expecting more from a near-retirement employee, a disruptive speakerphone, and more

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

1. Is it ageist not to expect more from a near-retirement employee?

I’m a 34-year-old manager with eight years of people management experience. I manage an age-diverse team at a tech company. One employee, Darcy, is in her 60s and has shared that she’s a couple years from retirement. Darcy is good at her job, but she’s not excellent. After several years of attempting to coach her and increase her skills, with limited impact, I’ve concluded that she’ll never be great. I’ve come to terms with this. I don’t believe I need a whole team of superstars as long as each person brings sufficient value to the team.

But her colleague, my top superstar, has recently expressed (to me) resentment that Darcy isn’t amazing — makes some repeated mistakes, needs some micromanaging. Am I unfairly “giving up” on improving Darcy’s performance based on her age, retirement plans, and my learned experience of seeing limited growth from coaching sessions? It’s worth noting that I’ve promoted this colleague in the past and plan to do so again, whereas Darcy has not earned any promotions.

If Darcy’s performance were exactly the same but she was 40 and you happened to know she planned to leave the company in two years (for any reason — grad school, spouse in the military, who knows what), would you be handling her any differently? If not, then you’re not being ageist. You’re choosing not to invest your limited development energies in someone who’s doing a good enough job — although not great — who you know won’t be around long-term. That’s a reasonable decision, as long as her work really is “good enough.” That’s crucial though — is her work good enough? Making repeated mistakes and needing some micromanaging makes me a little skeptical, although it’ll come down to the specifics of exactly what that looks like.

Another question to ask yourself: if Darcy’s plans change and she doesn’t retire in a couple of years, will you regret not handling things differently now? Two years could turn into three or four or even longer.

Also, what’s the impact on the rest of your team? If there’s an obvious difference in the standards they’re held to versus the ones Darcy is held to, or if her mistakes impact them, that’s bad for morale and it’s the type of thing you could lose people to. If that’s the case, you can’t categorize her work as “good enough” and you’d need to address the problems more proactively. (In particular, look rigorously at your superstar’s complaints. Is the issue really that Darcy isn’t “amazing” or is it that she’s not even good?)

2. Employee’s speakerphone disrupts everyone around her

I’m a children’s librarian in a major city. Our city has a few large “hub” libraries and many smaller neighborhood branches. I work at one of the small branches. My supervisor, the branch’s head librarian, and I are stumped on an issue we’re having with our housekeeper.

“Patsy” comes in at 2 pm and stays until after closing hours to clean. I’ve never met such a loud person in my life. I don’t mind people chatting and enjoying the library, but Patsy makes so much noise that we can barely get our work done. As soon as Patsy comes in, she puts her phone on speaker and proceeds to have a seemingly unending conversation. On the rare occasion that she isn’t talking to someone, she puts on TV shows or loud music, again on speaker, and blasts them loudly enough to be heard throughout the library.

It’s 2024 and I’m not an old-school shusher sort of librarian, but her noise makes it difficult for us to do any programming. Her speaker phone conversations blast over story time and her tv shows are a distraction when we have club meetings. Forget about people trying to study or read quietly. My supervisor has spoken to her multiple times and in the moment, she’ll put her phone away, but the next day it comes back. She seems genuinely confused when we ask her to be quieter.

When we realized that we weren’t getting through to her, we bought her some ear pods. My supervisor gave them to her for Christmas and showed her how to use them. She used them for three days and then we never saw them again and it was back to the noise.

Patsy is contracted through the city and I really don’t want to complain about her to them. I believe she works multiple jobs and this is the only one that offers insurance. How do we get her to stop blasting her phone nonstop without getting her into trouble?

Is your sense that she’s literally not retaining the information from one day to the next (presumably because of something medical) or that she’s not taking the requests seriously? If she’s not retaining the request from day to day, then the solution might be that someone needs to remind her every day; that’s part of the package of working with Patsy. But otherwise, or if you’re not sure, then has anyone been explicit with her that this is a blanket rule for always and not just an in-the-moment request? I know that sounds obvious, but managers often aren’t as explicit as they need to be (usually because they assume the employee should be able to read between the lines or has enough of the playbook that they don’t need everything spelled out) . So if it hasn’t happened yet, that conversation is: “While you are here, you cannot have your phone on speaker, ever.  I need you to make it a permanent rule to never use speakerphone while you are here, not just today but every day.”

But if you’ve done that and it’s not working, and you don’t want to address it daily, the only remaining option is to talk with whoever manages her. It’s very unlikely that asking them to address it will get Patsy fired, particularly if you stress that that’s not the outcome you want. But at some point, if you want to solve the problem and none of the above works, that’s the avenue you’d need to take.

Read an update to this letter

3. Is my preferred name too cringy to get interviews?

So, I’m lgbtqia+, right? I felt that my birth name didn’t fit me, so I changed it, but now I’m worried I won’t get hired for a job since I put it in my resume that I go by my name. My (mostly) full name is Wolfskull Shadow Bones C.

I just want some opinions from people I don’t know. Tell me your opinion, and I will keep it in mind as I build my resume.

I am goth, so it is kinda on brand for me, but I also know that people who want to hire me might not know that. I also put in my resume that I am perfectly okay with not being called this, and being called by my legal middle name instead.

It will be an obstacle for a lot of employers. You might decide that you’d rather screen out employers who have a problem with it, but since you’re asking: yes, it’s likely to cut down on the number of interview invitations you receive, probably significantly unless you have a really in-demand skill set.

If you choose to keep using it, I recommending not using that note on your resume that says they don’t need to call you by that. That’s likely to confuse people, call attention to the name in an odd way, and make employers more likely to assume it’s not your “real” name (and therefore that it’s a joke or something strange that they don’t understand, which will make you someone they don’t understand, which isn’t great when you want people to want to hire you).

4. What do I owe a freelance client who abruptly ended my project?

I was recently informed that an ongoing freelance project I had was going to end, effective immediately … through a text sent to my initial contact by the team lead (who managed me directly). I had been working on-site and saw the person who made this decision every day. I feel deeply disrespected to have not even been extended the courtesy of a personal notification that the work was ending. The text does not note any issues with my performance, just a change in direction. I had been working without a contract or a formal agreement, which I know is not ideal. I’m currently waiting to receive payment for my last invoice.

What do I owe these people? The team lead seems to not have told anyone ahead of time that we would not continue to work together. I keep receiving emails asking for files, clarifications, etc. from my former coworkers. Maybe naively, my point of view is that the company should have secured these files from me ahead of time, or set up any sort of internal server that I had access to, or done … literally anything, especially given that they knew this was going to happen (and I didn’t). I understand that they own the work product, of course, but I’m not concerned about preserving the relationship or getting a reference, at this point.

Yeah, they should have had a real conversation with you; a phone call would have been fine, but not a text. But that doesn’t change your obligations: you still owe them a professional wrap-up, meaning sending all the project files, etc. in a way that makes sense. (Do this all at once, not piecemeal as people request things.) You should bill them for that wrap-up work, of course! You don’t do that for free. But that’s generally understood to be part of the work a freelancer agrees to when they take a project on (assuming, of course, that you weren’t told “do no billable work whatever from this moment on”). Once you do that, you can let anyone else who emails you know that your work on the project has wrapped up and you’ve sent all your files to Rupert or whoever.

You can wait until your last invoice is paid before you provide the final wrap-up stuff if you want (and then do one final invoice for the wrap-up work). And certainly if they come back and ask for additional work later, you can explain that you’re no longer available because you’ve filled your time with other clients … but you do need to do the professional wrap-up now.

5. Asking about health insurance coverage when interviewing

A couple years ago, I was diagnosed with a disability that will require notoriously expensive drugs for the rest of my life. Luckily, my insurance has covered the vast majority of my prescriptions and my deductible is relatively low for my routine doctor’s appointments.

Now that I’m at a great place with my health, I’m looking to move on from my current workplace, but I am nervous about getting new insurance. How do you gauge insurance quality when interviewing? I’m anxious about disclosing my disability to interview panelists, but I also want to make sure I’m taken care of medically. Is this something I ask during the interview? After I’ve received an offer? How can I make sure they’re not embellishing the quality of their benefits when my life depends on it?

The best thing is to wait until you have an offer and then say, “I have a chronic condition that’s under control but requires medication. Is it possible for me to check with your health insurance plan to ensure it’s covered?” Ideally you want to get the plan name and ID and call it directly to find out, so that (a) you’re getting the information firsthand and not relying on someone else to get it correct for you and (b) you’re not sharing private medical information with the employer. Obviously it would be better if you could raise this earlier in the process so that you don’t waste your or their time if the insurance won’t work for you, but waiting for the offer removes the risk that revealing medical info could bias them against you (even if only unconsciously) before they make a hiring decision.

But also, be aware that the company can change insurance plans in the future, and the insurance plan itself can change what drugs it covers.

Given how crucial health insurance is to people’s ability to survive and given that we’ve chosen to tie health insurance to employment, you’d think we would have a better system for this but … we don’t.

{ 1,062 comments… read them below }

  1. TG*

    With the noisy cleaner I agree there needs to be a permanent rule of no speaker/noise and it needs to be enforced. You can do it kindly but note that if they continue to have to be reminded then you’d have to contact their direct boss. Honestly I don’t have your patience because given what you described I’d have done this a long long time ago. The disruption sounds pretty serious.

    1. Lime green Pacer*

      Surely a no-speaker rule already exists for library patrons? If it doesn’t, that might also need to be addressed.

      I get really annoyed when diners in restaurants use phone speakers, too!

      1. Cabbagepants*

        I think it’s even beyond the speakerphone! even if the cleaner took her calls through a headset, just hearing her side of the conversation would likely be too loud (given her noise levels in general, I doubt she is speaking in a very low whisper).

        1. HonorBox*

          Absolutely right. I think the rule needs to be clear that it isn’t just about the speaker (though it is) but rather about noise in general (because it is). Patrons at the library should be able to expect that, other than for programming or an occasional laugh (or similar) as someone is reading or conversing, the library is relatively quiet.

          The staff member in question needs to hear that volume, in general, needs to be at a reasonably low level. Then explicitly state that headphones must be used, and any sort of conversation must be kept to a level that allows others opportunity to enjoy the library. Have the conversation in at a volume that is acceptable. And let her know that “this” is the maximum volume.

          One thing to note: The return volume on cell phones is not what it was when we had the old handsets plugged in to the wall. That’s why you hear people speaking more loudly on cell phones. It can also be problematic if headphones are noise cancelling. I say this just to note that someone may need to keep an ear out if she’s having conversations because she may not know how loud she really is.

          1. metadata minion*

            “Patrons at the library should be able to expect that, other than for programming or an occasional laugh (or similar) as someone is reading or conversing, the library is relatively quiet.”

            This really depends on the library — there are plenty these days where there are at least some where you can have a lively conversation. Though I work in a library like that and even there I’d gently ask someone to use headphones if they were watching a show.

            1. rebelwithmouseyhair*

              Here, we have loads of youngsters who come in to do their homework (their homes are not big enough mostly for them to have their own desk) and there’s plenty of chatter. But no phones, no music, no videos, those using the computers all have headphones on. I love the atmosphere, it’s upbeat and buzzing but not loud, and kids always pipe down when told to because they don’t want to be thrown out.

            2. iglwif*

              Most libraries I go to have quiet zones but they also have zones where noisy stuff happens and zones that are kind of in between.

              Because libraries are no longer — if they ever were — places where people sit alone and read dusty books. They’re community hubs, they’re a line of communication for job searchers, they’re a place teens can gather to study and work on projects and hang out, they’re a place for parents and little kids to congregate for storytime and playtime … they’re one of the only places people can exist for free, and people exist there in a lot of different ways, some of which are not particularly quiet.

              BUT Patsy sounds incredibly disruptive. I have a neighbour down the hall who listens to stuff on his phone with no earbuds or headphones and it is deeply annoying — and I only have to hear it occasionally in passing, not every day from 2 pm onwards in a workplace I can’t escape.

              1. Dorothy Zpornak*

                Libraries can actually do all of those things and still be a place to read books, regardless of dust content, and we can celebrate all of those things without hating on reading or people who read. I don’t know who decided that the only way we can value libraries in our society is to convince people they have nothing to do with reading.

                1. iglwif*

                  I … was not trying to do that? Of course libraries are still for reading, and for people who read. Nobody is hating on people who read, or saying that libraries “have nothing to do with reading”.

                  But at most public libraries, the majority of the reading is happening elsewhere. People come to the library, borrow circulating books, and take them home to read. If they’re reading library materials on-site, it’s often magazines, newspapers, and non-circulating reference materials, OR it’s adults reading kids’ books aloud to their kids. And the books aren’t dusty!

            3. Nina*

              At my university’s library (and to an extent at my town’s flagship library), the ground floor where the admin or kids’ section or open event/exhibition space is was designated ‘make as much noise as you want, nobody will shush you’; the first floor was ‘meetings are okay but use inside voices, phone calls are okay but no speakerphone or loud ringtones, if you’re watching a show without headphones please keep it just to the level you need to hear it, kids are okay but no yelling or running’; the second floor was ‘phones must be on silent, no talking above a whisper, no unaccompanied kids, no audio off headphones, no meetings or phone calls whatsoever, you will be told to leave’.
              And it works really well!

      2. Csethiro Ceredin*

        That’s the thing, these behaviours would earn you glares or comments in many public places: the bus, a waiting room, and so on. Saying it’s not ok in the library is very reasonable.

        1. JustaTech*

          Yeah, Patsy wouldn’t get away with this in an airport (I’ve watched plenty of people try and be pointedly corrected by fellow travelers), so it isn’t reasonable at a library either.

    2. AvocadoQueen*

      I’m a librarian and I think it’s pretty wild that the OP’s manager didn’t shut down the speakerphone the first time it happened and that it’s been allowed to continue. There’s no way the library isn’t losing patrons over this. Of course public libraries don’t shush people anymore, but this isn’t people having a conversation. This is actively disrupting library activities.

      1. Cmdrshprd*

        “but this isn’t people having a conversation.”

        even if it was a conversation if it was a loud conversation it would be understandable/okay to ask those people to keep it down. I met plenty of loud talkers even when they are having a normal/standard conversation and are not worked up. Reminding them to keep it down is okay.

      2. Ellis Bell*

        I think this whole situation is an excess of kindness… giving the headphones “for Christmas” suggests there’s a lot of gentle, inference, face saving instruction, and burying the message beneath a completely untrue idea that it’s not a big deal. I agree with Alison that the cleaner has totally misunderstood this pussyfooting and that she needs to silence her media forever, not just be a bit quieter in the moment.

        1. ferrina*

          Yeah, that’s what I was wondering about too. Has anyone directly told her “hey, we need to keep this a quiet place for patrons. It doesn’t need to be silent, but the phone conversations can’t be happening.”*
          She’ll be embarrassed for a moment (and probably wonder why no one said anything sooner), but at least she’ll have the information she needs.

          *this word isn’t great, and if I were actually the manager I’d take some time to improve it. Not sugar coat though.

        2. Bonnie*

          That’s the impression I got as well. I think people who are very sensitive to direction-by-hinting tend to feel like a direct conversation is unnecessarily and unpleasantly aggressive, or that the recipient has been willfully ignoring hints and will respond badly to direction, when really some people just don’t pick up on hinting.

          1. MassMatt*

            Yes, we see both sides of this in advice letters all the time.

            “My employee ignores customers and lances his boils at the front counter of the fast food restaurant I manage. I tried raising my eyebrow at him but somehow he keeps doing this. What do I do? I don’t want to seem rude!”

            Vs: “I was absent a few times without calling in due to being hung over, and the manager gave me grief about it, whatever. The next time I skipped work he talked to me again and put me on a PIP but I didn’t think it was a big deal. I decided to blow off work for a concert and the next day, out of NOWHERE, I was fired! Can you believe this?”

        3. Elizabeth West*

          Yeah, they’re being too gentle. There’s a big difference between rude and firm.

          At this point, I would try one more time — bluntly — and then Patsy’s manager needs to be pulled in. I realize they don’t want her to get fired, but if it doesn’t stop, the cleaning company could just switch Patsy with another person who can keep the noise down.

        4. Observer*

          giving the headphones “for Christmas” suggests there’s a lot of gentle, inference, face saving instruction, and burying the message beneath a completely untrue idea that it’s not a big deal.

          This. Totally and completely. The OP and everyone else there needs to stop with this. Because if you don’t do something about it, someone else will, and the fallout could wind up being significantly worse.

      3. Witch of Oz*

        I actually wish there was a bit more shushing! It’s incredibly distracting when you’re trying to concentrate and people have loud conversations. I get that libraries are trying to be a bit more welcoming these days, but I kind of miss the olden days when libraries were quiet.
        Also, the Patsy situation is ridiculous and needs to stop immediately. Surely other library patrons have complained?

        1. amoeba*

          I’m honestly a little surprised by that – here in Europe, libraries are definitely still somewhat quiet, don’t think they’ve changed that much since my youth. Like, obviously the children’s area will be more lively and you’re fine to have a quiet conversation on the main floor, but the areas that are more for working are still really quiet, and overall it’s definitely not a space for loud conversation, yelling, or most of all, speaker phone (watching TV without headphones, wtf?)
          I do get trying to be more welcoming but I guess there’s a balance to be found with keeping the relaxing environment conducible for concentration that libraries also provide…

          1. münchner kindl*

            Yes, the general rule is not “no conversations at all” but “no loud conversation” or just “no distracting other patrons”.

            Which means that librarians will address indivdiual people when they make too much noise, regardless of how or why – a group of three patrons talking loudly? Please quiet down or go outside? One Patron talking loudly on the phone? Please go outside. Two people at the lockers, banging doors and talking loudly? Please be more quiet, the sound travels.

          2. But what to call me?*

            Most libraries I’ve been in (US) have had quiet areas and areas where conversation is okay, though even in the non-quiet areas someone on speakerphone or watching TV without headphones would get some serious glares.

            1. ferrina*

              Yep, this has also been my experience (U.S.). The children’s area is usually in it’s own part of the library so the kids can be a bit noisier, but the adult sections have an expectation of a quiet murmur. No one gets mad at conversation, but prolonged talk is taken into a more central (and inherently noisier) part of the library. Headphones are expected for phones, and just don’t take phone calls in the library. Sometimes there will be rooms out of the book/reading sections that can be used for calls, quiet studying, or even larger meetings. Those can get noisier.

              The trick is that all of this is unwritten. If you haven’t had someone teach you the rules and you haven’t picked it up yourself by mimicking others, then you may accidentally break these rules. I see that as part of the librarian’s job to help patrons know how to use the library- including how to keep volume at a reasonable level.

              1. Momma Bear*

                Our libraries are generally quiet. There is a children’s area, but it’s still reasonably quiet. Most activities happen in meeting rooms away from people working or reading. The computer lab is silent except for typing. You must bring a headset if you want to listen to anything online.

                I also suspect she doesn’t fully understand the nudging to be quieter. Whoever is in charge needs to tell her clearly what the expectation is, especially if there’s notices about noise posted for patrons. If it persists, then I think a conversation does need to be had with her manager. Some people honestly don’t know how loud they are. LW isn’t saying she can’t listen to music, just she can’t make everyone else listen to her music.

            2. Andy*

              I’d go further and suggest that taking a call on speaker or watching videos without headphones is almost never appropriate in any public space.

        2. LifeBeforeCorona*

          I use my local libary because it is quiet and distraction free (no fridge!) There are quiet rooms for group study and the staff are very proactive as shutting down excessive noise. And I agree that other patrons have either complained or simply stopped coming. Our branch allows people to warm up and even sleep as long as there are no distraction for other users.

          1. Ex-prof*

            I want your local library!

            At mine, the librarians shout to each other across the room and things go downhill from there.

        3. Straight Laced Sue*

          I much prefer a general quietness in the library too. I understand that it’s a community space with a couple different functions, which is great. But lots of people go there to focus on something.
          In my local library it’s the staff who don’t seem to give a hoot about noise levels. The patrons are all quiet, even the kids studying after school are just whispering in between getting their heads down… Meanwhile the staff are calling out to each other across the room and laughing, and sort of rocking out with their chat. I find it…quite annoying, I must admit! And it makes me not go there, too.

          1. Wintermute*

            I would contact the city over this, myself. It’s not the end of the world but it’s also not fair to stop using a service and not tell them why, or there’s no chance they can ever fix it.

        4. le teacher*

          I agree. I think it is fine for an expectation that libraries are generally quiet. A few years ago I was meeting with a group in the library and we did start to get loud. The librarian shushed us. It was kind of funny and we quieted down right away! It didn’t bother me. It’s a library!

        5. Slow Gin Lizz*

          My library has designated quiet areas where I did once witness a librarian asking a patron to either stop using their phone (as a phone – who does that anymore, lol?) or move to the part of the library where phone calls are permitted. I’m actually rather surprised that none of the patrons in OP’s library have complained about Patsy’s noise, either to the librarians or to Patsy herself. (I might have missed something in the letter that says they have, I don’t know.)

          1. Airy*

            Okay, but that doesn’t necessarily mean she’s incapable of learning or changing. It could just mean she needs things explained to her more directly and clearly than the average person. We shouldn’t say “it’s possible she is challenged in some way” and leave it there, as the general rule here is that we don’t speculate about the problem person having an illness/disability/disorder/whatever unless that informs your advice.

        6. zuzu*

          I have definitely shushed patrons. I work in an academic law library with noise zones (quiet study, which means no talking, no phones, nothing; collaborative spaces, which allow for group work and are usually closed off but still don’t allow phone conversations; and a sort of in-between low conversation status in areas with service desks and near elevators/entrances and exits.

          There’s always that group who “studies” together and gets a little too loud, or the person who takes a call in quiet study and stays on it rather than stepping out to one of the phone rooms we provide or just going to one of the low-conversation areas (I mean, I get it; they’re all looking for jobs and don’t want to miss a callback).

          But I don’t have to seek out noisy patrons; the students themselves will send a chat to the reference desk to ask us to deal with a noisy group on X floor near the copiers, especially at exam time when their nerves are shot.

      4. MCMonkeyBean*

        I’m pretty sensitive to noise and would absolutely stop going to a library over this.

        This and the singing coworker letter from the other day are pretty baffling to me. They both seem like very normal things to tell your employees they need to stop!

    3. Famous*

      I understand the guilt over potentially getting someone fired and causing them to lose their health insurance, but employers need to remember this person who’s blatantly being disruptive could be replaced by someone who’s not disruptive and who also needs health insurance.

      1. Viette*

        Yeah, and I think it’s a great situation where the OP should remove the “getting someone fired” perspective completely. OP and the library aren’t going to get her fired. If the cleaner doesn’t want to get fired, she can just turn her phone off! That is one of the easiest job-saving interventions imaginable!

        I get that there’s a fear that complaining to her boss is going to result in her being fired without the boss talking to her, but even so: if she didn’t want to get fired she could have listened to ANY of the MANY MANY times she was told to stop doing this. It’s not like she hasn’t behaved in a pretty fire-able way at this point.

        1. Venus*

          It brings to mind the expression “You can’t care more about her keeping her job than she does.”

        2. ferrina*

          First OP needs to make sure they have directly told her that she needs to not talk on the phone and not watch TV. Spell out the guidelines for noise levels in the library.

          If she doesn’t improve, reminder her a few times as it’s happening. If you can, let her know “we can’t have someone working in the library every day if they are distracting for patrons.” Also agree with Alison- if she listens but seems to have trouble retaining the information, it may be okay to mentally note “once a day I’ll remind her about the noise level”.

