consider geographic borders to confer something about national and cultural identity.

                2. Gaia

                  It is only confusing when you buy into the stereotypes of immigration. I am not a member of any one of the many Native American tribes and therefore I am not “Native” of this land. If I am not Native, I am an immigrant – regardless of how long my family has been here. While I am not of recent immigration – and therefore don’t have the same experience – perhaps if we accepted the immigrant status of the vast majority of this nation we would see less crappy treatment of more recent immigrants.

            2. Becky

              I have a friend who is Danish but has been living and working in the UK for 15 years or more. Many of her pro-Brexit coworkers were astonished to find out she wasn’t British and might be affected.

      2. Cool Runnings

        When my African husband was in college in CT, he and a few other African students were looking for off-campus housing. They constantly had a hard time because they would contact the realty company to set up a viewing, confirm 30 minutes before that the place was still available, then when they showed up…”Oh….so sorry. The place was JUST rented out.” Yeah, OK, lady. They heard his British accent, assumed he was white, then were shocked when they saw several black men. This happened on multiple occasions, to the point where they ended up having to live in the not-so-nice area because that was the only place they wouldn’t be rejected by racists.

      3. Golden Lioness

        It’s unfortunately way too common, and even if it happens once I believe it’s too much. There was a person calling and changing his accent when looking for apartments, he called with an obvious black accent and was told it was rented. He called again and spoke with a neutral accent and giving a neutral name and he was told the rental was still available.

        This should not be happening in this day and age with such a globalized way. I will never be able to understand this. It just does not compute in my head.

      4. blackcat

        When I was looking for an apartment with a black roommate, the landlords met me in person and talked to her on the phone (she “sounds white”). We talked about it ahead of time, and she actually said “Use that white privilege to find us a nice apartment!” She had had the experience of apartments suddenly being rented when she showed up in the past, and she knew I wouldn’t have the same experience. Her name can be read as black but my guess is when a lily-white girl from the suburbs showed up, looking for an apartment to share with her good friend from college (and a fancy one at that), people envisioned another white girl. Or, even, if they did get the sense my roommate might be black, she couldn’t possibly be one of “those black people.”

        When I moved out, she had to look for other roommates. At lease one said, “This won’t be a good fit” the minute she met my roommate in person, despite being super enthusiastic over the phone. And another one actually said something like, “This will be great! I’ll get to have a black friend!” Which… no. no. nonono.

        This stuff happens ALL THE TIME to POC. And white people need to shut up and listen, and step up when POC ask us to use our privilege on their behalf.

  4. Asian Teacher

    OP 3, what a ridiculous situation you are in. I totally get why you you used Shauna on your job applications. I’m sure you were almost hoping it wouldn’t make a difference. I’m sorry this happened to you. I’ve also experienced name based/race based/ethnic name bigotry. When I was moving to my last rental place, when I would call using my own cell (registered under my sisters ethnic sounding name) I got 0 call backs. Every place I called with my husbands cell (registered under my husbands very Anglo Saxon name) I got called back by every single one.

    I would do as Alison suggests but be prepared for an explanation of why “Shauna”. I think it would look suspicious if you didn’t. Maybe lie and say that’s a nickname that you’re trying to phase out since you’re trying to be more formal/professional etc?

    Good luck with your decision!

    1. Sherm

      She could say “I decided I actually don’t like that name and prefer to use my real name.” All true!

      1. Someone Else

        “…and beginning a new job seems like an appropriate time to start”

        I changed my whole (first and second) name legally shortly after I divorced and timed it for a relocation and new job – this explanation was only needed a couple of times and then only with people involved in the new job paperwork (I had interviewed/accepted the job with my previous name) – no one else even knew to ask.

        +lots, on the ridiculousness of you or anyone needing to do this for the reasons you need to do it. So wrong.

        I hope your new job is awesome!

      2. Whats In A Name

        You know this is great – and true for OP it sounds like. I have a friend from high school nicknamed “Buffy”. She loved it and then at 40 realized that actually, she HATES it. So now people call her by her given name (Beth) and if they don’t she corrects them by saying, “actually, I go by Beth now”. No one had ever had a problem, including her employer.

        1. JB (not in Houston)

          Yep. I switched to using my middle name at one point in my life, and in another I almost exclusively used a nickname. For the past 10 years, I have used only my legal name. Starting a new job is a perfect time to transition to using a new name, and the OP will probably not be the first person at the company who has done that. It doesn’t need to be a big deal.

          (that the OP needed to use a different name to get interviews is a big deal, but using a different name at work should not be)

          1. Whats In A Name

            Yes – definitely did not mean to imply that I thought the reason for the name us was not important. I was simply trying to put her at ease that the name change thing is probably more common and likely wouldn’t raise to many eyebrows.

        2. Golden Lioness

          I knew a very smart hardworking woman named “Bambi” that was her real name. People gave her a hard time and treated her like a bimbo. She was tall, white, and blonde. She was in sales and had customers specifically ask to deal with “some else that could really help them”

          1. copy run start

            Oof, that is absolutely awful. I would have loved to route those customers to the round file for further assistance.

        3. BananaPants

          I go by a nickname rather than my legal first name at work. It’s fine, it’s what my husband and friends and everyone else in my personal life has called me since college – but as I get older it feels like a “young” nickname. I’m known by the nickname professionally so I feel like I can’t switch now, even though it doesn’t really carry any kind of maturity or gravitas.

          My husband’s first name has no nickname, and our kids’ names are not easy to find nicknames for either.

    2. Kj

      I think that is a great explanation! I’ve known people to do that- one co-worker interviewed under her nickname, then said when she was hired she’d prefer the long version of her name. No one thought twice about it. I tend to interview under my formal name, then reveal my nickname- but my nickname is a very regional name in my country and it would ‘mark’ me for sure in this area.

    3. CM

      I don’t think changing the name you prefer to be called requires an explanation. And in this case, the OP is choosing to go by her given name, so there’s nothing strange about that. “Welcome to the job, Shauna.” “Thanks. Actually, I go by Other Name.” It would be pretty rude if somebody started questioning her, but if they did she could just say that’s her given name and Shauna is a nickname.

      1. NonProfit Nancy

        That would be odd if she applied under Shauna and has been pretending to go by Shauna all through the interview process. I think it’s fine to do, but I don’t think you can just correct someone when they use the name you gave them, and not expect them to find that a little odd.

        1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

          No, it’s not odd. It’s easily explainable, and if the person being notified of her desire to use her real name finds it odd, that’s on them.

        2. Jessie the First (or second)

          I don’t see that it is odd at all. People change between nicknames and full names.

          It might be odd if you applied as Aloycious Conswabble Wadsworth, and then on day one you said No, actually, I go by Jonathan Bellevue Washington the Third. But to apply as Hank and then say call me Henry? No biggie. It’s an obvious nickname-to-full-name switch.

          I’ve gone from nickname to full name and back again before. There is no there, there.

        3. JB (not in Houston)

          It’s not odd. It’s really not. It’s common, people do this all the time. If they think it’s odd, then they are the strange ones in the scenario.

      2. neverjaunty

        Exactly. There’s no need to act as though OP did anything potentially suspicious or odd here.

        1. Koko

          I’m of half a mind that she could probably tell people the truth and just not make a big deal out of it. “I was advised by a career counselor to use a nickname that was less ethnic-sounding on my resumes, to avoid being stricken by a resume screener with bias. I figured it couldn’t hurt.”

          She isn’t saying this particular workplace is racist, she’s speaking about a very well known thing that happens in hiring in a matter-of-fact way. Her actions were completely reasonable and many people are advised to do this as a strategy for overcoming bias. I know the workplace can’t be the ideal world, but I feel like she shouldn’t have to not only disguise her name to get a fair shake at a job, but then also pretend that it didn’t happen to avoid shattering someone’s ignorant misconceptions about what a post-racial society we live in. This is such a real thing and I don’t like that it’s taboo to even acknowledge that it’s a part of our our POC colleagues’ lives that they have to navigate.

          1. OhNo

            I wouldn’t do this unless OP is very, very sure that the company would be open to feedback about potential racism in their hiring practices. Even stating something generally can be perceived as targeted commentary, and in my experience the “I’m not racist!” types are more likely to take it that way and respond poorly.

            1. seejay

              Yeah… I hate saying it but even opening up this can of worms can make for really unpleasant interactions, even if people *do* need to be called out on it. I think it’s always good to call out racism (even unintentional or unconscious bias that a lot of privileged folk aren’t seeing) but when the OPs job is on the line and she’s brand new to it, rocking the boat as soon as she gets there isn’t the way to do it. She’s already struggled to get a job in the first place just because of her ethnic name and had to resort to anglicizing it at this point… implying that the company has a racial bias in their hiring practices (they skipped over her before the name change previously) isn’t going to do her any favours right now. People really get their rankles up when you point this out to them no matter how warranted it is.

              It’s a *crappy* game to have to play, but if you can’t expend the energy, probably not the waves to make here. There are definitely other places to speak out and make our voices heard about it though.

              1. OP#3

                Yes, you are so right seejay and OhNo although I do appreciate the comment KoKo. Rocking the boat is something I’ve done and regretted in previous jobs. It’s simply not worth it.

          2. TootsNYC

            I might leave the “with bias” out and just say something like, “because studies have shown that resumés with ethnic names sometimes get overlooked.”

    4. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

      I agree with others who say it wouldn’t look odd and that no explanation is needed. But I do also think it’s ok to say you’re phasing back into using your full name professionally, if you do feel like you need an excuse.

      I have a good friend who, after being [insert nickname here] for the first 27 years of her life decided to go by her full name, Elizabeth, in professional contexts. It was fine, and no one thought it was strange.

      1. NonProfit Nancy

        Yes, I agree with this. OP may decide to just go for it – but if they’re a little anxious like I am, it’s nice to provide some context for the switch. Saying you’ve decided to start going back to using your full name at this new job at least acknowledges the change. To me, it’s important to remember that although we, and the OP, realize the racial piece here, the workplace probably isn’t seeing it through that lens (although they should). So to them, it’s as if she applied and interviewed as Susan but is now correcting them when they call her Susan.

    5. copy run start

      I’m non-white but I have a very anglo-saxon name. I’m sure folks have been surprised to find “Nicole Stuart” is non-white when I’ve showed up or walked in, but I’ve never gotten any grief for it. No one has ever assumed it wasn’t my legal name either. My father and his entire family also have very anglo-saxon names (like “Jason Stuart” or “Danielle Stuart”) despite being very non-white. Now I’m wondering what effect that has had on our lives.

      I don’t think any explanation should be needed other than “I prefer to go by X, not Shauna.”

      1. Mais Mayes

        But *you told them your name was Shauna* – that’s where I see the disconnect. You applied as Shauna, you showed up to an interview as Shauna, answered questions as Shauna. They offered Shauna a job. It’s fine if your legal name is X and you go by Shauna, but if you never intend to use Shauna ever, the obvious question is *then why did you introduce yourself as Shauna The Job Applicant?* And “because I knew you were too racist to hire me as X” is not a winning response, although true and tempting. The scripts given here are good: I used to go commonly by Shauna, but I’d like to make a fresh start at this job using my given name, X. They will say: okay. It’s a non-event. But it’s weird to apply as Shauna and then correct people “I prefer X” with no transition.

        1. OP#3

          Yes, it’s weird which is why I emailed Alison. I’ve cornered myself into a box without realizing it but with all the suggestions I think I can swing it without bringing up the real reason I changed the name on my resume. No one wants to hear that they are or may be biased. Denial is bliss.

  5. Lord of the Ringbinders

    #2. A couple of thoughts. Firstly, he could be ill or have been in an accident. It’s always worth remembering that’s a possibility. Secondly, sorry if this is country or field-specific but do you not ask for references when people apply? And I did wonder if you made it sound like a by the end of the week kind of thing?

    Don’t get me wrong, I would have them ready. But I would gently chase to see if there’s an explanation. Might he have sent them to HR and not you?

    #3. I’m so sorry. People can really suck. Don’t go by Shauna. Just give HR your real name and don’t make a big thing of it. And good luck in your new job.

    #4. Something I’ve found really useful in my career is to always remember that I can’t control others, only myself, and that if I want to have boundaries I need to just have them for myself. For example, this is the difference between saying “I feel uncomfortable when you ask me xyz so can you not?” and “I don’t want to discuss that at work”. So instead of trying to impress on her that you aren’t into wedding talk, which she’s not hearing (as she’s more interested in the fact that she is into it and you are a captive audience), just keep ending the conversation e.g. using AAM’s script suggestions. Ideally repeat the same thing over and over – this is called the broken record technique (it’s worth looking up). Stop partaking at all – while you might be doing it to get her off your back, it sounds like it’s encouraging her and you need to just be a no-wedding-talk zone. Don’t say you’d rather talk about something else – just go ahead and do that. I’d stop worrying that you sound negative because it sounds like your colleague is not really hearing you at all and only thinking about what she wants to talk about.

    Two final suggestions: firstly you said this is your first career-track job so perhaps you could say you want to chat less rather than making it purely about wedding talk. I don’t know if you do these mindless tasks with others around but if so that would be totally legit to say. And lastly: there’s always headphones and that podcast you absolutely have to listen to…

    1. Jeanne

      I see no reason to give references when I apply. I don’t know if they’ll even call me back for an interview. My references’ information belongs to them and I don’t just give it out to everyone.

      1. Ask a Manager Post author

        Yep, it’s smart to be protective of your references, and it’s much better when employers don’t ask for them until they’re at the stage where they actually want them (or close to it).

        1. Lord of the Ringbinders

          This would not apply in England. In England you’d get side-eyed and not get an interview.

          1. Freya UK

            My CV says ‘References available upon request’… and I’ve never had a problem getting an interview… Unless I’ve misread your comment?

            1. Apollo Warbucks

              Ive seen Alison say before its not necessary to add that references are available on request as it’s taken as given they’ll be provided if asked for and the space can be used for something else to improve your application.

            1. Any Moose

              I have. And while I don’t get that, why wait until you are offering someone the job? Wouldn’t you want to check references before making the offer?

              1. Karo

                A lot of times it’s a contingent offer, assuming that no red flags pop up in your background (including references).

              2. TootsNYC

                I ask before the offer, absolutely.

                But that doesn’t mean I want their references in the beginning always:

                I ask for references in two situations:

                * If I’m considering a freelancer for a short-term gig and want to do a fast hire (like, within days), I’ll ask for references instead of spending a lot of time testing or interviewing. It saves time for me in screening. But it also means that I -have- reviewed their resumé and their skills are exactly what I need, and I don’t really need to meet with them.

                *If I’m hiring a full-timer, or if I have more time to hire a freelancer or expect to have that freelancer around for a while, I interview & test first.

                Then I =only= ask for resumes from the people who are finalists. Or maybe the ONLY finalist–but before I’ve made an offer.

                In my pattern (and it’s what I’ve seen most often), the asking for resumes is a sign that you are very close to getting the job. It’s not a done deal–sometimes I’ve had the references for two equally matched candidates be the thing that makes my decision for me. Other times, it’s mostly a formality or confirmation of a decision that’s already pretty firm.

          2. Ask a Manager Post author

            No, plenty of employers required them at the application stage in the U.S. too. But many don’t, and it’s better practice for employers not to.

            1. Anon job seeker

              Question to those in HR: would you reject an applicant immediately if they don’t include references in the application stage (computer form) when specifically requested? Ie, specific question after filling in the usual lengthy information, albeit necessary, is: provide you references, names and contact information.
              I hate to bother my references at this stage when possibly nobody will check yet, as when I provide reference info, I also give the the references a heads-up that I’ve recently applied and provided their contact info. I wrote in “available upon request”, which was a bit stupid since they did request…

              1. BRR

                I’d imagine the form wouldn’t alllow you to submit without the names. If that was the case and you filled in all the fields with “available upon request” then I think it would stand out in a negative way among other applications.

                But I think with references you just need to ask them if they’d be a reference/let them know you’re starting a job hunt then reach out again if you get a heads up from the company before they contact them. You don’t have to let them know for every job you apply to.

              2. Recruit-o-Rama

                Speaking for myself, no. Our ATS has fields for them but they are not required fields and I don’t even scroll that far down on the document when I am choosing candidates for phone screens.

              3. always in email jail

                Not HR but I am a hiring manager and prefer to do my own applicant screening. Ours is a computer system that would not accept an application without references, BUT I wouldn’t screen out a candidate who wrote “available upon request” in the box. Well I might, but not for that reason :)
                However, a standard part of our hiring practice is to not contact references unless they’re being considered for the position, and also to call the candidate to confirm they’re happy with the references they listed or to obtain additional ones. From the candidate side there’s no way to know that, so I don’t blame them for feeling uneasy

              4. Helena

                At my company, the awful, awful computer form is imposed on the hiring process by HR rather than actually mattering. When I’ve interviewed candidates as a part of a hiring committee, I had access to the form, but I barely glanced at the thing. And it was excrutiatingly long and painful, requiring retyping everything from your resume and then some (salary requirements, GPA even if you’ve been out of school for decades). I’ve argued in vain that the form is probably turning off top candidates, who have better options than to spend multiple hours filling out the form.

                For what it’s worth, when I was applying for jobs, I put “$0” as my salary requirement in many, many web forms. I was never once asked about it, so it wouldn’t surprise me if ignoring the web form is universal.

            2. fposte

              I confess that I prefer receiving references with the application. When I’m hiring outside the main university structure (the university requires references with application, full stop, but I have the option), it’s mainly students-to-be, and they’re a challenge to chase down sometimes; I decided to go back to references-with-application after having hiring delayed by attempts to get references from people. Since it’s university practice anyway, I don’t feel too bad, but it was interesting to try it both ways and find that one worked better for me.

              1. Ann O'Nemity

                I think this is one of those things that is different in academia. I *always* included references when applying for academic jobs. In the nonprofit/for-profit world, it seems way less common.

              2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

                I was going to echo Ann—I think this is unique to hiring in the academy (or at least that’s been my experience with hiring in the academy ;) ), with an exception, perhaps, for clerical positions that are not being filled by students.

                1. fposte

                  Oh, yeah, absolutely. But I was willing to try a more candidate-friendly approach–and it turned out to be too much of a PITA, so I gave up and stopped bucking the academic convention.

            3. Taylor Swift

              I always assumed that in those cases, they wouldn’t actually bother looking at the references, let alone contact them, until the final stages.

          3. Huddled over tea

            That’s definitely not universal – in fact, I always tell candidates when they ask for how to improve their CVs to take off the reference section and use the space for something better.