          If she’s still not following the rules, then yes, complain to her employer. She’s been given clear guidance and she can’t or won’t adhere to that. That means she’s not a fit, and you can find someone who is a fit for this role. Her actions are impacting more than you- this is disrupting patrons’ experience as well

          1. Observer*

            First OP needs to make sure they have directly told her that she needs to not talk on the phone and not watch TV. Spell out the guidelines for noise levels in the library

            Yes! This is the thing that boggles my mind. Because it’s obvious that no one has actually done this.

      2. Zelda*

        And the agency (I’m inferring there’s an agency from “contracted through the city”) may be able to trade around assignments rather than just let her go. There’s no guarantee, of course, but e.g. I’ve worked plenty of places that were closed one weekday to facilitate being open on the weekend, and that day was when the cleaners came in. If they have at least some assignments like that they could send her on, there may be a better fit for her.

        1. Jaydee*

          The cleaners at my office come through in the late afternoon or evening and often have music playing, especially after hours. It works fine because they’re cleaning an empty or nearly empty building. Seems like that would be the ideal job for her. And maybe that’s what she’s used to and just hasn’t figured out that it doesn’t work in the library like it does in an empty office building.

      3. MCMonkeyBean*

        Yeah, if they haven’t already they should definitely have a serious conversation with her where they clarify THIS IS A FREAKING LIBRARY so you have to stop using your speaker literally ever and that if she doesn’t stop they’ll need to reach out to the city about the issue.

        My guess is that for some reason they haven’t been very explicit with her about it yet, and just said “hey can you turn that off” a couple of times and hoped she would understand they meant forever and not just in that moment. But if they have been explicit and she is ignoring it then eventually they need to say hey this is a library and we need employees who know how to be quiet.

      4. casey*

        Are you serious? This perspective is so… schoolmarmy and lacking in grace. Yes, this behavior is annoying as hell, and OP and her manager need to have a very clear conversation with her about how unacceptable it is. It’s likely to be an uncomfortable conversation, too. But a cleaner working multiple jobs is not someone with unlimited resources, and removing her health insurance would be life-changingly bad for her. It’s not something you can be cavalier about.

    4. Artemesia*

      I don’t understand why this was not handled in a week at most. What could be more obvious than no one can use a speaker phone in a library, except perhaps, no one can play TV shows and loud music on a phone n a library. This seems like a significant management fail.

      1. Guacamole Nob*

        There are even more obvious things not to do, such as watch adult content on library computers. Yet patrons still sometimes do so…

          1. Azure Jane Lunatic*

            The library system where my partner works has the option of “trespassing” a patron for a length of time up to a year, for various bad behavior including adult content watching on a computer without a private screen. (The patron is notified that if they return in that time period they will be considered trespassing, and required to leave; if they don’t leave, the library will call the police.)

            I have not heard about what happens if someone who is already trespassed for a year causes more problems on purpose.

            1. Wintermute*

              legally in anywhere I’ve ever lived they often CHOOSE to allow trespass orders to expire but that isn’t required or even how they normally work– if you’re disruptive or destroy property a store will usually trespass you for life, if you ever return you may be arrested. Unless your state has some law saying governmental units can’t do that, or some special local ordinance that would prevent the library from doing so, they could bar someone for life.

            2. Scout*

              My system has a similar method, but if someone breaks a particularly big rule (think physically harming or threatening another patron or coworker, or stealing library property) they can be trespassed for longer–3 to 5 years. It’s also possible for someone to be repeatedly trespassed, so if you break a rule that gets you trespassed for a year, you can come in and break another one once your time is up and be trespassed once again.

        1. LifeBeforeCorona*

          Our local library has called the police on patrons viewing NSFW content and people have been charged for accessing CP. It’s one of the downsides of providing free internet for the community.

        2. zuzu*

          I remember my classmates from library school who worked at NYPL all complained about the old men who watched porn on the library computers. They couldn’t do anything about them unless they were not using headphones or a privacy screen, bothering other patrons, or they were near a children’s area, because library policy is to not get involved in policing what kind of content patrons accessed on the computers.

          Which is good policy. It just kind of wears down the staff, who have to walk behind these guys on a regular basis and see what’s on their screens. And NYPL pays next to nothing for the privilege.

          1. zuzu*

            All of this is why the suburban library systems wound up poaching a lot of the NYPL staff once they got their MLIS’s/MSLIS’s — a lot more money, and fewer dirty old men to manage.

      2. Santiago*

        Yes, it seems somewhat cowardly honestly. Sorry if this seems unkind, but the librarians also have a duty to the public/patrons to make sure the library functions continue.

        1. just another librarian*

          It isn’t unkind, it is the truth. Our whole job entails making sure the library functions for patrons.

          It is also just bad optics for a staff member to be allowed to do that and could lead to patrons having loud devices with the defense of “well, your staff do it too!”

          1. Evelyn Carnahan*

            Another librarian here. I wonder if the library in question has any kind of noise policy or patron code of conduct. I would be rather surprised if they didn’t have one as part of a public library system in a major city, and they should develop one if they don’t. I know, typical librarian advocating to make a new policy because of one person, but if this one person is affecting how the library functions it is necessary. If this policy already exists the library staff need to start enforcing it for everyone, not just patrons.

            1. just another librarian*

              I would be surprised if they didn’t have patron behavior policies with the size of the system that OP has described, but weirder things have happened in library world. I’m always shocked to find out some libraries don’t have any written policies – even for Internet use!!!

              I do agree though, if there is no mention of noise level in their policy (if they have one), there needs to be and everyone, including staff, need to abide by it. I’m not surprised if some form of it does exist and they just haven’t stepped up to enforce it. I find a lot of us (including myself sometimes!) in the library world are non-confrontational to a fault.

              1. Evelyn Carnahan*

                I agree, we are way too non-confrontational as a field! I have worked at libraries that didn’t have written policies, but they were very small and niche (and had not had credentialed or experienced library workers there for years). I actually had a similar situation years ago when I worked at a shared library and I was asked by one of my patrons to ask an employee and patron of the other library in the space to be quiet. We didn’t have a noise policy, so I felt like it was a much more personal issue. I’m going to assume that there is a policy, and the issue is that no one has thought to explain that to Patsy. I love enforcing policies, partly because it removes the personal aspect of whatever the problem is.

                I really encourage LW2 to check their library’s policies and use that to frame the conversation with Patsy. It doesn’t have to be confrontational at all.

        2. Cabbagepants*

          I agree. So many patrons have not been able to enjoy or utilize the library and its offerings due to this. It’s mismanagement, plain and simple.

          once the cleaner noise issue is resolved, I hope the staff hold an internal review of other instances where they have avoided a hard conversation and let issues fester as a result.

        3. Wintermute*

          I find it funny that this advice comes up all the time and people always say it sounds unkind.

          But sometimes kindness is a zero sum game, by being excessively tolerant of one person’s bad behavior you can make hundreds miserable.

        4. Tedious Cat*

          Crap like this is why I will never work in libraries again. Too many mealy-mouthed people who would rather avoid conflict than be good stewards of their libraries. Hell, I was once told I was mean and unprofessional for refusing to send ILL materials to a former patron that never returned anything in his life.

          1. Evan Þ*

            As a frequent ILL patron (who’s always returned them on time! even when I really wished I could renew them!), thank you.

          2. zuzu*

            I used to work with an access services librarian who refused to put books in the professors’ mailboxes and made them come get them directly from him, because too many ILL’s had disappeared from their mailboxes and he had to pay the fines. They were stealing from each other in the mailroom.

            Oh, how they whined and complained about that, especially since they got their books from the main campus library delivered. He held firm.

      3. Ellis Bell*

        Sometimes it’s telling people the obvious things that trips you up the most. It feels too patronizing.

        1. GammaGirl1908*

          True, but it still has to be done, and it’s a critical management skill.

          It’s so much kinder to let people know something like this before it becomes a huge write-to-an-advice-column level deal.

          I would rather someone tap my shoulder on day four than realize I’ve been doing an awkward thing that’s annoying everyone for two years.

        2. Emmy Noether*

          Ain’t that the truth! I’m currently working up the courage to tell my inlaws to put their water glasses on the %#&@%× DRYING RACK to dry instead of the wooden countertop next to it*, and I’m having trouble not sounding in my head like I think they’re four years old.

          * I’d actually prefer they, as guests, leave their glasses on the table and just let us put them in the machine, but that’s a loosing battle.

          1. Snarl Trolley*

            As someone who never got a “social etiquette rulebook” growing up and therefore has made a ton of faux-pas leading to major frustration and consternation from people WITH the rulebook – it is absolutely a kindness to simply say things directly when you need someone to behave X Way when they’re repeatedly behaving Y Way.

            I didn’t understand “”””common sense””” things like “hey, wet glasses form condensation rings on some surfaces and some people have real strong feelings against the look of those rings” because growing up it just…never mattered. I’m more than happy to abide by someone else’s rules, if they just communicate it clearly and directly – that doesn’t feel condescending; it just feels like…you telling me matter-of-factly whatcha need from me.

            1. Pdweasel*

              Exactly. It’s one of the things I legitimately like about New Yorkers and Parisians—you know exactly where you stand. Like the second day of my study abroad, when my Parisian host mum straight-up told me not to wear shoes in the house, lest I eff up the hardwood floors.

    5. GammaGirl1908*

      It’s so odd that they are tiptoeing around this. About the third time someone had to speak to her, they should have said, “Patsy, I’m sorry if we weren’t clear before, but we need to you ALWAYS have your phone on silent or headphones. It’s totally fine to use your device, but only you should be able to hear your show or music. Going forward, can you please make sure to use your headphones all the time so your shows aren’t audible throughout the space? Thanks!”

      Yes, she should have made the leap, but once she didn’t, someone needed to say it to her plainly.

      1. Totally Minnie*

        Absolutely. I’m a former librarian and I had to explicitly tell someone I supervised “It is very rude to listen to things on your phone in public without headphones. Out of courtesy for our coworkers and customers, I need you to stop doing that.”

        It felt awkward and uncomfortable and she did not like learning that she had been doing a rude thing all this time. But it was a conversation that needed to happen and as the person in charge, it was on me to have it.

        1. Jaunty Banana Hat I*

          This. I just really can’t understand how they’re not able to have a very simple conversation about something that is a basic tenet of public libraries. It makes me wonder about everything else going on at that library. How on earth do they handle problem patrons if they can’t handle this tiny issue with someone who works for them?

          1. Parakeet*

            Sometimes it’s easier (well, for me anyway, and I’m guessing I’m not the only person out there like this) to be blunt and firm with more obviously problematic people. And harder when the problem is more subtle and/or there’s more of an existing connection with the person (but not quite enough of one to where you’re comfortable being frank with each other as close friends often are).

            I am the epitome of this problem, and it’s something I try to be conscious of and work on, but it’s very much a struggle.

        2. Longtime Reader*

          Frankly, telling someone something like this is essentially a kind thing to do. Then they can at least make an informed decision about whether they want to keep doing something that makes everyone hate them.

    6. Cherry Sours*

      I’m surprised that employees are permitted to use their phone at work. Because, work.

      Re: volume, the housekeeper may have an auditory issue. I wear hearing aids sometimes, but don’t bother at home, because I live alone and nobody is here to complain about the volume.

      The cost for traditional hearing aids is beyond ridiculous in the United States, and to my knowledge not covered by insurance here. Has anyone responding to this letter tried the ones available in U.S. stores? I would be interested in feedback…both pros and cons. Thanks!

      1. Allonge*

        If this is the issue then I am really sorry for Patsy, but as these calls and media-listening are not part of her doing her job, the solution is that she cleans without the shows etc.

        I totally understand it being boring, but that cannot be resolved at the expense of the functioning of the workplace. If part of her work is after closing, she could rock out then.

        1. Pastor Petty Labelle*

          Exactly. I get she likes the noise while she works. Some people are like that. But she cannot allow her desire for noise get in the way of the actual functioning of the library.

          I don’t think this has been made clear to her. She is thinking, oh I can’t have loud music during story time. I’ll just go clean elsewhere during that time. Insread of — no loud music at all.

          1. Slovenly Braid Cultist*

            I don’t think anyone’s saying it justifies the behavior, but it’s possible that she doesn’t realize how loud her music/conversation/show is if she’s subconsciously assuming it sounds to other people the way it sounds to her.

            1. Reality.Bites*

              Hard of hearing isn’t the issue. There’s no acceptable volume level for a library employee to be listening on speaker.

              1. Andy*

                There’s no acceptable volume level for an adult in a public space to be listening on speaker.

                Yes, I’m a zealot about this.

      2. Insert Clever Name Here*

        That could be, but even so she needs to keep her phone sound off at the library. Really if there is any medical thing going on, that’s for Patsy’s boss to handle, not OP (unless it results in an accommodation while Patsy is working at OP’s library…but even then that won’t be “phone on full volume”).

      3. Marcela*

        I have used my phone to play music or the radio at work. However, I was not in a library, but rather in an office where I could close the door. I also kept the volume low enough to not disturb others.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          At Exjob, I couldn’t stream music except for Pandora and I didn’t want to pay for that, so I used my phone and wore headphones.

      4. Evelyn Carnahan*

        Eh, I work in a library and this is very normal unless you’re working at a public service point. We even use it as a selling point when we have lots of books to shelve at the end of the semester. I think it’s also fair to point out that cleaning is an extremely boring job, and a job that can be really hard at a public library. Patsy doesn’t need to take a vow of silence to do her job, she just needs to remember her headphones.

      5. Cake or Death*

        “I’m surprised that employees are permitted to use their phone at work. Because, work.”

        I think it’s more of a thing with certain professions. Like, at every airport I’ve been to where someone was cleaning the bathroom, they’re always on a speakerphone call. I see a lot of mail carriers and other delivery persons doing it too.

      6. Observer*

        volume, the housekeeper may have an auditory issue.

        And? She doesn’t need to have these shows on to do her work. Nor does her work require her to have all of these conversations.

        And, as it happens, good headsets / earbuds are actually a big boon to a lot of people with auditory issues. This is all speculation of course. But my point is that even if Patsy has auditory issues, that doesn’t mean that shutting the noise down needs to be a problem.

    7. Worldwalker*

      Yeah, this is ridiculous. Some shushing is absolutely needed here. One person can’t be allowed to disrupt all of the functions of the library and disturb other patrons trying to use the library. That’s even more true when the person is an employee!

    8. Keymaster in absentia*

      Yeah, this wouldn’t fly in our workplace either and we’re a bit noisy sometimes. If you must listen to music then I’d better not be able to hear it from over 6 foot away.

      A word along the lines of ‘This can’t continue – either you stop making this much of a racket or we’re going to have to complain to your manager’. Don’t leave room for explanations. It stops.

      The kindest thing you can do for someone who is blatantly out of line is to tell them that you are not going to just live with it and there will be consequences if they continue. It truly doesn’t matter if they have a physical/mental problem or are in poor circumstances because trust me the harm of letting them believe that this behaviour is acceptable can last a lot longer than one job.

      1. Expelliarmus*

        That’s a massive conclusion to leap to; she has not been explicitly told what is acceptable, so until that happens we cannot say that she’s deliberately trying to take advantage.

        1. Zap R.*

          “My supervisor has spoken to her multiple times and in the moment, she’ll put her phone away, but the next day it comes back.”

          1. Evelyn Carnahan*

            In Patsy’s defense, it sounds like LW2 and their boss have spoken to Patsy but haven’t been explicit that this needs to happen every day. The supervisor may have said something like “Hey Patsy, can you turn your phone off? It’s disrupting story time,” and that is not the same as saying “Patsy, we have a code of conduct here that says no one can listen to their phone through the speaker because it disturbs everyone else in the library. You can listen to your phone with headphones or ear buds, but you cannot have your speaker on when the library is open.”

          2. Observer*

            My supervisor has spoken to her multiple times and in the moment, she’ll put her phone away, but the next day it comes back

            Yes, but what have they actually SAID. It’s pretty obvious that no one has laid it out for her. Because she seems “genuinely confused”. That doesn’t happen when the situation is laid out as “You cannot do this thing” rather than a lot of tlaking about it and around it (eg “You know, perhaps you could put your phone away because some people might be bothered by it.”) And they gave her a *gift* of ear pods, then never said boo when the ear pods disappeared.

    9. Nosey Nelly*

      Honestly, I work for a municipality and what Patsey’s boss is most likely to do is to switch her with another cleaner currently stationed somewhere noisier. They likely have cleaners at hockey rinks, rec centers, etc that won’t mind the noise as much and a cleaner who doesn’t mind headphones that can go to the library.

    10. Dust Bunny*

      Not using your speaker in public is pretty much smartphone 101, for almost any context: The library, the bus, etc.

      I appreciate that the OP doesn’t want to get Patsy in trouble but her concern can’t be at the expense of literally everyone else who wants to use the library.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Not using your speaker in public is pretty much smartphone 101, for almost any context: The library, the bus, etc.

        Oh man, don’t get me going. I’m tempted to buy a bunch of cheap earbuds and start handing them out. >_<

    11. Hedgehog*


      Plenty of studies have shown hiring discrimination based on an applicant’s name is widespread.

      Here’s one article detailing some of the studies: https://www.wired.co.uk/article/name-discrimination

      Versions of this experiment showed resumes got fewer callbacks (in some cases, 21% fewer) when the applicant’s name is “Jose,” instead of “Joe,” or “Bianca” instead of “Yolanda” – even when everything else in the resume is identical.

      Target settled a class action lawsuit over racial hiring discrimination after Kalisha White demonstrated the retailer rejected both identical applicants and *more qualified* applicants with typically Black names in favor of applicants with typically white names.

      While racist or xenophobic hiring discrimination is the usual focus of these studies, I wouldn’t be surprised if goth names also faced discrimination.

      It’s ok to choose to put your real name on an application and just say, “this is me; if they don’t like it then it’s not workplace for me.” That’s a valid choice.

      It’s equally valid to say, “I want to eliminate the risk of hiring discrimination when applying for jobs, so I’ll put the most socially acceptable name on my resume.”

      It’s your call. Neither choice is wrong.

  2. CL*

    #5 – once you have an offer, ask for the full health insurance plan documents. This should be an obvious thing when they give you a salary offer but it never is.

    1. Cmdrshprd*

      yeah I don’t think it is a big deal usually. last time I was interviewing I would get the general benefit summaries. but I asked for the full detail plan breakdown, the kind you get upon hire and/or open enrollment.

      insurance was a major concern last time I switched jobs, because I had a 100% employer paid gold/platinum level plan for the whole family, with $0 deductible.

      so I had to make sure that the increased insurance/medical costs would be covered by the salary increase and not end up losing money.

      1. nnn*

        The general benefit summaries won’t have the info they need. They need the plan formulary and they probably do have to call to get it.

        1. Cmdrshprd*

          Right, I’m saying most companies gave me the benefit summaries first, but I would ask and they would give me more detail plan information. An explanation of benefits I think, that usually had more detailed prescription tier, network coverage, information and links to look into specific drugs.

          I think with the full plan details it would have the info to call the insurance company to ask for the plan formulary, it is likely the employer does not have it.

      2. Lazy Cat's Mom*

        I’m having this exact issue right now. I’ve been at my current job 20+ years and health insurance is 100pc covered with a $1,500 deductible. The company called that a high-deductible plan.
        But I just interviewed for a job that only provides a stipend for you to go out and get your own. I reached out to a friend who’s job it is to help people find coverage through the healthcare exchanges and, given certain health conditions, I could be paying $400-700/month with a deductible of up to $10,000.
        I’m really terrified. I know it will really depend on the offer (assuming I get it). But this makes me realize how spoiled I am at my current company.
        I may end up not leaving just because of this.

        1. Cmdrshprd*

          Yes it is definitely something to keep in consideration.

          With the job move we started to have to pay about $550 ( $6,600 year) a month just in premiums, that was signing up for a High deductible plan of $4,000. So the job move would mean going from essentially $0 healthcare costs a year (not counting co-pays), to about $11,000 a year in healthcare costs.

          For me I set my benchmark at needing an increase of at least $20k to make a move worth it. To be able to have an actual decent cash in my pocket raise in addition to covering the extra costs incurred. But this really would vary by employer depending on how much healthcare costs they covered.

          One job I interviewed for did say they paid a $400 monthly stipend toward insurance, I suspect this one would have needed a much higher salary than they were, because the cost for insurance for the whole family would have been much higher.

          1. Cmdrshprd*

            Maybe, it could be but it really depends on the company. It does need a deeper look. My previous employer had low pay but great/premium benefits. Over all the benefits were worth about $20k ( I would guess) on top of the annual salary.

            From my recentish job search, it is rare/uncommon for an employer to pay 100% of insurance for an employee, maybe 1 or 2 out of the 50+ places I applied offered 100% insurance.

            For smaller employers it could be easier/cheaper to just give a stipend and let an employee get their own insurance rather than paying fees to setup and manage an insurance plan for 3/4 people. I don’t even know if they even could. In stead of paying $350 towards the premium and paying $50 in fees, they can just give the employee the full $400 stipend to go towards insurance.

            For a single person the $400 might be enough for their needs to get an emergency plan. But for others it might not be enough if the family plan is $1k a month even with $400 they still owe $600.

          2. Nesprin*

            Companies that cover health benefit X do so as a recruiting/retention tool. I would argue that the sort of company who judges an applicant on their need for specific medication X or specific coverage for procedure Y is exactly the sort of company I would like to avoid.

      3. TootsNYC*

        >> the kind you get upon hire and/or open enrollment.

        This is why it shouldn’t be a big deal to get those—they were prepared for the last open enrollment. They’re handy. Ask for them.

    2. Skippy*

      I’ve never gotten the kind of info OP needs from health insurance plan documents… ideally it works be in the formulary, but insurers are notorious for bait and switch. calling as though you were a patient and asking under exactly what circumstances it will be covered is the best bet…

      1. Coverage Associate*

        I have a letter from my insurance company, dated in the middle of the plan year, saying that a formerly covered medication would no longer be covered. It’s so unfair that we have to wait until open enrollment, but they can change things mid policy period.

        I am an insurance lawyer, and insurers in any other context can’t do something similar without at least a premium discount.

        1. Betsy*

          It seems like a change in the drugs covered should count as much as getting married/divorced or having a baby for being able to modify your insurance in the middle of the plan year, instead of waiting for open enrollment. I’m not arguing that it does count, just that it should.

          1. Pastor Petty Labelle*

            Well, the real structural solution is 1) stop tying insurance to employment. Everyone can buy on the exchange, either subsidized or not; 2) no open enrollment, as needs change you can adjust it just like any other insurance. I can change my car insurance mid policy period (which is only 6 months anyway). Why not health insurance?

            1. Rosemary*

              I 100% agree with your first point, but I do understand why you can’t change your plan anytime you want. Otherwise everyone would get the lowest plan to meet their current needs, and then switch to a higher tier plan if/when they need it.

        2. Guacamole Bob*

          I got one of those for my diabetic child’s insulin. A rather stressful few minutes until I was able to figure out through google that the substitute they’re switching us to is a new generic made on the same manufacturing lines under a different name for some bureaucratic reasons around insurance billing and price caps.

          (All insurance will cover the basic kind of fast-acting insulin he uses, but people can react differently to different formulations and brands so switching is sometimes trivial but sometimes not.)

      2. KittyGhost*

        Another good way to get the formulary information can be to contact the person at the insurance company that handles the employer’s account. That’s how I ended up getting the information the last time I had to do this song and dance. (Shockingly the CS reps didn’t have a system to handle someone who isn’t currently a patient.)

    3. ItsNotThatEasy*

      In my experience it’s almost impossible to even get the plan overviews, let alone detailed info, before actual plan enrollment. This is true even as an employee on the plan.

      If you need a specific drug you need the formulary which you will never get on paper and which changes frequently including in the middle of a plan year.

      The best bet for something like this is to hope you can get it anyway if it’s not covered by default through appeals or prior auth or documenting that other drugs they do cover don’t work.

      1. Dog momma*

        Has to be considered medical necessity by the plan, ( which is the prior auth & appeal process), not a contract exclusion. retired RN with 20+ yrs of UM review for every entity you can think of. And the company can choose not to cover..just about anything.. by the plan they offer.

    4. Too stunned to speak*

      And I don’t even think they need to say they have a medical condition if they don’t want to. When I was offered my current job, I told the recruiter that good health insurance was a priority in my total compensation package and I asked to see all of the paperwork with the offer. You could also ask for the group number to verify specific coverage.

      In my case, the coverage was good, but the premiums were quite a bit higher, so I used that as leverage to counter their offer, which they accepted.

      1. Betsy*

        Agree. I have always asked to see the benefits package, especially health insurance, since… lemme think… around 2000. The first few times, the potential employer was surprised but gave me the info. I had a much harder time with the insurance company. When I would call to get details about the coverage, they would say, “oh, you’ll get all that info after you’re onboarded.” I kept having to repeat that the info I was seeking would help me decide if I was going to even accept the job offer. I think it’s more expected these days that a potential new hire will want that info.

    5. learnedthehardway*

      From a recruitment perspective, I (as the recruiter) would rather get this question answered BEFORE we get to an offer. There’s no point wasting the hiring manager’s or the candidate’s time (or mine), if the candidate cannot accept an offer because the company’s health insurance doesn’t cover what they need. Conversely, if there’s a business reason to do so, or if the company is in the middle of renegotiating benefits coverage, sometimes a specific need can be considered (very unusually, but it has happened)

      Candidates will often ask about health insurance coverage after the 2nd interview – I can provide a benefits document that outlines the company’s coverages. For anything more specific – like what medications are covered – I would have to refer that question to the benefits coordinator. I would rather do that early, than later. The very last thing I want is the hiring manager having fallen in love with a candidate they can’t hire.

      So, for the OP, I would bring this up with the HR / Recruitment person after the 2nd interview, and ask they can get their benefits person to check whether the meds are covered. Don’t tell them that YOU need them. Say you have a family member who needs them (it’s true, and avoids anyone wondering if you’re in good enough health to do the job).

      1. Rosemary*

        But you understand why a candidate would not want to offer up that it is critical they need to ensure they have the coverage they need before moving forward? In an ideal world it would not matter, but as Alison pointed out, unconscious bias can come into play (and yes they could say it is for a family member, but even that could trigger concerns for the employer that they will need time off to care for that person, that they will generate inordinately high costs, etc). If an employer doesn’t want to waste their time interviewing someone who then turns down an offer due to inadequate health insurance, perhaps the employer should proactively offer up the health insurance details to ALL prospective employees.

      2. Salsa Your Face*

        My concern here is that the question might prompt HR to think “hmm, this candidate (or their family member) could have an expensive chronic health condition that might cause our group rates to go up” and then find an excuse not to hire them. I would be very hesitant to reveal any information that might suggest I’m an actual human before I had an offer in hand.

        1. Guacamole Bob*

          I’d think this depends on where you’re interviewing. My agency has 10,000+ employees, many of whom have union-negotiated benefits. A candidate asking their recruiting/HR rep about benefits would have zero impact on hiring – the hiring manager might not even know about it, much less care about the potential cost implications.

          At a company of 25 people, this seems like a much bigger risk – the person you’re interviewing with is more likely to have some involvement in the overall company finances and the specifics of insurance plan usage may have more of a relationship to the plan cost.

    6. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister*

      This is the move. I don’t even think it’s necessary to say they are checking to see if their medication is covered; just ask for full insurance plan details and premium amounts. If there is some specific info you need (like formulary number or something), just ask for that too. No big deal!

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Just to make sure people understand — the info that an employer will normally provide when you ask for full benefits details will almost never include whether a specific individual drug is covered. You nearly always will need to call.

    7. SpaceySteph*

      YES why is it pulling teeth to get info on the benefits package?! They give you salary down to the cent, but don’t give you details on what is usually the second biggest piece of your compensation.

    8. TootsNYC*

      I worked with someone who took a job with our company only to discover that insurance premiums went WAY up for a +1 (our company was prioritizing single employees or those with working spouses who could carry their own insurance), and ALL of her increase in salary went to cover her husband’s health insurance.

      That was an eye-opener about how important that aspect of compensation is.

  3. Scroller*

    LW#3, you wanted an honest opinion from a stranger: I would probably choose not to interview you unless your resume was far and above all the others. I am pro-goth (and other atypical varieties; I am a bit of a weirdo myself) in terms of appearance and unusual interests, but would question the judgement of someone who chose to go by that name professionally, and would cringe if I were introduced to you and asked to address you as Wolfskull. Sorry!

    If you genuinely don’t mind, maybe it’s a fun “nickname” you suggest when you get to know people better and therefore it isn’t the first impression?

    1. ThatOtherClare*

      Names are just grunts and squeaks and whistles we make to get each other’s attention. All throat flaps are silly when you boil it down to essentials. If it’s not something offensive is it really a problem? Maybe I’m unprofessional, but I tend to land on “Just let people enjoy things”.

      1. Dawn*

        It’s a problem when you’re submitting a marketing document under a name that’s going to impact the way that other people see you and your chances at getting a job, yes. And in some industries where whether it’s appropriate or not, client perception is going to matter, then yes, it will matter there too.

        “In a perfect world,” etc etc, but we don’t live in one.

        1. birch*

          The problem is that you’re assuming your version of the world is what designates what’s professional or not. people have all kinds of reasons for having a name that sounds “odd” to someone else’s ears, whether it’s from a culture you’re not familiar with, or they had creative parents, or chose the name themself. it doesn’t actually matter how people come about their names, it’s basic human decency to respect something that has no bearing on your life and should not reflect your assessment of a person’s ability to do their job. There really is no difference between LW and someone choosing to keep being called given names like Bunny or Princess or Dick or Yrjö or Patience or Apple, which are all perfectly normal names in their own cultures. If you’re willing to respect people’s given names because not to is discrimination, then you should respect chosen names for the same reason. We need a major culture shift on this, IMO.

          1. Roland*

            Just because something shouldn’t be a problem doesn’t mean it won’t be. It’s doing a disservice to job seekers to act like there’s no repercussions to their unusual choices. Trailblazing should be an informed choice.

            1. amoeba*

              Exactly. The LW wrote in to get an unbiased assessment about the impact that would have on their job search so they could figure that into their decision. We’d be doing them a disservice by going by “how it should be” instead.

              1. Winstonian*

                This. Sometimes the unvarnished truth is not the truth one wants to hear. Kudos to the LW for asking to know that and I don’t think it does them any favors still putting out the advice “oh the way it should work” because for a lot of people, right or wrong, it will matter.

              2. Bunny Lake Is Found*

                Yep. And it also isn’t like the LW is unaware that their name will LIKELY ruffle some traditionalist feathers–they are trying to gauge if this is only going to be an issue in conservative, white-shoe places (which may be places the LW’s gender expression is also seen as an unacceptable variation from a very specific conception of professionalism, so workplaces LW probably is OK self selecting out of) or if it will box them in to only the most free range, free expression, libertarian work environments–which could severely limit LW’s prospects depending upon their chosen field.

              3. AK*

                I’m fine with telling someone that’s it’s a problem, but why wouldn’t you push back on someone saying they would be part of that problem. We all know it’s not a perfect world (duh), but pointing out the problem will exist for someone isn’t the same as it being ok to participate in something you agree shouldn’t happen.

                1. SnackAttack*

                  But LW wasn’t asking if this commentariat would interview them – they asked if their name would affect their chances of getting interviewed in the larger corporate world. What we think doesn’t really matter.

            2. Dawn*

              Trailblazing is also generally an informed choice best made by those already able to afford food and shelter.

              OP is applying for jobs. If there was ever a time to choose not to let your freak flag fly right out of the gate, this and funerals would be it.

          2. münchner kindl*

            I see the difference that names that sound weird because they are from another culture or language are still not self-chosen.

            An adult person who picks a name that is weird in their culture (mainstream US) will be judged for that because it’s obviously a choice.

            If it were just a gender-neutral LGBTIA+ name, I would see less of a problem with it, but a goth name on top?

            The problem is that people don’t know LW yet, so a weird self-chosen name signals weirdness, and not all weirdness is good, just quirky.

            If LW just applied with her legal middle name or a normal gender-neutral name, and after a few month, when their colleagues know them, says “Can you call me Wolfskull …” then the reaction will be less dramatic.

            1. ArcticGlimmer*

              The problem in this is that in many cases you cannot tell from anything visible which one it is – cultural or selfchosen. And we shouldn’t encourage such assumptions of “normal” anyway, because we all know the perception of normal is very skewed towards middle aged white people.

              Which is why where I live many places do their recruiting anonymously through a website.

                1. Irish Teacher.*

                  I suspect a significant percentage of those who would judge a person negatively for or who wouldn’t employ them because of their name wouldn’t do a quick google search though.

            2. bamcheeks*

              Lots of the younger non-binary people I know are choosing names which are either astronomical or precious or semi-precious stones, and I love it. You can see a nomenclature culture developing in real time!

                1. Onyx*

                  I guess it depends, but Amber, Jade, Beryl, Jasper, Pearl, etc. are pretty common I think. Bixbite though…

                2. Dust Bunny*

                  I can think of tons that are already either established names or are not so far outside the usual slightly-hippie bounds that they wouldn’t be an issue. My actual name isn’t a stone or a flower or a star but it’s eccentric enough that it probably gives a similar impression, and I don’t think it’s been a handicap (aside from having to constantly correct people on the spelling, pronunciation, and meaning).

                  The name given, though, is way outside those bounds, and additionally is pretty grandiose. Sort of like if a face tattoo were a name. Face tattoos don’t make you a bad person but they’re going to be a problem in quite a few lines of work.

                3. bamcheeks*

                  Onyx is one of the names I know! And Jet, Jasper, Opal, Gem, Citrine. :) And Venus, Nova, Star, and Galaxy. I think they’re lovely!

                4. Yikes Stripes*

                  I had friends in high school named Jade and Amber and I currently have a coworker named Sol. Nobody has ever blinked about any of those that I’ve ever been aware of.

                  Off the top of my head names that are gem/stone related that I wouldn’t think were at all odd (though I might think some were a little old fashioned): Amber, Opal, Ruby, Jade, Pearl, Crystal, Garnet, Jasper, Jet, Flint, Jewel, Mica, Beryl, Galena, Ferrous/Ferris, Amethyst, Ebony, Oro, Coral

                  Ones I would think were (possibly very) unusual but not *weird*: Cinnabar, Lapis, Onyx, Peridot, Shale, Basalt, Carnelian, Cobalt, Heliodor, Larimar, Alexandrite, Celsian, Ametrine, Anatase, Gypsum

                  The neat thing about astronomical names is that so many things in space were named after characters from mythology. If I name my kid Orion, nobody’s likely to blink and it’s not clear if I named him after the myth or the constellation. Same for things like Andromeda, Phoebe, Dione, Rhea, Helene, Leda, Ersa. All of Uranus’s moons are named after Shakespearian characters, and I bet that not a single person would think that Miranda, Portia, Belinda, Bianca, Cordelia, Francisco, or Margaret were at all weird. Neptune’s moons include Larissa and Naiad, and while those are a little more unusual I don’t think they’re particularly weird.

                  Also, you don’t need to be rude.

            3. Hush42*

              So I interviewed someone who went by a name other than their legal name due to being LGBTQIA+. They put their legal name on their resume and application. Then when they came in for their first interview one of the things they addressed with me was that they prefer a different name. Basically they said something along the lines of “Rebecca is my legal name but I actually prefer Avalon” and that was the end of that. Later in that same interview they let me know that they use they/them pronouns. I let our HR department know and they updated all their data in the system with the correct name and pronouns.

              1. Hush42*

                Also, my first reaction to Wolfskull would 100% be huh… that’s a strange name. But I know someone whose parents named them Blue Moon and lets not forget celebrity baby names such as Apple. If I got a resume with a name of Wolfskull on it I would initially wonder if it was fake, but ultimately, if the experience was a match to what we were looking for I would still move them forward in the process. If I had already met them and they said Roger is my legal name but I actually go by Wolfskull I would think “huh, that’s weird” and then just go forward with the process.

                1. kiwiii*

                  I don’t know if it’s an exposure thing or what, but Apple seems less and less strange to me as the years pass.

                2. Stephanie*

                  I was just thinking that Apple is kind of a pretty name! Not one I would choose for my child but the exposure seems to have worked.

                3. SpaceySteph*

                  If I see a really weird name with no other context, I’m gonna think “they must have had weird parents” which is not something I hold against people, because we don’t choose our parents and because legally changing a name is not a free or easy process. (I changed my name for marriage, which is the cheapest and easiest way, and it was still a royal pain)

                  OP should probably trim down to Wolfskull LastName or Shadow LastName on the resume rather than the whole name though, because that’s… a lot.

                4. watermelon fruitcake*

                  I still don’t know why Apple was the subject of such controversy when it first came out. As far as celebrity names go, it was rather tame, and it’s a sweet name.

                  But then again, one of my favorite writers goes by Banana so…

                  I hate to say it but I would cock an eyebrow at “Wolfskull,” but without further context, I might check myself and wonder if it’s a Native American name. Whether this person would go forward in the hiring process would really depend on their interview.

                5. Cyborg Llama Horde*

                  Yeah, although I do agree with Steph about maybe trimming out some of the middle to make it a little bit less A LOT on first view.

                  I will also point out, to anyone who’s finding Wolfskull excessively weird, that a lot of our “normal” names have meanings that would be at least as strange to many modern English-speakers — we just are removed from the context and original meaning enough that we don’t know that this name means bear-battle or whatever.

                6. Springtime*

                  Same here! I’ve gotten a few resumes on which the name looked more like a screen name than a real name, and I’ve wondered. But the content looked legit, so I assumed that that really was the name someone used, whether chosen by their parents or themselves.

                  Wolfskull, my workplace would do its best to use someone’s preferred name. But what might give me pause is the seeming lack of commitment to your preferred name. It’s not unusual for people to people to say, “Whichever you prefer,” when they’re trying to navigate what others in their environment will find acceptable. But really it is so much nicer to just say with confidence, “Please call me _____.” Everyone gets to change their mind about what they put in the blank, but I don’t need the job of guessing what someone *really* prefers.

                  Since it sounds like you have a legal name that you find tolerable and a preferred name that you’re still growing into, if I were you, I would put something like J. Kelly “Wolfskull” Chase on the resume and sign the cover letter Wolfskull Chase. Really, I think parentheses would be better here than quotation marks Because this is not your nickname, but it would look as if Wolfskull were your former surname. If Wolfskull Shadow Bones is a compound first name (i.e, you want me say all of it when addressing you), then include all of it. If Shadow Bones is more like your middle names, then leave it off. I’ve noticed that younger people–which I’m assuming you are, possibly erroneously–like to include their middle names on their resumes, probably feeling it’s more official. But you really don’t need to unless you are known by your middle name, or your first and last names are really common.

                7. anonorama*

                  I might wonder if Wolfskull’s parents were famous! But otherwise, personally — shrug. That said, I’ve gone by my middle name since childhood and there are still people who find that weird. So, YMMV, it probably depends on the types of job/employer.

            4. Venus*

              I agree with applying using the middle name, and either putting the actual name in parentheses or mentioning it later. Kelly (Wolfskull Shadow) Bones, or Kelly Bones.

              I’m a big fan of experimentation to see the actual effects, so LW might want to try sending out a variety of names on resumes and see if there are different responses. WolfSkull Shadow Bones C, WolfSkull (Kelly) Shadow Bones C, Kelly (Wolfskull Shadow) Bones C, Kelly Bones

              1. The Editor-In-Chief*

                Also, “Wolf S. Carnahan” or “Shadow Carnahan” would probably go over a lot better for getting interviews.

                I’m all for letting one’s flag fly, but it IS going to raise eyebrows. If the OP pulls back a little on it, I don’t think having Wolfskull Shadow Bones Carnahan on the W-2 will be an issue. Presumably they don’t expect to be called Wolfskull Shadow Bones on every reference – a shortening is to be expected.

            5. Observer*

              If it were just a gender-neutral LGBTIA+ name, I would see less of a problem with it

              I would not see a problem with it at all. It’s like a lot of other markers – it’s not in your face. I’m not talking about hiding anything. But there is a world of a difference between something like normal chitchat where someone mentions that they and their same gender spouse did went to the same place that Other Person just mentioned vs putting “Gender queer Goth” (or “Cis Het”) in the “summary” portion of their resume.

              This is just a name. Yes, it’s a name that a particular person is comfortable with because it reflects to some extent who they are. But it’s still just a name.

          3. Kay*

            I would argue that names like Bunny, Princess, Apple, etc. are also names that are going to give some people pause in a professional setting (among other things). Some more so than others and perhaps location specific, but pretending that there won’t be repercussions in life is simply ignoring a reality whether we like that reality or not.

            1. Angela Zeigler*

              I think it’s similar to having face tattoos- A person is free to do what they like, and it doesn’t necessarily mean they’re a bad person, but it’s realistically going to get certain reactions from other people or interfere with certain work. So getting a face tattoo might show either a disregard for cultural norms or a lack of awareness for how people around them will respond.

            2. Yikes Stripes*

              I was given the nickname Bunny when I was in high school, it stuck, and I’ve been Bunny for several decades. Almost everyone who knows me in a social setting calls me that, including most of my friends’ parents and casual acquaintances, I introduce myself as Bunny, and I answer to it the same way anyone would answer to the name they’ve had for 30+ years.

              I would never dream of using it in a professional setting. I use a shortened version of my legal first name, and the one time I wound up working with a friendly acquaintance I made sure to ask her to use that name instead – which she was happy to do, though she had never wondered if I had a different name before and had always thought that Bunny was my wallet name (which I found kind of hilarious.) I just don’t particularly want to have to deal with the potential fallout of being a short very femme very curvy woman named Bunny at work, thanks.

              Long story short, yeah, OP, I’d use your legal name on work related documents. I honestly identify *far* more as Bunny than I do (legal name), but I don’t want to run the risk of having people in my professional life not take me seriously because of my name.

          4. Friendo*

            I’m not assuming my version of the world, I’m assuming a version of the world that I currently work in.

        2. Worldwalker*

          People were asked to rate two different wines, and told that one was more expensive than the other. In fact, they were the same wine! But they consistently rated the “expensive” one higher. Image influences perception to a lot of people — and those are the people you’re trying to sell yourself (or your wine) to.

          1. ampersand*

            Yep. Psychology and perceptions are weird.

            It would be great if things like names didn’t matter, but we have years of evidence indicating otherwise.

        3. CountryLass*

          A company I used to work for had an employee named Storm. And this was… early 2000’s? I’d never come across that name in a professional capacity before, but I moved passed it quite quickly and easily. Wolfskull Shadow Bones however? That’s a bit more of a stretch… Ironically Shadow as a first name would be easier… Maybe it’s the ‘skull’ part? I think I would definitely find it weirder to introduce Wolfskull more than just Wolf, or Shadow.

          1. Kes*

            Yeah, that was my reaction as well – for work a slightly toned down version like Wolf or Shadow might be a good compromise from Wolfskull Shadow Bones, which is kind of a lot, while still using part of the name OP chose for themself.

            1. Csethiro Ceredin*

              Hmmm, I think maybe the volume of names makes it stand out more (in a way that some may judge) than any of the individual names.

              You usually don’t see middle names on resumes so it might seem that they are making some kind of point, which may be off-putting to some employers.

              I imagine this heavily depends on the industry, though. An investment banking firm would have a different take from a record label.

              1. Enoby*

                The number of names – especially unusual ones – is giving Ebony Dark’ness Dementia Raven Way* vibes. The name is a perfectly valid personal choice! But not every valid personal choice needs to be front and center with people who have never encountered you before and have no context or way of knowing if you’re a competent professional who happens to have an unusual name, or, well, something else.

                *if you don’t already get this reference, only google it if you have time to stare at your screen wondering what you’ve just read

                1. Dawn*

                  I think a lot less people would get the reference I went for, which was Dark Smoke Puncher, but same vibes again, right down to Doc’s, “Ooh, you’re going to regret that one when you’re older.”

                2. Kinz*

                  I was looking for this comment because that’s what I immediately thought of and I’d have a hard time deciding if the resume were a troll.

              2. IneffableBastard*

                I agree with you. I am a queer person who goes by a chosen name myself, and to be honest I would be a bit concerned about the LW’s judgment ability. It is a grandiose, over-the-top name, that I would absolutely love in a DnD group or another casual set-up like a club or friend group. For work, I would chose a much shorter version, less grandiose but very cool.

            2. Mango Freak*

              Yeah–tbh for me it’s having both “skull” AND “bones” in there that would give me problems taking the person seriously.

              I would try to check that, but throwing that many goth nouns at me all together just makes me think of Ebony Dark’ness Dementia Raven Way.

              1. MusicWithRocksIn*

                That got me too! My brain was totally de-railed by thinking ‘a skull is already a bone’.

          2. lyonite*

            That’s what I was thinking–would a shortened version work? Most people don’t put their middle names on job applications, and a resume from Wolf Lastname is going to raise a lot fewer eyebrows than the whole five syllables.

          3. Modesty Poncho*

            I had the same thought re: Wolf or Shadow. Shadow makes me think of American Gods, so there’s some precedent in my head for using it as a name.

        4. LWH*

          I think a lot of people here want to talk about how the professional world should be versus people giving advice based on the way the professional world currently is. Its currently not a very open minded place, and even though it sounds harsh it doesn’t help any LW to give them advice based on what is fair and how things should be when the real world results of their choices are based on how it currently is. The professional world sucks in a lot of ways and most of the advice here is about how to navigate it. It can both be true that it’s unfair to judge people on their chosen name and that people in the professional world right now absolutely will do it.

          1. watermelon fruitcake*

            I think a lot of people here want to talk about how the professional world should be versus people giving advice based on the way the professional world currently is.

            I notice this, too! And I find myself falling into a bit of a thought trap. Since society’s norms and mores are defined by and agreed upon by consensus, then the only way to change them is by consensus, meaning we (as in, The Collective, The Masses, The Public, etc.) have to implicitly agree to normalize something. If we keep rigidly to currently held norms, then we are necessarily closing out the possibility of progress or change. At the same time… telling somebody to just go ahead and buck norms because society is lagging and we’ve got to kick it into gear, that’s simply not helpful or wise. We’re driving that person toward failure or stagnation at best.

            I’m less concerned with names and more so on the topic of disability; in my current role, I interact with disabled and neurodivergent jobseekers quite a bit, many of the former also falling into the “invisible disability” category. The question of, “should I disclose my disability, and if so, when?” comes up in every single interaction. I desperately want to say, “of course. Disability and neurodiversity are normal, and we need to make ourselves visible in the workforce.” But I also know there is a real tendency of people making hiring decisions to roll their eyes at the prospect of “dealing with” a disability and making accommodations – even if they haven’t been requested! just on the assumption! – and yes, yes, “you wouldn’t want to work in an environment like that, anyway” but that presumes that 1. those environments are the minority of workplaces, and 2. the person you are speaking to has endless options for employment.

            I didn’t mean to go on too much of a tangent, but suffice it to say, we, the commentariat here, do have a bit of an obligation to those who write in for advice. The core of that is our advice needs to be rooted in current reality. Not in optimism, not in our own generally progressive opinions, not in the past or future, but based on the professional norms of now, wherever the writer is. And with that in mind… Wolfskull Shadow Bone C is a risky play as a first impression, outside of very specific and dare I say niche industries.