          4. One of the Sarahs

            Not in my experience at all – never had a problem, and a lot of workplaces do this automatically

        2. Elizabeth West

          But they do–on most applications through software, you have to put them and it won’t let you proceed until you do. Which I don’t like doing, but I have to. >:(

      2. Lord of the Ringbinders

        Must be a geographical thing. Over here it would be weird to refuse to give references on an application form when asked – you can tick a box asking for them not to be contacted yet.

        1. caledonia

          UK here as well and I’ve never knowingly had an issue. When they offer me the job and I accept, then they check your references.

        2. Soon to be ex-LSCO

          Not that weird. I’ve declined before now on job applications (I’m in the UK) and just put “references can be supplied at a later stage” or something in the mandatory fields, and still got interviews. I’ve also seen others do it. Too many employers will use the information you supply without your knowledge/consent and I much prefer to give my references a heads up when I know they’ll be called, rather than have to tell them everytime I’ve passed their details on for an application which I might not even get an interview for.

    2. Ask a Manager Post author

      I wouldn’t follow up for the references yet — there’s valuable information to be gained by waiting and seeing how long it takes, and whether the candidate mentions the delay at all when he does get back in touch. If a week goes by, I’d follow up at that point, but I’d probably say, “Since I haven’t heard back from you, I’m assuming you’ve decided not to pursue the position, but please let me know if I’m wrong about that!” That way, if the email did just get misdirected or something, it gives him the chance to let you know.

      And meanwhile, I’d be checking the references of the second best candidate so that you’re not losing time in case this first guy falls through.

      1. BRR

        I had a very similar situation for the job I’m in now. My email address got blocked by my employers overly aggressive filter. This was after messaging back and forth. I ended up calling the hiring manager because I couldn’t send my references to anybody.

      2. LW#2

        Darn, I hadn’t thought of that. I didn’t hear back from him yesterday and emailed him back asking for at least a partial list and an update by end of day today. Well, live and learn. I haven’t heard back yet, so I’ll take this advice going forward. Though I might take BRR’s experience into account and call him instead of email, just to make sure his response isn’t getting lost. Plus if he is injured or sick someone else is more likely to answer his phone than read his email, so.
        Thanks for responding to my question, Alison!

        1. Jessesgirl72

          I don’t think you need to kick yourself over this one.

          It’s the candidates responsibility to get you his references, within the time frame agreed to.

      3. Hiring Mgr

        My hunch on this one is that the candidate might not be as interested as the OP thought, or isn’t sure how hard he wants to pursue it, so doesn’t want to use the references until he’s sure it’s one he really wants.

        1. CM

          But it could be something else, like one of his references fell through at the last minute, and he’s scrambling to find someone else and isn’t aware that his delay is making him looking bad.

          1. MegaMoose, Esq

            But even if there is a reason for the delay, he’s also not communicating at all, which in and of itself is a really bad look.

            1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

              Yeah, the problem is the lack of communication, not the delay (although after a few days, the delay becomes a problem, also). There’s, of course, always an outside chance the candidate had an accident or emergency come up (e.g., death in the family), but ideally he’ll communicate sooner than later.

            2. Chameleon

              So, if I were in a situation where one of my references fell through, I would not think to tell the hiring manager because I feel like that’s a level of detail that would be bothering them–that I should only contact when I had something to say. I’d also be worried that having a reference fall through at the last minute would reflect poorly on me; it would be better to send the new list without telling them “oh, yeah, I didn’t know my old supervisor was going on a trek in Nepal this month, sorry!”

              But then I have severe social anxiety and always tend to shrink from extraneous communication, so that’s me…

              1. Ask a Manager Post author

                But you do have something to say — which is that you’re encountering a delay in getting the info. If you say nothing at all, you look uninvested.

          2. spirals

            This!

            I was employed full-time when I was approached about a new position at another company by a recruiter. I wasn’t convinced that I was ready to move entirely until after the interview (which was scheduled within a few days of the original contact), and then the company called the morning after the afternoon interview and immediately asked for my references. Since I had been happily employed at the same company for over five years and was not 100% certain that I was going to get an offer, it was a bit of a scramble to find references that could provide sufficient information to the reference checker and that I could trust wouldn’t jeopardize my current position. To make matters more interesting – my former boss was on a month long sabbatical touring Italy and not exactly reachable. It all worked out, but it was a bit of a scramble for a few days where I was keeping up with my current enormous workload, trying to discretely reach out to some colleagues about reference for a job somewhere else, and field calls from the recuiter/new company HR.

            Now I am curious based on responses here — how do people employed and managed by the same manager for 5+ years maintain a list of separate relevant references at all times for potential job opportunities? I am keeping in touch with my former coworkers / manager now, as I don’t want to be caught offguard when the next opportunity comes my way.

        2. NJ Anon

          I had something similar happen to me when I was hiring. Turned out the person I was trying to contact took a job at another company.

        3. LW#2

          You were right. He just contacted me to rescind his application because he can’t figure out how to incorporate this job’s non-standard working hours with his wife’s non-standard working hours. So I guess he didn’t want to bother his references unless he was sure, which is fair.

      4. Emi.

        If I got an email like that, I’d assume all hope was gone and the “please let me know if I’m wrong about that” was just a nicety, or would only save me if I responded in, like, fifteen minutes. So if I got in a car wreck and couldn’t send you my references and you sent me that, I’d probably say something that sounded more like “oh no, I’m super crushed that I missed out on this job” instead of “no, I’m totally still interested but I got in a car wreck.” Am I just wildly misreading that?

  6. Cas

    OP3, I was literally thinking about this today. I use an Anglicised version of my name at work, but lately I’ve been wanting to go back to the name I use outside work. I’m not sure how to make the switch though.

    I’m thinking of changing jobs so that might be a good opportunity, but I don’t want them to call references that know me by a different name! I wish I had never used the other name but maybe it was right at the time

    1. Jeanne

      I think you could change your name with a new job if you want. When you are asked for refernces, say “I used a different name at my last job so when you call ask to speak with her about Jane Johnson.” If anyone asks or even raises an eyebrow, just say blandly “It’s a long story.”

      1. Judy

        On my reference list, I list:

        Name
        Contact information (given to me by reference, it may be email, or phone or both)
        Context (how this person knows me, “Manager from 2011-2013 at Teapots, Inc”, “Co-worker from 2007-2013 at Teapots, Inc”)

        It would be easy to add in the name info in that phrase.

    2. dragonzflame

      A lady I worked with completely changed her name – think Muriel to Veronica. She did it by sending out an email to everyone saying ‘as of x date I’m changing my name to Veronica’, her old email remained active for a month or two and redirected, and in her signature she put ‘Veronica (nee Muriel) Tabbypants’ for a while. It was actually pretty seamless!

    3. BRR

      Would it be possible to say that you no longer want to go by this nickname and to call you the other name? That’s really all you have to do. Don’t feel like you have to change jobs just to use the name you prefer.

      And as others said regarding references, you just say you went by an old nickname while you worked there and let your references know.

    4. J

      For other random reasons, I actually go by both my given name and a nickname. I don’t have a preference between them, but it works out that people from Job 1, 3, 5, and 7 all know me by my nickname and people from Job 2, 4, 5, and 6 know me by my given name. It sounds like it’s complicated, but no one has ever expressed any confusion about this, so I assume it’s NBD.

      Shauna, I’m sorry this is what you needed to do to get called in for interviews. But I agree that it’s not too late! Good luck with the new job!

    5. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

      Cas, it’s ok to just tell people you’re now going by “[new old name].” No explanation necessary, and it’s ok to do this at your current job.

      My 75-year-old great aunt, after being called by her nickname her entire life, decided she wants to go by her birth name (she was going through an Emily Gilmore style personal transition). She let me know in a conversation, and I refer to her by her birth name, now. No big.

  7. Marina

    #4, I found that when people ask about your wedding, usually what they actually want to talk about is their own wedding, or their son’s wedding, or other weddings they’ve been to. If you answer with, “Oh, we haven’t decided yet, what did you do at your wedding?” then they happily talk about themselves for five minutes and it’s much easier to end the conversation.

    1. SJ

      Yep – this is my trick for pretty much everything I don’t want to talk about. It’s a great skill to have!

    2. INFJ

      Thank you! I am going to use this. I have been engaged for months and SO and I have made zero plans. (We might just elope.) But I feel like I get the, “Any wedding plans yet?” question at least once a week. It’s exhausting. I’m running out of ways to say, “Not yet!”

      1. tigerStripes

        Would it be amusing to make up stuff? Like “We’re going to Vegas to be married by a group of Elvis impersonators.” “We’re each going to ride an elephant into the ceremony.” “We’re going to get married in a swimming pool, and all of the guests will be wearing swimming suits.”

  8. Myrin

    Jesus Christ, OP #1, are you working with three-year-olds who have a hard time controlling themselves or what? They sound like greedy vultures circling the buffet and giving a stink-eye to everyone approaching them or the food.

    (Somewhat unrelated, but as a German, the casual use of the word “nazi” in the US still has my hair stand on end even after having first learned about it years ago. That alone would make me disregard these people at lightning speed, not to mention, what an absolute overreaction to being told you can’t eat the food for a meeting you don’t even attend. I seriously can’t wrap my head around that level of hostility to having a very basic boundary enforced, it seriously should be a no-brainer.)

    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      When I checked this post today, there were nearly 45 comments about the use of Nazi (on an already 400+ comment post). The OP didn’t use the word herself (she quoted someone else), and even if she had, the commenting guidelines ask that this kind of thing be called out once and then left alone because it becomes so derailing (as it has here). I’ve removed the thread.

    2. DCGirl

      There can be such a sense of entitlement around food in the workplace. When I worked at a Big 4 accounting firm, there were frequently catered lunches for client meetings. Management had to send out an email because there was a group of employees who would hover near the conference room doors and rush in to get the leftovers as the meeting broke up, which looked terrible to clients who were still in the room packing up their laptops or shaking hands with their engagement teams.

      At my current job (new since July), management is very nice about bringing in food. For the last two weeks of the fiscal year, when it was super busy, there was lunch brought in every day. Fast forward to a recent Friday, and management brought in breakfast (pastries, bagels, fruit salad), and a bunch of people groused because it wasn’t a hot, cooked breakfast.

      1. INTP

        IA, and one thing I’ve learned from AAM is that many people seem to have impulse control problems around food to an extent that it’s a bit confusing to me how they’re even able to maintain professional jobs – if they had the same impulse control problems with some other things, they certainly wouldn’t be!

        1. AnonAnalyst

          Seriously! I am really surprised that people feel entitled to any food that appears in their workplace. While I have certainly had the experience that people will help themselves to part of something I might have left in the fridge (milk, etc.), none of the offices I have worked in had this problem with catering. People have always been pleased when there have been leftovers that they could have, but no one has thought it was appropriate to help themselves to food for a meeting that they weren’t attending. What’s up with the people in OP’s office?!

          1. ArtsNerd

            I have pretty poor impulse control in general (part of why I’m commenting here and not getting my work done) but even I have more courtesy than to do this! Not surprised it’s an issue for the, OP though. Stronger enforcement from the other meeting planners and management would go a long way, but OP has limited control over that.

            One option, when possible: take a small portion of the catering / over-order a smidge and put it in the kitchen right away for people to scavenge. Your coworkers will be trained to go straight to the kitchen more quickly than they’ll be trained to keep their grubby hands off the food that isn’t theirs.

      2. Countess Boochie Flagrante

        My new job is the same way! It’s tax season so things are busy, and pretty much every week there is at least one day where there’s a meal brought in, and they’ve also brought in things like fancy cupcakes and fruit&cheese plates. We can’t do every day since it’d be a loooooong 4 1/2 months, but it’s still really nice.

      3. Sheworkshardforthemoney

        You made me remember one of my early jobs. A person on probation was let go because she had a habit of quietly going into meetings as they were winding down and filling a plate with the left-overs. She’d listen outside the door and as soon as she heard chairs being pushed back and people exiting, she was in.

        1. Camellia

          Reminds me of the letter we had where the coworker was living off of the leftovers she found at work because she couldn’t afford to buy food. I do hope that was not the case here.

      4. NonProfit Nancy

        People are very, very weird about food in offices (and other group settings, actually). I have noticed it throughout my career. The food can be cheap and the people wealthy, and yet it’s still A Whole Thing. I don’t know if it’s some deeply embedded cultural significance to The Gift of Free Food or if people are just bored at work.

        1. The Other Dawn

          I would say in my case, I was bored and unhappy at work. Or procrastinating. That’s not to say I felt entitled or would even think of behaving the way OP’s coworkers do, but if there was free food AFTER a meeting and it was fair game, I was totally there with bells on. Didn’t matter if it was something I wouldn’t normally eat or not. Now that I’ve been at my current job for 2+ years, I find that habit still crops up once in awhile, mostly when I’m working on something tedious or having some difficulty with the work, but I’m not nearly as bad as I used to be.

      5. neverjaunty

        This is a really good point.

        I once worked at one of those BigLaw firms where people work insane hours, and so at one time they provided free dinner for people who were there past a certain time. Well, a fair number of employees -and I should note these are people who got BigLaw salaries, not anyone likely to be living hand to mouth – would stay until dinner showed up, pack food up to go, and then leave for the day. The firm cancelled the free food. Good job ruining a nice perk for everyone, greedy jerks!

        1. Turtle Candle

          We had that at my workplace. When we were in a big release crunch, people who stayed after X hour or came in on the weekend would get food; nothing super fancy, usually pizzas and salads or sandwiches and chips, but reasonably nice stuff, paid for by the department manager. All was well until people started doing what you say–staying just long enough for the food to show up, and then bailing right after, often while taking a sandwich or something home with them instead of eating it there. (Often, as they were salaried and their time wasn’t closely monitored, they weren’t even really working during the last hour they were waiting for the food.)

          The dept. manager solved this first by sending an email out to the department saying, yes, there’s food under X circumstances, and if you’re working late you’re welcome to help yourself, but if you’re not, please leave the food for those who are because it’s here because they aren’t getting a chance to go home and get their own dinner in a timely fashion. If you eat the food, we expect you to be staying to work.

          This of course did not deter people, but it set the groundwork for what he did next, which was to sit in the room with the food when it arrived (eating some himself–he also worked late on these work-late days) and strike up friendly conversations with people who were getting it. “Sally, how are the rice grain calibrations going? Think you’ll get that report done tonight?” “Joe, how’s it going? What are you working on this evening? Any blockers?” These were the kind of conversations that were totally normal for the workplace during the day, and people who really were staying to work wouldn’t have any problem with them… but people who had been waiting around on Facebook for the free food got kind of a gentle ‘yes, I notice’ confirmation from the dept. manager. It succeeded in tapering things WAY off.

      6. JB (not in Houston)

        Many of my coworkers react to food in the office like they don’t know where their next meal is coming from (and for the ones I’m speaking of, trust me, I know that’s not the case). I have one coworker who will stop you carrying a tray of cookies down the hall to a meeting so that she can see what the options are and be the first one to take one (or take one even if she’s not included in the meeting). One intern hovered around the table where a secretary was setting up a tray of snacks for a meeting of the bigwigs, casually taking food and eating it. One attorney will routinely ask to try food that one of the secretaries is eating (he never brings food in) and will go into rooms where meetings will be starting soon so he can take some of the food (he’s not involved in these meetings). And he’s one of the most well-off people at the office, it’s not like he can’t buy his own food. When it comes to food, people are WEIRD.

        1. Pebbles

          My team has a small table in our area where we will put treats out for us to snack on and anyone that stops by to chat with us about work or anything else is free to help themselves. However we have taken to hiding them overnight in a desk drawer because of one person who has a reputation for always being where free food is and helps himself. We’ve found him wandering around the office after most people have left checking out areas where us and other teams have treats. He isn’t hard up by any means, he just wants whatever is free.

      7. Rachael

        Yes. People go crazy. I worked in the wire/securities area and our manager regularly bought pizza or food for us when we were slammed and nobody could take a lunch. I quickly became known as “the heavy” because I would straight up tell people “what’s what” from other departments who would swoop in before we even would have a chance to eat….OUR OWN FOOD. It was crazy, but I wasn’t shy.

        And they would get snappy, too. It was crazy, but we always suspected that they felt entitled because we were just “customer service” and they felt more important and could trump us.

    3. Annie Moose

      Yeah, what on earth is up with the buffet vultures? At OldJob, we’d have food with vendors/clients sometimes, and as tasty as it looked, we never had a problem with it. (although, it was set up in an area that wasn’t near to where anyone actually worked, so that might’ve helped) And for some reason, even the leftovers didn’t get descended on all that quickly.

      One time… man, this one time, there were these little slices of cheesecake… I had like four different kinds. (Before you judge me too hard, I only took one to start with, but then it got to around 5 PM, when most people were already gone, and there was STILL a ton left. I couldn’t let it go to waste!)

    4. LBK

      So maybe I just work in the strangest office in the world, but to me, food sitting outside of a conference room = leftover food that was not eaten by the original recipients and is therefore fair game. Maybe it’s different in the OP’s office where it should be understood that this is how meeting food is usually set up, but I don’t think it’s totally insane for people to see a bunch of food sitting out and think that means they can eat it. I’m surprise at how vehemently people are condemning the “vultures”.

      That being said, they shouldn’t be nasty about it if the OP is shooing them away.

      1. MegaMoose, Esq

        I think being nasty about being told not to eat it is key here, plus continuing to do it after being asked not to. I would *think* that considerate adults would only need to be told once that the food outside the conference room is not for taking. Also, different offices are going to have different set-ups and again, one would think people would learn the conventions and not be jerks about it.

        1. Myrin

          Yeah, this is key to me. I can completely understand misjudging the situation, especially if I come across it for the first time and see that the meeting room door is closed and there’s already a good amount of food been taken (meaning it’s not some brand-new food table being set up just waiting for its recipients). But the OP says that these catered lunches are “common”, which means no one but a new coworker/someone who hasn’t experienced them yet gets to have an excuse for their hovering.

          1. LBK

            I think I’m also a little ambivalent because per the OP’s description, these people aren’t prying open freshly delivered lunches and having at it before the attendees have even had a chance. She’s solely annoyed that people who aren’t part of the meeting are partaking after the current attendees have eaten under the pretense that there may be latecomers to the meeting, which…I dunno, sounds a bit unfounded to me. Unless it’s a frequent situation where people show up late to a meeting and there’s no food left, I could see how that might sound like a ridiculous concern (and, frankly, if you’re considerably late to a lunch meeting I don’t think you should have a reasonable expectation of there still being food available for you).

            Again, I get that if you’ve been told not to do something and you do it anyway, you’re being rude, even if the reasoning is questionable. I’m just not sure I agree that this is something the OP should be so strict about; I’m not convinced by her explanation of why they shouldn’t be eating the food. It might be easier to just roll her eyes and let it go rather than continuing to expend so much energy on something that people are apparently very dead set on doing.

            1. JB (not in Houston)

              Yeah, but people who have been there a while should know by now how it works, and we should trust the OP that’s she’s just not just weirdly hoarding the lunch boxes. It’s much stranger to me that there are people upset by or feeling entitled to lunches that were never something designed for them or promised to them in the first place. The lunches weren’t ordered for them, so why do they feel like they should get one? It’s like a child who sees something and demands it. She said they get made available to people later, so why aren’t they just waiting until then?

              1. LBK

                Eh, I guess I don’t see it as entitlement so much as a “Does this really matter if I take some?” attitude. I don’t think people are particularly upset that they’re being denied lunch but rather kind of incredulous at the OP taking such a hard line on something that doesn’t seem to be a big deal.

                1. Rusty Shackelford

                  But it seems like it does matter. The OP is concerned that meeting attendees – who the food was specifically ordered for – are going to miss out if they arrive a little late. If I were invited to a lunch meeting, and I didn’t get lunch because my other meeting ran 10 minutes long, and in that 10 minutes, non-attendees raided the buffet, it would be a big deal to me.

            2. Perse's Mom

              But the meeting is on-going and the food is for *the meeting attendees* first and foremost. Frankly, the people for whom the food is intended get seconds or even thirds before people who are NOT in the meeting get a chance at it. If that means Bob from the meeting gets the last piece of chicken 10min before the meeting ends and Janice, who’s not part of the meeting, doesn’t get any… too bad, so sad for Janice.

              1. INFJ

                I agree completely with your assessment. Meeting attendees get dibs during the entire duration of the meeting, just as if the food were actually in the room.

      2. Rusty Shackelford

        Even after you’ve been told not to eat the food until all the attendees have had a chance to get some? After you’ve been told that any leftovers available to you will be in the kitchen after the meeting? You still think that food is fair game? That’s why they’re vultures. Not because they’re eating the food, but because they’re eating it after specifically being told not to.

        1. Rachael

          I’m not following the commentators who think that if they can see it they can eat it. I’ve always asked the status of food if I was unsure because…..the person(s) who pay for it decide who gets to eat it and when they get to eat it.

      3. Not A Morning Person

        As for the timing, “late-comers” could be people who show up in time for the meeting, but didn’t show up early and use that time to get their breakfast/lunch/snack or whatever. In my experience, food for meetings is frequently set up in advance so attendees can gradually get a plate or whatever and socialize before the meeting. I’ve been very pointed to people who were food vultures because the budget for my meetings included food; attendees were told they’d get food and they get what was promised. I didn’t want to have to increase my budget to pay for those who trolled the conference rooms for food before the meetings or even after the meetings started. Attendees could refresh their coffee, etc. But if the food vultures were around, I had to guard against them taking it instead of getting their own at the cafeteria. I knew who was and wasn’t in my programs and I shooed the vultures away. Call me a stickler for enforcing rules. I’m okay with that. And I agree that the OP needs to get some kind of expectation in place for the whole office and then grow a thicker skin and have a few responses ready.
        “Yes, I’m enforcing the office policy.” Rinse and repeat.

        1. AnonAnalyst

          Leaving food out during the meeting for people who show up late is not uncommon in my experience; sometimes those people want to grab something on the way out if they haven’t had a chance before then. I also have worked places where meetings are scheduled for most or all of the day, so coffee and tea and snacks are left out for the meeting attendees to grab during breaks.

          I just can’t imagine walking past food set up somewhere, obviously for an event I’m not attending, and assuming it’s up for grabs. Having said that, the convention at most of the companies I have worked for was to send out an all staff email letting people know when free food was available, so maybe that helped set expectations.

          1. SusanIvanova

            We had a mailing list like that too – the list alias was actually “TeaPotCo-vultures”!

    5. I'm Not Phyllis

      Right? I’m not at all surprised, though. When I was a receptionist this would happen all the time. I even had my manager send an email to all staff asking them not to eat the food until it was brought to the kitchen after the meeting but it didn’t work … people would walk by and help themselves while telling me “shhhh, don’t tell” … so. not. funny.

  9. Matt

    #2: reminds me of myself when applying for my first job back in 2000 … i went on a week long holiday in summer and of course received the email from my prospective future boss that she wanted to interview me exactly during this week. This was the pre-smartphone and pre-WLAN era, I was completely offline during this holiday. I was mortified when i read the message a week later upon returning home – but I still got the job ;)

  10. Chocolate Teapot

    1. Ah yes, the meeting buffet vultures, a species I know well. The worst are the ones who turn up with tinfoil and plastic containers.

    One company used to order catered lunches for client/executive meetings and the stampede for the leftovers was a sight to behold. Another company did the same thing, and leftovers would be available for the rest of the office to eat. As there were concerns about food going to waste, the Admin would calculate how many attendees, then round down. One co-worker (who had nothing to do with the meetings) then complained that there were not many leftovers!

    1. AndersonDarling

      My office is generally good about leftovers, but then there was the 2014 Cake Incident. The night shift was used to helping themselves to leftovers in the catering fridge, but there were cakes that were meant for a meeting the following day. They took the cakes. The whole cakes…took them home. The whole executive team was put on a CSI-type investigation. Then a bunch of half eaten cakes showed up in the break room the next day.

      1. Elizabeth West

        Exjob had a table on my floor where leftovers went. Anything on the table was fair game–but you were expected to leave stuff in the fridge alone (didn’t always help, especially when we had a lunch thief). I would leave a note for the cleaners if they could have some, so they knew. Got rid of half a cake that way–I didn’t want to take it home because I knew I would eat it!

      2. SusanIvanova

        Someone at my office opened up a taped-shut cake box, looked at the writing that said “Happy Birthday Susan”, and swiped one of the strawberries off the top, leaving a very obvious hole in the frosting.

    2. Code Monkey, the SQL

      Fortunately, we haven’t had anyone in our office turn leftovers into a shopping opportunity, but we have our own share of food drama

      And the amount of Grumpy Feelings that were aroused when we had bigwigs in the office and the doughnut order was compromised was amazing. (One of the bigwigs ate a doughnut there was only one of, which resulted in a cascade of Who Ate MY Doughnut!? I’m Gonna Have To Eat A Different Doughnut Now! scenarios)

  11. RKB

    #3… Yep. I have a long, ethnic name. I often go by a nickname that’s ethnic. So I put the “Western” version of my nickname (think Jessie for a nickname derived from a longer Indian name) and got way more callbacks. Doesn’t help that my last name is also British.

    I finally applied with my full name to a government job because they needed Punjabi speakers, but I get what you mean by feeling so unmoored by potentially going by a different name. This is who I am and I am proud of it. But it sucks when your pride is not enough to overcome bias in the workplace, or in the real world.

    Take the job. Then go by your real name at work. You don’t need to justify or explain why you’ve decided to use that name.

    It is HARD to undo decades of internal self-loathing or masking, but a good step is identifying yourself the way you want to be known.

    1. OP#3

      I appreciate your comment RKB and it’s nice to know I’m not the only person going through this. It really does suck. I even had to change my voicemail to “Shauna”….it feels like I’m masquerading as a different person or I have split personality. You are so right when you say it is hard to undo decades of self-loathing or masking. So much so I feel like I need a therapist.

  12. T3k

    For 3, I wonder how that’d work for someone with an ethnic last name. I’m mixed and have a white first name and an ethnic last name and have seriously debated over using my mom’s maiden name just to see if I’d get more responses. Until then, I’ll just hope my dream comes true and names are hidden on applications until selected for an interview. *sigh*

    1. Althea

      I think you should put what you want. If you use a name you don’t go by, to get around the biases – well, you don’t owe anyone an explanation about your name. They WOULD owe you an explanation about selecting you with one name but not the other! And I don’t even think that getting around the name barrier worsens the “cause” much. Working together with someone from another culture or with an unusual name would do a lot to break down the stereotype that might have caused the problem in the first place. And if you establish yourself in a job and feel comfortable doing it, you could even talk to HR about the bias in their screening and try to help make changes.

    2. fposte

      I was just reading that that’s why the actor Kal Penn initially chose that as his stage name–to see if it made any difference to his applications. Sadly, it did.

      1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

        Same for Mindy Kaling (although Mindy was her real nickname growing up). This is a frequent challenge for POC with non-white names.

    3. Morning Glory

      Are you female by any chance? I think we have more flexibility than men when it comes to using different last names at work – enough women legally take their husband’s name but professionally use their maiden name that people may not think twice about seeing you have a different legal last name than the one on your resume (even though it would be your mom’s maiden name.)
      Of course, if they do think twice and ask about it, it could be a bit awkward if you’re not married, but maybe you could say something like you were raised with a hyphenated last name and dropped the longer name on your resume for space issues.

      1. T3k

        I am female but single, so unfortunately can’t use the husband last name ploy. I may use my middle name because I could then use the excuse that it just flows better (like Anna Bell).

  13. Freya UK

    Sorry OP1 that was me. Always first to the buffet.

    OP3 – Congratulations on your new job. The situation is gross, obviously, but you go with your real name – as others have said, plenty of people have names they ‘go by’ and their legal names, it shouldn’t be an issue – but if it is, take ’em down!!

    OP4 – I AM the blissful “getting married is an accomplishment” bride and I like to keep my wedding chat private too. I am an intensely private person and people seem to feel bizarrely entitled to information about our wedding. Like, no, eff-off, you’ll know the date when you know it, you’ll see my dress when you see it, you’ll know what you’re eating when you’re eating it.

  14. Vertigo

    OP3 – When I was job searching I was always really tempted to do this; I have a name that’s definitely Not White. Unfortunately, there’s not really a good white approximation :(

    It’s probably for the best though; knowing me I’d have trouble keeping track and wonder who the hell is Becky and why people keep calling my number asking for her.

    1. Temperance

      I am connected with a number of Chinese students attending law school in America. They all pick American names at seemingly random (or from the show Friends – I know at least 2 Monicas, a handful of Rachels, and one Phoebe). So if you want to use a different name, that’s totally fine and accepted.

      1. Jesmlet

        I’m half Chinese and most of my relatives on that side of the family still live in Taiwan which is where my mom is originally from. They all have picked English names too, some completely random, others that sound similar to their Chinese name. No one’s gonna look twice, but with that said, don’t feel forced to choose a name that you wouldn’t otherwise feel comfortable being called.

      2. Engineer Woman

        It’s a tad different. Chinese or other people with non-alphabetic written language may not already have an English name or any name that is composed of English letters. Hence, they could use a phonetic name of their name in native language or come up with one that’s completely new.

        But if you already have one, it’s a bit strange to me to be completely different: my name is officially Juanita but I want to be called Susan now. Maybe at least go with Jane?

        1. AthenaC

          When writing Chinese sounds in languages that have alphabets, we use a Romanization convention. The most mainstream one at the moment is called pinyin.

          The issue with Chinese names and English speakers is: 1) the inability of English speakers to pronounce quite a few Chinese sounds; and/or 2) the desire of the Chinese people to fit in better.

        2. JB (not in Houston)

          It may be a bit strange, but people do it, not infrequently. People don’t get to pick their names at birth, but they can call themselves whatever they want to, even if it seems strange to others.

          1. JB (not in Houston)

            correction: meant to say, it might seem a bit strange to you. It’s not strange to me at all.

      3. Artemesia

        When I worked with young Chinese women in China, they all seemed to be Lilly, or Ruby, or Rose — flowers and jewels were the big favorites.

  15. Blog Cabin

    OP3–Use your name and wear it proud. I wonder if you could please provide a little more info on your statement about interviewers being “shocked that I was black” when you used the fake name. What did this shock look like from your perspective? Did they actually (God-forbid) say something, did you notice a change in the tone of their voice or behavior, or was it other things? I only ask because I think experiments like this are really important and can yield a lot of fodder for dialogue. Congrats on the new job!

    1. Tofu

      I am white but have a very black-sounding first and last name. Shock typically registers in the form of a double-take, or someone coming out to a waiting room, looking at me, looking around, and then asking the receptionist where [my name] is.

      I wonder if I’ve been rejected for interviews based solely on my name.

      1. Temperance

        I have a first name that is either read as low-class white or black. I do think it’s held me back.

        1. F.

          Not to minimize the discrimination that can occur when a name is perceived to be associated with a certain ethnicity or race, but a study was done a few years ago that indicated that people with unpopular or very old-fashioned names face discrimination, too. A “Hubert” or “Hortense” label on photos of reasonably attractive men or women elicited much different reactions from the viewers than calling them “Jeff” or “Jennifer”, for example. I have a very old-fashioned name, and have never known anyone else my age with the same name. I can’t say for certain that it has held me back, but it sure hasn’t helped, either.

          1. Angelinha

            Your example does minimize racial discrimination, though. Old-fashioned-sounding name discrimination, however real, is not nearly as insidious or damaging and to suggest that it’s the same thing is hurtful.

            1. Kelly L.

              I also think old-name discrimination is going to be pretty moot before long, as lots of people in my generation named their kids “old person names.” They’re trendy again, and when that cohort grows up, we’ll all be working with Hortense and Hubert.

              1. fposte

                There are very specific names that get revived, though, and others that don’t, and where your name is in the curve helps too. The Debbies, Lindas, and Donnas of 1960 will be bigger age clues these days than a Hortense.

                1. Kelly L.

                  I remember my mom’s anecdotes about her childhood. Everybody was named Linda. I think she had three different friends named Linda, and also a Belinda.

                  Future generations will get sick of hearing me talk about the Jennifers and Jasons, and all the other Kellys.

                2. LBK

                  I swear at least half of the women my age are named Caitlyn or Katherine (or one of their various spelling iterations).

                3. Tau

                  This one can be very culturally dependent. German names seem to be very, very tied to their generations; my mother and I spent a fun half an hour or so trying to come up with names that wouldn’t be out of place on either someone her age or mine. I think we found three. In contrast, I’m always amazed at how in the UK a lot of the same names seem to be prevalent no matter the age group, particularly for men.

            2. F.

              You are reading something in there that is not there. Please do not put thoughts in my head. I acknowledged that the racial/ethnic discrimination does exist and is a serious problem. What I presented was as an additional point of interest. I am sick and tired of being called racist every time I post something here that someone disagrees with.

              1. aebhel

                Nobody called you racist. Angelinha thought it was an inappropriate comparison given the context of the conversation; I don’t necessarily agree, but it’s a very long step from that to calling you racist.

              2. Jesmlet

                Feel ya… I didn’t read it as minimizing and I found that tidbit interesting. It just adds to the evidence pile for why we need to make initial stages of job applications blind to any identifying demographics.

                1. Tammy

                  I actually talked to the people who make the ATS my company uses about a feature request: “Hide/mask applicants’ names and email addresses until they’ve reached the ‘bring them on-site for an interview’ stage of the process”. I think tech like this could maybe help move the needle on this issue, which I know is a huge problem. (Unfortunately, their response was ‘this is an interesting idea but not currently on our roadmap’ or somesuch.)

              3. LBK

                Who called you a racist? I get what you were saying, but it’s a little “All Lives Matter” to try to compare general bias based on name to racial bias (because the issue at hand isn’t just making an assumption about someone based on a name, it’s the leap from assuming their race to therefore discrediting their qualifications or otherwise making assumptions about their suitability as an employee).

              4. Mustache Cat

                I wonder how many times you think you’ve been called racist versus how often you’ve actually been called racist? Literally no one called you that. Over-defensiveness isn’t the appropriate response here.

              5. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

                No one called you racist, but I think it’s correct/legit to say that, despite your intention not to minimize, your comment is minimizing the impact of racial discrimination.

                The discrimination folks with old-fashioned names experience is no way on the same level or intensity as racial discrimination for names. I don’t know that anyone’s run a study comparing the two, but I have a feeling race would outweigh old-fashioned for “which signifier is correlated to a greater discriminatory effect?”

              6. Artemesia

                I thought the same i.e. to imply someone is racist for joining the conversation about the impact of names in hiring is hurtful and unnecessary. The anecdote was an interesting sidenote and in no way diminished the discrimination that minorities face. (and I might note that Mildred or Hortense are also more likely to be given to immigrant minorities or AAs than white kids, so there is also overlap there. Immigrants often choose names they think are ‘American’ and that might include an old fashioned name they read in a book. I worked with a guy whose father changed the family name for Wojehowek to Annas because it was his boss’s name and he thought it sounded ‘American’. My colleague finally changed it back to the original ethnic name when his sons started being called names as had happened to him when he was a kid.)

                1. JB (not in Houston)

                  Nobody called F racist, and nobody implied F. is racist. There are certainly plenty of white people who think that someone pointing out that a comment is racist or minimizing of racism is the same thing as calling them a racist. And that shuts the conversation down, as is sometimes the intent (I’m not saying at all that’s what F was intending, I’m saying this happens, and so we should be mindful to separate what was actually said from how we’re interpreting it).

                2. neverjaunty

                  I find it very interesting how a few people are angrily trying to shut down even mild criticism of F.’s comment by (falsely) claiming people said her comment was racist.

        2. Purest Green

          I’m curious what people are considering low-class names. I guess I’m unaware of that distinction.

          1. Kelly L.

            If you can think of names that sound like they’d be used for a Beverly Hillbillies character (someone said “Cletus” elsewhere in the thread, and it’s a good example), or if you’ve ever heard someone joke “That sounds like a stripper name!”, then you’ve got the gist.

          2. NonProfit Nancy

            There is sometimes a bias against “made up names” versus “classic” (re: white upper class sounding) names. I’ve read that younger mothers particularly are likely to give their children unique original names – Jannica, Jessima – or unique spellings on more common names – Erynn, Lylli, etc. Compare to the classics like Mary, Elizabeth, Catherine. There’s also some traditionally Southern-sounding names – Lurleen, Darla, etc – that for some reason have an implication of class. I’m NOT saying this is fair, but if you’ve honestly never heard of this bias I’d say it’s somewhere around this, and it can exist outside of just traditional “black sounding” (or other minority) names. Either way it’s all stupid and shouldn’t be part of evaluating a candidate for a job.

            1. NonProfit Nancy

              Oh yeah or anything named after an alcohol. I’ve heard all alcohol names described as “stripper” names, which is odd because I know some lovely “Brandy”s.

            2. Jeannalola

              I cringe every time I read Megyn Kelly! I would not want gyn in my name one bit. What were her parents thinking?