        5. AK*

          Some people will not be accepting of this = true

          This can have consequences = true.

          In a perfect world this wouldn’t matter, but it’s not a perfect world: true.

          Someone saying they would do this is ok and beyond reproach? Much less true in my mind. No one is arguing against telling the asker that this might be a problem. But the poster above was replying to someone saying they would be part of the problem.

      2. allathian*

        Yes, I agree, although what counts as offensive and what doesn’t depends on your language and culture, and even within a culture names tend to go out of fashion when they become euphemisms for something offensive. In families where Richard is a name that’s given to every first-born son, I bet that Rick and Ricky are more common nicknames than Dick, and that Dick as a given name is much less common now than it was a few decades ago.

        That said, if I met someone with an aggressive name like Wolfskull, I’d be a bit wary at first in a way that I wouldn’t be with a person with a more ordinary name. Even unusual names become labels as you get to know the person a bit better, it’s just that it might take a bit longer for me to get there than with a more ordinary name. And people who choose unusual names for themselves had better be prepared to explain the story behind them, as most people will assume that there *is* a story and that you’d be willing to discuss it, or else you wouldn’t have chosen such an unusual name.

        Speaking of aggressive names, my maternal grandfather’s name was Toivo (hope) and his brother was Usko (faith). They had two sisters, Ansa (trap), and Miina (mine, as in explosive device). I was honestly appalled when I learned this as a teenager, poor girls!

        1. Anonymous cat*

          For the sisters, were those the most common definitions of the names or possible meanings that people didn’t use often? Like, Miina usually meant someone really enthusiastic, but you might mean land mine if you thought about it.

          If those were the standard, I agree, those poor girls!

        2. KateM*

          I always thought Mi(i)na was short of Wilhelmina or something like that. Could it be the just a coincidence that the shortened for had another meaning in your language?

        3. Liparis Liparis*

          A Finn here! Ansa and Miina were really common names back in the day, and you really don’t think about the literal meaning when you hear them. They’re just names! Just like you could meet someone called Sue and NOT think “oh her parents must have been lawyers”.

          1. JSPA*

            Exactly. Nobody expects “Bob” or “Buck” to dip up and down. Or Cliff to be craggy. Or Max to be gigantic. Or that Victor will always fight to win. How many people think of the plant when meeting “Heather” or “Myrtle”?

            Returning to the main topic, the LW’s name itself? No problem. (Any giggles on my end would be short-lived, entirely internal, and recognized as being entirely due to my own sophomoric brain.)

            I’d be more distracted by the whiff of [paraphrasing and extrapolating for emphasis and perhaps for comic effect]:

            “I myself am very interesting, and edgy. Let me emphasize for you how interesting and edgy I am by disclosing and centering my full, interesting and edgy chosen name, one that is rich in meaning and that I naturally wish to be called. Unless you don’t like that, in which case (because I know that interesting and edgy people often have to cram themselves into little boxes and work for people who are less interesting and edgy but who can of course also be excellent people), please call me Jane.”

            1. Emmy Noether*

              I seem to have a stronger association with the other meaning of such names than most people, to the point that I issued a blanket veto on them when choosing our children’s names (and vetoed Iris, specifically). But I’m not going to be weird about it with people who have those names, obviously, and after a while it’s just their name. I also don’t expect them to embody the word (though I would find it funny if they did, or embodied the opposite).

              1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

                I also fall into the “I wouldn’t choose this because I’m superstitious, but I don’t think they’re actually bad names” camp for names like Claudia or Rufus which otherwise I would quite like.

            2. Pippa K*

              Your last paragraph is entirely the read I would get from what the OP describes. People can use whatever name they like, but when they make a deliberate choice to communicate something about themselves, of course people are going to pay attention to that and assess the information provided accordingly. Wolfskull is, at best, going to seem like performative quirkiness.

              1. MusicWithRocksIn*

                To me it says that this person is going to be *a lot*. I would feel an immediate wave of exhaustion in anticipation of what socializing with this person would be like. To lean into the goth thing, I would peg this person as an energy vampire right away. It has absolutely nothing to do with how good they would be at their job and more to do with not wanting to work socialize with someone high maintenance. I knew some goth drama lamas back in my salad days and man they were SO much work.

            3. Kim Gwen*

              My literal first thought was “why not call yourself Ebony Dark’ness Dementia Raven Way?”
              it’s not charitable but it is where my mind went.

            4. Cqrit*

              This is exactly how it would code for me*. And the candidate would still get an interview, but would also have to demonstrate that they wouldn’t be like that to work with.

              Kudos to the LW to think to ask how might read to others and how it might impact their job search. In an ideal world, where implications and connotations don’t matter, sure, fine. But our world isn’t that one, and I think the candidate should be aware of adding that hurdle to their job search and only do so with full awareness of the implications, especially as they’re early career and thus don’t have a long work history to balance against.

              * It also implies – to me – a lot of maturing left to do. My first immediate thought would probably be along the lines of “life is not actually a D&D campaign. Possibly you should be aware of that already?” Probably followed by “please tell me this person is of First Nations heritage and I’m reacting oddly.” This is my unvarnished read, so the LW can see what might go through somebody’s head. And I absolutely would be reading (I would probably keep going out of mor id curiosity) to see that they were actually a star and not trying to signal “I’m a cool edge-lord” (which, in work teams means “I’m an utter ass to work with, independent of how well I perform technically,” in my experience).

              I don’t generally like suggesting people modify their names/use a nickname instead/etx but in this case, a compromise might be in using some of the short forms others have suggested. Because being aware of the difference between professional and personal personas is an important element of being, well, professional.

          2. Phryne*

            And presumably, most people in the US and Europe will not automatically assume anyone named Christian must be a devout fundamentalist, well, Christian.

              1. Irish Teacher.*

                I definitely wouldn’t assume the parents of somebody named Christian were Christian. I’m now wondering if many people do call their child “Christian” for religious reasons or if it’s mostly just liking the name and not even thinking of the connection. I suspect mostly the latter.

                1. helio*

                  I mean I can chime in as a non-Christian and say confidentially that we specifically did not consider “Christian” or “Christine” or “Christopher” because the etymology of all of those names revolves around Christ. So odds are pretty good to bet that the parents of someone named that way is Christian.

                  Anyway, to get back on track with the letter writer- I agree with some commenters above that it may be the “aggressiveness” of the name that is throwing stuff off. I can only speak to my culture (English-speaking American) but most given names aren’t usually associated with death/violence.

              2. Phryne*

                If you mean as opposed to Muslim or Jewish or Buddhist maybe. But otherwise Christian/new testament names are so thoroughly common, I doubt that. In my country 65% of the population is non-religious/atheist and a further percentage agnostic. People still name their kids Paul, Peter and Lukas, just because it is a common name they like the sound of.

                1. New Mom (of 1 5/9)*

                  None of those names are literally “Christian” which I think has more overtly Christian connotations than any other name in the New Testament except maybe “Jesus.”

                2. Phryne*

                  I know at least one person called Christiaan whose parents are not religious in the least. With all due respect, I am quite sure I know more about which names are used or common or not in my country.

          3. Re123*

            When I hear Ansa I think of either the classic Ansa and Oiva or Ansa Ikonen. The word trap doesn’t even cross my mind. With Miina I think of my great grandma Wilhemiina aka Miina-mummu. Or the girl in my class. Never thought of landmine unless it is the classic Miina Kenttä name joke. Defo not poor girls situation.

          4. rebelwithmouseyhair*

            Like Dolores in Spanish. I can’t forget that it means “pain” but apparently Spanish people can.

            1. Cyborg Llama Horde*

              Possibly you know this, but it’s actually a Mary-derivative name, coming from Nuestra Senora de Dolores (Our Lady of Pains), similar to Pilar (Our Lady of the Pillar) and Placeres (Our Lady of Pleasures).

              1. IneffableBastard*

                In Brazil, there are women named Conceição, which derives from Concepção (literally conception), which comes from Our Lady of the Imaculate Conception…

        4. Lexi Vipond*

          Willie is still around in Scotland (less common than it used to be, but so are a lot of the traditional names), and an English colleague of mine got really upset about it once – not the name, but the fact that he hadn’t decided to call himself Will or whatever just incase some hypothetical person got offended at some point!

          1. RVA Cat*

            Makes me wonder if he has a sister named Fanny – doesn’t that mean a far more offensive body part in the UK than the US?

            1. anononon*

              I used to teach Chinese students in a UK school, and the vast majority of them chose ‘English’ names rather than going by Anglicised versions of their Chinese names – so Yun Yee would become Rachel, and Jiehong would become William, and so on. Most of them chose very lovely ‘old fashioned’ names, like Lucy, or Ethel, or Wilberforce, which was really sweet.

              I did have to very gently explain to the girl who chose ‘Fanny’ as her new name that she was basically calling herself ‘vulva’ in a UK sense or ‘ass’ in a USA one.

              She picked a new name.

              1. ticktick*

                That’s still better than a situation my cousin encountered – same thing, Chinese woman wanting to pick an English name – she liked the name “Regina” (pronounced with the “i” as “eye”), but also wanted a name beginning with “V”, so she thought she’d combine the two. My cousin gently explained why that was a bad idea…I don’t remember the name she eventually picked, though.

            2. Venus*

              I didn’t need to read this! I have an older female coworker who is just annoying enough that I will now think of what her name means every time I see her. (it’s totally fine, I will never say a thing and now that I think about it… it will probably make me in a sillier mood when I see her which is overall a positive)

          2. Captain Vegetable (Crunch Crunch Crunch)*

            My school principal went by Dick. I assumed it was a power move.

              1. Two Dog Night*

                There’s currently an Illinois senator named Dick Durbin… which is probably why that name doesn’t even register with me as maybe problematic.

              2. GreyjoyGardens*

                There used to be a Congressman named “Dick Armey.” Yes, I had a juvenile laugh when hearing it.

            1. Dust Bunny*

              The name Richard runs in my family and they all traditionally go by “Dick”. You do you, male relatives.

            2. Irish Teacher.*

              The chairman of the board of the school I teach in is Dick. He’s an older man, so I’m guessing the name was more common when he was young.

              1. anonorama*

                The president of my university was named Richard Broadhead. As far as I know, he did not go by Dick. But, I never met the man.

            3. Cranky-saurus Rex*

              In the late 90s I was at a tailgate party in the parking lot for our local MLB team. There were 2 young men that were raising money for charity. Their pitch was walk up to someone in each group and ask “Are you a dick?” and upon getting their expected reply of no would ask for a donation to the charity–“only a dick wouldn’t support XYZ cause”…. except in our group, they approached Richard — who went by Dick.

              I don’t know why they thought it was a good pitch, but apparently they never considered running into anyone actually named Dick.

          3. Person from the Resume*

            Years ago, I worked with two men named Richard who went by Dick and Rich. Not for disambiguation, but these are common nicknames for Richard. Another coworker refused to call Dick “Dick” and mused to me why he would ever use that as a nickname. My assumption was that he has gone by Dick for much of his life and it IS HIS NAME and not a swear or a male body part. But for this coworker (who was not overtly prudish) it was always a male body part first and they did not want to say it.

          4. workswitholdstuff*

            Please tell me I’m not the only one who thought about ‘Ooor Wullie’ reading that…

            1. workswitholdstuff*

              nesting complete and utter fail – this was supposed to be up by the comment about Willie.

        5. not nice, don't care*

          I know one person who changed their given name to Wolf. They are a cop who enjoys all the power imbalance etc of American cops. Some ‘goth’ names sound way too adjacent to maga/nazi cosplay for me, so that would definitely affect how I saw the person.

          1. Kit*

            It’s also my spouse’s middle name, and the one he would have been given as a first name if Wolf Blitzer had come on the scene a little earlier – because it’s his mother’s maiden name. Both he and Blitzer are Jewish, and it’s a common name in the community (as is its Hebrew equivalent, Ze’ev)… so I’d just caution against a knee-jerk assumption that anyone called Wolf falls on the Nazi side of the line, please.

      3. Edina*

        But they’re not. They’re the “label” attached to each of us, and they have meaning and resonance, and it’s naive to think they don’t. Scroller is just pointing out the real world to the letter writer.

        1. anotherfan*

          And the tendency of some people to make judgments based on the worst versions of themself — there’s a local sports team known as the Beavers, and they’re changing the name because the girls team has had to deal with … well, things that girls shouldn’t have to deal with.

          I love an unusual name — but I have one that’s gender neutral, and I’ve often wondered whether a job I’d been interviewed for and didn’t get was because the interviewers had expected someone of a different gender. Which is to say that regardless of whether that was true or not, it did cross my mind. As it might to OP if they interviewed and didn’t get the job. The vast majority of businesses are amazingly conservative places, even in many professions that are deep in the creative realm. And that does have to be acknowledged along with the reminder that we don’t live in a perfect world.

          1. Minimal Pear*

            I have an unusual, gender-neutral name (it’s my birth name, although if it wasn’t I might’ve chosen it) and I’ve run into this as well. I’ve had people react to my name just existing (over email, without seeing me) with this weird sense of… disgust?

            1. Sparkly Tuxedo*

              I am very, very white and have a given name that reads as very, very black. People are always baffled, and I do wonder if I’ve been skipped over for interviews by people with racist biases.

              1. GovernmentLawyer*

                Same here, though replace “very, very white” with “very white-passing Middle Eastern”. (The name in question is one of those Arabic/Islamic names widely adopted by Black Americans since the ’70s–think “Malik”, “Aisha”, “Jamal”, “Aaliyah”, “Kareem”, etc.”). The funny thing is that my parents gave me this name *because* it was one of these names adopted by Black Americans–they figured that instead of giving me a less-recognizable Middle Eastern name, Americans would at least be able to spell and pronounce my name.

              2. Siege*

                A friend’s grandmother disowned her because she married a man whose middle name starts with Z; apparently that makes him Black. It was a bit of a surprise to Dave to learn that his wife’s grandmother knew more about his race, sight unseen, than he did.

          2. Jay (no, the other one)*

            Beaver College changed their name to Arcadia years ago when internet searching first became a thing. They didn’t show up on searches done in high schools because of blocking software.

      4. niknik*

        That might be the case for the majority of ‘traditional’ names. ‘Marc’, ‘Stacey’ etc. all have their etymological ancestry and had a meaning at some point, but that meaning is not present when using those names in a current, everyday setting. Can’t say the same about ‘Wolfskull’, really. Gamertag ? Yes. Artists Alias ? Yes. Professional moniker ? No.

        1. Richard Hershberger*

          This. Given names in Western culture generally don’t carry any semantic content. They once did, but that was centuries or even millennia back. Surnames are a bit trickier in that they mostly also don’t carry semantic content, but they did more recently than did given names and the original meaning often is transparent. We can assume that a family named Miller or Smith had those occupations at some point in the past, while a family named Johnson had a someone whose father was named John at that magic moment when the surname crystalized. Icelandic, being old school, has not yet reached this moment, so an Icelandic patronymic has full semantic content. It really is telling you Dad’s name.

          The thing is, when you move away from culturally standard given names, the absence of semantic content becomes less true. Meet someone named Sunshine and the standard meaning of the word is in play. If they were born in the 1970s we nod sagely and say “hippie parents” and go about our day. Wolfskull? I suppose it is possible that the parents were too much into D&D and bad fantasy movies, but self-chosen is the likelier guess. And while we shouldn’t blame Sunshine for their parents choice, if the choice is your own it is on you.

          Finally, I spent many years in the SCA, specifically as a herald (the band geeks of the SCA). SCA names are nearly all self-chosen, and we heralds had many discussions with people working on what to choose. One pattern, so common as to be a trope in the biz, was the newbie sword fighter who wanted an awesome scary name to intimidate. The standard advice was that, while we could certainly work with him on that, it wouldn’t help. If he was good with a sword, his reputation would speak for itself even if his name was cuddly like a bunny. If he was not good with a sword, that intimidating name would be an object of ridicule. Choose wisely.

          1. ABW*

            “Given names in Western culture generally don’t carry any semantic content.” This is not true at all. First off, they carry the semantics of gender. Most names are known as masculine or feminine, and most readers will presume that a person named Richard will present as male and use he/him pronouns. There are variations within this, but there is a semantic meaning. Furthermore, in a diverse society, names are going to connect people with communities. We make presumptions about people’s ethnic and religious background when we see first names that are associated.

          2. Kes*

            This is somewhat true. It’s true that a lot of common names don’t have semantic meaning that is in the modern lexicon and as a result we’ve become used to mostly using names as labels without considering the semantics when dealing with people. That said, lots of people still consider the semantics when selecting names for their children, and also where names do have semantic meaning (or sound like a word with semantic meaning) it can and sometimes does come up, at least as jokes, the short form of Richard being a prime example. And lots of times the type of name someone has does contribute to the first impression they give, and whether a name has common semantic meaning/what meaning it does have in that case is definitely part of that.

          3. I Have RBF*

            Back when I was in the SCA (early 80s) the most fearsome fighters were a couple of dukes named Paul and James. They were originals – from founding.

            Some of the pooh-poohing of names, though… Thordottir was not a claim of being the literal child of a god, it was a patronymic, but the England oriented lot didn’t want to hear it. Yet people took names of gods, like Thor, Freya or Brigid all the time. Some of the name police in the SCA were just… stupid (they weren’t always heralds.)

            1. Richard Hershberger*

              Paul of Bellatrix?

              Name police: The early SCA took a while to figure out what it was. The eventual resolution was, at least in theory, that the personae are fictional, but (ideally) historically plausible human beings with some restrictions about social status. But consider that in the early days you saw Elvish, as in Tolkien, names, and they were registerable into (IIRC) the 1990s.

              Along the way of figuring this out, there accreted some weird obsessions about claims, real or imagined, to undue status. That’s where the issue with Thorsdottir arises. Another one that I argued over for years was allowing “Sforza” as a surname. Sforza is a pretty standard Italian byname, but the famous Sforza family were dukes of Milan, so using the name could be imagined to be a claim to rank.

              The trend as of twenty or so years ago was moving away from this nonsense. I can’t really speak to it since then. I still have friends active in SCA heraldry, but I haven’t discussed this much with them. I hope the trend has continued.

          4. RVA Cat*

            ‘I’m thinking “Great English wordsmith,” my enemies and crew are thinking [gestures dramatically] “Shake! Spear!”‘

      5. Kella*

        All throat flaps may be silly essentially but that doesn’t mean you don’t take great care and consideration in choosing which words you use on every other part of your resume, right? Words have meaning. Which words you use to present yourself are a huge part of whether someone’s resume is dismissed or considered. And OP’s name is unique in that it is made up of words that have very strong non-name associations and meanings.

        This is also one of those, if a hiring manager was writing in asking for advice about how to handle Wolfskull’s application given the name Alison’s advice would probably be different. But Wolfskull needs to incorporate the knowledge of what the vast majority of hiring managers are going to think of their name in order to make an informed decision about how to present it.

      6. Me*

        Names are clearly more than simply grunts and whistles as evidenced by the fact that OP changed their name to be more reflective of who they are

        1. Siege*

          Thank you. I hate it when people (on this site in particular, but they do it everywhere) act like societal behavior we’ve developed to function isn’t relevant. It might not be emotionally resonant enough to me to understand, but I would be pretty ticked if someone started calling me Jared or Traffic Light or Marvelous Madame Marie if my name is Anne, and I’d bet cash money that the person you’re replying to would also be confused and upset if someone decided to unilaterally alter the grunts and throat-flaps they used to refer to them too. So no, it’s not that simple, it just doesn’t resonate as an issue for that person.

        2. Anon a Bit*

          This. I am agender, so the throat flippy floppy sound that we call a “pronoun” stirs nothing in my soul about my identity–it is is just a throat flippy floppy. But it is a throat flippy floppy that matters so much to others that they are willing to risk their lives in pursuit of me (and everyone) making a specific one in connection with their existence. Humans are complicated beasties, things can be meaningless objectively but have a relative meaning that is almost all consuming.

      7. EventPlannerGal*

        Not to be all “we live in a society” but… we live in a society. Humans have spent a pretty long time developing sophisticated systems of meaning and connotation that are attached to the silly throat flap noises, and it is quite difficult in practise to treat them all as equally silly. I mean, the fact that you yourself recognise the difference between offensive and inoffensive silly throat flap noises should demonstrate that it’s not that easy, you know?

        1. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

          If the meaning of the the mouth flappies didn’t matter, Wolfskull wouldn’t have picked the mouth flappies that specifically mean the cranial bone of a particular large predator as their name. It would be unreasonable to expect everyone else not to notice the meaning of something that was picked for it’s meaning.

      8. Falling Diphthong*

        Would it be a problem to announce “Guillam is unusual and I don’t know how to pronounce it; I’m calling you Lucky Smack Bob from now on”?

        Deliberately messing up names is a way of dehumanizing people.

        That said, this particular name is going to land like it’s self-chosen (where just “Wolf” or “Raven” might land as the luck of the parental draw) and also suggests that there’s a whole lot of backstory going on that will make people reluctant to engage with the joke they don’t get.

        Also AAM is right about calling attention to it in the resume having the opposite effect from what’s intended.

      9. BW*

        Names shouldn’t matter, but they do. They are your first impression. I’m named after my grandmother, who did not live in the USA. Think of a name like Bertha Butt, but not so feminine. I’ve had people assume (and tell me later) that they thought I was fat, sight unseen. They thought I was a man, until I showed up in person. I’ve had people demand to speak to an American, because they don’t want to speak to a durn foreigner. I was born in the USA and have an American accent. It’s a sad fact, but Arnold Rockafella, III, will be treated very differently than Cherry Shortcake, even if they have the exact same resume’.

        1. Annie*

          I do find it interesting that some people keep saying “names don’t matter” when the OP actually is declaring with their own changing of their name that their name DOES matter. And in this case, their chosen name DOES sort of indicate who they are. So if you were chunky and chose to be called Bertha Butt, and then were offended if people assumed you were chunky, that would be weird.

          If Wolfskull chose to be called Wolfskull, and was in fact, quite the opposite of what you would invision Wolfskull to be (say, middle aged white cis male with no predilection for goth or D&D) then that might be considered strange as well.

      10. Dinwar*

        “Names are just grunts and squeaks and whistles we make to get each other’s attention.”

        Clothing is just spun fiber put into various configurations to keep warm, protect our bodies, and to get each other’s attention. Would you accept this as an argument for hiring someone in a loin cloth?

        I agree with you in theory. Frankly, I’d prefer to be able to wear Medieval clothing–I find it more comfortable than modern clothing (as a tall lanky guy my options for modern clothing are “sleeves don’t fit” and “circus tent”, so there are practical reasons). And as a strict descriptivist I’m obliged to agree with you–as long as we both agree this sequence of sounds or actions means this concept, communication has occurred. But in practical terms, most people do not agree. Most involved in the hiring process view language from a more intrincisist standpoint (meaning they believe the words inherently matter), and most will unfortunately judge someone for doing something outside the standards of the culture.

        It’s human nature. We abhor the Other. And while I enjoy the Gothic aesthetic (I have always appreciated the romance of the macabre), it’s definitely seen as Other in our culture.

      11. Pastor Petty Labelle*

        Its kinda like the smashmallows in the background on Zoom — is this the impression you really want to give? It’s about being professional in the workplace. How quirky you are in your own time is your business.

        You want to be known for your work at work, not the person with the weird name who makes their whole personality about being goth. Anymore that you want to be known as the knitting lady, the guy who always wears mismatched shoes, the person who wants everyone to call their boyfriend Master at work, the person who changes their appearance drastically during the day.

        Also, what is cute and funny in your 20s might not be so much in your 40s. Your tastes change, your attitudes towards things change.