          3. Temperance

            Kardashian-style “K” names, Brandy (or Brandi), Tammy, names with “y” where it should be “i” or “o” … I could give more specifics, but you probably get the idea. “Unique” spellings of regular names.

          4. Kate

            I’ve heard two first names (ex Tammy Lynn) and names like Candy being called “stripper names”.

        3. Thunder

          A family member named their daughter “Hazel”. My mother pointed out that when living the south many older black women had this name. My cousin’s didn’t think it would be a big deal, as we live in Canada, so there’s probably not a connotation one way or the other up here. But sometimes I wonder.

      2. ThatGirl

        As I noted above, my unusual first name is often read as black or Latina and I’ve definitely had people be very confused that I am super white.

        1. Jesmlet

          My face reads as Latina and people are usually shocked when they find out I’m not. I’ll never forget how distinctly my AP English teacher’s behavior changed when she found out I wasn’t Latina.

      3. NonProfit Nancy

        I have a friend who is Canadian but her french name sounds “black” to American ears (think “Chantelle” or similar). She has gone through every version of this – shows up and it’s clear that the interviewers were expecting someone else – and although it’s really *not* funny when you think about it, it does make for some good stories at parties …

      4. Can't Sit Still

        This has happened to me, too, with a couple of people actually saying to me, “Oh, I thought you were/would be black.” Obviously, this is not nearly as threatening a statement to a white woman as I imagine the reverse to be.

        My first name apparently has a “black” spelling, which is the one I use, and a “white” spelling. People who don’t know my race tend to spell my name correctly. As soon as they know that I am white, they default to using the “white” version and it can be really difficult getting them to go back to the correct spelling.

        It’s pretty clear to me that I would have more job options if I misspelled my first name or used a nickname. Or even used my middle name, which apparently changes my perceived race from black to white.

  16. Mooseketeer

    #3- This is a really minor thing, but I just want to point out that Shauna didn’t work by “hiding race,” it worked by implying whiteness, which is a race. the way Alison phrased it makes white into the default. She’s normally so thoughtful about her language that I’m sure this was an oversight, but this kind of language contributes to a culture where Shauna gets more callbacks.

      1. Mooseketeer

        Thank you for responding so quickly! At 4am, you taking that criticism so well is giving me some faith in humankind.

  17. GermanGirl

    #2 where has that guy worked before? If it was in some other country / culture then he might not have his references ready because it’s uncommon for employers to ask for references (e.g. Germany) so he’ll have to call everybody first and actually get a hold of them because he hasn’t even approached anybody about giving references to to now.

    1. LW#2

      No, he’s worked in America his whole life. He’s been in several states, but in this town specifically for his last two jobs.

  18. NewHerePleaseBeNice

    OP4 – could you say something like ‘Oh, we got a wedding planner. It’s all being sorted by them!’ and leave it at that?

  19. Jens

    OP1 If you can’t move the buffet, perhaps put some kind of cover of the food to keep the vultures off.

    1. misspiggy

      Yes! We would get food platters covered in tinfoil, which is very noticeable if someone interferes with it. Always assumed that you can’t trust people to leave the food alone otherwise.

      1. NonProfit Nancy

        Tape the lids down. It takes a very determined coworker to cut the tape on the plastic lid and help themselves to food they haven’t been invited to eat (the most shameless will still do it, but at least you can feel like there’s a reasonable person standard involved!).

    2. Soon to be ex-LSCO

      Yes, this is a good idea. However the way I read it, the problem is people eating the leftovers before all guests have arrived. A meeting starts at say 1pm, with a buffet lunch. The attendees arrive for 12:45 – 1ish, grab a plate, then get settled into a meeting. At 1:10pm, Godfrey Gannet appears and hoovers up the leftovers. But Tardy Tom arrives at the meeting at 1:15pm, by which point Godfrey Gannet has taken everything and Tardy Tom ends up having no lunch. Unfortunately, foil covers won’t stop Godfrey Gannet if they’ve already been removed for the intended buffet consumers.

    3. Allypopx

      Would that also discourage meeting attendees from taking food? I know we wouldn’t do that during the time it was supposed to be available because it looks less welcoming, but I don’t know if that’s a weird inclination of ours.

      1. NonProfit Nancy

        Unfortunately, if office vultures are stealing the food, I think you’re going to have to accept that the food must be more ‘served’ than left out welcomingly :( When we do office meals we have to have kind of a moment where the food is opened up and everybody invited to partake, for the same reason – leaving it out the full time is nice, but that would cause pushy people to take it all in the beginning, and latecomers / slower people wouldn’t get any.

  20. Sue Wilson

    OP3: Is the job offer you got one that you had already applied for? And if so, while I don’t think this would happen, Alison could they rescind the offer and pretextually say it’s a problem about deception/trying to get around application rules? If there was an issue, I would think it would be here, not in suggesting to work that you would like to use your legal name instead of Shauna to be professional or whatever.

    1. Soon to be ex-LSCO

      Not a lawyer, certainly not a US employment lawyer, but I would imaging that there would be no grounds for a deception/fraud charge as it’s so so so common to apply with one name, but have another “legal” name. Elizabeths could easily use Liz, or Eliza, or Beth on their application, but fill out the official paperwork with “Elizabeth”. Williams I’m sure do similar with Will/Bill. I’ve even done it myself – I fill in an application as Sam, when my name is Samantha (and use Samantha on official documents).

      I mean.. the company possibly *could* do this, but it would be such a transparent attempt to discriminate (especially if they’ve ever hired a “Bill” who filled out official docs as “William”) it wouldn’t stand up to any scrutiny at all.

      1. Sue Wilson

        I think you’re misunderstanding me. It’s highly unlikely to me they will care about someone who applied with one name but goes by another. That’s not my point. My questions is if OP3 applied to the same exact job using two different names, would the company be able to pretextually say that they would rescind the offer because she tried to get around their previous decision and this was a question of her judgment?

        1. CM

          No, absolutely not. There’s no rule against applying twice to the same job. OP #3 didn’t falsify any information, she just used a variant of her name the second time. If the company objected, they would basically have to admit that her name influenced their decision. (I am a lawyer, but this isn’t really a legal question. The only person here who potentially did something illegal was the person at the company who screened out her “ethnically named” resume.)

        2. Jesmlet

          No, if the applications were identical except for the first name, there’s no way they’d open that can of worms because she could just hit back with a very valid discrimination charge. More trouble than it’s worth and they would definitely know that.

        3. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

          The answer is a hard no.

          In this equation, the employer is actually at greater legal risk than OP. If they rejected her prior application but accepted a “Shauna” application that was substantively similar, and if nothing changed in their hiring needs, then that’s fairly strong evidence of racial discrimination in hiring. And if they rescind the offer now that they know she’s Black, that would only compound their liability.

          Their change in position really doesn’t reflect badly on OP; it reflects badly on employer. Twisting the situation to try to blame her would only add to the weight of the badness in their conduct.

    2. Liane

      Ummm, lots of people use initials, yes even on applications and resumes and cover letters (C. J. Fergus, C. Jacob Fergus, Clark J. Fergus). Their reasons range from “I go by my middle name/initials” to “I don’t want people to assume my gender from my name.” How is what the OP did so much more egregious?

      1. Sue Wilson

        Most people don’t apply twice to the same job with different names? I’m not saying the OP3 did, but that is my question.

    3. Countess Boochie Flagrante

      It would look really sketchy, since they actually did accept Shauna where they didn’t accept the other name, and with the same resume! It would essentially be an admission that the difference they saw was in the name and what they associated the name with. Plus, that assumes that someone on their end even noticed. Given the quick scans that 90% of job applications get, I think that’s not likely.

      Nicknames/shortened names/etc are so common that throwing a fit over it pretty much automatically makes a company look bad.

      1. Sue Wilson

        See, I think in real life they wouldn’t want the PR, but theoretically, a court doesn’t care about sketch, they care about plausible in employment. Not to mention, that it’s easy to say that that something else jumped out at you, or seeing the candidate resumes you had gotten since the first time OP applied, something on the resume made some work history more appealing.

        1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

          Please see upthread for why this is not the right framework. I’m saying this with my employment law hat on—a court would absolutely care about the “sketchiness” in the situation if employer tried to accuse OP of misleading them by using a different name.

          1. JB (not in Houston)

            Not to mention, what possible grounds would they have? People change the names they go by, and people reapply for the same job more than once. She’s not trying to trick them into thinking she’s an entirely different person. She’s not assuming somebody else’s identity and pretending she has credentials she doesn’t have.

    4. Jessesgirl72

      It’s not fraud. You can change your name at any time – even without doing it legally- and as long as you report all your earnings and names to the IRS, it doesn’t matter.

      There are also no stated “rules” most of the time about submitting applications, beyond all the little boxes need filled out. As well, companies often invite rejected candidates to apply for other jobs in the future (it’s part of that standard form rejection), and the OP didn’t indicate whether or not she reapplied for the exact same position- only the company.

    5. Kelly L.

      If there was an actual rule allowing Shaunas to work there and not Shauntelles, then they’d be sued into oblivion if they ever copped to it. There’s no written rule, and they wouldn’t admit it if there was. It’s about subconscious biases.

  21. Wrench Turner

    The white guy name thing happened with me, too. I have a Latino name, and let me tell you the difference in response I get from Alex instead of Alexandro for the exact same resume. It’s awful and I hate it.

    1. CM

      Not employment-related, but I changed my very ethnic last name to my husband’s very “white” last name when I got married, and I was shocked to realize how much nicer people were to me! It’s sort of the opposite of raising awareness of minority experiences through things like Black Lives Matter and that viral video of a woman walking down the street and having multiple men approach her. I thought that customer service people, for instance, were basically just kind of rude and that was the way things were… until I became whiter and suddenly they were so nice!

      1. Artemesia

        One of the tragedies of our culture is that so many white people don’t know this. I know black men who have been stopped by the police dozens of times for nothing. I knew a black teen who was stopped several times in a week when he first moved into a community where I lived; he was the son of a colleague. It only stopped when the colleague took his son to the police station and met with the police chief and introduced his family as new residents. After that they knew this particular car and kid and stopped hassling him. It was a very white very John Birchy town.

        Minorities are constantly subjected to small aggressions and of course we read about the ones that end up with someone getting shot or arrested. But it is a way of life for people whose skin color or names make them ‘other.’

      2. Jules

        Yeah, my co-worker had shared a story where her son hit a Mexican man’s car and when the cops arrived, they automatically handcuffed the man and put him in the patrol car despite her son protesting and saying it’s his fault, before investigating what happened. The Mexican man was let go afterwards but imagine how it feels that your skin color automatically earns you handcuffs and a hangout spot at the back of a cop car. That is the kind of conservative community I live in. Which makes me very sad.

      3. Wrench Turner

        I am an unmistakably white dude (except the rare time I have a tan and am driving a utility van). When I got married I changed my whole name, not just the last, from an unmistakably white name to unmistakably Latino because I married a Latina and wanted to honor her. When dealing with white people for the first time, they see my name and then me, and I see an obvious sense of relief (not all white folk but most of us). Happens all the time, not just with resume-related things. Clear, obvious “Whew, you’re a white guy.” All the time.

        On an amusing flip side, I occasionally get berated by Latino men for having this name but NOT speaking Spanish (I’m trying, dangit). “Que? No habla? YOU NEED TO LEARN IT MAN”

  22. I Herd the Cats

    OP1 — I’m fascinated by this. How incredibly disrespectful of your guests and your time. We have a LOT of events, and the food’s set up in an unattended area where if staff wanted to clean it out, they could. And nobody touches anything until I send the office-wide email announcing leftovers in our kitchen, which is where I move the food for staff so the conference area stays quiet. Is there a more senior person you can enlist? I work for the CEO and he’d go to bat for me, because running out of food for your event is a serious issue. I did find out from a coworker who’s been there forever, and who used to handle the catering, that this was a problem for awhile. She got so peeved, she announced to everyone she’d be throwing all the leftovers in the trash and then did so, several times, which apparently fixed the problem.

    1. Amelia Parkerhouse

      We have never solved the problem at my workplace. We’ve sent out emails telling people not to eat the food. We’ve spoken to people directly. The CEO has spoken to people (like he should have to) and people won’t stop. Short of hiring someone to be the food hall monitor we don’t know what to do. It’s beyond aggravating. At best it stops for a couple of weeks and then the offenders start back up. No one is going to get fired over this but it’s hard when people don’t follow the rules and can’t control themselves.

      1. KellyK

        Unfortunately, even though it feels like a stupid thing to fire someone over, continuing to do something that you’ve been warned about repeatedly, especially by the CEO, really merits being fired. Blatant insubordination over leftovers is still blatant insubordination.

      2. Turtle Candle

        Yeah, like “clean up after yourself in the kitchen!” this is a problem that becomes intractable for a few reasons: a combination of garden-variety tragedy of the commons, everyone perceiving that their “minor” contribution to the problem (a few crumbs, a stray teabag, one doughnut or sandwich) is no big deal, the fact that the people assigned to police it are often lower in the org chart than the offenders, the fact that often it is difficult to pinpoint exactly who is causing the problem, and a general and usually-true sense that nobody is actually going to get fired for continuing to break the rule as long as they’re good employees otherwise. The only solution I’ve ever seen work is in fact people monitoring the food, which works in limited cases but becomes untenable if the situation is frequent because then you’re basically stuck making Buffet Cop someone’s entire job, which isn’t reasonable in most situations.

      3. neverjaunty

        You have two options:

        1) Stop the food.
        2) Discipline the food vultures.

        That’s it. There are no real consequences right now and people won’t change until you impose them.

    2. Sunflower

      Agreed.

      I think you’re going to need to be very direct. It’s unclear from your letter if you’ve told them the situation flat out which is NO, the food is not for you. First of all, your company needs to set up a policy. Or at least get your bosses OK to say ‘this is a policy now’ and send out an email telling people that the food for these meetings is for meetings ONLY. IF there are leftovers, you will send an email and let them know when it’s ok to come get them.

      Quite frankly your coworkers sound like children!

  23. Sheworkshardforthemoney

    I was born with an easy to mock last name (think hooker). Then I married a stereotypical Jewish name even though his family was not Jewish. (go figure). My second marriage was a generic white bread name that makes me almost invisible on social media (think Jane Doe). People put a lot of weight on names. No one is going to question that your preferred name is not the same as the official one on your paperwork. Check with anyone with a nickname. You could continue to use Shauna as your “work name.” It’s quite common especially in industries where a serious name is taken more seriously. Not fair but people want a Richard holding their financial portfolio, not Skippy.

    1. CM

      I think OP #3 is saying that she doesn’t WANT to be Shauna. It’s not the same thing as Richard and Skippy. Skippy is not taken seriously because it’s a child’s nickname.

      1. Artemesia

        In the south it is incredibly common for grown men to use baby names all their life. There are not only Bubbas and Skippys in commerce but lawyers who go by Trip, or Bobby, or Billy, or Binky and women who go by Honey, Tipper, Peaches, Muffy etc etc It is a really odd phenomenon.

          1. Lissa

            I don’t think Artemesia was saying it was, just adding a fact about the Skippy thing some people might not know. (I didn’t!)

      2. OP#3

        You are exactly right CM. I don’t want to be called Shauna. I want to be called by my given name but because my given name is causing my resume to be ignored I have now boxed myself into a corner because I need a job.

    2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

      I don’t think it’s quite right to describe OP’s full name as somehow “less serious” than “Shauna.” I don’t know if that was your intention, but that’s how your comment currently reads.

      1. Chickaletta

        But I think she has a point. Names do carry a lot of weight.

        Recognizing that we have a bias is the first step towards fighting them. Say you need to hire a financial advisor and your choices are Laquisha or Robert. It’s OK to say to yourself that you were leaning towards Robert if you assumed he was more financially literate. The next step is, of course, to then put that aside and make a conscious effort towards looking at both people objectively.

        This isn’t just a race issue, either. What about IT resumes from Becky vs David? Or what about me, who has a name that became a common Millenial female name, but was virtually unheard of before 1985? What are the assumptions about me? I’ll be 40 this year, but for the first time in my life in the last couple years I’ve finally started hearing of my name used for adults instead of teenagers in movies and shows. I have no concrete proof, but I’ve always felt that I was perceived as less experienced and less capable than someone with a less trendy name.

        Let me say it again: Recognizing that we have a bias is the first step towards fighting them.

        1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

          I’m not denying that—I agree that people proxy names for race/gender and that one’s implicit or explicit biases about the capability or competency of a specific racial or gender group informs hiring.

          I’m saying that the comparison provided is loaded and not analogous. If someone has implicit racial/gender biases that lead them to believe Robert is somehow more qualified than Laquisha, then that’s a problem. But “Laquisha” is not a “non-serious” name, and analogizing it as such is degrading and reinforces problematic assumptions re: racial identity.

          I don’t think that was Sheworkshardforthemoney’s intent, but that sentence distracts from her main point, which is why I flagged it.

  24. Fish Microwaver

    OP#1, you stated that you sit across from the table where the food is laid out. In your position, I would get a NERF gun and take pot shots at the buffet vultures.

    1. Pup Seal

      My boyfriend got a NERF gun on New Year’s Eve (we were looking for shower curtains!) He would be more than happy to do this.

      I work at a building that as multiple business tenants and the building also rents out to conferences. Food is catered all the time, and it’s a common problem that food gets stolen. You have to be a guard dog with the food and stand right next to it so people won’t touch. You could try putting up a sign. Normally here, people keep lids on boxes and don’t put out the forks and plates until the food is actually being served.

        1. Tau

          Because when bosses or coworkers need to be described on AAM, it’s most common for it not to be in a good way? I mean, no one’s going to write in to say “My boss is amazing and all my coworkers are great and work is absolutely fantastic in every way! I… guess I don’t really have a question.” Interpersonal problems seem to be a pretty common reason for people to write in, and lo and behold, there’s probably a jerk in the story and he may be called Fergus.

  25. Jessesgirl72

    OP1: Just as a practical solution, could you go the “boxed lunch” route and have the names put on the boxes, for each of the meeting attendees? People will feel more ashamed of stealing a container with the VP’s name on it, rather than from a buffet. It can get a little complicated, if there are some food restrictions involved, but most caterers can accommodate the usual ones, and in my experience, make sure things in the box are packaged individually, to avoid cross contamination even if Jane’s lunch isn’t 100% lactose free.

    And if anyone then complains about not enough food or selection, you could explain why the change. If someone high up enough doesn’t like it, s/he might be able to push through that office-wide policy and its enforcement.

    1. Not a Real Giraffe

      Boxed lunches, for the most part, are not as nice as a buffet. They typically include some kind of sandwich, maybe a cup of pasta salad, and a piece of fruit — whereas a hot buffet offers a wide range of much more appetizing and upscale lunch options. You would be penalizing the meeting attendees by lowering the quality of their lunch, just to stop buffet vultures from learning manners and following a basic company policy.

      1. Jessesgirl72

        You can get boxed hot meals, though, and “penalizing” the meeting attendees might be the only thing that gets the culture changed. OP obviously isn’t high enough to get it done, as she gets vocal pushback when she tries, and it’s relatively high ups who are the vultures.

      2. Artemesia

        If the higher ups care, this is something to make as a very clear policy and make it a firing offense. No one takes food from the buffet who is not part of the meeting. Leftovers will be shared in the break room after the meeting. Anyone disregarding this policy will be written up and let go on a second offense.

        No one should have to put up with this utter nonsense.

  26. Trout 'Waver

    OP#2, I have to disagree with Alison on this one. Alison advocates all the time for job applicants to have patience with the hiring process but now apparently demands the applicants themselves act immediately. It’s a two-way street. He applied several weeks ago, presumedly went through at least one round of phone screens, interviewed in person, and then (I presume again) didn’t hear anything afterwards for two weeks. Now he’s expected to produce his list of references immediately on request?

    A strong candidate might have any number of reasons why it takes more than a day to line up references. For one, they might not have let their references know that they were job hunting. Heck, he may not have even been actively looking and someone pointed out to him that your job would be perfect for him, which apparently it is. It can take a couple days to contact references, let them know to expect a call, and brief them on what you’ve been up to lately. Or, it could just be a case of ‘life happens’. Either way, he responded within 24 hours to your request, was professional enough to delay until he was off work, and it still has been less than 36 hours since he responded.

    If the question was asked in the other direction, what would the answer be? “A company asked to check my references, but I haven’t heard anything back in almost a day and a half. Does that mean I’m not getting the job?”

    1. SignalLost

      Unless someone is really a novice to US norms of job searching, there isn’t a reason to have not reached out to your potential references already and let them know you’re looking, as well as confirm they’re generally available and willing. Since it’s so normal to have that information ready, while the company can choose to delay for this candidate if they like, it raises red flags not to have the information ready to go. Not having it on hand is a bit like getting all dressed up for your wedding and only then realising you forgot to buy a dress, the oversight is so egregious.

      1. Bad Candidate

        Well, if he hadn’t been looking and just applied sort of on a whim, as Trout ‘Waver suggested, he might not have them ready to go. Or on the flip side of that, if he’d been looking for a really long time, he might need to check in with his references to let them know.

        1. Emilia Bedelia

          But if the interview process has been so long, he should have had time to get them ready.
          At the very least, he should be able to say “I would like to reach out to my references to confirm that they will be available, I will have them to you by Thursday” or whatever.

          It’s not necessarily egregious to not have them ready, but not communicating your timeline does not look good- it’s so normal to have your references ready that the applicant should at least recognize that they are not following the norm. Sure, the OP might still move forward with them, but it certainly doesn’t reflect well.

          1. Artemesia

            This. The applicant seems clueless or uninterested by not responding if only to say ‘I need to contact references since it has been such a long time since I have needed to use them and will get back to you by the weekend’ or some such.

      2. Trout 'Waver

        There are lots of reasons not to reach out to references before you advance past the interview stage, especially if you’re not actively and openly looking for a new job. References are valuable and you should value their time. You shouldn’t be pinging them every time you apply or after every interview. Your great professional reference might also be a terrible gossip that you want to delay knowing or a current manager that you need to speak in person to first.

        I agree it is best practices to let the other party know the timeline and keep them aware of any delays. But hiring managers as a group aren’t particularly good at doing that for candidates and largely get a free pass around here.

    2. Allypopx

      It’s a two-way street but that doesn’t mean there isn’t still a power differential. While there should be respect and consideration on both sides of the table, there are different expectations of behavior from the potential employer and the potential employee.

      Job hunting is still a competitive act, and while there could be plenty of valid reasons why it takes time to respond, it’s likely not taking the other finalists that long, and there should at least be steady communication. Alison is right that while it’s not a disqualifying sign, it is outside of regular norms, and that makes the candidate stand out in a bad way, even if it’s to a minor extent. To the hiring manager it could show a lack of knowledge surrounding professional norms, poor communication skills, or any number of other things. Fair? Maybe not. But it’s the reality of the dynamic.

      1. Trout 'Waver

        How much of that is because we’ve been in a bad job market for 8 years? In my industry and location, things have tightened up significantly in the past year and a half. Every strong candidate gets multiple offers. It takes several weeks on my end to conduct a search. I can give the strongest candidates a couple days.

    3. Jessesgirl72

      It also isn’t entirely about the references, in my mind.

      He said- or at least heavily implied- that he’d get her the references on Wednesday. That didn’t happen. I don’t want to hire someone who already has let slip the very first deadline he gives! He either misjudged how long it would take him to gather this references (and really, they should have been ready!) and told her an unrealistic deadline, and/or he isn’t one to keep to deadlines. And then, he didn’t even have the courtesy to let her know. He hasn’t been offered a job yet- this is still part of the interview process, when people are putting their best foot forward. This is definitely a red flag.

    4. fposte

      If you’re applying for a job, it’s reasonable to expect you to have your application prepared. If there’s a delay in that preparation, it’s reasonable to expect you to contact the hiring manager to inform her there’s a delay and when the materials will be submitted.

        1. Emilia Bedelia

          But we’re generally not giving advice to the hiring manager. We always say that the ideal is for companies to communicate their timelines and get back to candidates promptly, but obviously that doesn’t happen- we say to expect delayed timelines, lack of communication, etc simply because it would drive applicants crazy to anticipate a call promptly a week after every interview.

          If a hiring manager wrote in and asked whether they should contact their candidates if their hiring process got delayed, OF COURSE we would tell them to let the candidates know.

          Just because hiring managers do not always follow our ideas of professional decency does not meet that candidates should abandon them.

          1. Trout 'Waver

            Nobody is saying candidates should abandon professional decency. Also, the response in this case is addressed to the hiring manager. I’m surprised it was a complete 180 from the usual response to an applicant.

            1. Artemesia

              Surely you are not suggesting hiring managers and applicants have the same power position or rules? Yeah hiring managers tend to be lousy at getting back to applicants; applicants who behave the same way don’t get jobs. This one is signaling he isn’t interested by neither providing the information or explaining the delay.

              1. Trout 'Waver

                We’ve had the job seeker’s variation of this letter as well. As in, “I got back from being out of contact for a couple days and found that a hiring manager had extended an offer 3 days ago. What do I tell them?”

                The answer was “Reach out, explain the circumstances, and assume they’re reasonable and still willing to go forward.”

                Maybe something similar is going on here. I certainly wouldn’t read too much into it.

              2. Trout 'Waver

                Something else bothers me about this post. You’re saying that hiring managers can treat applicants lousily because of the power differential. That’s not a good attitude to have.

                1. SignalLost

                  There’s a big difference between “can” and “do”. Whether anyone likes it or not, applicants and employers are not equal, and that extends to demands on their time. Let’s say you get 150 applications for a position – how many of those people will you personally reach out to at any stage of the process? The applicant wants something that the employer has in limited supply, and therefore whether the employer can (or should) treat applicants without respect for their time, the reality is they often do because they are managing other demands and it impacts them much less badly than it does the applicant to behave in this way. As the applicant all you can do is free up the employer’s time by withdrawing your candidacy if they don’t kiss your ass hard enough; as the employer, you can decline to offer a job to someone who does not behave like the person you want in that role. Right or wrong, there is a power differential composed of many factors, and culturally we cut employers more leeway than we do applicants.

        2. fposte

          I don’t see that it is that different, actually; we’d laugh out of the park somebody who posted a job opening who wasn’t ready to take applications.

          There’s stuff you can’t be expect to have prepared earlier–conferral about candidates, for instance, or the readiness of the references to talk to hiring managers–but stuff that is a pro forma part of the application should be ready to go. (And I’m not sure why you’re apparently arguing the guy shouldn’t notify the hiring manager of a delay.)

            1. Trout 'Waver

              *As in, what makes you think I’m arguing that? Because I’m not. If the applicant wrote in, I tell him to keep the hiring manager in the loop. But it wasn’t the applicant that wrote in.

              1. Marcela

                I’d read that as “hiring manager should not expect applicant to keep her in the loop”, which is a problem.

                1. Trout 'Waver

                  Please read it rather as “The hiring manager shouldn’t freak out if it takes a day and a half to round up references.”

            2. fposte

              Because I noted that the applicant was failing to meet the expectation of notifying the hiring manager, and you were disagreeing with my statement.

              1. Trout 'Waver

                I wasn’t disagreeing with your statement. In an ideal world, both parties keep the other party informed of any delays.

                What’s I’m saying is there’s a massive double standard. Kindness, understanding, and a bit of patience should go both ways.

                1. fposte

                  Sure, but so does understanding that an applicant who needs kindness around lapses from professional behavior is likely to be an employee who needs the same, and thinking about whether that’s a desirable employee for you. As with the post about intemperate communication to the hiring manager, it’s all relevant and admissible in hiring.

                  I think sometimes the term “double standard” is appropriate, in that employers really do shirk their obligation to applicants and get away with it. But it’s an asymmetrical relationship even in markets that give greater power to the applicant, and that’s not an injustice; it’s just the situation, same as being a consumer isn’t symmetrical with being a manufacturer or vendor in ways that aren’t affected by shifting of the power balance in one direction or another.

                2. Trout 'Waver

                  I don’t think taking more than a day to get references is “a lapse of professional behavior” unless the hiring manager had clearly communicated a deadline.

                  Also, if the hiring process had already taken 2 months, I wouldn’t think an extra day would be make or break, unless it had been clearly communicated.

                3. Ask a Manager Post author

                  Taking two days is not a lapse in professional behavior. Telling her that he’d work on it that night and then not communicating anything for four days is.

                4. Ask a Manager Post author

                  She talked to him on Monday and I said it shouldn’t raise her eyebrows until Thursday. (Although I just went back and looked at the letter and realized he didn’t respond until Tuesday, so I did get the number of days wrong in my last comment.)

    5. Ask a Manager Post author

      That’s why I said in the post, “it’s mainly that this is a deviation from how this normally goes. Even if he just wanted to confirm with his references that they’re available this week (which is reasonable), it’s the lack of communication since the call that feels off. And yes, I know that employers routinely take far longer to get back to candidates and yes, it’s a double standard. It’s still a thing that often carries more meaning when a candidate does it.”

  27. Tuckerman

    #3. This would very much depend on the company. But I wonder if it’s worth just being honest. “I use a nickname on my application because lots of companies are still working on implementing policies to keep implicit biases from affecting hiring decisions. But I prefer to use my full name.”

    1. Rusty Shackelford

      I wouldn’t go that route, but if I did, I’d come right out and say “I used a nickname because you guys didn’t call me when I used my real name.”

    2. Temperance

      I wouldn’t use that language, because you’re going to start off the employment relationship from an adversarial standpoint. People are going to read between the lines and think that they’re getting called racist, which is a whole separate problem, but probably not one that LW is interested in dealing with at this time.

      1. Jwal

        This. I would imagine that the majority of people don’t think that they’re racist/have any kind of biases. When it comes to unconscious bias then mostly people don’t realise that they’re doing it. While the ideal reaction would be some introspection as to whether or not they have been unfairly judging someone based on the name, I think the more likely response is an indignant “I’m not racist”.

      2. Tuckerman

        I disagree that it sounds adversarial, but I currently I work at a company that actively tries to eliminate implicit bias from impacting hiring decisions and is sensitive to hiring roadblocks, so my view might be skewed. Maybe I didn’t word it too well, but my thought was that if she can emphasize it’s just her general job seeking practice (“I use a nickname on applications”), she is raising awareness of an issue without being accusatory. This is her practice, which she implemented because of her experience applying to a variety of companies. Also, by framing it that companies are are “still working on implementing policies,” it shows she recognizes companies are trying to combat the problem. A racist company wouldn’t be working on it at all.
        Like I said, not right for every workplace. But there are companies that would value better understanding the applicant’s perspective.

        1. fposte

          The problem is that it can be tough to know whether that employer is one of those until *after* you’ve worked there for a while, so it’s a risk.

      3. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

        I agree with Temperance. To Tuckerman’s point, if you’re at the right employer (like yours, which honestly sounds like the minority of employers in its approach), you can raise this issue after you’ve already built a relationship and have some political cache saved. Saying it at the very beginning of employment would go likely infuse tension, if not an adversarial relationship, before OP even has a chance to establish relationships with her coworkers.

    3. SignalLost

      I don’t think starting off a professional relationship by straight-up calling people racist is a great idea, particularly when pointing out the kind of unconscious bias very, very few people realize is present and racist.

    4. Lissa

      I agree with other commenters this wouldn’t be a good thing to raise right away, but I wonder if it would be possible to do it later on, after she’d been there for awhile and had a good relationship with people there . . .?

    5. Yet Another IT Manager

      I usually use a variant on “I’ve had better callback rates when I use a nickname,” when asked (white female, applying with initials in tech).

  28. Jwal

    It’s interesting, because where I grew up Shauna would be a “black person’s name”, so it just goes to show that it’d be hard to screen people based on name even if you were actively trying…

    But OP3 I’m sorry that you’ve had this experience. I think that now they’ve interviewed you they know what your skin colour is, so there’s less risk of them pulling the job offer than there would be say, them pulling an interview if they found out beforehand.

    I think this is a good reason though why hiring managers/people screening applications should get them with the names redacted beforehand, but I suppose that’d be too inconvenient to do for companies not using application systems.

    1. Jessesgirl72

      I thought the same thing, but then assumed the OP didn’t use her actual nickname in letter.

      I wonder where the OP lives, though, that anyone would be “surprised” for a person of color to have any name. whatsoever. Although, I’ve never worked with a white girl named Laquisha (although I did work with a Sunshine!), I have worked and known a lot of African Americans with names from every ethnicity.

      1. MegaMoose, Esq

        I think it’s less about people being surprised by a black person named Shauna or Jessica (those are “good” black people who were probably raised “right”), and more about the underlying assumptions people might have towards someone named Laquisha or Trayvon (who must be “bad” black people raised in the inner city who probably won’t fit in).

        1. Jessesgirl72

          Right, that is the OP’s problem.

          Jwal objected to the fact that anyone would assume that Shauna wasn’t a black name. I said that I wouldn’t assume anyone wasn’t black just because their name wasn’t obviously African.

          Yes, you would know Trayvon was likely African American. You would be stupid to assume John wasn’t.

        2. Jwal

          Yeah I think there is definitely an intersection between assumptions about race and assumptions about class unfortunately.

          1. Jessesgirl72

            Oh, you are right, and I suspect that perceived lower class names are at a disadvantage, regardless of race

            I honestly have someone in my extended family named Bambi. Her grandparents tried to talk her parents out of it- said to call her Bambi, but name her Barbara or something. They even refused outright to give her a middle name she could later go by. Her full legal name is Bambi Lastname.

            I haven’t seen her since she was a little kid, but at the time, everyone commented that she wasn’t going to be able to get a job as anything respectable.

      2. Ask a Manager Post author

        Shauna isn’t the real nickname. The OP asked me not to use the real names, so I’m the one who picked Shauna, thinking it was a nickname that worked well for the letter (having known plenty of white and black people who used it).

    2. Cleopatra Jones

      Eh, Shauna could also be a derivative of an Irish name.
      I’ve seen quite a few old Irish names that could (by a new spelling) be considered a black person’s ‘name’.

      Think Siobhan (at least the way I’ve heard it pronounced) spelled Shavonne.

      1. Jwal

        Oh I’m sure it could, I’m just saying that I’m pretty sure if someone put a gun to my head and asked me to guess the race of someone with that name that’s what I’d go with. So I meant it as an illustration that it’s hard to accurately judge a person from a name.

      1. Jwal

        I never knew that, but that’s interesting and makes a lot of sense – it should only be the playing that matters after all…

        1. Emi.

          They also make the women wear flat shoes to auditions, so they can’t hear your heels clicking and know you’re a woman. :)

        2. Countess Boochie Flagrante

          Yep. Hell, even my high school band had us do our seating auditions that way to prevent bias.

  29. HW

    #3 can definitely change her name back when she starts if she accepts the offer! I’ve worked with many people who go by middle names, nicknames or any random name they wish (like a Fergis who’s middle name is not Dave but goes by Dave). And it’s not hard to do either most people don’t have any problems with it. I have a younger female family member with a unusual and long feminine full first name who we’ve all always called by a gender neutral nickname of her full name that a lot of people still associate as a male nickname so a lot of people especially now that she’s start internship hunting/job hunting are surprised when she shows up and is a woman which was bothering her a lot so she started asking her friends and current employer to call her by an alternate feminine nickname instead (think similar to a Louise, who we’ve always called Lou, asking to go by Lucy instead) and absolutely no one minds a bit.

  30. Rusty Shackelford

    I notice a lot of responses to #3 are people saying it’s perfectly reasonable to change your name, and it doesn’t matter if Shauna isn’t a “normal” variant on your own name, but I don’t think that’s the LW’s point. I think her point is that she doesn’t want to use Shauna now that she’s been hired, and she’s concerned HR will balk (and I guess consider it fraudulent? is that why you’re worried about the offer being pulled?) when she explains that she doesn’t go by Shauna at all and only used it on her resume. My legal name is Cersei but I always go by Shauna, so that’s why my resume says Shauna is a very different problem from I know I told you my name was Shauna, but I’d actually like to go by my legal name Cersei now. I still can’t imagine anyone pulling a job offer over it, but it is a little more awkward.

    1. Jwal

      I think that something like “My legal name is Cersei but everyone knows me as Shauna so that’s what I’ve put on my application. I actually prefer Cersei as a name, and I think starting a new job is a good time to start going by that as nobody already knows me as something else” would sound legit, even if it’s not true.

      1. NonProfit Nancy

        I like this. Any explanation other than “I thought you’d be too racist to hire me under my actual name (and I was right),” although the latter would be much more satisfying.

      2. Jenna

        This comment just made me think, too, about all the extra work that “Shaniqua” must have had to do to explain to her references that her interviewers may call about “Shauna.” That’s unfair. :/

    2. Achil

      I can understand how it’s extra awkward but I also don’t think OP is legally or ethically obligated to explain that however. I think she can simply say “My full first name is actually blank and I’ve decided I’d like to go by that.” Or even tack on a “I’d like to go by that at work.” I don’t think she has any reason whatsoever to explain when or how she’s ever been called the nickname Shauna. It’s not even a lie by omission.