      12. Mister_L*

        Sorry, but if I met someone with the same name (translated into my native language) at best I’d assume they are really into medieval larping (niche hobby around here), at worst I’d suspect they like to gather with likeminded xenophobic friends for torchlight marches.

        1. Dust Bunny*

          (There is a trope wherein the popular wolf skull tattoo is actually a raccoon skull, because raccoons have picturesquely broad, intelligent-looking skulls and wolves actually have narrow, pointy, kind of dorky-lookin skulls.)

          I confess my first thought was, Ok, but is it actually a raccoon?

        2. Cqrit*

          Oh god, I hadn’t even thought of the latter possibility, but yeah, definite overlap. I’m glad first association was D&D instead.

        1. SnackAttack*

          That might be the case for you, but LW wrote in asking for an honest, unbiased opinion. The commenters on this site are more biased to see things in a less traditional, “as it should be” kind of way, which is great – but it’s not the reality for the majority of the world. I think Alison’s advice was spot-on. The name Wolfskull Shadow Bones C. will 100% limit the number of interviews they get, assuming they’re in a more corporate industry; that’s just a fact. However, whether or not that’s acceptable to LW is up to them.

      13. Jonah*

        Okay, sure but then to your point someone’s name could be a series of curse words and offensive -ism terms and you’d be okay with it?

    2. ragazza*

      Is anyone else picturing LW3 as Richmond from The IT Crowd?

      In alls seriousness, I think being matter-of-fact can go a long way. But it really depends on the employer and the industry you work in. Advertising? Probably NBD. A law firm? Could be off-putting.

      1. Media Monkey*

        i commented below. i work in advertising where the majority of roles are likely to be either mainly client facing or at least with some client contact. i think it would be an issue under those circumstances.

      2. Angela Zeigler*

        And Richmond had a really hard time in an office, because people were distracted by the gothness of him, and it led to his career suicide. Unfortunately, some things are hard to ignore within business norms, saying things like, ‘Do you have an update on that project, WolfSkull?’ or ‘WolfSkull’s bringing cupcakes to the potluck.’

    3. coffee*

      I’m thinking about my workplace and some people would be fine with Wolfskull while others would instantly discard your application, so it is a real concern.

      People do judge names, so if you’re comfortable with it then you could interview with your legal middle name – but you describe your name as “on brand”, so perhaps you would actually be better off screening out companies that prefer their employees to be very mainstream/non-goth? It depends on your comfort levels and also, let’s be honest, on how much you need the money now.

      Whichever approach you go for, I also think putting your full name is an unnecessary & distracting level of detail, and would at least leave off any middle names. (Assuming you have middle name/s and not multiple personal names, which I realise is an assumption on my behalf.)

      1. coffee*

        Also, if you are going for a more corporate type environment, I would look at the “corporate goth” kind of style – with the huge caution that fashion blogs/magazines have a rather skewed idea of what a corporate look actually is. Do not trust any style guide that suggests bared midrifts, really deep cut shirts, or anything showing a lot of skin are a good corporate goth look (not sure that’s even a particularly common standard goth look?? but I’m no expert).

        1. sparkle emoji*

          I’ve actually found the tiktoker Madeline Pendleton has great advice on corporate goth. Her advice for clothing focused on a more muted, darker-toned version of corporate wear, with accessories and swaps that feel goth but within an office dress code. I think the same philosophy could be applied to other parts of LW’s job search. Essentially: what do they keep to feel like their goth self while still appearing professional in their industry?

      2. Viette*

        “perhaps you would actually be better off screening out companies that prefer their employees to be very mainstream/non-goth?”

        I think this is a very incisive point. How goth is the OP in their dress and attitude? If they’re goth enough to be on the high end of commensurate with their name, then even if they get an interview by altering their resume to have some less-goth sounding name on it, when they show up to the interview they will be very goth and any company that was going to toss the resume on name alone is prone to toss it afterward on appearance/worldview.

        If the OP is willing to change their name, they probably don’t want to have to dress down to strongly non-goth standards for an interview, and then for the job, and then and then and then and then. If you’re owning your goth-ness that hard, you might just need to own it from the jump.

        1. Media Monkey*

          this is a very good point. if you are full on white face make up/ black lipstick/ backcombed hair goth and not prepared to change (vs winged eyeliner/ wine red lipstick/ black hair but more conventionally styled goth) screening people out who won’t be receptive to that from the off is probably a good move! (i don’t meant to be offensive with the descriptions above but it makes sense in my head as someone who has been involved in goth adjacent culture but works in an industry which is on the casual side of corporate)

      3. Also goth*

        Speaking as a goth myself…I’m going to have to confirm this with some other people (and especially other goth subcultures than my own) but I feel like a lot of us would cringe at this name as well.

        It feels a bit too My Immortal*, you know?

        *I mean the legendary example of cringey fanfic featuring a protag named Ebony Darkness Dementia Raven Way, not the song (though obviously the fanfic was named after the song)

        1. MPerera*

          I thought of “My Immortal” as well! I’m afraid that if someone introduced themselves to me in this way, I’d think it was a joke and would probably respond, “Men call me Darkstar, and I am of the night.”

          1. Also goth*

            I’m wondering how many of the people I’m asking for their opinion about this are going to respond with a link to My Immortal to be honest.

        2. MCR*

          Yes, my first thought was My Immortal, which was written by a young teen iirc. My first thought was the person who picked this name was a teen.

          I think just “Wolf” or one other element of the name would be passable, but the whole thing is really over the top.

          1. Falling Diphthong*

            Yeah, I think “Wolf” or “Shadow” alone would fly with most resume screeners as unusual but sometimes parents be like that.

            1. ferrina*

              Yeah, one of the unusual names, I would probably think “poor kid! their parents didn’t do them any favors”. If I saw all the names, I’d think someone was playing a joke with their resume.

            2. Jim Dandy*

              Wolf is fine, I would just assume it is short for Wolfgang. There is no reason to go full throttle on Wolfskull Shadow Bones on a resume, unless you are applying for a job at a ComicCon.

              Sorry but most jobs require you to be in tune with social norms, it’s part of the “soft skills” thing that goes unmentioned in job descriptions but is actually a dealbreaker.

              To be honest, if I saw it I would assume your resume was generated by some AI spambot and would discard on that basis alone.

              1. Roeslein*

                Same here! Wouldn’t bat an eye at Wolf, would just assume their parents and named them Wolfgang and they weren’t a fan so went with Wolf.

            3. Olive*

              Yes, if they don’t expect to be called by their full name, there’s no reason to put it all on a resume. Wolfskull C is perfectly fine.

              I have two middle names and even though they’re both common and conventional, putting all that on a professional resume feels like main character energy.

          2. AndersonDarling*

            This is what I was thinking as well. If I received a resume from Wolfskull Shadow Bones Cane., I would absolutely start texting my friends and co-workers “Look at this name!” and then the resume turns into a discussion on the name instead of the resume. Its a distraction.
            Wolfskull Cane… not a problem. Wolf Cane…not even a blink.

            1. CupcakeCounter*

              Not wrong – an old coworker named her kids some weird names and 15+ years later we still talk about it. Her attitude about it was more “we just have so much fun telling people their names because of the reactions” than, “this is deeply personal and meaningful to us” too so really off putting. (Not saying OP is like this at all BTW)

              1. Pastor Petty Labelle*

                Those poor kids. The kids might not be thrilled with everyone’s reactions to the name.

            2. Winstonian*

              I think this is a great workaround. It’s just a lot (especially since the LW said it’s the more shortened version) all together.

            3. anonaccountant*

              Yeah, I think that kinda hits the nail on the head. Part of it is the number of words that aren’t typically names, and part of it is just the sheer number of words. Even if the names were typical, I’d pause a bit at “Anna Lynn Elizabeth Johnson-Cook.” It’s just a bit odd to include your entire name on a resume. Just getting rid of the Elizabeth in that example would make it standard.

              I wouldn’t be surpirsed by Wolfskull – I could imagine it as a name in certain cultures. It’s the inclusion of Shadow Bones with Wolfskull that makes it feel more “costume-y,” for lack of a better word, and less like a name.

            4. Potions Program Manager*

              Totally agree with this!

              I can’t quite put my finger on what makes the addition of the middle names different. I think it’s that it seems more performative. Like, it’s not that common to include middle names on resumes anyway. Including two unusual middles names seems like you are trying to make a point.

            5. Not Totally Subclinical*

              I have a similiar reaction. Wolfskull Cathcart or Wolfskull S. B. Cathcart — okay, an odd name, but no more odd than, say, Ethelbert or Millicent. Wolf Cathcart? That reads as a normal name to me.

              Wolfskull Shadow Bones Cathcart? My first reaction is “this person is going to be A Lot”. Yes, I’d still interview them if their qualifications were spot-on, and I’m open to being pleasantly surprised by the interview; I might well hire them. But they’re not starting from a neutral point.

              This is also assuming that their surname is something like Cathcart or Cavazos or Cohen, not Cemetery or Cauldron or Corpsedigger. Even a normally ordinary surname like Cross or Cruz might give me pause in this context.

          3. CupcakeCounter*

            That was my thought as well – Wolf is becoming a bit more conventional while still not mainstream. I would probably put Legal First name, “Wolf”, Legal Last name on application materials. If OP legally changed their name, I would probably just put Wolf and Last Name on resume or Wolf S.B. Last Name (I don’t have my full legal name on my resume – my preferred name and last name only). Official applications and hiring paperwork get the legal stuff.

            1. RegBarclay*

              Yup, a relative of mine has two middle names and he goes by John Doe or John A.B. Doe, he doesn’t spell it all out unless it’s official paperwork needing his entire legal name.

            2. Kenneth the Page*

              Agree. I am a GenXer and have worked with and hired more than my share of children of hippies, so would not even blink at Sunshine, Wolf, or Obsidian when paired with a more standard last name. But this obviously chosen name on a resume would make me think, “This is someone who is so invested in this version of themself that they do not code switch between social and professional situations.” That would give me pause.

              1. Csethiro Ceredin*

                Yes, I think people seeing that resume would worry they are invested in a sort of ‘freak out the normies’ mindset, which is rarely desirable in a staff member.

          4. Silver Robin*

            +1 Wolf is fine. It would be slightly noticeable but not jarring. I would be more likely to remember the name but the resume would matter more.

            The full name would have me thinking overwrought teenager immediately.

            1. cee*

              Agreed, I know two people named Wolf. Albeit both short for Wolfgang not Wolfskull, but people use Mike and Chris on resumes all the time.

              1. EmF*

                Likewise. “Wolf” makes me think of my fifth grade English teacher (who apparently I’m supposed to call “Wolf” now that I’m grown up and not Mr. S., which is perpetually weird to me).

          5. Salsa Your Face*

            Wolfgang, as a given name, would be pretty great in my opinion, and it can still be shortened to Wolf.

          6. ebony raven darkness dementia way*

            I’m so glad others are mentioning this because my mind went there immediately too.

        3. amoeba*

          Oh my, I googled that now. What have I missed!
          (Also, apparently it’s Ebony Dark’ness Dementia Raven Way”, guess the apostrophe is relevant!)

          1. Also goth*

            Yeah I thought I was forgetting something. The apostrophe makes it 13% more cool.

            I sometimes wonder where the author is now – I seem to remember them coming out of the woodwork to point out that no, they did not write something else, but I think that’s all we know.

            Whoever they are though, I hope they’re living their best life.

            1. animorph*

              I thought I heard that My Immortal was satire, to be honest. Could be very wrong, but the early 00s was a wild time on the internet, haha.

              1. Irish Teacher.*

                Very much looked like satire to me, especially since I think it supposedly got hacked or something and the hacked “gosh, this is such a bad story” chapter was left in.

              2. sparkle emoji*

                There have been several claims about who the author[s] was[were], but afaik there hasn’t been any confirmation for any of them. Some alleged authors claimed it was earnest, others claimed satire. It’s a silly little choose-your-own-adventure of literary analysis!

            2. amoeba*

              Wikipedia says it’s still not 100% clear – somebody claimed to be one of the authors (and was apparently even in the process of writing their autobiography?), but it was contested and still unclear to the present day.

              But hey, so is William Shakespeare!

        4. Worldwalker*

          I could have done without being reminded of “My Immortal.” If I have bad dreams tonight, I’m blaming you!

        5. Also goth*

          In case anyone is interested: two people asked me if this is real (told them to assume it is, per the site rules) and aside from that everyone seems to land on “trying too hard to be edgy” and/or baby bat trying to find their place.

          1. Retired Goth*

            Baby bat! That’s a term I haven’t heard in an age. LW3, I used to work in a goth/industrial bar, and if a new customer introduced themselves as “Wolfskull” we would triple-check their ID and then ban them on suspicion of being 16 using their older sibling’s drivers license. You can only get away with being Extra Goth if you’re at least 40 and supernaturally good at your job. Stick with Wolf Cane for now, bring out the weird once they can’t live without you.

        6. Siege*

          Ha, I also thought of My Immortal, but I also thought of a lovely person I once worked with who had changed their entire name, and since that name is distinctive I won’t share it, but … it was not a good name. It was a name chosen by someone who had found their freedom and they were going to tell us all. It was the equivalent of naming yourself Patriotism Freedom I Never Have To See Those People Again, and it was extremely obvious; three of the names were limited-use names (a soap opera character was one) and they were all Highly Symbolic.

          But it’s the multiple names aspect that makes me say it’s silly. I would still really side-eye someone who wanted to be called Wolfskull professionally, but I talk to a guy named Maverick every few years so a non-name name isn’t necessarily the limit for me the way Raven Darkness Ebony Dementia Way, or Patriotism Freedom INHTSTPA is. We get it, you’re special, your name has an immediate, referential meaning that highlights your specialness, and you want us allllll to know.

          1. Friday Person*

            Mostly besides the point here, but in 2022, “Maverick” was the 40th most common boy’s name given in the US (right after “Matthew”!)

            1. Siege*

              Since the Maverick I talk to is around my age (late 40s, before Top Gun was a thing, let alone the sequel) I assume he was in a much smaller name cohort. But who knows, maybe the James Garner character kept the name in circulation.

          2. Kingfisher*

            This also reminds me of Good Omens and all the Witchfinder names such as Thou-Shalt-Not-Commit-Adultery Pulisfer.

        7. Earlk*

          I’m Goth adjacent and initially assumed that the letter writer was mocking alternative sub-cultures because it’s very on the…snout, shall we say, to the point where it seems insincere. I think it may even harm the LWs chances at goth shops/bars etc..

          1. Also goth*

            Yeah, I asked some friends about it and it’s interesting how many of them immediately jumped to “this is a joke, right?”. (Though who the butt io the joke was varied between AAM, goth culture, the LGBTQIA+ community, or combinations thereof)

            My mind also initially went to “poser” before considering it could just be someone with a very superficial idea of what goth is like.

            So you know…take that for what it’s worth.

            1. Bunny Lake Is Found*

              My thought was that this name wasn’t actually their name exactly, just something similar enough they could gauge the vibe.

              Like, if the LW’s real name is Zyphr Byrn WyndstorM or something and they know that people are DEFINITELY going to look up whatever the name they submit to AAM so they are like “What is a name that has a big energy, is very non traditional, but definitely will not lead to anyone finding out who I am?” Thus begat Wolfskull Shadow Bones C.

        8. Nonanon*

          Thank you for mentioning the legendary fanfic, I need to have a long sigh and repent from my fangirl days, telling my manager I’m taking the rest of the day off.

        9. Circe Nightshade*

          Honestly I’m Goth AF and I don’t understand why they say their name is “goth”. Goths don’t generally adopt alternate names, in spite of what Goth Talk may have led people to believe. Yes, we often have online aliases but I’ve met very few people who would carry that over into their workplace.

          Uncharitably, my assumption if someone told me they have three names that sound like an online handle from a furry forum would be that they are young and don’t understand basic workplace norms.

      4. Alz*

        Yes! If it was important to you that your full name was used then I would give you different advice but if you want it personally but aren’t too worried publicly I would suggest you drop the middle names and then I would assume it was a Wolfgang style name and not think much of it- if you wanted to push it further into “normal” maybe even provide your work safe nickname in the resume- so not so much “but you can call me whatever” but list your name as- Wolfskull “Wolf” C. (or even Wolfskull “Bob” C. if you wanted to be more conservitive

      5. Azure Jane Lunatic*

        For minimum confusion, I would format the resume name like:

        F. Middle “Wolf” Last

        to make it clear that you don’t use your legal first name, you do use your legal middle name, but you answer most readily to Wolf. And have an email address that reflects your professional name, even if it just forwards everything to your real email address.

        I sympathize deeply with the struggle of having found the perfect name and having reasons to not use it at work. I decided that I was not going to legally change my name to anything that would get my resume discarded or give a small-town cop a reason to think I had a fake ID. So the last name that I’ve been reclaiming one new mental health diagnosis at a time is never going on my official paperwork, and I use the initials of my legal first and middle names professionally because having my name match my hair color is a little more than I feel comfortable sharing with an office of strangers.

        1. Richard Hershberger*

          “Wolf” is much less startling than “Wolfskull.” It can pass as a regular nickname. If the OP is willing to go down this road, this is a good way to go.

          1. Clisby*

            Yeah, I went to high school with a guy called “Wolfie.” His real name was Rolfe – I guess this was a childhood nickname. We never thought anything of it.

          2. AngryOctopus*

            My neighbor’s kid is Wolfgang, goes by Wolf. It’s unusual but not jarring. Wolf is definitely more approachable as a nickname then putting “Wolfskull”, which is not a common OR unusual name (at least in the states).

        2. Stay-at-Homesteader*

          I think this is a great option, if LW feels comfortable. It really splits the difference but still leaves the door open for their preferred name.

        3. Susan Calvin*

          Yeah, Wolf is a perfectly cromulent (if very rare and a bit old fashioned) given name in German!

      6. Foxspine*

        That’s the thing – I would want *very badly* to not be judgmental about this name if I were reviewing resumes, but as you say, people do judge names. The name, for me, triggers an impulse to be on the lookout for other symptoms of bad judgement. To be brutally honest about my knee-jerk bias, the full name feels like a bid for attention. I would be biased against someone who I suspect is going to bring an “all-eyes-on-my-special-idiosyncrasies” type of energy to the team.

        1. helio*

          “The name, for me, triggers an impulse to be on the lookout for other symptoms of bad judgement.”


          1. I Have RBF*

            This is where I fall.

            I’m enby, but have a very gendered given name. I also have a more gothy/witchy long running pseudonym that some people deliberately ignore and use my “legal” girly name, because they “don’t approve of pseudonyms, and if you wanted to use the other name you should pay to legally change it.” (Yes, I’ve had people tell me this.)

            I am a cheapskate, and I don’t yet want to go to the trouble and expense of changing my name. I use my first and middle initials professionally. I still use my pseud online and in fandom, and at home. It’s actually fascinating how I classify people – if they don’t know or are unwilling to use anything but my wallet name, I am by definition not close to them. If someone uses my wallet name in a phone call, they want money, are medical, or are an asshole. If they use my initials, they are business/work, or are someone I deal with professionally who “gets” that I want to be addressed that way. If they use my nickname/pseudonym, then they are usually a friend or a fan associate.

            But part of the reason I haven’t changed my name to the pseudonym is that it isn’t as usable in a professional context, whereas my initials are. When I get asked “Why don’t you just use your real name?” I answer “Because I don’t like it.”, then the asshole responds “Then why don’t you legally change it? You have to use your legal name, after all. That’s who you are…” etc. My response is “A. Says who? B. It is expensive and time consuming to change your name. C. Please call me what I want to be called, the wallet name is not binding on anyone.”

            Even when I was edgy in my 20s, I knew that changing my name would be more hassle than it was worth, and I didn’t want the world to have my nickname.

            But WRT Wolfskull, my gut reaction to that is that they are young, trying too hard, has more money than brains, and “that won’t age well”. This is from someone who is old goth, fannish, pagan, LGBTQIA+ and offbeat in my private life. I understand wanting to have the name that you feel fits you best, but sometimes less is more.

            My advice would be to leave the whole mouthful off of their resume. Pick one, and have the rest as initials. Pick the one that it is easiest to answer to in a corporate environment, like “Wolf” or “Shadow”, and then do it like “W. Shadow B. Cole” or “Wolf S. B. Cole”. You could even use the whole Wolfskull, like “Wolfskull S. B. Cole”, as long as you didn’t put the whole “I’m a Goth, look at me!” thing on the resume. Because while that is true in your personal life, it’s not your professional self.

    4. Certaintroublemaker*

      At some point in the hiring process you need to go through paperwork that needs your legal name anyway. I would use the legal middle and last name with the “nickname” on the resume: Taylor “Wolfskull” Smith. In the interview say, “I usually go by Wolfskull or Wolf,” but HR won’t be thrown by your Social Security card for Chris Taylor Smith.

        1. amoeba*

          They also refer to their “legal middle name” as an alternative, so I guess not? (Don’t know how it works in the US, but in my country, you can have a “preferred name/pen name” added to your ID in addition to your legal name – maybe something like that?)

          1. AngryOctopus*

            Yeah, my job asked me for my ‘preferred’ name, and set my email and all systems up under that, with only my full name being used on my security badge and financial paperwork.

      1. Siege*

        I don’t even think of it as that much of an issue. I have a colleague who:
        1. Has a legal first-middle-last name we write our checks out to.
        2. When hired used their middle-last name as their name.
        3. Transitioned to non-binary and chose a third name that happens to be an anagram of their legal middle name.
        4. Married and took a new last name but did not legally change their name.
        5. Goes by the third name and a totally new last name (possibly that if their spouse?) on Facebook.
        6. Still receives checks to their legal name as described in 1.

        It doesn’t rise to needing to address it in a cover letter or an interview, to me. It would stick out oddly.

    5. GammaGirl1908*

      The name itself isn’t the odd part for me. It’s the elaborate focus on it on the resume. I’d lose focus on the work accomplishments because of the paragraph about the name. I’d be like, “…wha?”

      Just put what you expect people to call you on a day to day basis and let that be the end of it. If people are generally going to call you Wolf to get your attention, then put that.

      I have known a couple of people called Wolf; I think one was a Wolfgang and one was a Wolf? I wouldn’t think anything of a resume from someone named Wolf.

      In related news, it is a peeve of mine when people don’t introduce the name they use early on. I have a lovely sorority sister who introduces herself by one name, then waits a long time to tell you that she actually uses a normal but not-obvious nickname that is a whole name in itself. Think she introduces herself as Patricia, and doesn’t tell you until the second time you meet her that she goes by Trixie. You would have thought nothing of it if she had just introduced herself as Trixie in the first place, but now you have to unlearn her name. Just introduce yourself as Trixie!

      I say all that to say … just boil it down to the name you actually USE.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        I think expecting people to address you as “Wolf Skull Shadow Bones” (rather than “Wolf”) lands as much closer to “there is a joke here that only cool people get” which is just a lot more effort than most people want to put in when addressing their coworkers before they even have coffee.

        Offering the options “Wolf Skull Shadow Bones” or “Evan” makes it more confusing, not less.

      2. Dr.Vibrissae*

        This was my thought as well. Why is the LW including so much information about how they like to be addressed, plus alternatives, on their resume? It’s just too much unnecessary information. Put a name at the top of the resume (People above have offered a variety of short, relatively professional variations that include some degree of your chosen moniker or not). When you are introducing yourself at an interview, say ” I go by Wolfskull or ‘middle name'” and leave it at that.

        You mention that you are goth, and people might not get it. And they might not. You can decide how important it is that you be ‘very goth’ at work or if you want to have a work persona (lots of people do for various reasons) that goes by your middle name. also, it’s ok if that changes as you get more experience in the workforce. LW doesn’t say in their letter, but the writing comes off as young. Someone looking to get hired in their first position might need to err on the side of more professional than someone with a proven track record/reputation.

        1. sparkle emoji*

          Yeah, it’s super normal to have variations on your preferred name that are fine to use but also don’t need to be listed on a resume. Adding all this info feels analogous to a Matt adding a paragraph about how he will also respond to Matthew but not Matty, or that Jennifer is also fine with Jenni and Jenn. That discussion can happen in person when it comes up.

        2. Humble Schoolmarm*

          All Hail the work persona!
          I’m in one of the few professions where most people are still sticklers for using Last Name Only and I kind of like having Ms Schoolmarm as a work persona (she doesn’t share Humble’s appreciation of a good fart joke and general slackitude, but she has much more patience for repetition than non-work me). For LW, I like the idea of choosing a subset of your names. That way, it’s still the names you’ve chosen to represent you, but it’s also a slightly different name than you might use socially so it’s easy to set the line between your whole self and your work self.

    6. Azalea Bertrand*

      Yeah… As part of the alphabet mafia who hires regularly and is committed to diversity in hiring… Ugh I hate to say it but the whole name spelt out like that would make me question your judgement in a way that using BoringMiddleName Wolf Lastname wouldn’t (assuming you really are ok with BoringMiddleName). Then in the interview or whenever you’re introduced you can say that you go by Wolf. Wolfskull would probably be pushing it until people know you/your work product. Unless of course – as others point out – you want to screen out employers where this would be an issue!

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        Pushing it until people know you/your work product.
        I think this is an important point–when people primarily know you by your work product, and that product is excellent and reliable, then all sorts of idiosyncrasies can fly. At some point a colleague may reflect “You know, I never thought about his name–Wolfskull. And the elaborate Hello Kitty cape is unusual. But hey, dude can fix the printer, and that’s what I care about.” *emits laser glare at printer*

        When people don’t yet know you–starting a job, trying to get to the point of starting a job–those idiosyncrasies are part of the first impression and weigh a lot heavier. If you’re a known quantity and very good at your job, all sorts of quirkiness will get shrugged off.

    7. Emmy Noether*

      I think, similar to what Alison suggests, if it was presented simply as just their name, without hedging, I wouldn’t let that influence me. There are a few traditional Wolf- based names in germanic languages (Wolfgang and Wulf are still in use in Germany, for example), so why not this.

      The more you draw attention to it and make it a “thing”, the more it will turn people off. And stick with Wolfskull and skip the rest, as more than two first names tend to read sort of silly or precious outside of very specific contexts (fine for a baptism, not fine for your colleagues to have to say dozens of times a day in full).

      1. amoeba*

        Yeah, I do feel that “Wolfskull Miller” would probably be alright in most places (although perceived as unusual, sure, but probably not preventing people from hiring you), “Wolf Miller” would be completely unremarkable (although at least in my world very clearly gendered as male, so that might be a problem?), and “Wolfskull Shadow Bone C. would be… not good.
        Giving the middle names as initials could maybe work, though? “Wolfskull S. B. Miller” sounds much less, err, pretentions that the full version.

        I’m also not sure whether they actually only use a C. instead of a last name? Or is that an additional middle initial? I’d say not giving a full last name would honestly be one of the bigger problems in a professional context as it’s so extremely unusual (and would probably break all the forms, at least here in Europe…)

          1. Yours sincerely, Raymond Holt*

            I mean, how many Wolfskull Shadowbones are there? “Oh, you’re Wolfskull Shadowbone CARTER? I had thought that letter came from Wolfskull Shadowbone CHOPE.”

            1. Emmy Noether*


              Possibly to make it less searchable, at least? A reader getting this application by chance will definitely recognize it.

      2. EventPlannerGal*

        Agreed. I think the combination of the name itself and drawing attention to it just comes across as quite juvenile – as though the full sentence would be “hi, I’m Wolfskull Shadow Bones Carter, I’m thirteen and a half, my favourite colour is BLACK and I love pocky XD”. I like the suggestion of going by Wolf.

        1. Tally miss*

          Oddly, Wulfskull seems unusual to me, but I don’t think it would raise any red flags whereas Wolfskull reads gamertag.

    8. Where’s the Orchestra?*

      This is going to be really industry/field specific but at least in mine – we probably wouldn’t interview because we are client facing, dealing with almost all ages above 18, and frequently when people aren’t at their best.

      We’ve also declined to interview based off of email addresses on resumes before as well. Please, when you’re applying for jobs make sure that an employer will be able to email you – because again with where I work if it’s: graphic, racist, sexist, or similar my system will not send the email. And sadly I’ve had to have this conversation with clients as well, and it never gets easier, and I’m so tired of the fights this spawns. Just pick a boring email for anything professional/dealing with the corporate world and save the “fun” email address for your family/good buds.

      1. Certaintroublemaker*

        Hah! I warn incoming students about this at university. Pick an ID that will work when emailing your professors and, eventually, prospective employers.

    9. Meemur*

      I agree, I don’t think I’d even bat an eyelid if it was just Wolf (could be short for Wolfgang) but Wolfskull just seems overly aggressive. I am part of the alphabet mafia too and I know people have all sorts of reasons for distancing themselves from their give names but if I saw that in a professional setting, my immediate reaction would be, “This is not a serious person”. I suppose then it depends on the industry LW is applying to.

      1. Elspeth*

        A respected attorney I know has a son named Wolf so I definitely think that is acceptable. Agree that I wouldn’t bat an eye if I came across Wolf on a resume.

        And people do have the last names Shadow and Bones, although typically not paired with Wolf. But maybe if LW just used one, they’d just think LW had quirky parents.

    10. JSPA*

      Uh, do you also cringe if someone’s name is “Dong” because of what it means to you? Would you have refused to hire Wilma Mankiller? Do you have a problem with Mr. Butts? When little X Æ A-Xii Musk is old enough to be sending out resumés, do you feel he has no choice but to change his name?

      (Conversely, would you equally discriminate against James Smith and Zhang Wei for having names that are too common and unmemorable?)

      Someone hiring has no way of knowing if Wolfskull is a chosen name, or a given name (goth or hippie parents) or an ethnic / tribal name or transliteration, or some combination of all of the above.

      Choosing employees based on how you feel about their names–or how you expect others to feel about their names–is a truly strange metric, unless the person is “I-drink-the-blood-of-my-coworkers Jones (prior name Dan Jones).”

      1. Anna*

        If someone’s name is Wolfskull Shadow Bones Smith because their parents were goths or it’s normal for their ethnic background or they ended up with this as a transcription, the advice to the LW remains the same. It’s the LW writing in, not a manager considering hiring LW, and in the world as it is, using such a name is a disadvantage, whether it should be or not. And this is also a good reason to do one’s best not to give one’s baby such a name, no matter what one’s subculture or ethnic background is.

        1. I Have RBF*

          Again, it’s one thing for the legal name to be a four-banger mouthful, but that does not have to be on their resume. “W Shadow B Smith” or “Wolfskull S B Smith” is not nearly as edgy and pretentious.

          The resume is a marketing document that is meant to signify that you are skilled, reliable, and not a “problem” to manage. A four banger edgy name prominently at the top signifies the opposite .

          I know it sucks, if you are at the stage in life that “Wolfskull Shadow Bones C.” is who you really are, but the corporate world is not looking for unique and special people. The corporate, working world is looking for people who can show up, do a good job, and help the company make money in return for a paycheck. Snowflakes melt in the heat.

      2. amoeba*

        Nah, but there’s a difference between a “Dong” or even a “Wolfskull” and a “Wolfskull Shadow Bones”. Like, even if their parents named them that way, they still chose to include all three names on the resumé (which would be unusual in itself here, most people with two or more names only include the first!). So, yeah, I’d read that as a statement.
        Also, Dong is a really common name and “Wolfskull Shadow Bones” most definitely isn’t. It’s also clearly English, so obviously not just from a language I’m not familiar with.

        As for X Æ A-Xii Musk – yeeeeah, those kinds of parents are the reason I’m happy we do have stricter naming laws in Germany. Although I guess in that case, their last name would stand out more, anyway…

      3. Kesnit*

        I used to be an immigration attorney. Many years ago, I worked on a visa application for the “Butts” family. (Dad, Mom, 2 children under age 7.) In the country they were from, the name is not uncommon. In the US… Yeah, well… I could not help but feel sorry for those kids once they started going to school here.

        There is a difference between someone having a last name with a weird connotation and someone with an out-of-the-ordinary first/middle name. Most of the time, people do not get to pick their last name, so if you were born into the “Mankiller” or “Smith” family, that is your family name. First names are going to be given a lot more of a side eye because those are consciously chosen by someone (either the person or their parents).

        1. sparkle emoji*

          I had teachers in middle school who had names like Butts and a word for female genitalia that is largely verboten in the US but more used the UK and Australia. In both cases there were immature reactions, but even 13-year-olds got over it because we all understood that most people don’t control their last name. I do agree that a first name feels different, especially accompanied by a paragraph explaining that it’s a chosen name with all this meaning. Keeping the name that LW wants to be called, ie just Wolfskull or just Shadow + the last name comes off differently than the full name with explainer.

          1. anonorama*

            I’m glad my last name isn’t Butt, but it’s not super uncommon here. There’s a well-known family called Butt here in Texas (founded the HEB grocery chain — that’s what the B is for – and is active in local philanthropy). I’ve known people with last names like Glasscock, Lipshitz, Dykes, and all kinds of things I’m glad are not my name — but I assume last names are family names and people either don’t think about changing them, or the family doesn’t want them to and they acquiesce. Three unusual first names would give me pause, although I personally wouldn’t dump the resume for that reason only.

      4. Dinwar*

        “Choosing employees based on how you feel about their names–or how you expect others to feel about their names–is a truly strange metric, unless the person is “I-drink-the-blood-of-my-coworkers Jones (prior name Dan Jones).” ”

        But that’s what’s happening here. The name was chosen to be shocking and counter-culture.

        The reason it’s not analogous to Dong or something similar is that those names are not offensive or chosen to be shocking in the culture they arose from. I work with a guy named Cox, and grew up next door to a guy named Rusty Dick. There’s also the NASCAR driver Dick Trickle. These things happen, and it’s our obligation to be mature enough to understand that the cultures within which these names arose viewed these things differently. Wolfskull, on the other hand, is chosen to be shocking and counter-cultural.

        In a generation or two this sort of thing probably won’t raise eyebrows as much. Goth has gone mainstream, and names like this are increasingly common. But for now, the reality is that they’re intentionally counter-cultural and it’s unfair to take actions to provoke a reaction and be offended when you in fact provoke a reaction. (And to be fair, folks like Rusty aren’t immune to this–he was very up-front about the fact that his name was mildly amusing. Had a great sense of humor; it was that or go to jail for assault.)

        1. Siege*

          Yep, I feel very differently about names like Wilma Mankiller or Dong than I do about my friend’s daughter who named her son Lucifer. She’s an American and there is no reason on this earth for anyone in America to name their kid after the devil unless it’s deliberate. I might have a question about Dong Smith, but I would assume he’s multiethnic until and unless he showed up at an interview with male genitals tattooed on his face. The same cannot he said of someone who goes by Lucifer, and I hope that kid changes his name the very second he can.

          1. Bunny Lake Is Found*

            I love the name Lucifer because of what is actually means, which is bringer of light (a symbol of knowledge). I also love the way it sounds. But yeah, I am not going to be like “and thus I insist that every pre-existing thought you have about why someone named their child this name, or why a person would choose to list this name on their resume instead of say L. James Smith, be purged from your mind!”

            Still would name a daughter that. But I’m also a big believer in if you give a kid a weird name, you better give them a real middle of the road middle name. So a Lucifer Jane Lake could go by “Luci J. Lake” or “L. Jane Lake” without anyone batting an eye–or she could rock Lucifer.

        2. Venus*

          That’s what stood out to me but I didn’t figure it out until you said it. A name like Wolfskull is meant to be counter-cultural and rebellious, and it would make me question how far they want to push that boundary in a workplace. The addition of Shadow and Bones makes it even more likely that this is rebellious. There are a lot of things that frustrate me about society, but I don’t bring them up in an interview when I’m on my best behavior. If I’m hiring, I would wonder whether the applicant might also be difficult and want to rebel if they aren’t performing well? I hire based on competency so would likely interview if they looked good otherwise, but if there were a bunch of options then I’d choose the others first.

      5. Critical Rolls*

        It’s not just the oddness of the names, which are in this case both a self-inflicted obstacle to being taken seriously and obviously originating from within the culture that considers them odd. I have accumulated 5 names, all of which are fairly common in my culture. Nobody at work knows what the middle names are. Even if the LW had chosen bog-standard names, making a production of them all would read strangely. “Legally my name is Taylor C., but I go by Robin Riley River C.” is still very unusual.

      6. AvocadoQueen*

        The thing about little Musk-Grimes kid, Apple, and other celebrity/billionaire kids with odd names is that they will never have to submit a résumé. They may never even have to do an interview. The Musk kid may end up changing his seemingly unpronounceable name (does anyone know how they pronounce it?), he may not, but as long as his dad doesn’t totally cut him off, he’ll be fine. The situations are just different for the wealthy and famous.

      7. Lyn*

        Theres a difference between ethnic discrimination (ie Dong) and grown-ass adults choosing a sonic the hedgehog name, and then acting confused that it impacts their perception in society.

      8. IneffableBastard*

        Musk’s kids have a billionaire father so they don’t belong in this discussion. If the disown/are disowned or just want to get a regular job for whatever reasons, they WILL have to change their names in their CVs and workplace to not be instantly associated with their father.

        LW’s name reads as Edgelord Bones, so it gives the same vibe you suggested for Jones’s new chosen name in your last paragraph.

    11. Media Monkey*

      another honest opinion – i work in advertising in the UK and I probably wouldn’t interview you. my job is client facing and i can’t imagine introducing a client to their new account manager Wolfskull. if you are happy to go by your middle name and it’s more conventional i would use that. sorry tht that’s probably not what you wanted to hear!

      1. londonedit*

        Conversely, I work in book publishing in the UK and while there probably would be a few raised eyebrows and comments when the CV came in, I don’t think we’d ever refuse to interview or hire someone with the name Wolfskull. There’s no need for the OP to put their full name on their CV, just Wolfskull Carter or whatever their surname is (I do think the full name would be a bit OTT for a CV) but I can’t imagine anyone in my industry not interviewing someone because of an unusual name. I’ve worked with a few people over the years who have had very unconventional names (including someone named after a fruit) and it’s never been a big deal.

        1. Media Monkey*

          it’s not to the level of a refusal to hire that person, but if i had other people who looked good, it might be a reason to get yourself parked on the “maybe if none of these people in my intial list are right” pile. absent an amazing CV/ accomplishments of course. i agree that just the first name (or shortened to “Wolf”) would be easier to get past.

          1. the cat's pajamas*

            I would think it’s potentially a Native American name but lots of people are judgy a**holes which sucks.

            It also depends on your field and accomplishments. I know someone who legally changed their name to a mononym and is very successful. IT or parts of academia probably wouldn’t care as much, or maybe other creative fields like theater, maybe?

            The further and more accomplished in your career you are the easier it is to get away with being unconventional. If you’re early career and/or in a more conservative field like finance, it’d probably be more difficult.

            The market is terrible rn, so I’d personally be less risky, but it sucks.

            1. Media Monkey*

              yep, agree. i’m in the UK so probably less likely to assume a native american name (for obvious reasons, absent any indication from the rest of their CV of that being the case).

    12. Teal Deer*

      I can only speak for my own cultural background, which is Central European. Seeing this name on a CV would give me pause, mainly because it shows so much intent – either by you your parents – that I’d want to be sure of any implications it may have.

      My first reflex would probably be to check for any neonazi connotations, what with the Grey Wolves in Turkey, Himmler‘s Werwolf group and so on. Only if I was 110 % sure that this wasn’t the intent behind the name, and if there was also a lack of other interesting candidates, would I be interviewing you. Just because the risk of exposing my team, our clients and myself to that kind of ideology is so much more severe than the risk of losing one single job candidate.

        1. Teal Deer*

          With that spelling? Yes, I would. (Might be different if it was, say, a French Adolphey But chances of anyone/their parents picking Adolf without being aware of the historical context are so slim, I’d want to make sure.)

          1. IneffableBastard*

            In my South-American country, there are children named Adolf Hitler (sometimes with different spelling). Most of their parents are not Nazi or sympathizers — just very uneducated (many times completely illiterate) and liked the sound of the name. The kids have a hard time at school.

    13. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      Concur. I worked with someone (but didn’t interview her) who had legally changed her name to a slightly-out-there first name and then a full-on fantasy last name. And she had personality quirks to match.

      Saying “Hi, Aurora” in the morning was normal and I didn’t think poorly of her for her choice of a name. But if she wanted to be called the full “Aurora Pegasus-Rider Greensleeves” every time, it would have been An Issue.

    14. learnedthehardway*

      As a recruiter, I would have a head tilt at that name – more for the inclusion of all the names than for any one of them in particular. For reference, I would have the same head tilt if the person’s name on their resume was Reginald Bellmore Hamilton Wainscotting III. It’s the feeling of self-importance, more than anything, that would twig at me.

      It wouldn’t immediately occur to me that someone had chosen their name – I would generally feel that people can’t help what their name is. Some parents are weird. But insisting on calling attention to their complete name would strike me as somewhat odd.

      Believe me, I have seen a LOT of strange names. I would still interview the person, though, if they were qualified. But like a LOT of other “indicators”, I would be looking for any other strangeness the person might bring to the table.

      In the OP’s case, I would go with either “Wolfskull LastName” or “Shadow LastName”.

      1. Plain Jane*

        This is where I fall, too. I work in a very liberal non-profit and I’ve seen all sorts of awesome and interesting names. “Wolf” or “Shadow” with one last name wouldn’t be a thing. multiple names that don’t actually fit into our database? That would be a yellow flag no matter what the names were.

      2. Caramel & Cheddar*

        Agree with this. I know lots of people with double-barrelled first names where they might reasonably put Tina Marie Ferguson or John Paul Valentine on their resume because they expect to be called Tina Marie or John Paul in the workplace, but if it’s not your expectation to be called Wolfskull Shadow Bones or Reginald Bellmore Hamilton by your colleagues, it feels really unnecessary to include those extra details.

        1. I Have RBF*

          Yeah, at one point a work search assistance place, that I had to use due to unemployment, insisted that I had to have my full legal name on my resume. Something like “Luanne Josephine Longname”.

          It’s waaaay too pretentious. That “advice” needs to be removed from circulation. If I was going by my middle name, it would be “L Josephine Longname”, my first name “Luanne J Longname” or initials “L. J. Longname”, or even nickname “L. J. ‘Jo’ Longname”.

          Using the full First Middle Middle Last on a resume reads as either pretentious or out of touch.

    15. names are hard*

      i had an intern who had the legal first name of “Baby.” it was not a nickname. she did not go by this. i think her resume used B. [middle name] [last name], and she went by a shortened form of her middle name. mainly to say, she was pretty sure having that as a first name as the first thing people saw (at the top of her resume!) would probably do her a disservice, if not consciously then unconsciously.

      so.. yeah, having a very unusual entire name that sounds like it’s from a fantasy novel might cause hiring managers to either consciously or unconsciously discount you.

      1. Betty*

        I also knew someone who was (at least for a while) legally “Baby Girl [Smith]”– I guess her parents hadn’t agreed on a name when the hospital had to send in the paperwork for her birth certificate. So I could imagine someone whose family also never got around to correcting it!

        1. names are hard*

          she wasn’t from the US (where we worked) so i think it was a choice/not unusual in her country?

      2. Csethiro Ceredin*

        A past colleague had the first name Miss. It took me several months before I figured out why people were referring to her as Miss __ all the time.

    16. Lenora Rose*

      If they legally changed their name to Wolfskull, then that is their name, not a “fun nickname”.

      LW#3 (Wolfskull):
      I’d personally suggest abbreviating it to Wolf and using initials for the middle names for resume purposes and initial contact, and mention that the full name is Wolfskull once you’ve met the interviewer in person and can gauge their reaction (at that point you’re wanting to test whether you can work with them, so any poor reaction to the name is a tell for you.) I know both a male Wolf (Wulfgang) and a female Wolff (not her legal name but in regular use) so it seems suitable for any gender and only mildly unusual.

      And maybe you don’t like to be thought of as Wolf rather than Wolfskull, even just on your resume, but it gets you in the door.

      Once there, frankly, after a day or two of usage, Wolfskull would just be “my coworker two desks over”. For me, I’d probably go out of my way to try and normalize it for clients/patrons/other departments.

    17. sub rosa*


      If you’re still here and still reading, here’s a thought:

      I think you should tailor your resume depending on where you’re applying. If you’re not comfortable doing that, then don’t apply to mainstream stuff – stick to more alternative places, where your name will be a topic of interest/good conversation opener, rather than be seen as a detriment.

      I’m not advocating that you should hide who you are, but it is sadly true that using your whole name may be a detriment in a mainstream job like finance or law. However, at a music store or a tattoo parlor or a dispensary or a bar or a coffee place or or or…

      1. Daisy-dog*

        I agree. A resume is a marketing document. If you’re applying to be a band manager for a heavy metal band, a club promoter for a goth club, an art studio curator, or a gamer hang-out, then you’re fine to share the complete name! (Trying to think of the coolest jobs possible.) If you’re applying for accountant (sorry accountants for calling you boring), then I do think you need to try some other variation.

        If someone with this name is applying to work for local government in Indiana, I will picture April’s friend Orin.

        1. Circe Nightshade*

          FWIW, even promoters at goth clubs tend to have names like Mary or John because we’re involved with signing legal contracts. If someone applied to work with me with that name I would think they were a fantasy fan who assumed it was a “fun” job that they didn’t need to take seriously.

    18. Lala762*

      Wolfskull, May I suggest you list your name on your resume as Wolf C…..?
      When you’re hired, you’ll fill out your paperwork with your full name and you can ask your colleagues to call you Wolfskull. They probably won’t though. ARE you, CAN you be comfortable with Wolf?

    19. Rasberry*

      Yes! I think most interviewers would think it as a prank or be worried that you would not adjust well to the culture. USA culture is on the very individualistic side of things (where self names would be allowed) but most work cultures are collectivist. I imagine potential employers (with extremely limited information on you) would be nervous how easily you would adjust to dress codes, how you handle yourself when you disagree with your boss’s assessment or priorities, how well you understand concepts of hierarchy and needing to build up good will in order to make complaints or requests, how you do at tempering your opinions and individual wants for the harmony of the group, how much kickback you give to traditions or customs that you don’t see the point of.

      Also, it also might make employers a bit nervous about having you in customer interacting roles since customers often have weird reaction to unusual (but none of their businesses) things.

    20. Waffles*

      Another honest opinion from another internet stranger. LW#3’s resume would go straight into the trash in my hiring process.
      I used to be goth in high school too. Then I grew up. I hire a lot of people recently graduated from university, and one thing I look for is maturity. It is the best way for me to assess how the candidate will behave in a job that requires critical thinking, self-sufficiency, and common sense.

      And to be honest, naming yourself Wolfskull in a professional environment does not demonstrate maturity and I would question the candidate’s ability to behave in an office.

      Sorry if that’s harsh, but hopefully it’s a truth that the LW needs to hear.

      1. Kay*

        I have to say I agree. It demonstrates the kind of judgement a candidate has, or doesn’t. If someone isn’t aware of, or doesn’t care about, the reality of social and workplace norms knowing their name is the first piece of information I have to evaluate them with – I question what kind of judgement might come after that. It could be fine, but this brings up so many questions I shouldn’t have in my head when thinking about a candidate.