      1. Rusty Shackelford

        She has no obligation to explain it, but it’s going to be awkward as hell if she doesn’t, since it makes no sense out of context. It’s common to apply as Katherine and then say, once you’re hired, “I prefer to go by Kate.” It’s not common at all to apply as Kate and then say “But I want you to call me Katherine.”

        And let me make it clear, I’m not saying she’s wrong to do this. I’m just saying she has a different issue than the one a lot of posters are kindly trying to help her with.

        1. Jessesgirl72

          I was thinking this too. It’s not exactly the same- it’s way more unusual. She wasn’t at all wrong, but any explanation probably will, be more noticeable because this way isn’t the norm.

          However, I also don’t think it will be the major issue she fears. I think the hiring manager will think “Oh, that’s strange” and then forget about it.

          1. Rusty Shackelford

            I agree – I think they’ll say “huh, okay” and get on with their lives. But I’d come up with some brief, vague explanation to have on hand when someone invariably asks. “Oh, I thought about going by a nickname for a little bit but I’ve decided I prefer to use my real name.”

        2. Achil

          Oh okay I get where you’re coming from. I’m not sure anyone would really care especially if she said “I decided/realized I wanted to go by my full name. I know we were introduced by my nickname so I just wanted to let you know.” or “I want to go by my full name. I think it’s more professional/easier for networking” or something but even then I don’t think anyone will mind much even if it’s not common thing to do. I know if someone I interviewed came in for paperwork or their first day and told me they wanted to go by their full name despite being introduced by a nickname I’d just say “Okay! Thanks for letting me know.” but maybe that’s not how most people would react.

        3. NonProfit Nancy

          Yeah this is even worse – taking away the race filter (which we and she sees, but her new coworkers might not) it’s as if she applied as Susan, interviewed (presumably) as Susan, and is now like, my name is actually Jennifer, don’t call me Susan. It can be done, but I think a little finesse would help.

        4. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

          See, I disagree. I’ve had folks apply under a nickname but then ask to be called by their full name, and it was fine. I think this is less weird than folks are making it out to be, but perhaps this is an illustration that at least among some employers, an explanation would help.

          1. NonProfit Nancy

            I don’t think any massive intervention is required, just the kind of light one sentence folks have been suggesting in the comments – “you know, I’ve decided to try using my full name professionally in my new job, I’d like to be called x.” I guess the trick is to avoid the implication you applied under a name you never actually use, which is what seems a little odd to me. It’s not OP’s fault she had to do that, but Shauna is not and never was a name OP goes by, so it IS weird that she applied with it … and the explanation is one that she probably doesn’t want to bring up, which is the implicit bias in the hiring process, so that puts her in kind of a weird spot. A graceful coverup is that Shauna IS a name the OP uses (not true, but they won’t know that) but that she’s now decided to try using her full name.

  31. Trout 'Waver

    OP#4, Given your statement about marriage not being an actual accomplishment, compared to your coworker’s excitement about every detail, I find it likely that tour coworker views marriage differently. That’s not to say you should talk about your own wedding at work. Alison’s advice and scripts are spot on, imho. But if you understand where your coworker is coming from, it might annoy you less.

    1. Emi.

      I don’t really see a connection between “seeing marriage as an accomplishment” and “being excited about wedding planning.” Getting this job was more of an *accomplishment* than getting married, and I’m more proud of myself for it, but I’d way rather talk about paper lanterns than about filling out my I-9. Swapping ideas about wedding plans with someone else could’ve been fun, but “Ooh, did you use blue or black ink on your onboarding paperwork” is boring to everyone, instead of just to lots of people. The issue is that your coworker is roping you into uninteresting conversations, and you should handle them the way you’d handle uninteresting conversations about sports or any other topic that someone erroneously assumed you’d be into.

  32. MuseumChick

    OP 1, that is so annoying. It’s one of those weird things that is rude, and I would say unprofessional but doesn’t really rise to the level of speaking to the persons manager about their behavior (after speaking with the people, sending out reminder emails etc.) Could you put up a sign by the buffett “Lunch for Meeting Attendees Only” or something like that?

    I also wanted to agree with the people upthread about the overuse and misuse of the word “nazi”. Perhaps next time you get called a name you can address it right then and there “Please do not call me a nazi. I find it very inappropriate.” Then if it happens again escalate it to either your or their manager “Fergus has been calling me names like “nazi” when I won’t let him eat the food intended for the meetings. I’ve asked him to stop but it keeps happening.”

    These people sound so entitled, I’m sorry you have to deal with it.

    1. eplawyer

      They’ve been told it’s for attendees only. They don’t care. So a sign will not help. This is not a case of “they didn’t know.” They know. They want the food anyway. Quite frankly, this needs to come out as an official policy — with consequences — before people will get into their heads that this is not a free food buffet.

      1. MuseumChick

        I get that. But people are weird about what they will respond to. Seeing a sign might trigger something in them on a psychological level. I think it’s worth a try and then the OP can say to her boss “I’ve spoken with them on multiple occasion and put up a sign to make sure there is no confusion but this keeps happening. Going forward I would to have a formalized policy since nothing else seems to be working.”

        1. Liz2

          Yup, there are studies which show signs do have an impact. Even just a picture of a pair of eyes is enough of a trigger to get people to do/not do what the sign says far more effectively. I did that once in a group kitchen to very good effect.

          A simple sign of “Lunch Reserved for XYZ group, Please Do Not Touch” should be enough. If you have to be a vulture babysitter for a few events also, worth it in the long run to break the habits.

        2. NJ Anon

          Signs, if they work at all, will not do anything for any length of time. People will ignore them without consequences.

    2. Angelinha

      Just say that from now on the food is open for the taking 30 minutes after the start of the meeting. If people can still get the food and know exactly when, maybe that will help.

      1. MuseumChick

        But they already know where and when the food will be available: In the kitchen after the meeting is over. So, just telling them that it will be available to them and when doesn’t seem to be working.

  33. Zathras

    OP3, ugh, that’s terrible. You should just use the name you are comfortable with, especially if you are meeting new people they won’t think anything of it. If anyone does ask just say you recently changed your mind about the nickname.

    I am curious to know from the commenters who do hiring – do you have any strategies to help combat this kind of unconscious bias? Something like have an admin make anonymous copies of the resumes before handing them over to you. It should be fairly trivial to make applicant tracking software that would do something like this too. Read in the person’s resume information, print out a copy where every instance of their name is fuzzed out and an applicant tracking # is attached. You review the resumes, decide you want to interview #123, #456, and #789.

    OP #4, your coworkers who are not getting married might secretly thank you for changing the subject. A few years ago I had a job where the other 3 young women I ate lunch with were all getting married that year. They were amazingly nice people, but I don’t think they realized how frequently they talked about wedding planning. And I was too shy to just say “can we talk about literally anything else today?”

    1. Lily Rowan

      The implicit bias stuff makes me so crazy — I’m uncomfortable with the lack of diversity at my job, so I make a point to give people with “ethnic” names a second look! Not that I would bring anyone in who wasn’t qualified, but (in general, for people with any name) try to think about how a less-standard career path might bring someone to have the actual qualities we need, rather than the “expected” resume, since I can see that that is a large cause of our lack of diversity. Most people who have the kinds of resumes hiring managers here are looking for are one kind of person.

      1. Nolly

        My husband is the C level officer who occasionally does mid-level hiring. He used to black out names and give nicknames to candidates so that people reviewing the applications could see neither gender nor race.

        Of course, this only works if the extracurriculars or background are not otherwise indicative.

        Even with people who are liberal or minority themselves, there is still a lot of pro white bias, especially toward white men. Even among white men, certain names are indicative of class. What he found was blacking out the names got a more diverse talent pool and also help lower class white as well.

        Only after you had the applications down to a few people, were interviews conducted

        1. Annie Moose

          That’s wonderful, and I wish more businesses did it that way. A person’s name is not typically going to be relevant to their experience and skills. (I can’t think of any situation where a person’s name WOULD be relevant, actually. Maybe if your name was “Murder McKilleveryone”???)

      2. Pommette

        Your intentions are laudable. At the same time, the approach you describe seems open to unintentional problems. For instance, it would play against someone like OP#3, who tried to circumvent reviewers’ prejudices by using a white-sounding name on her résumé.

        The best way to hire a more diverse team is probably to be explicit about the kinds of diversity your organization wants to promote, and to let applicants select the categories they self-identify with.

        (Which isn’t to criticize what you are trying to do. I appreciate that from the difficulties you describe, it is probably not within your power to take such steps).

    2. Recruit-o-Rama

      For me, our ATS lists the applicant status as prominant, rather than their name so for example “new applicant” “eligible for phone screen” “scheduled for interview” and the like. When I am reviewing new applicants, I just pop open the application and scroll immediately down to work history without even looking at the name/address/email section right at the top. If they meet the minimum of experience, I change the status to “eligible for phone screen” and move on to the next candidate. Once I’m done marking statuses, I email everyone for a phone screen appointment. The name doesn’t even register with me until I am adding their appointment to my outlook schedule. That’s my own process for avoiding any biases I might have.

      1. Nolly

        Is name is your indicative of gender, class, race, and education level of your parents, the only way to make it truly fair is to not use the name until the initial screening is done.

        Even when I lived in places that were lily white, a Brad is going to get an interview a lot sooner than a Cletus will. When you take into account gender, race, and nationality, it becomes really unfair.

        1. Recruit-o-Rama

          Well once I put them on the phone screen list, I have to look at their name because I am going to initiate contact via phone or email so I’m not understanding your point. I’m not going to call them up and say “hello applicant #1” I’m going to say “hello Wakeen”

        2. Rusty Shackelford

          Although that might depend on whether the person interviewing you is named William or Cooter…

    3. Em too

      Yep – names and addressess are removed before the docs are sent to the screeners, and everyone gets a number. Not the whole solution, but an easy step.

      We do it for internal applications too which is slightly farcial (ah yes, your example is based on work you did for me).

    4. NonProfit Nancy

      The best approach is apparently a blind review. They did this with orchestras (musicians played behind a screen) and suddenly Asian/female/non white dudes generally were suddenly judged to be playing so much better! what a strange coincidence! It’s frustrating because it’s likely something we’re ALL GUILTY OF, even when we try our absolute best. The only way to fix it is to remove the source of the bias from your review.

      1. ArtsNerd

        Yes, learning about that in undergrad totalllllly opened up my understanding of bias. My favorite part of that is that they even need carpet, because hearing the click of high heels can hamper someone’s ‘talent’ in an audition.

        1. NonProfit Nancy

          What’s fascinating to me is how what you see really does affect what you hear. Reviewers can be using an objective scale of 1-5 to measure specific criteria and they REALLY DO believe that they hear the female horn player has a weaker note or whatever. When they can’t see that she’s female, they suddenly DON’T HEAR that weakness anymore. We poor stupid humans can’t help ourselves. Compare: if you tell someone wearing a blindfold that they are about to eat a blueberry, they will taste a blueberry even if you are giving them a cherry. They will swear it’s a cherry, they can taste that unique cherry flavor, etc. The human mind is just naturally suggestible.

          1. Pommette

            We really are stupid, suggestible species. (I say that with love!)

            It feels ridiculous to have to shield ourselves from information that might alter our perceptions, especially when we don’t think that the information will or should alter our perceptions… but blind evaluations are clearly a situation where the most ridiculous solution is probably also the best one.

    5. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

      We do a blind review on the paper cut, and we have a diversity officer during interviews.

    6. Pommette

      No hiring experience, but I spent years working as a teaching assistant (a lot of marking!), and the name problem is very similar. At fist I thought that not being prejudiced would be enough to avoid being unfair to students. It turns out that I am not the one magical human being who is free from all prejudice. (Surprise!) I eventually moved towards asking students to hand papers in with the title page folded shut, and to asking a friend to black out names on exam papers.

      There was no way to sweep my preconceptions out of my mind once I had seen a student’s name. My intentions were good! I wanted to be fair to students for whom English was a second language, or who didn’t come from an academic background and didn’t have access to as much family support as their peers; ultimately, I wanted to be inclusive of students with different cultural backgrounds and different life experiences!

      But when I see the name Peggie-Sue, or Meaghyn, or Shequetta, or Hongju, or Zora, or Cecilia, or Penelope, it evokes all kinds of associations, and a picture of who that person might be. I can’t help that. But I know that that picture might not be accurate, and I have to act with that knowledge in mind. Zora and Penelope might not actually come from super educated academic families; while Meaghyn and Shequetta might (and really: coming from a super educated family might mean something different than I think it does, or should). Hongju and Cecilia might have grown up speaking English, and Peggie-Sue might not… I can’t know. Working from names ultimately made things less fair for everyone involved.

      If realized that I want to be fair to first-generation students, the way to do that is to address specific needs directly, in ways that are open to all students (e.g. being explicit about expectations, holding extra tutorials for people who need more support, helping put together peer-support groups for students who want to participate…). It’s not to assume that I know something meaningful about someone because of their name.

      I suspect that the problem is the same for people who work in hiring. The interaction between names and implicit/explicit prejudices is just so complicated that a liberal mind and good intentions aren’t enough to keep a reviewer from being unfair to some applicants.

      1. Use My Actual Name

        I once knew a world class, well-respected scientist whose name was very rural, poor white. Think Cletus, or Festus, Harlan, etc.

        There were sooo, sooo many educated white “liberal” people who mocked his name.

        It was amazing to watch.

        1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

          Sadly, it seems that many people of a higher class standing still think it’s acceptable to mock low-income/poor white folks. It’s like they were called out for doing it to poor black folks, but they figured it’s ok to do to white people. It’s shameful.

      2. Lissa

        I love this post. I think so many problems come from people assuming that THEY are good anti-racist liberals and have no bias whatsoever, and it’s just awful people who would hire someone with a traditionally white name over one that’s not, but I feel like a lot of the time that probably isn’t as true as people would like it to be. Even if the bias isn’t as strong as that… it can still exist, and when people insist they would neeeever do that then they don’t take measures like the one you have.

  34. Kj

    OP4, I’m sorry and I get it. I got married literally 2 weeks before another person at my job. She had a weird competitive streak and tried to turn every conversation into a weird wedding competition. I found she really wanted to “win” by being the most stressed about the wedding, since she who puts the most effort in is more married? Not that that makes any sense. But that was the attitude. I eventually started to frustrate her by, whenever she brought up wedding stress/decision making, talking about how it was my fiance’s choice and it was so easy to let him choose OR just saying what I had picked flatly with little elaboration. Eventually we were both married and the wedding stuff stopped.
    I kind of wished I’d been able to say something about how men don’t talk about wedding at work so I was trying not to talk about my wedding, but my workplace is very, well, invasive? And I work with 90% women. My boss is the type who wants us to share personal stuff because she genuinely cares and not sharing is a ding on your relationships with peers/boss. Now I’m married everyone wants to know if I am pregnant. And, yes, they ask flat out.

    1. Kj

      And before someone says to quit this job because it invasive, that won’t help. It is my entire industry and is somewhat encouraged by our professional organization. Not to the extent it happens sometimes, but nonetheless, this is norm I have to live with. Most of the time it is fine, but I am tired of being asked when I’m having kids.

      1. OP 4

        Oh that’s almost what it’s like! She DOES get a bit competitive. I usually just let her talk and when she asks about my wedding, give her straight,boring answers or an “I don’t know”. That just encourages her to talk even more about herself. We just sit in a public area, we are both entry level, and we are assistants, so I feel like the perception is now that we are both the “wedding girls” because whenever anyone walks by, she is chatting to me about weddings.

        While my job is certainly a stepping stone to other things for me, the perception of those in my (%100 female) team is that we start, get married, have babies, and stay for a decade. That’s fine, but not my plans, and I’m trying very hard to shake that perception for myself. Wedding talk isn’t helping.

        Oh and the babies question has ALREADY started from people at work. *rolls eyes*

        1. Kj

          Ugh. I’m sorry. OP 4, I think you need to be more proactive than I had to be since you have to deal with an optics problem. My job, people might expect me to get married/have babies, but they also expect I will continue working and be a good performer(in fact, I think being married and perceived as “stable” made my career easier in some ways, although my husband was helped even more by our marriage. Yay sexism?). You have a harder perception to fight since the stereotype is “married, babies, quit” and I’m sorry- it does suck. If she keeps nattering on about wedding even when you give boring responses or “I don’t know,” I’d certainly address it with both her using Alison’s suggestions and then, if nothing changes, with your supervisor, in a ‘hey, it is hard to get work done sometimes” way. Also, could you find tasks to do away from your desk when she starts on weddings? Even if it is just for a minute or two, walking away might take some of the wind out of her sails.

          Also, I know you are an assistant and might have mostly pre-determined job duties, but it might be worth seeing if there is something you could do to make yourself stand out at this career stage. Bonus points if it gets you away from your desk and from co-worker. But I’m thinking if people’s perception of the two assistants is “the wedding girls.” you might do well to make yourself unique to others for a valuable skill set, so you are “OP 4, paperwork guru” or “OP 4, who can get X done quickly.” That will make sure people think of you as different from co-worker.

        2. NonProfit Nancy

          Yikes, OP, if that’s your perception of what’s happening I think this is a big problem that could really affect your future. I had to work really hard to claw myself up from my entry level job because people are likely to assume that’s all your capable of – and that was with 100% time and attention devoted to being super on the ball and professional, it was still really hard. You can NOT afford to be “always chatting away about weddings every time somebody walks by.” You need to cut it off asap.

        3. Turtle Candle

          Ooh. Yeah, this being the case, I think you need to be more blunt, because it’s an optics problem. You might try some of the suggestions in the letter from last week (I think it was last week?) about the person with the coworker who would not stop chatting.

    2. Bad Candidate

      We got married at the same venue as someone else I knew, only maybe a year or so later I think. Well we had some issues, nothing major, but annoying. Boy howdy she did not like me “trash talking” HER venue. Like them losing our serving set somehow lessened her wedding? I’m not sure how. It’s been over a decade, the place doesn’t even exist any more, it was torn down and a hotel was put up in it’s place, and she STILL bristles if anyone ever says anything even remotely negative about the venue.