    21. IT Heathen*

      I’m also a fairly alt person, but I would hesitate if I saw that name.

      The reason? I see people with those type chosen names all the time who are associated with being white supremacist Viking cosplayers.

    22. E.A.*

      This is giving me major Princess Consuela Bananahammock vibes. When hiring, I would make extremely sure that someone with a name like that has a good grasp of office norms and knows how to have pleasant everyday interactions with coworkers – rather than always wanting to be The Main Character.

    23. TootsNYC*

      I am remembering the time that my 12yo son wanted to give his Grandpa in another state some beer for Christmas. I figured he’d pick it out from a liquor store in Grandpa’s city, and I’d officially order and pay, and Grandma would pick it up and write my son’s name on the tag.

      I was trying to give my son some experience in interacting with grownups, so I placed the call and tried to explain, then put him on the phone. After just a bit of back and forth, they hung up on him.

      When I called back, they said, “We thought it was a prank, someone was messing with us.”

      I’ll be honest, with that name, I’d assume someone was taking the piss (as the Brits say), and I’d set it aside.

      Or that if it was real, this would be a person who didn’t understand or rejected social norms, and that I’d spend a lot of time dealing with that instead of focusing on the work.

      You say: “My (mostly) full name is Wolfskull Shadow Bones C.”
      So I’d suggest you tweak it in some sort of “nickname-y” way that fits the more conventional formats.

    24. Never Knew I Was a Dancer*

      Yep. My two cents:

      When I am trying to fill a role, I am using only the flimsiest of information (a couple pieces of paper, a few short conversations where someone is doing their best to make a good but not necessarily truthful impression) to decide if they are a good (great) person to work with 40 hours a week for months or years. The work also involves navigating and persuading people in complex or sensitive situations, where being able to read people/the atmosphere/various dynamics is critical. Unfairly or not, I have to make judgments about people based on only a little information.

      So—My first association with “Wolfskull Shadow Bones C.” is with online usernames with similar/edgy themes. I would seriously wonder if they were bringing a private online name into their application, and the wonder if they how much that reflects their judgment in navigating situations where people’s perceptions of them matter.

    25. Tiger Snake*

      It pains me to say it, but it’s so far out the realm of what we consider to be a normal, reasonable name to have – that I could very easily see an employer getting the resume, saying “Oh this is someone’s idea of a joke” and throwing it away.

    26. Some dude*

      Same. And even if I were chill about it, most jobs I’ve hired for have had panel interviews and they might have strong feelings about it. I know i’d have to really fight to get my boss to allow me to hire someone named Wolfskull.

  4. ThatOtherClare*

    #3 you want an honest opinion from a random stranger? Here’s mine:

    My reaction to seeing that name on a resume would be “Oof some parents are cruel. What kind of name is that to bestow on a child? I bet they had a horrible time in school.”

    I would then interview you as normal.

    If I were to find out later that this is your chosen named my reaction would be “Huh, cool. Nice choice!”

    (Which is my genuine opinion by the way. Children are cruel, but as a chosen name I think Wolfskull Shadow Bones C. is awesome)

    1. Cmdrshprd*

      I will say that I think for me it is a bit field dependant.
      My field law is a bit more conservative and what I personally am comfortable with is different with what I know the field in general would be comfortable with.

      If wolfskull was by far the best candidate the name wouldn’t disqualify them. But if they were even overall the name would be enough to put the other person with a more traditional name over the top.

      I would have no problem with wolfskull and calling them that etc… But I suspect that clients, other employees might have an issue and would rather not deal with that, unless wolfskull was the top expert in x area/field.

      In a prior position we had an intern reach out prior to starting because they had their hair dyed an unnatural color and wanted to know it was okay. we told them we were fine with it to come into the office and work etc…. But certain opportunities (sit in on meeting with high level political officials/ court/ client meetings) that interns might be invited to attend as a representative of our organization they would not be allowed with an unnatural hair color.

      1. Avocado Abogado*

        I’m a lawyer and in my professional life have known a number of lawyers who changed their names to reflect who they believed they were. Judges and juries accepted these names because each person owned them. This was true even in a couple cases where the names were descriptive, as yours is, LW 3, and unusual. But these people owned their new names as best

        1. Avocado Abogado*

          …representing who they are. I think if you do that, LW 3, your name won’t be the impediment you seem to think it is.

          1. Cmdrshprd*

            I’m curious if you don’t mind sharing what kind of law those lawyers practiced in, and/or what general geographic region they were located in? I wonder if those have an impact.
            Maybe I am not giving people enough credit. I don’t think people would say anything about it to the persons face, and maybe once they showed their skills people would move on. But I have a hard time imagining people not raising an eyebrow or two at a descriptive name or maybe even joking about it. This is in a fairly big midwest city.

          2. Scylla*

            But the people you’re referencing changed their names *after* already becoming successful lawyers with established careers. That’s quite different from entering a company with a “descriptive” name from the start.

            The main point is, you don’t want to be known in the professional world for having an unusual name, you want to be known for your work.

          3. Bunny Lake Is Found*

            Eh, it is the rare Sparkle Sooknanan.* Most lawyers are smart, have good grades, and work hard. When you are first starting out all you have are grades and some interning/summer associate work. So when you are competing for a spot with someone with near identical grades and experience, things like a name that makes an interviewer think “Why did they put THIS version of their name on their RESUME?” matter a hell of a lot. Whereas, 15 years into one’s career, no one is going to bat an eye when someone named Dookie is introduced as the tax partner. Dookie brings in 75 million in billables and yes, his parents really liked Green Day.

            *Sparkle Sooknanan became a clerk for the Supreme Court the year I graduated law school–hence why I remember her name a decade later. She also graduated from a school ranked in the TRIPLE digits–when it was rare to see anyone from schools outside of the T14. To put this into context, being a SCOTUS clerk is like an actor winning an Oscar–you have to be one of the best overall, be at potentially the peak of your (academic, in this case) accomplishments, and not get dinged along the way by any number of small things that might give a fickle voting body a reason to say “eh, but is it Oscar/SCOTUS worthy?”

    2. AcademiaNut*

      If it were just the first name, I might wonder if it were an odd parental naming choice, or maybe a less common German Wolf- name (I work with various Wolframs and Wolfgangs). I work in a very international environment, though, so I wouldn’t think too much of it – I’ve seen some unusual choices of English names, and names from other languages that read oddly in English.

      If all three names were on the resume, however, it would be a bit much, and I would wonder what sort of point they were trying to make.

      For advice for the LW it depends a lot on what sort of job/environment they’re applying for – there are some workplaces and work cultures that wouldn’t blink and others where it get you immediately rejected. If a place would balk at blue hair and multiple piercings, you’re better off using your middle name.

      1. KateM*

        Hm, yes, I was wondering what was offputting for me and as you said, I wouldn’t bat an eye one one name, but three such names is a bit too much. Have to agree with those who say that it would make an applicant sound like a person whose main interest is self-expression as a cartoon werewolf villain – but maybe OP is looking for such jobs where that’s exactly what is hoped from an applicant?

        1. Lucy Van Pelt*

          I think having three names first names of any kind might seem a bit precious (unless you use all three of them in regular conversation). There’s a reason George Herbert Walker Bush and Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson cut down their names for public presentation.

          1. Elsa*

            Yeah, I would probably be fine with interviewing someone with one unusual name, but the three unusual names would be a lot. Also the lone C. at the end really confuses me, and I’d have trouble getting past that.

            1. Ferret*

              I thought it was pretty obvious that was a placeholder because LW3 wants to get feedback while still preserving some anonymity, especially if the C is an abbreviation for their legal last name which they have apparently not changed yet

              1. Ladida*

                Well if that’s the case, then they should put Wolfskull S. B. Carter on their CV. I think most people won’t even notice the first name.

                1. lunchtime caller*

                  That’s honestly a great solution, since as someone else mentioned the “Wolf-” names are present enough that I would just assume it was Germanic (?) or cultural in some way.

              2. bamcheeks*

                Haha, I totally didn’t think that– I was assuming their surname was actually “C” or even “C.”, punctuation included, and whether we were going to have a “computer won’t accept surname” issue and I’d have to go bat for.

                (Which I would be willing to do! but if you’re thinking, “how hard am I have to going to fight for this candidate” from the off, then it’s very hard NOT to think “and are they worth fighting for” as your next thought, even if you are trying hard to be objective and neutral.)

                1. Plain Jane*

                  ooof, our IT folks would have a tizzy! And as someone who sets up access accounts for new hires, a one-letter last name would be unacceptable (literally the website won’t accept it) for some databases.

      2. amoeba*

        Yeah, one unusual name and I’d definitely just assume the parents got a bit creative or maybe it’s from a culture I don’t know about. But definitely not a problem in hiring, unless it’s offensive, racist, or whatever. (I believe “Adolf Hitler”, like, as first and middle name, is actually a name given in some countries. That’s something I’d definitely change if I was applying for jobs here.)
        I know a guy named after a famous Lord of the Rings character. I mean, it’s certainly annoying for him, especially since the films came out – after his birth – but not, like, significantly impacts his life in any way.

        1. Evan Þ*

          Yes, Mr. Adolf Hitler Uunona won a local election in Namibia back in 2004. Upon getting worldwide media attention for his name, he commented that, no, he had no plans for world domination.

      3. Susan Calvin*

        See, fun fact, I wouldn’t parse it like that in the context of being a person’s name, especially with an anglo last name, but I’ve seen Wolfskull (wolfs-kull rather than wolf-skull) actually seen used as a geographical name (I don’t recall if it was a street, a village/suburb, or what); it roughly translates to wolf’s hollow.

      4. Chirpy*

        Yeah, I would suggest either using just one of the unusual names – Wolfskull Lastname, or use your legal middle name on the resume but introduce yourself as Wolfskull once you get the job.

        I have an unusual first and last name myself, and I think the multiple unusual names throws people off more than just an unusual first name does.

    3. WS*

      I think Alison was spot-on about in-demand skills. I have worked with doctors named Sweetie-pie, Hammer (short for Hammer of Witches) and Wolf (their full name). I have not worked with any medical support staff (which I am) with names like that.

      1. Emmy Noether*

        Hammer could probably fly under the radar if he changed it to Malleus Maleficarum (Malleus for short, which sounds like a real name).

    4. SW*

      On the one hand, as a queer person who has changed their first name to something unusual, I’d assume that this person also legally changed their name. Having gone through the process I know how much work and attention to detail that goes into changing your name, so that would be a plus in my book.
      Then again listing three goth first names is a lot and I would be concerned that this person is kind of extra and high-drama about everything and that sounds exhausting to manage.
      But if I saw just “Wolfskull” on a resume I’d probably make a joke like, “hey I bet Facebook doesn’t think your name is real either, eh?” in the interview. I would probably assume that it was an indigenous name or just an unusual name and I’m not one to throw stones. But I work in academia which tolerates more weirdness.

      1. Sal*

        Three *anything* first names on a resume is pretty extra. I’m sure all three were/are important to OP (and that’s why they chose them), but there comes a point where we choose lower-maintenance options to ease our flow through the world, and using one (outre) name at work is probably near that tipping point. Perhaps unfairly, using (ie putting on your resume and asking to go by) two unremarkable names is unremarkable; but using (ie even putting on your resume without asking to go by) three names would raise an eyebrow with me about extra-ness and maintenance level. I have a relative named Thomas Michael Phillip Mom’slastname Dad’slastname. I don’t anticipate him being all that anywhere but in his doctor’s records and on his diploma.

        1. new old friend*

          This is a really good point– I have a mostly standard name, like “Linda Anne Miller Smith”. One middle name, and both of my parents’ last names, not hyphenated. If I do anything, sometimes I’ll put my middle initial to make it clearer that my full legal last name is, in fact, Miller Smith, but usually I leave it out. That’s without any additional baggage of gothic vibes or any other easily-perceived marginalizations; as far as anyone would be concerned looking at my name, I’m a bog standard white lady. And I *still* run into problems just with the logistics.

          1. Azure Jane Lunatic*

            I have a friend, Lee Ann Lastname, whose first name has a space. The logistics are *dire*.

    5. fhqwhgads*

      I think I’m somewhere in between. If it’s a parentally bestowed name, I’d be surprised to see all four parts of it on a resume? (Unless in a country where four names is standard). Not turned off necessarily, but the presence of all four would probably prevent me from the “oof” reaction. I would wonder why they included the whole thing – or perhaps assume the inclusion of the whole thing means they go by the first three as a combined first name.
      So I’d say, if you expect people to call you Wolfskull Shadow Bones, by all means have the full name on the resume. But if you’re expecting people to call you Wolfskull, then the resume only needs to say Wolfskull C. as it’s very unlikely there’s another applicant you might get mixed up with. I think also for any hiring people who might be turned off by the name (unconsciously or otherwise) seeing less of it might temper the sitch.

    6. Jaunty Banana Hat I*

      Honestly, Wolfskull MiddleName LastName wouldn’t throw me much–I’d think roughly the same thing as ThatOtherClare: “damn, those are some thoughtless parents, but ultimately, cool name”. Then I’d proceed as normal. I mean, Wolf Blitzer has done fine with that as his actual given name.

      It’s the Wolfskull Shadow Bones C. combo that would throw me, especially if combined with a “but you can call me this other name”. Because that’s clearly a chosen name, but also, you’re apparently okay with *not* being called your chosen name, so…why did you even chose it, and why is it showing up on your resume? I wouldn’t toss a resume over it, but I would mentally flag it as someone who might not have the best judgement or grasp of optics.

      Ultimately, for a resume, remember that you’re tailoring it to give you your best chance at getting the job. A weird first name is going to be okay–maybe even a good thing in that it will be memorable–but a weird full name might not. They don’t *need* your full chosen name, especially not if you’re not planning to have everyone address you as “Wolfskull Shadow Bones C.” What you want them to focus on is your actual skills and work experience.

      Wolfskull C. or Wolfskull Middlename C. will get the job done.

  5. Roland*

    LW3, I’m sorry to say that I would think this was a prank. If you’re okay being known by a more common name, then simply use that name on your resume. You can introduce yourself as Wolfskull to the team you get hired to. A more extreme version of, say, being Alexandra during hiring but Lexi once you start.

    1. nnn*

      I agree, I’d also be likely to come away with the impression that it’s a prank application based on the example name given here.

      One possibility to potentially mitigate the impression that it’s a prank (although not any general negative reaction to your name) would be to build a robust professional online presence, so if they get as far as googling it, you and your many professional achievements will come up first.

      But there’s still the risk that they might not google if they think it’s a prank, or might react negatively to your name in general.

      1. Kjsea*

        yeah, I cannot imagine being handed this resume and taking it seriously either. I am in a somewhat-alt-friendly field, but this would be concerning to me. Given my field, I’d assume it was a chosen name and wonder at the professionalism of this person. I will say, if the name was Wulf S.B. CommonLastName, I wouldn’t think too much about it. Even Wolfskull S.B. CommonLastName would be better. The inclusion of both middle names is strange and feels like a statement that this person may not be willing to adopt a professional workplace demeanor. I realize that isn’t perfectly fair, but I have little to go off when hiring.

        1. Tired and Confused*

          Yes, sorry OP, me too. Wolfskull Smith would be weird but I’ve seen some weird names in my life. But the full combination would read as very strange and honestly gives me WWII fan vibes (I live in Europe)

          1. Scarlet2*

            Yeah, same. I’m a 50 year old European metalhead who’s quite comfortable with various idiosyncrasies (and often considered “eccentric” myself), but my first thought would be a mixture of try-hard/edgelord and uncomfortable associations with wolf+bones+skull (i.e. Wehrwolf/wolf’s lair/totenkopf). Not saying LW is any of those things of course, but without knowing them, that’s totally associations that would pop in my brain.

            1. anonygoth*

              I’m landing here as well. And for background, I’m a 50 year old European pagan goth / metalhead, so I’m not entirely mainstream. In total honesty, try-hard edgelord was exactly my reaction, so yeah, very ‘cringe’. It kind of sounds like someone wanting to proclaim just how Unique they are. I’m also a gamer, so there are the additional vibes of a 15 year old trying to impress people who’d start getting lairy as soon as they realised I was female.

              I’m coming from the goth background, I can’t speak for LGBTQIA+. Or for all goths! But really, most goths are called totally normal names for their own culture. It feels more similar to the stages names of musicians in extreme metal, and yeah, enough of them are openly fascist that it really limits the listening choice. So that’s a pretty reasonable read for conventional or alt people. Even those black metal musicians with provocative stage names tend to use their ‘normie’ names when they take their kids to parents’ evening.

              And honestly Wolfskull, I’ve been in really alternative communities all my life. I’m able to present conventionally if I need to , but a lot of my friends didn’t and don’t. And that did tend to select them out of things – and that’s a choice they made, because they didn’t want to live a conventional life. That’s probably the more authentic choice, so it’s one you might have to make when choosing how to live your life. But living in mainstream society means conforming to certain norms, no matter how arbitrary or unfair they might seem. And it does change. I can now have a lot more visible piercings in my senior management role than I could in a junior one. And ‘corporate goth’ is absolutely a thing – but it does require us to make adjustments to how we present ourselves, and that’s a choice we each make as to how far we are willing to adjust. And I totally accept that a name you’ve chosen to express yourself is different to the colour of shirt. But also accept that people are human, and everyone judges. And unfortunately your name has certain associations, and people will judge that.

              Wolf or Shadow alone would probably be much easier to go by. It just reads a bit alternative / hippy, it doesn’t have the other baggage

              1. MsM*

                Yeah, I hate to say it, but my immediate gamer reaction was “Oh, this person’s going to throw a fit if I won’t let their level 1 character have a legendary weapon right off the bat.” There’s a certain “does not play well with others” vibe to cramming that much darkness and danger into how you want people to address you, and that is going to make me hesitate about how someone will fit into in a team setting right off the bat.

                1. I Have RBF*

                  Yeah, this.

                  I’m old goth, pagan, gamer, LGBTQIA+, former SCA, and it just comes across as “young, wannabe edgelord” with a strong “does not play well with others” implication.

                  I have known people like this, and they are still working in coffee shops at 60. Other people will use just one of their fannish names as a nickname, and they get on fine in IT, but not in sales or marketing.

                  If my legal name were “Resting Bitch Face Jones”, I would use “Resting B. F. Jones”, not the whole pretentious name on my resume.

              2. Sassy SAAS*

                I was thinking this! While “Wolf” is uncommon, I’ve seen it as a name more than once. But I would think “Wolfskull” is either a prank or (like others have said) someone trying to be edgy. I’m semi-alternative, with blue hair and tattoos, and try not to judge any names. I’d likely still interview you as Wolfskull, but your resume would have to be great. If you’re in a less traditional industry (like film/tv or other creative positions) then you’re FINE! But if you’re in a more corporate role or client-facing, I’d be worried about clients interacting with Wolfskull but again, Wolf would be unusual but fine.

                I agree with a lot of the commenters about how it SHOULDN’T be that way, and hopefully it won’t be for much longer! Even 8yrs ago, I got weird looks for blue hair, and now it’s normal. I think names will go the same way. Good luck!

              3. Bunny Lake Is Found*

                30 something former romantic goth (victorian/edwardian but no steampunk, lots of Dante and Byron, eventually into very cliched Sisters of Mercy/Dead Can Dance/Bauhaus). “Wolfskull” wouldn’t phase me–I would actually probably assume it is indigenous if I saw it alone…actually, same with “Shadow Bones.”

                It’s all 3 and then just the letter “C”…it reads very WW2 gamer character rather than “I deeply identify with some elements of the human experience that others would typically find dark and depressing.”

            2. Ali*

              Agreed. Am in the U.S., and the “wolf skull” part of the name especially would give me strong negative edgelord associations.

          2. Helvetica*

            I couldn’t put my finger on why the name seemed so wrong but indeed, it also gives me European WWII connection and not a nice one…

            1. amoeba*

              True, could be. Although for me, the combination with “Shadow” makes me fall more on the “young person very invested in being Goth” side. Now, if they were named “Wolfskull Wotan/Thor/Odin”….

              1. Anon for This*

                Yeah this is my reaction too. I used to monitor the far right professionally and am generally pretty attuned to signs of those attitudes for that reason. But that wasn’t my reaction here and I was surprised to see how many people had that reaction when I read the comments. But I also have known a lot of baby goths and youngish (or new to claiming their identity and choosing a new name) LGBTQ+ people (and am a not-as-youngish person in the LGBTQ+ community myself). So that was where my brain went.

          3. K8T*

            Agreed – I immediately read it as a dog whistle to other WWII …enthusiasts. Sorry to LW if that’s not the case but maybe another reason to refrain from all of those names together in any setting, much less on a resume.

          4. e271828*

            I (not in Europe) would also read this as very high likelihood of being a fascist-sympathizer-coded dog whistle, and I would not do any background research or interview.

            I am sorry, Goths and Norse mythology fans, you have been put in an awkward position, but you do need to acknowledge the realities of our lived-in world…

            1. Circe Nightshade*

              No need to apologize to goths, it’s not general convention to rename ourselves! Becky Jones is juuust as goth as DJ Darkwave.

              1. e271828*

                This would be a very good question for the Lady of the Manners at Gothic Charm School, who lives her gorgeous 100% goth life 24/7 and I gather is a highly respected professional person while doing it, but she is on hiatus? OP1 could check her archives for relevant prior queries.

        2. Anonys*

          came here to say this as well. Wolfskull LastName is unusual and will raise some eyebrows but I would probably just think “wow some parents really choose unusual names”. Wolfskull Shadow Bones would make me think it’s a name from a video game or a book and I might think that LW3 was doing a prank/that it isn’t a serious application.

        3. names are hard*

          having C. as the last name could be a way to distance themself from their parents/father. that part doesn’t really bother me. i think just Wolfskull C. might be fine. it’s the whole name together that is giving me Game of Thrones fanfic vibes (or whatever, i don’t know enough fantasy).

          1. Kay*

            I would read a last name of C. as someone very unaware that last names, regardless of how much we might dislike them, are required usage for those of us not famous enough to be Madonna.

            1. anonorama*

              Totally! I’ve always wondered what happens when Madonna (or Beyonce or Cher or someone else famous who only uses one name professionally) has to sign a tax document or a hospital form. They probably just designate their agent to do it or something?

        4. Annony*

          I agree. Wolfskull Smith would be weird but I would assume that they had weird parents. Wolfskull Shadow Bones Smith would make me question their professional judgement. Including middle names on a resume is clearly a choice and in this case makes it seem like they don’t take the job seriously and may or may not be playing a prank.

      2. No Tribble At All*

        Merlin Sheldrake is a well-respected ecologist, despite having a name that sounds like someone’s first D&D character

        1. Hornswoggler*

          i know at least one Merlin – I’m in the UK where I would say the name is considered “eccentric upper class”. I suppose it might be moving into goth/steampunk now.

          1. anoni*

            Totally. It’s a Welsh name – it’s not common, but it’s also not unknown
            I think I’ve know two, all given names, not chosen

        2. Richard Hershberger*

          The difference is that both Merlin and Sheldrake are standard, albeit uncommon, names.

        3. Allonge*

          Sure, but they are not at the beginning of their career, right? OP seems to be.

          The point is not that an unusual name will stop OP or anyone from being hired or working well, it’s that it can be an impediment in the early stages of finding a first job (especially with further discussion/focus on the name in the application). Or it could be no problem at all.

        4. Yours sincerely, Raymond Holt*

          That’s a cool name, but very different from “Wolfskull Shadowbones.”

    2. Sherm*

      I might think it was some mistake, not the real name but some copy/paste error or such. And then I would think “This person has pretty bad attention to detail if they can’t even get their name right!”

    3. Santiago*

      I would assume that it was a prank as well.