      1. Kj

        Ugh. Weddings kind of bring out the worst in some folks. I loved my simple wedding. I was not stressed in the planning stages, I was not stressed the day of the wedding and somehow, a number of women I know act like it wasn’t a real wedding because of that. It is weird. I mean, my photographer told me that at the wedding they shoot the night before ours, the bride broke down in tears about everything. My co-worker told me she was so stressed she doesn’t remember the wedding. Who wants that? Why is that somehow a mark of how great your wedding was? I don’t get it and I don’t talk about my wedding very often, even with friends, because I get so much weirdness about my having a simple, easy wedding that I loved and remember well.

        1. Bad Candidate

          Yikes. Wow. I was stressed leading up to the wedding, but it was just bringing all the details together and worrying about if people were going to enjoy themselves and hoping I didn’t forget anything. At about 10 days out I was just like hitting a wave I was riding in to shore, whatever happened, happened. Things Remembered broke our goblets while trying to engrave them and I was still chill about it. My Maid of Honor was there when I got that phone call and she was shocked I didn’t freak out about it.

        2. Allison

          Seriously, I don’t want a stressful wedding! To me, a breakdown or panic attack would be a black mark on what should be one of the happiest days of my life.

      2. Rusty Shackelford

        It might be that any complaint against her venue is perceived as an attack on her for picking it. Like, “Ugh, you got married there? It’s an awful place; who would pick that?” I knew someone like that. Any tiny negative statement about a business she frequented was considered a personal attack.

        1. Bad Candidate

          Yeah I think so. I was part of a group that shared wedding vendor reviews, and I was honest. Overall, we were happy, but there were a few things that went wrong. Nothing big, nothing ruined the day, but I was still honest. You’d think I’d insulted her first born though by mentioning that I was annoyed that they lost our serving set, made the cake wrong and didn’t fix it, and that our on site wedding coordinator up and quit a week before the wedding. Which I didn’t mind, he was weird, but she felt it was an affront that I (and quite honestly every single person I’ve ever talked to that got married there under his “regime) thought the guy was weird. I was like calm down, it does not reflect on your wedding at all.

  35. Bad Candidate

    Re #3 I’ve considered doing something similar. My legal (married) name is Lithuanian, but often mistaken for Hispanic. I’ve wondered if using my maiden English name would be better in a job search. It just irks me that I have to consider it as a possibility and I don’t want to upset my husband.

    1. Artemesia

      I’d be inclined to try to clamp down on this by just telling her you think lots of chat about weddings at work makes you both look unprofessional. Or if you think that is insulting to her, ask for a ‘wedding free zone ‘ at work so you don’t have to dwell on it all day. Lie that it stresses you to constantly focus on the wedding and work is your respite. but you are right this constant wedding chatter will make you look unprofessional to others.

    2. Artemesia

      The other post should have appeared up thread. Re maiden name — do you use Badcandidate Maiden Name Lithuanian Name as your name? This might be one way to embrace your own heritage and get your white bread name into the equation without dropping your married name. Lots of women use their maiden name as part of their formal name as a middle name, no hyphen required.

      1. Bad Candidate

        I do on FB, but only so like old friends can find me easier. Legally my name is Badcandidate MIbornwith Marriedname. But yeah I could use both. Maybe I should do try that. Couldn’t hurt, it’s only 3 extra letters. (Another reason why I should not have changed, so much easier to write it! LOL)

  36. Enginerd

    OP2 Is it normal practice to wait that long for a reference request? All my career I’ve either been asked for them as part of the initial application or its never come up at all. If the hiring process were moving rather quickly it wouldn’t be an issue towards the end of the process but if it’s been dragging on for weeks or months I’d be frustrated and in no real hurry to get back to you either. I’d view it as “another piece of information, can’t they make a decision one way or the other?”

    1. LW#2

      Well, after his interview I told him he we had interviews scheduled for the next two weeks, and then we’d make a decision and he’d hear back from me within 2-3 weeks. I contacted him exactly two weeks after his interview, so it’s not like I blew him off for a long time. I’ve been trying to be fairly communicative at least with the applicants that got in-person interviews. I don’t remember if I mentioned references or not when I gave him a timeline, but as far as I know it is pretty common to ask for references before an offer is made. At least at my workplace I’m not actually allowed to make an offer before I check references, HR wouldn’t allow it.

  37. Allison

    #1 How rude! Look, I like leftover meeting food as much as anyone else, but I certainly wouldn’t feel entitled to it until it was in the kitchen, and I’d never plan on it being my lunch. At Oldjob we had a similar system, but now I’m wondering if people picked at the buffet while it was still just for the meeting execs. Someone should put a sign on the table reminding people the food isn’t up for grabs yet, and send out e-mail reminders, so it’s not just you telling people off.

    #4 I get that. I’m not engaged or anything, but if I ever do get married, whether I talk about the wedding details will depend entirely on how comfortable I am with my coworkers. At aforementioned Oldjob, one of my older coworkers seemed to regard me as a little girl, and it felt like any relationship talk might prompt some unwanted mothering from her. It also felt weird how some of the older women on the team were trying to live vicariously through the younger people planning weddings, maybe they liked it but that kind of attention may have felt awkward to me. Now, with coworkers my age who treat me like an adult, maybe I’d feel okay telling them some details. But being prodded when I’d rather not discuss it would be annoying.

  38. Rae

    #3 I think that you may not be the victim of outright racism, but computerized racism. Shauna–which, in all honesty I’ve never seen a white girl named–is one that passes spell detectors. However, even a common white name like Megan, spelled oddly–Meeghen, does not. Most companies will check for key words and miss spellings–they will just start with the resume’s with no miss spellings at all, even knowing names often get caught. This often doesn’t allow for any variables–odd first OR last names. It would explain how someone say, named Sunshine Lee would go right to the top of the list but someone named Jane Morggan, would not.

    1. Allison

      Is that really a thing? That’s awful! That means that totally legit company names could also get flagged if the computer doesn’t recognize them.

      1. Rae

        Yes, at least in retail. I worked as an assistant manager for a large retail company. (part of a conglomerate with lots of umbrella stores). It was created to drive good resumes to the top when hundreds applied for a dozen spots, however, it also penalized anyone with “purposeful” misspellings. Most company names, like Kraft or Toys R Us, that could cause misspelling flags were already in the system, so they didn’t get flagged. But it was an imperfect triage sort of system.

    2. Jesmlet

      That seems a little far fetched. I wouldn’t call this outright racism, more likely implicit bias. I too have never known a white girl named Shauna but I do know black girls named Shauna. It’s hard to guess what it is without knowing OP’s legal name but I don’t think spell check really plays a part in this.

    3. Kelly L.

      People reject applications because Word flags their name as a misspelling? That’s one of the dumbest things I’ve heard! Argh!

      1. Anon for this

        I find that really hard to believe. Most last names that aren’t English words with their current correct spelling would be filtered out. In other words, most last names, period.

      2. Rae

        It’s not Microsoft word, it’s resume scanning software. It includes a vast array of company names, job attributes and names. An employer can add in words that are common in their industry so “Head Widget Calabratinist” wouldn’t come up as misspelled.

        It is used commonly in retail when applying online. I know because my manager would subvert it by doing paper-only applications when someone came into the store. We added in the name of the local high school, names of local businesses, etc, but it’s a very flawed system.

        When you have 200 applications for 3 positions, however, sometimes it is about the lowest common denominator and that includes names.

        1. Kelly L.

          So then your manager would only hire people whose names are also English words. Funny how that would result in a looottttt of people of Anglo-Saxon descent being hired. Your manager was a jerk.

          1. Rae

            Ummmm….my manager subverted it and HIRED people who had odd spelling names. That included Waleska,(Dominican), Mustaffa(Israeli) and Meggan (millennial white cheerleader).

            We worked for one tiny store that was owned by one company that was owned by one corporation (think of when you get those gift cards with a dozen shops on them). The software was flawed and skewed towards traditional names of EVERYTHING. That meant the local high school with a tribal name got flagged, etc.

            In all reality, they did put in a good amount of Asian, Spanish and Middle-Eastern names, but those were all traditionally spelled ones.

    4. Recruit-o-Rama

      I know that some companies use spell check filters or keyword filters in their systems, but I’ve honestly never worked for a company that used them or considered using them and I really don’t think they are as common as some people think they are.

      1. Mike C.

        Taleo does this. I know this, because we have resumes that pass through because we had an applicant copy/paste the job description into their resume.

        Yeah.

    5. Rusty Shackelford

      Most companies will check for key words and miss spellings–they will just start with the resume’s with no miss spellings at all, even knowing names often get caught.

      I find this kind of hard to believe.

      1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)

        Also, I assume that “Shauna” is a nom de plume here. Many LWs use examples that approximate their situation but aren’t exact (e.g. “I’m a senior teapot designer,”). So let’s stop with the armchair assessment of what “really happened” in Shauna’s case.

    6. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

      Rae, this seems so unlikely to be the case. Has this happened often in your specific experience?

      (Aside, I know 7 Shaunas, and only one is Black. Although I doubt that’s the actual name OP used, I think it’s useful for folks to know that in other parts of the country, “Shauna” being a white name is very much a thing.

      1. Rae

        When I was part of the hiring decisions (eg not my current job) there were 2 ways for people to apply. They could use the computer or they could ask for an application and we could hand them a paper copy. The system was incredibly flawed towards anyone with an odd names–and while more Black, Hispanic, Middle-Eastern and Asian people were affected by this it did affect those with oddly spelled names of all races.

        We had to add the name of the local highschool because it flagged as misspelled, so almost 100% of our resumes were coming in with misspellings.

        I did take the OP’s name at face value. However, I wanted to indicate that if someone was being racist about a name, there’s a good chance that Shauna would of been flagged anyway. If it’s not the real nickname used, so be it, but my point was it’s not exactly a “white only” name where I am from.

        1. Jessie the First (or second)

          It was not the real name used. Alison explained that upthread.

          I also think it is very, very not helpful to say to someone that the racism they experienced wasn’t racism but some other (convoluted and not common) problem.

    7. N.J.

      I apologize if I sound rude, but I’ve been involved in admittedly only a few hiring teams, and this just isn’t a wide spread thing. Hiring managers screen for all information bring present,sure, and notice typos etc as they are reviewing application materials, but I’ve never heard of using spell check right off the bat as a streaming mechanism, anecdotally or otherwise. I’m not going to discount your personal al experience and say it any happen if you have seen it happen, but I think your theory is way too obscure. It contributed to what someone was saying earlier up the thread about ally’s needing to believe what minorities are telling them about the racism they are experiencing. I sincerely believe that is not your intent, but by putting forward such an obscure hypothetical it detracts from the legitimacy of the OPs experience and the fact that she has categorized this as a result of racism and cultural bias. It is an interesting thepry it just doesn’t really seem to be a widespread thing.

      1. Rae

        You do sound rude. I’m not talking about when a resume lands at first glance in the hands of a hiring team but when it first goes through screening software. It is extremely common in retail or other low-end hiring today. It’s not an “obscure hypothetical”, it’s a real thing that’s happening now. I don’t know the OP’s line of work. Perhaps she is in an industry where resumes are looked at by hand first. That is not the case where I was employees unless you actually handed it to the manager. All applications done electronically were scanned for key words and misspellings before they made it to my desk. I could even sort by # of misspellings.

        Yes, there is racism. Yes, it could very well be that this was intentional or unintentional racism done by a hiring official. However, just because it’s software or a person doesn’t make it any less “racist”. It does mean that is a facet that must be addressed. It just means the OP may not be subject to the ideas of one person, but rather the flaws of a computer program meat to sort-out those in error.

        1. LBK

          I didn’t see anything rude about NJ’s comment – I agree completely that I think the assertion that “most” companies let their systems filter out resumes with misspellings is unfounded just because you worked for one company that did it. This is of course more anecdata but I’ve worked for two huge, extremely well-known retail companies and this was absolutely not the case with them (trust me – some of the applications that made it through were barely in English). Even if resumes are fed through a system instead of collected by hand, those systems are pretty customizable so it’s not a given that anyone who uses an electronic hiring system would run into this. To be honest I’ve never even heard of the kind of filter you describe.

          Given that name-based racial bias in hiring is a well-documented phenomenon, I think Occam’s Razor makes it a lot more likely that that’s what’s happening here than some kind of computerized filter.

        2. N.J.

          I understand that my comment may have come off as confrontational and I respect that your personal experience supports the possibility of random software screening as a possible explanation for rejection. However This is not common even for you to make it a general assertion or a likely explanation for the OP’s situation, though it is definitely an interesting thought. I apologize if my dismissal of your observation has caused any hard feelings. A better way to put it would have been that employment research more strongly supports the assertion that racism was at play and that while possible, your theory is less probable. I do stand by my comment that these sorts of assertions can undermine the minority narrative of how racism affects lives, if there are too many attempts to explain it as a result of crappy software, deformed instance.

        3. Jesmlet

          Question: Saying you could sort by number of misspellings implies that you could also just ignore that info, or no? Does it actually trash the applications with too many misspelled words or is it just another bit of info to potentially look at?

          I think the point is interesting and good to know for those of us who’ve never worked in retail before but it’s kind of like someone saying obesity is a huge problem in America and we should eat healthier and exercise more and then someone responding but sometimes it’s genetic. While not false, that represents such a tiny percentage of the problem. Odds are 99% of the time when this happens, it’s because of a person, not a machine… and even if it’s the machine, a human programmed it that way, so that’s the part of the issue that should be addressed.

  39. Jesmlet

    Sort of related to #3, I know I’m biased when it comes to applicants but not in the typical way. From all our experience working with many different types of senior caregivers, there’s nobody more difficult than a white American. On the other hand, in general most Ghanaians are wonderful to work, with so if I see a Kwame or Afua I’m much more optimistic than if I see a Jessica or Sarah.

    1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

      Be so careful, J! This could get y’all in trouble if, down the road, it looked like you were proxying name for race.

      1. NonProfit Nancy

        Especially if it’s for a demanding, underpaying job and you’re like, “I’m going to hire people from Africa, they’ll be more likely to put up with my crappy working conditions without complaining.” That’s … still racist …

        1. Pommette

          Yes!
          (And it’s true even if the version of this statement in the poster’s head sounds much nicer, à la: “I’m looking for someone with a great work ethic for this important and demanding job”).

          1. Pommette

            My comment was horribly worded, and I can’t edit it. The phrase “the version of this statement in the poster’s head” wasn’t meant to be demeaning. Rereading it makes me cringe, though, because it does sound pretty mean. I’m sorry.

            Here is a better version:

            The poster might legitimately be a great employer, looking for an employee who can handle the very hard work involved in caring for elders. They might sincerely think something along the lines of: “I’m looking for someone with a great work ethic for this important and demanding job”

            The fact would remain that, through no fault of the poster’s, fields like elder care, home healthcare, etc. are much less well remunerated than many other equally (or less) important/demanding fields.

            Assuming that other employers in that field have had similar experiences, and aren’t as careful not to let first impressions affect their hiring decisions, the end result is that the name ‘Afua’ is seen in a positive light by employers in a field that is less well rewarded and more demanding (in terms of time, of energy, of emotional resilience) than many others. The name ‘Afua’ may not be seen in the same light by employers in fields that are comparatively well-remunerated.

            Ultimately, different names end up attracting mini leg-ups in certain fields, and mini leg-downs in other fields. You end up with a situation (and I’m making lost assumptions that may not be true for this particular name+industry combination) where Afuas are less likely than the average applicant to get a call back for a tech job, or a healthcare policy job, etc. and more likely to get a call back for an elder-care job, or a home healthcare aide job. In the end, Afuas are more likely to get a leg up in fields that are (comparatively) demanding and low-paying. All that while, say (again, unfounded assumptions here) Andrews experience the exact opposite of this.

            It’s not the poster’s fault, and I don’t think that there is anything concrete the poster can or should do about it. It’s just an illustration of the problem that naturally arises when lots of employers in lots of fields make small unconscious (or conscious) assessments based on applicants’ names. You get a situation where people with recognizably African names (or African-American, or female, or rural, or…it’s a long list) have an easier time getting into lower-paying and less prestigious industries than into higher-paying, more prestigious, industries.

            And that’s a real problem!

            1. Jesmlet

              Yes, totally understand the points in both posts and I agree it’s a problem. It’s not just that they have an easier time getting these types of jobs, but also the sheer saturation… so odds for them are better in a lower paying field, but there’s so many that it’s never a guarantee. It’s a very common field for immigrants to get into, especially if they come here originally without a work authorization and they enter into it privately. Essentially makes the possibility of upward mobility a non-starter.

              I get a super friendly and warm African woman in my office and I ask them where they’re originally from and they say Ghana and I smile and in my head I go “of course you are”. I can see this being such a huge problem when extended to other races and negative biases rather than positive. I stand by 100% the way we do things but I understand the impression some people probably get when they see me saying I would rather hire someone from West Africa than America. I still give the American the chance to come in as long as everything else checks out, but the percentage of warm and fuzzies I get from them is significantly lower, and even if we do move them forward, the percentage of negative feedback from clients and anyone else dealing with them is significantly higher.

        2. Jesmlet

          Regarding demanding/underpaying, while the field itself could be called that… median pay for this position is around $11.50/hour… we pay $20 and treat them very well, so that’s not a concern.

    2. Jesmlet

      Just saying this affects my initial feeling when I see the application. Doesn’t have any bearing on whether they get through my stage of vetting. Everyone gets called back as long as they meet our baseline necessities (legal, driver’s license and car, minimum years of a certain type of experience, certification). We have veryyy strict qualifications and do reference and background checks before even meeting people and as long as they get through that stage, we have them come in the office. We also pay almost double the average rate for this job type so it’s not a matter of who puts up with what. It’s never been a matter of hard skills, there’s really no difference in that. It’s more a matter of personality and energy that makes the difference between a hire and a no hire and this is where we’ve seen a difference.

      1. Katie the Fed

        I have to say I kind of laughed at your initial comment because when I was hospitalized for an extended period of time, my West African caregivers were absolutely wonderful. :)

  40. Liz2

    OP #1- How about a little placard or sign simply to say “Lunch Reserved for ABC Group”?

    I also have a standard policy of any event I’m organizing I babysit during activity periods. It’s amazing how such basic routine things always have a glitch or two with people needing directions or forgetting a power cord or extra copies. That tends to be more than enough to keep people away from the food.

    We have a similar set up and everyone LOVES to enjoy the leftovers, but they know to wait until us admin types give the all clear and/or move it to the general communal eating areas.

  41. nnn

    Alison’s comment for OP#2 about how employers routinely take far longer to get back to applicants made me wonder if this applicants doesn’t realize how quickly OP wants the reference list. Obviously we don’t know from the letter if OP gave the applicant a specific deadline or not, but if they didn’t then maybe the applicant is thinking that, like, a week’s turnaround would be seen as prompt given the organization’s response times throughout the hiring process, and therefore set themselves mental deadline of Friday.

  42. ArtsNerd

    Re: #3 – as everyone else has indicated, it’s horrible that you and so many other applicants have to even make these decisions. I’m so sorry.

    It’s not going to get better until people recognize in themselves that they are absolutely capable of racist (and other bigoted) assumptions and behaviors, and “racist/not-racist” is largely a false binary. I try to frame it as ‘social conditioning’ when talking to others about it, as in: this is something that we were all taught to internalize, so having these impulses as your first instinct doesn’t make you a moral failure. Whether you put in the work to counteract that conditioning, and whether you let those impulses actually dictate your decisions and behavior is where the moral and ethical obligation kicks in.

    I’ve thought a lot about this, because one time I made a hiring decision. And I was absolutely guilty of letting my unconscious biases about white collar work, class and ethnicity influence my screening of application materials. It was on my own, no committee, no HR, no real guidance from management. I take some comfort in knowing it was a very part-time, hourly position (i.e. no one’s career) and it ended up being a temporary role and kind of a disaster all-around because I wasn’t actually set up to manage anyone. Not an excuse and not okay, of course.

    As I only realized I did that in retrospect, I’m trying to use that experience as a lesson to stay vigilant and mitigate that kind of BS moving forward.

    1. N.J.

      This is a heartening story and a good way to look at it and the moral obligation inherent in addressing our unconscious biases. Well put and glad to see you are prone to self analyze and identify that bias. We all have some sort of internalized bias and it takes a lot of self awareness to begin to address that.

  43. Zahra

    Regarding OP 3’s situation, would anyone in the same situation have any legal recourse (whether alone or by alerting EEOC, ACLU, or the equivalent of what is called “youth and human rights commission” in my province)?

    It doesn’t just suck, it’s proof of discrimination and intent does not erase the discrimination. Intent informs how I would react, but it’s not a magic “get out of jail free” card.

    1. Recruit-o-Rama

      It’s not proof that discrimination happened, it’s evidence that discrimination may have happened. There are a lot of legitimate/innocent reasons in this particular case that one resume wasn’t called for an interview and the other one was. It’s seems that some unconscious bias probably contributed, but I don’t think you can say for sure that racism, discrimination or unconscious bias occurred in this case without more information.

      1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

        You could actually still file an administrative complaint with only this information (but again, only if OP was harmed, which in this case, she ultimately was not). At the federal level, at least, what OP describes is a prima facie showing of race discrimination.

        1. Recruit-o-Rama

          Actually, oif they pull her offer over it (which seems unlikely) I think she SHOULD file a complaint, but my point was simply that while this case shows evidence, it doesn’t prove it. There needs to be more information about the screening process before it can be proven. It sucks that it’s something that people even have to worry about.

      2. Artemesia

        This is why it is so difficult to prevent racist behavior; it is almost never easily proven. Few people come right out and say, ‘we don’t hire them Hispanics’ or something. This is why patterns and statistics are good evidence of bias and the OP did a nice little experiment in which the outcome is quite convincing evidence of bias in selection of those to interview.

        1. fposte

          And a lot, perhaps most people, don’t say it because they don’t believe that it’s true–they think they do hire qualified Slobovians but this one isn’t quite competitive for the position; nor is the next one; nor is the next one.

          And I say “they” but I think really I’m talking “we” here; this kind of implicit bias is really deep wiring in most of us, and that’s why something like blind applications can be a useful tool even for those of us convinced we are equal opportunity employers.

          1. Mais Mayes

            Yeah like people “would vote for a woman” – they’re not sexist, of course! – but all the female candidates provided just don’t have “leadership” or “stamina.” The white guy always looks more … presidential. But they WOULD vote for a theoretical female!

        2. Lissa

          Yup, because any one single incident might not be racism (homophobia, sexism etc.). Maybe that one landlord really did rent out the apartment right before the applicant showed up! Maybe two different people looked at Shauna and Lashauna’s resumes. Maybe that person was having a bad day and just glaring at the world, not the same-sex couple holding hands. But all those things happening all the time are definitely indications of what’s going on, at least a certain big percentage of the time . . . though it is pretty impossible to ever prove in one specific incident when it’s stuff like this.

    2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

      You would have legal recourse if something bad happened. In this case, OP got the job, so there’s no longer an injury. But if they revoked the offer or did something else crazy, then it looks like a clear EEOC complaint to me.

      1. Zahra

        Something bad happened at the other companies, though: her “white-name” resume got the call backs her “ethnic-name” resume didn’t. Her “ethnic-name” resume barred her from even entering the interview process that her “white-name” resume got her access to.

        In my very, very uneducated opinion, it is harm.

      2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

        I hear you, Zahra, but it’s not “harm” for the purposes of a lawsuit. And while she could go after the other companies, I honestly don’t think it would be worth her time/money.

        1. Zahra

          Oh totally agree about maybe being worth the time and money (plus, unfairly burning bridges). However, knowing there is a legal recourse could lead someone to take said legal recourse.

          After all, discrimination laws do progress after discrimination lawsuits. Witness the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, for example. And companies, even the ones not in the lawsuit, take notice and may change their own practices, more so than after a study from a University.

  44. Pommette

    OP3’s current dilemma is one of many, many similar problems that would be avoided if more employers adopted name-blind hiring practices. Doing so is more than worth the hassle involved: with a few small, concrete steps, we can eliminate one known source of hiring discrimination.

    Even well-intentioned people read race, gender, and class into names. In itself, that isn’t necessarily a bad thing: parents often choose names that celebrate their child’s personal and cultural heritage, or embody the hopes they have for their child’s future. Those decisions are, of course, informed by the parents’ own experiences and expectations, as shaped by many factors, including race, gender, class, etc.

    But we live in a world where race, class, and gender are powerful structuring forces, and where racism, classism, and sexism exist. As a result, even well-intentioned people’s assessments of a candidate’s qualities can be influenced by the associations they read into that candidate’s name. We know that this happens. Hundreds of solid studies have documented this phenomenon!

    Reviewer’s reactions to applicant names are only one of many dynamics through which racism, sexism, classism, etc. limit professional opportunities for deserving people. Name-based discrimination is only a tiny part of a bigger, more complicated set of dynamics. But it’s one part for which there is a simple, concrete solution. At this point in our history, name-blind hiring should really be the norm for employers.

    1. always in email jail

      That’s a really interesting idea that I’ve never heard of. The name is usually the first thing we see, which immediately clues us in to gender, assumptions about race or class, and other biases we may not even realize we have. Of course I realize this, but I’ve never taken the thought further and come to the conclusion that the name should be hidden during the initial screening. I really like that.

      1. fposte

        Blind auditions have become a big thing in music and have contributed to a major uptick in the hiring of female musicians.

  45. always in email jail

    OP #1 if it helps, I would be similarly annoyed. The reason being that, in my mind, that is STEALING. Those lunches were purchased out of a specific department’s budget with money that was allocated to serve a specific purpose (ie feeding partners/stakeholders that you need to attend a meeting). That’s no different than “hey I know the company bought this computer monitor for use at its office but no one is using it right now so I’m going to take it home and use it”. You’re taking/using something for personal use that was not purchased for personal use. If you want to follow allison’s advice and seek an official policy, that may be an angle to use to convince the higher-ups.

    Of course, I may be way off base with how this works in private industry. I work for government, and there is a very long approval/exemption process to be allowed to even purchase food for meetings. It usually is from a grant budget if it happens. I would be very angry if someone jeopardized that by stealing the food. (yes, it’s stealing.) Of course, when there are leftovers there’s always the “We have leftovers from xyz event located in the break room, please help yourselves!” email that goes out.

    1. I'm Not Phyllis

      I don’t think you’re off-base. I totally agree – it’s stealing. Bought with company money and unless it’s bought for you or you’ve been told you can have it, you’re stealing it.

    2. Marisol

      I agree. We do a lot of catered meals at my firm and no one poaches from the other departments. Sometimes we’re invited, but if not, we don’t skulk around trying to get food that comes from a different cost center.

      My only suggestion is, if you can’t put a stop to it, perhaps you can order more food. It’s not ideal, but if your company won’t put a stop to the bad behavior, maybe they won’t object to the added food cost either.

  46. Audiophile

    #3 I have a white-sounding name, but it’s my legal name, and I’m also a black female. I’m sure many people have been surprised to see me walk through their door for an interview. I also have a gender neutral nickname (and email) but that hasn’t led to many problems. Most people will ask what I prefer to be called or why my email is nickname rather than my full name. I just explain someone got their Gmail invite before I did and my full name was already taken.

        1. VintageLydia

          Yup! Once upon a time Google was a search engine and ONLY a search engine. IIRC Gmail was their first foray outside of that realm. Facebook used to as well. Pretty much all social networks and blogging platforms come to think of it. Hell, I think LiveJournal STILL requires it even though only people who’ve had their blog for 15+ years even still uses it.

          1. Alienor

            LJ hasn’t in quite a while, but when I started mine in 2002, they definitely did. I remember asking someone on AIM chat if they had an invite code I could use!

          2. Jenbug

            LJ doesn’t, but IJ (one of the many knockoffs) requires either an invite code or you have to pay to create an account.

            /is a nerd

          3. Elizabeth H.

            I had forgotten about that! I joined both when it was still a thing. I really regret setting my email address as firstlast@gmail.com, which I did about a year or two before everyone started doing first.last@gmail.com. first.last@gmail.com will mail to me at firstlast@gmail.com and I often give it as first.last@gmail.com on resumes because it looks classier (I know it’s ultimately a very, very minor point, but I’m a perfectionist about formatting). But you can’t change the way it displays, so when you email someone they see it the real way. I recently registered last.first@gmail.com out of defiance :)

  47. TootsNYC

    #1: You might also remind those food grubbers that it makes them look bad to the executive level, to see them rushing to get the food before it’s been set out for the staff. They look greedy and uncouth.

    It does!

  48. toomanybooks

    Re: the wedding talk

    I’m planning my wedding and a few other people in the office are as well. I won’t go out of my way to talk about it (particularly with someone I wouldn’t normally talk to) but I kind of see it as commiserating and being able to offer advice. (Oh, and sharing excitement when the non-stressful parts happen!)

    As someone planning a wedding, I really have to say I hate it when people snark on them “not being an accomplishment” and talk about not being a “typical blissful bride.” Maybe your coworker has rich parents that are paying for her wedding and planning is all fun for her because she doesn’t have the money stress that many people have with weddings. That would get kind of stressful and annoying.

    But in general, I have to push back on the “I’m not your typical blissful bride” rhetoric that even I find myself guilty of using because at its core I think it’s based in misogyny – the planning of the wedding IS seen as “women’s work” and therefore frivolous, when actually I’m shocked to discover how really difficult and stressful it is. It’s hard work and thus I think the end product (the event planned – the wedding) really is an accomplishment! And we don’t need to belittle that. Because that’s how I walked into engagement and wedding planning thinking “This will be the happiest time of my life and so much fun and everyone says it’s so expensive but MY wedding won’t be, because I won’t overspend on florals and tablecloths like a bridezilla would do!” Nope… I had no idea.

    (And, yeah, I think it’s worth celebrating that two people have found their partner for life.)

    All that being said, I absoluuuuuuutely would understand if I talked to someone else planning a wedding and they just said they didn’t want to talk about it. When I talk about wedding stuff at work I’m always very self aware and don’t want to talk about it tooooo much/more than the person is comfortable with, so I’d really appreciate it if someone who was also planning was like “oh, I spend enough time thinking about this at home! I’d rather not do it at work too!” I think it’s super understandable.

      1. fposte

        See also the “How cheap my wedding was” contests. Morality and human value do not have an inverse correlation to the cost of somebody’s wedding, I promise.

        1. Pebbles

          I hated hearing some individual direct their “my wedding only cost $X” comments at me. Am I supposed to feel bad because I married later in life, had (still have) a well-established good-paying career, and wanted to splurge? I know my husband and I are no more married than the next couple, but geez, what’s wrong with a party if that’s what you want and can afford? Oh, but you could use that on a down-payment for a house. Husband and I each own a house already thank you. Oh, but you could use that for [this thing]. How about I make my own financial decisions and I’ll let you make yours. I promise you, I did not put myself in debt for a wedding.

          Sorry, sore spot, rant now over.

    1. INFJ

      I think OP is saying that GETTING MARRIED isn’t an accomplishment in itself, not that the wedding planning isn’t an accomplishment.

      1. OP 4

        Yeah that’s definitely what I meant! Get married is a life change and a milestone and certainly worth celebrating, for sure, but not an actual accomplishment per say. At least, not in the way that getting a promotion, or getting a degree, or raising a family, or even taking a round-the-world trip would be. I will totally agree though that planning a successful wedding (especially if you can manage it without family drama) is an accomplishment – wedding planning is probably one of my least favourite things.

        It’s mostly just the expectations people have, that you are blissfully happy throughout the experience, that it’s the happiest time of your life, etc. I feel that it totally negates what else I may be going through or trying to accomplish, and at work especially, I would really like to have boundaries surrounding that. And it’s definitely true that men don’t get that – my fiance was astonished when I told him how often I get asked about the wedding or have unwanted opinions thrust at me.

        1. Emi.

          I don’t understand what the expectations that you be blissfully happy throughout the experience or that you get really into wedding planning have to do with the idea that getting married is an accomplishment.

  49. anonintheuk

    I got called a ‘rules Nazi’ and cheerfully informed the speaker that I thought it appalling and disgusting that they would compare me to a group of murderous racists when I was trying to make sure they did their job in line with the rules put down by our regulators.
    That was interesting, I have never seen anyone turn puce before.

    1. tigerStripes

      anonintheuk, good for you. I think people forget the horror that was done and throw that word around in cases where it just doesn’t apply.

  50. Anonymouse for this ..............

    Urgh – what is it about free food that makes people behave like idiots. I swear anyone wheeling a trolley containing catering to a meeting turns into the Pied Piper! I’ve had people following me asking to get sandwiches as they don’t want to wait until the meeting has finished – WTH! Depends who it is but I usually say if the VP wanted to buy you lunch he’d have invited you to the meeting.
    OP1 – definitely get someone higher up to send an email, whether it’s your boss or office manager.

  51. CMF

    #3: They’ve met you in person and offered you the job. Take it if you want it! As for your name, you could say you were trying Shauna on to see if you liked it and decided you like your given name better. I would hope this wouldn’t be taken any different than a man who’s been called Bob deciding he wants to be called Robert, a Jimmy going by Jim, etc.

  52. Bananistan

    #4- This might be an overly obvious comment but have you tried changing the subject? Saying “I don’t want to talk about wedding planning” is a dead end if you’re expecting the other person to provide a new topic of conversation. Could you try steering the conversation in another direction?

  53. emma2

    Regarding OP 3’s situation, I’m really curious as to what type of city she is in (as in, is she in a diverse metropolitan city or a white majority city), and whether this is a method I should use in the consulting field. I work in a diverse metropolitan, but my field is very whitewashed and positions are commonly filled by former frat bros and such. I also have evidence where I was definitely treated harsher in interviews than white candidates (some of them being former classmates) for the same job openings.

  54. OP#3

    Wow! I didn’t expect so many comments to my question and I appreciate each and every one of them. I’m just getting online after a long day of packing and moving my things into storage and will try to answer everyone’s questions the rest of the day.

    To answer some questions, I am in the deep south. Racism down here is as common as fish and grits and iced tea. If name-blind hiring practices were to become common we’d be the state to resist it just like we resist everything else. We still can’t even buy liquor on Sundays and yes, there is a church on every corner.

    Let’s pretend Shauna is short for Shaunette. Sometimes people can’t tell if Shaunette is white or black BUT because my voice “sounds white” they assume I’m white so that by the time I walk through the door they are shocked. That’s another subject altogether. Just google “you sound white” and you’ll see what I mean.

    After changing the name on my resume to Shauna I totally forgot to change it on my voicemail. There were a few interesting phone conversations once I returned phone calls from hiring managers and a couple them outright asked me why my resume said Shauna and my voicemail said Shaunette. I just said it’s easier for people to pronounce Shauna than Shaunette but I prefer going by Shaunette. I never heard back from those people.

    At one interview, when I signed in at the front desk they didn’t have me on the schedule because out of habit I automatically used my real name and then I remembered that it’s entered as Shauna. The security guard looked at me as if I were a criminal and asked for my driver’s license. That’s when I realized that this could be a potential problem.

    I couldn’t figure out a way to go from Shauna to Shaunette without it being weird or awkward so I really appreciate all suggestions everyone has given. I’m trying to figure out the best one to go with. Thank you all for your comments.

    1. seejay

      This makes me so bloody sad for you. :( Not horrified because I know it exists and I’m not so blind to be shocked that it happens but it still never distresses me when I hear about it.

      I hope that your new job helps you out so much in whatever way you want and need though! I’m glad you were able to land it, despite having to jump through hoops to deal with the stupid bias!

    2. Jenbug

      My coworker at OldJob (where we exclusively dealt with people via phone) had someone ask her once “are you white or black because sometimes you sound white, but sometimes you talk ghetto”. Coworker also had someone say “you’re discriminating against me because I’m a black single mother” to which her response was “… uh, so am I…”

      Basically, people suck and I’m sorry you’re dealing with this.

  55. Newbie

    OP#1 – I have had this very problem in my office before, and have tried several different things when the food line was going to have to be set up outside of the meeting room for whatever reason. The best I have found, is to type up a very nice sign on colored paper so it stands out – that says…”Lunch Reserved for Meeting Attendees”.

    This usually works for me – and I will remove the sign, or take the food into the common areas when everyone in the meeting has had a chance to go through the line. One of my pet peeves is someone else assuming they can surely run through and grab a plate without checking first. Sometimes the meeting presenter who is stuck at the front of the room still needs to eat lunch, and if they are running late, then perceptions can get mixed up pretty quickly. I also had someone at the higher end of management, but not one of our executives – be one of the worst offenders!!! I finally went and told him one day that I would let him know when the lunch line was being opened up to the rest of the office – for the same reasons stated above. Some people you just have to essentially smack over the head with your reasons for handling things a certain way, or they honestly would never know – clueless!! Ha.

    I hope this helps – good luck!

  56. IT is not EZ

    I’ve had just the opposite experience. I’m Caucasian, but have a ethnic-sounding first name. There have been about a half a dozen times when I’ve been called for an interview, and the interviewer(s) have been shocked that I’m white. One made the explicit comment that they were looking for a minority hire and as such I probably wouldn’t be hired as part of this round of interviews.

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