      A professional adult demonstrates an understanding that their choices exist within a greater social fabric. Using “Wolfskull” as a professional name (instead of with friends, or in a band) seems like an odd hill to die on in scheme of life and death.

    4. Lilo*

      Yes, the reality is a lot of people are likely to think this is just a fake application and throw it away.

      My own grandmother had a very weird name as did her siblings because my great grandparents had some very weird things they named their kids (I can’t be actually specific because the names are so weird, if a member of my family saw this post, they’d recognize it). They all went by nicknames at work because of it. Like of my great uncle’s name was something like “Roman Forum”, he went by “Roy” or my grandma’s name was “Crown Jewels” but everyone called her “Julie”.

    5. Also goth*

      Same. This letter is setting off my poser alarm at worst, though upon further reflection I suppose my other reaction could be amused because we’ve all done cringe things when starting out – LW might also just be a baby bat.

        1. new old friend*

          I’m not goth (although I am frequently the “diversity hire” in bright clothes in a group of goths), but I believe “baby bat” is a term used to refer to people who are new to the subculture. (It’s not uncommon to use “baby (x)” to refer to new people in various subcultures– I’ll refrain from mentioning the one I’d be considered a baby in because I fear the name of it would derail this thread beyond salvageability.)

      1. penny dreadful analyzer*

        You don’t want to come off as a baby bat (or baby anything else) in the workplace either, though, because workplaces are for adults!

    6. I'd Rather Be Eating Dumplings*

      Yeah, I would also think this was a joke, I’m sorry to say.

      However, I know several people who are named ‘Wolf’ or ‘Wolfe’ so if OP is open to nicknames that might be one to consider?

      1. amoeba*

        Yeah, that’s what I thought, but at least hereabouts “Wolf” is very much a male name, so might not work if they’re going for gender-neutral…

          1. amoeba*

            True, but for me it’s not as clearly male as Wolf. Which might absolutely be influenced by the fact that Wolf is an actual male name in German, like, you know, Thomas or something, so might be different on the US!

    7. Dek*

      Yeah, imma be honest, my immediate mental image is a 15-year old in a Hot Topic hoodie and maybe some red-and-black striped sleeve things. It’s not just Wolfskull, but the whole thing together kind of has an Ebony Dementia Raven Way about it.

      It does depend on the kind of area you’re applying for (for example, in the comic industry, it might raise a few eyebrows, but otherwise it’s business as usual), but it may be better to just do Wolfskull Bones. Or Wolf Bones.

  6. Viette*

    OP#2 I recognize that you’re worried about he potential consequences of escalating this, but you don’t any more non-escalation actions left to take. It’s either this (the current status with her blasting noise non-stop) forever, or you escalate.

    You’re obviously not okay with “this, forever”. You talked to her directly. A lot of people talked to her directly, it sounds like. The earbuds, the constant reminders — if she was going to change her behavior because of your input, she would DEFINITELY have done so by now.

    I agree with Alison that one final ‘hard rule stated out loud’ conversation would be a courtesy, as well as a warning that you are going to escalate this if she doesn’t follow that rule all the time for the rest of her time with you. If she doesn’t stop it, ask her boss to tell her to stop it.

    Think about it this way: if you escalate it and her boss tells her to stop blasting noise at a no-noise-blasting workplace and she doesn’t do that, she will get fired. That is how people get fired. That is okay.

    1. Caliente Papillon*

      Agreed – y’all have given this woman ear buds in addition to just speaking with her and she’s not having it. I’d say once, very clearly “Look if you can’t be quiet, you can’t be here.” At this point it seems like you’re just pandering to her. It’s sad if she loses her job but you can’t care more about her keeping her job than she does. So explain it succinctly and let the chips fall where they may.

  7. Ellen Ripley*

    Hi Wolfskull. I certainly would take notice of your name as unusual if I saw your resume, but I wouldn’t dismiss it if it were competitive. That said, I could definitely see some of my (older in age) bosses using it as an excuse to write you off. So it depends a lot on the company and the people doing the hiring.

    If you’re okay going by your middle name, that’s honestly the path of least resistance. I have made concessions in order to make my life easier/have to explain less to others. But if this is something really important to you that you’re willing to give up some opportunities for, then by all means. I believe there should be a place in our society for people to express themselves, but that’s not widely believed everywhere.

    1. Also goth*

      Eh, not just people older in age. I will admit this name would make me dismiss the letter writer as a poser – though that’s me, I’m waiting to hear back from some people in other subcultures (and a few in mine because obviously no single person is representative of an entire movement)

      1. Also goth*

        Addendum: upon further reflection I’ve realised this could also be a baby bat situation – we’ve all done pretty cringey things when starting out.

          1. Also goth*

            Just as a heads up: the circles I move in tend to use “baby bat” as a term of endearment and on average we’re very encouraging of people experimenting with styles even with limited means (baby bats are very often teenagers who still live at home) and even if they end up realising goth doesn’t suit them at all, but there are meaner people out there who use the term as an insult.

            Of course people will use anything as an insult and it’s not stopping me and my friends from using it positively, but your mileage may vary.

            1. Slartibartfast*

              I don’t know much about the subculture, but I’m wondering if W.S.B. Lastname might be a resume friendly alternative that would stay true to the identity? Realizing that you aren’t the letter writer and can only speak very generally.

              1. Also goth*

                It might be, yeah. That would at most make me wonder what is so bad about the name they feel the need to hide it, but…well people name their kids unfortunate things all the time, or a perfectly normal name can become very unfortunate when combined with a certain family name.

                I’m definitely not going to comment on the specifics of LW’s identity, but I do want to point out that actually changing your name isn’t usually a thing in goth subcultures, at least not for goth reasons. A Flora choosing the name Sam because it’s more gender neutral is not unusual, but going for a name like the one in the letter definitely is.

                Now, do I have goth online handles like “Lady Raven”? Absolutely, but they’re just that – online handles just like Slartibartfast.

    2. Siberian Husky with a high wolfiness quotient*

      Yes, going by the name Wolfskull and dressing in goth clothing will place you at an extreme disadvantage in most companies. I can’t believe we’re even debating this and it shows how out of touch some commentators can be.

      Nothing is stopping OP from “expressing himself,” it’s mere that he would be well advised to do so his own time. Stage names and pen names are a thing.

      1. Scylla*

        Yeah I agree. Sure there will be *some* companies out there that won’t mind, but the fact that several commenters are saying it probably wouldn’t be an issue for them is making me cringe a bit, and I work in a very liberal and diverse company and city. This would be an issue for the vast majority of companies- either an instant dealbreaker or at the very least putting you at a steep disadvantage from the start. Ideally, you wouldn’t want a hiring manager to give more than a passing glance at your name when they look over your resume- you want to be hired for your skill, not your name. You don’t want even the slightest fear that a hiring manager will think your resume is a prank or fake- why take the risk?

    3. Saturday*

      I think use your middle name on your resume, since you’re okay going by that. Then when you interview or are hired, you can indicate your name preference. But that will be easier when people already know you a bit.

    4. Tally miss*

      I’m 60 and not sure why Goth wasn’t one of the cultures I ran into back in the day, but now thinking about it, I don’t recall it being a big thing when andwhere I was when younger. So I wouldn’t see that name and think Goth.

      I would think gamer, D&D, maybe anime (because of Thundarr the barbarian.) Those tend to be less of a culture/identity than Goth so I’m sorry to say, I’d probably exclude you because I would be making the wrong connections. I need think more on this.

    5. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

      I’d probably put “Wolfskull GenericMiddleName” or maybe “GenericMiddleName Bones” as my name on my resume. That way the interviewers call me by a name I actually go by, and we skip any major biases they have and it’s only IT and HR who have to enter in their actual name into their systems. LW can then go by whatever name they wish.

    6. RagingADHD*

      There are lots and lots of places in society for people to express themselves. A resume just isn’t one of the smart places to do it.

      People who express themselves with brightly colored paper and Comic Sans font usually wind up with their resumes in the trash, too. Doesn’t mean you can’t ever use those things anywhere, ever, or that people who like bright colors are being oppressed by the plain-paper overlords.

  8. Guacamole Nob*

    #2 Thank you for doing something about this! There are so few public places that aren’t loud and chaotic, and some people have nowhere else to study quietly. Most people are aware that libraries won’t always be quiet (especially if there’s children’s programs) but a constantly blaring speakerphone sounds awful, especially for people with sensory processing sensitivity or neurodivergence that affects their comfort with noise.

    #3 Name discrimination is well documented, from judging feminine names, names from other cultures, even names that sound like they are from lower socio-economic brackets. People like to judge. At my workplace, it wouldn’t make a difference, all applications have a space for legal name and preferred name, but I know people who would definitely judge.

    #5 Questions like this always make me sad that the US ties health insurance to employment. I’m glad that you are in a great place with your health though!

    1. Cmdrshprd*

      “At my workplace, it wouldn’t make a difference, all applications have a space for legal name and preferred name, but I know people who would definitely judge.”

      Not saying you are wrong, but idk that asking for legal name and preferred name means putting a different/unusual name would not be an issue?

      I assume hiring managers/application reviewers still see the “preferred” name mad could immediately discount the application based on the name wolfskull.

      1. Guacamole Nob*

        Good point, I didn’t mean that having these two fields meant an absence of bias, only that there would be a place for both names.
        Our recruitment practices are pretty rigorous with assessment rubrics and such, and applications can’t (or shouldn’t) be discarded based on personal opinion. If the most qualified candidate is called Princess Frangipani, then you hire Princess Frangipani. I used to sit on assessment panels and we had to justify each and every decision and back it up with notes from the interviews. (Now I think about it, I wasn’t involved at the resume screening stage, so I suppose Princess Frangipani might have missed out before we even met her…)

        1. Sal*

          Interestingly, I have almost none of the reaction to Princess Frangipani that I do to Wolfskull Shadow Bones. Part of it, I think, is that I’m a million times more likely to assume that PF didn’t choose that name Nd that WSB did. The other part I think is the affect of each name—one is frilly but inoffensive, whereas the other has more grim connotations (and denotations). The grimness in conjunction with the self-chosen odds in conjunction with choosing to put that persona into the work world would give me significantly more pause.

    2. Keymaster in absentia*

      #2 even in IT where things can get very noisy (go into a LAN room on a hot day) we don’t appreciate loud music and while it’s a stereotype a lot of us here do have some form of sensory overload problem as well. I had to tell off a member of staff for playing trance music through his headphones loud enough to be heard from my desk across the room.

      White noise from the LAN air con going full tilt is one thing, the repeating beat of music is quite different.

    3. londonedit*

      I would assume that the name someone uses on their CV/application is their ‘preferred’ name, whether it’s their legal name or not. There’s no reason to use your full legal name on your CV – I don’t, I use the name I go by in my everyday life. Then, when I start a new job and I have to bring in my passport etc on my first day, it’s easy enough to say to HR ‘my passport and bank account are in my legal name, Elizabeth, but I actually use Bethany and would like my email account etc to be set up using Bethany’. No one has ever had an issue with it. Where I work now, our employee system has a field for ‘preferred name’, and if you fill that in then that’s the name HR will use whenever they write to you, even if it’s an ‘official’ letter about a salary increase or bonus etc.

  9. Pink Sprite*

    To OP #3: I’d have a difficult time taking anyone seriously with the full name you’ve chosen – for hiring and possibly using at work, depending on the kind of jobs you’re applying for.
    Some jobs, companies, types of businesses/industries wouldn’t care one whit. And if that’s where I was the hiring manager, then I wouldn’t either.
    More formal roles, however, what you’ve chosen would be a blockade.
    Depending on the type of job and kinds of companies you’re applying to is what might make you rethink the name you’ve chosen.
    Perhaps you could consider combining what you wrote above with your “real” name and/or something else.
    Good luck! :)

    1. Warrior Princess Xena*

      +1 to this being industry specific. The more formal/traditionally professional your industry, the more of a challenge you will have.

    2. bc*

      Totally agree that it could vary industry to industry. In college, I worked in a very creative field, and I don’t think anyone would really think much of the name Wolfskull. But now, I work in a very formal office environment, and I can almost guarantee the name would be an obstacle for many of the hiring managers.

  10. Cmdrshprd*

    OP1 Alison made some good points, but on the opposite side also make sure that what your superstar employee considers “isn’t amazing” is realistic.

    I have worked with some people who are very into their job, they give 120% that’s fine for them. But they might think that anyone giving 80/90 or even 100% is slacking and not doing a good job. superstar employees need to understand you also need a stable of good but not great workers.

    Not saying Darcy is good, Alison could be right that Darcy is not even a good/okay employee, but just wanted to point out the other side.

    1. allathian*

      Yes, I agree with this assessment. How much, if at all, does Darcy’s work affect the superstar employee’s work? Some superstar employees who live for their work expect everyone else to do the same and judge those who work to live rather than live to work for “being lazy”.

      I’m not saying this applies to Darcy and your superstar employee, though. Do you have more reports, or do you only manage Darcy and the superstar? If you have more reports, how does their performance compare with these two?

      1. Totally Minnie*

        I’m a recovering “superstar” who spent years holding myself to unreasonable standards and being mad that my coworkers who had more reasonable standards for themselves were producing work that was adequate rather than exemplary. It was 1000% a me problem.

        1. Justin D*

          Also sometimes micromanagement isn’t about the work being good enough, some managers try to force superstardom on everyone they work for.

      2. JaneDough(not)*

        Yes! Maybe Darcy spent years being a superstar only to realize that no company was as invested in her as she was in it, and now she’s chosen a reasonable work/life balance instead.

        I’d be skeptical about comparing her work ethic and work product to that of someone who, for whatever reasons (such as far fewer years in the workplace / not yet having been screwed over by employers), hasn’t chosen a reasonable work/life balance.

        LW1, as you mull over Alison’s advice, make sure that you’re using the *right* metrics to assess Darcy’s work and contribution to the team.

    2. Quantum Possum*

      Personally, I operate at about 85% unless there’s an emergency. I advise my proteges to never give 100%, lol. (I know, I know, I’m the World’s Best Mentor.)

      I go on to explain why, of course. In a perpetually-understaffed organization like ours, people who give 100% are just asking to be overburdened, because everyone will start expecting 120% from them. Also, leadership will never fill the 100s of empty slots that so desperately need filled if they know they can just ride certain workhouses until those horses collapse on the track. There are always more horses waiting in the stables.

      I don’t see a need to ever work someone to the limits of their capacity. That’s a good way to burn out my best employees and lose them.

      1. Chas*

        I work in an academic lab and it took a few years into my postdoc for me to realise that I should never plan for my days to be completely full of labwork, because from my PI’s and coworkers points of view, part of my job is also to be available to discuss things and deal with issues when they pop up, and trying to deal with that AND juggle a full day of labwork ends up with me screwing something up and taking twice as long as if I just split the work over 2 days and accept that sometimes I’ll not have much to do because no one ended up needing anything from me that day.

        1. AngryOctopus*

          At OldJob (biotech) I had a coworker who busted her butt to get data together for a scientific board meeting. But then after she wouldn’t tell leadership that it was unsustainable for her (we were trying to hire but there was a shortage of in vivo people at the time) and she kept busting her butt because “they expected the data, and it was all a priority”. I told her I used to tell my boss, when she (jokingly) told me everything was top priority, “but what’s TOP top priority”? There’s no way leadership wouldn’t have said “oh no you shouldn’t be putting in all this time, it’s too much, back off X and we can move Y to later”, but she wouldn’t–we told her that they didn’t know she overstretched herself to make the board data (in a very small startup as we were at the time, sometimes unavoidable), but they wouldn’t want to continue that. My colleague and I told her we routinely told leadership what was and wasn’t feasible for us, and never got pushback, but she wouldn’t do it. Surprise, she burned out and went elsewhere. I felt bad, and we’re still friends, but you’ve got to build your day around sustainability for you!

          1. Quantum Possum*

            you’ve got to build your day around sustainability for you

            I love this! :)

            I used to tell my boss, when she (jokingly) told me everything was top priority, “but what’s TOP top priority”?

            One of my former bosses said this non-jokingly. I was like, “I can’t work with that. My team can’t work with that. No human being in the history of the world has ever been able to or will ever be able to work with that.”

            Did not get through. Notice I said “former” boss. That’s an untenable position to take.

            1. BusinessCats*

              I used to work in an organization where we said daily (in an Inigo Montoya accent) “You keep using the word ‘priority.’ I do not think it means what you think it means.” Needless to say, I burned out and don’t work there anymore.

      2. Stuckinacrazyjob*

        Yes, I often will give 100, but because it’s not very good people will be like ” aw you’re giving 70! pick up the pace ” and then it’s all suffering from there lol

      3. Sharkie*

        Yep I am trying to learn this. Its a hard balance because I want to be the best I can be, but not be taken advantage of

    3. Redacted*

      If Darcy is doing a good enough job let her retire without pushing her to scrape by the last few years on whatever terrible job she can get from the rest of an industry that also doesn’t want to hire older people.

      Yeah, business is all about the money…but it doesn’t have to be. I’ve seen rich people make a show about all the charities they support but release someone they’ve known for years to eak our a few more pennies of profit.

      And others are watching. Ive got plenty of past bosses and companies I’ll never work for again…or recommend for others based on how they treated regular people who are doing good enough.

      Sorry about the soap box. Seeing it firsthand after my company was bought out by private equity and good people are being hurt so a billionaire can buy another island or something.

    4. LifeBeforeCorona*

      I’ve worked with a “superstar” who never took their breaks and worked extra unnecessary hours and chided people who left on time and took their lunch breaks. It wasn’t impressive, it was cringeworthy because we weren’t in vital world saving roles. Instead of being an insipiring example, they got a lot of eyerolls.

    5. kiki*

      Yes, this is a great point! It might also make sense to remind the superstar that there’s a reason they’ve been promoted and are being paid much more than Darcy (assuming that’s true, if that’s not true, that’s probably a source of the tension).

    6. Antilles*

      I absolutely agree. I know companies like to talk about “everybody does 110%” and “all our employees are Exceptional” but the reality is that there’s a LOT of roles where you’d be just fine with “Acceptable”.

      Good enough often truly is good enough.

      1. Pastor Petty Labelle*

        Which OP1 is already going into this with well I’ve accepted I won’t have a team of superstars. This is normal. Most teams are not all rockstars. Nor should they be. If everyone is a super star, is anyone amazing then? A rockstar should stand out. Most people just do their jobs and go home. They aren’t interested in being superstars. Your employee has made it clear she doesn’t want to be.

        Is your micromanaging because you still want here to be a super star? Is it really micromanaging or do you just notice her work more because she is not a super star? Unless and until it is causing a workflow problem, leave her alone.

        1. Pastor Petty Labelle*

          Oh and not everyone is interested in being promoted either. So don’t make the comparison based on that either.

    7. Lady Blerd*

      That is what I was thinking when I was reading the letter. I get Alison’s answer but I was wondering if the top superstard had unrealistic or excessive expectations of what Darcy’s performance should be.

    8. My Useless 2 Cents*

      Agreed. Superstar may not even be aware that their “standard” is unusual. It’s amazing how often people forget how hard something is when 1) they enjoy doing it, 2) they just have an aptitude/gift for “the thing”, or 3) they have done “the thing” for a while. Often superstars have at least 2, if not all 3, unconscious biases going for them and forget that is not that way for everyone.

      Also, make sure that superstar isn’t being overwhelmed by leftover tasks/work. If older worker is doing fine (not great) but superstar still feels they are picking up slack that shouldn’t be there. It could be you are a little short staffed in that department.

    9. Observer*

      I have worked with some people who are very into their job, they give 120% that’s fine for them. But they might think that anyone giving 80/90 or even 100% is slacking and not doing a good job.

      Yes, that’s a really good point. We’ve had a number of letters around that theme. I think the most memorable one was from the person who was trying to guilt people for actually eating the Pizza the employer bought them when they had to work long days, and tried to convince people to not record all of their time or take their full benefits, etc.

      That’s extreme, but even something a bit less extreme is not great.

    10. Meg*

      Also just because Darcy isn’t a “superstar” doesn’t mean she doesn’t bring other valuable things to the table. I’m thinking of an employee of ours who retired this year, who always made a few more mistakes, needed a bit more help with technology, and had a bit more trouble keeping up with procedure changes than my “rock stars.” But she had phenomenal soft skills and could smooth over things with a grumpy customer better than anyone, and was also really good at things like supply ordering that she had been doing through her whole career with us. In an ideal team you have people who complement each other even if they aren’t all super high performers.

  11. Awkwardness*

    To add for #LW1, I am unclear how much influence the opinion of your superstar has on you. I could be dissatisfied with the work off a lot of people, but I know that not many have my attention to detail with a certain topic. That does not mean I will not ask my colleagues for better work with on this topic, but I adjust my expectations in a realistic way. So what is the bar for your superstar’s complaint?

    It kind of rubs me the wrong way that your employee is complaining about the work quality of colleagues when you did not mention that this colleague is affected by Darcy’s work quality in the first place and thus has a reason to complain.

    1. AngryOctopus*

      This. I’ve had colleagues where, when they present at a lab meeting or something, I think “have they done ANY work in the last six months? What’s even going on?”. But their work has no impact on mine, so I just shrugged and move on.
      Even if the colleague is affected by Darcy’s work, they have to frame issues not as “well she’s not working up to my standard”, but more “I need form A from Darcy on project K, and it has to be filled out 3x/week, and it’s always late at least once, and needs corrections, and sometimes she doesn’t even get the project name right even though it’s been the same since the beginning”. These are factors that directly affect the person, and they have standing to bring it up. Just bringing up that she’s ‘fine’ as an employee but that’s somehow not acceptable is not OK.

    2. Dust Bunny*

      Yeah, I have a coworker who struggles with (in our case) medical terms. I both have a longer history with them and have always been a good speller just by dumb luck. Anyway, we had a project wherein she did the first step and then handed it off to me, except I was spending so much time fixing her spelling errors that I finally had to ask our supervisor to figure something else out–it was easier for me to just type them the first time than to go back and correct them. I ended up doing all of the typing part myself because there wasn’t another good way to divide it.

      I do care about the quality of our work, collectively, but I care much less when I’m not the next one in line to work on it.

    3. el l*

      Well, maybe the superstar is affected by the work quality and it’s just not mentioned. Or, it’s just the superstar wheel demanding more attention. Totally depends on the team and the manager.

      But I find the manager’s position in this puzzling. There’s a verbalized “good enough” attitude. Yet their actions are a ton of coaching and other effort – behavior which makes the most sense when there’s a problem, rather than just “this person is good, let’s make them great.” I mean, aren’t there bigger problems on manager’s plate than, “this person is just ok.”

      Which is why – and Alison mentions this – the priority question is: What is “good enough” here, exactly? Manager has to make a conscious decision of where the bar is. If Darcy is below it, manage it as a performance issue. If she really is good enough, then leave Darcy alone and let the superstar be awesome. But manager must make a choice.

  12. Really?*

    #4: Prepare a final invoice for all work performed to date, the estimated time for the wrap-up work, and the past due balance. Copy your contact with a note ( or call, if you prefer) to remind them to pay your invoice so you can release your final deliverable (your files, instructions, or whatever else is needed.) I’ve been consulting for years; except for our very best long-term clients, we never release the final before we get paid. For future projects, I recommend getting a signed engagement letter that includes your rates, timing, payment terms, deliverables, and a retainer to be applied against the final invoice.

    1. Hornswoggler*

      This is good advice. They haven’t treated you well, so you have every justification to play it by the book.

    2. Dragon_Dreamer*

      This. They may decide to try not to pay you for any work done since that “notice.” ALWAYS GET A CONTRACT FOR FREELANCE WORK.

    3. Chocolate Covered Cotton*

      My first thought when I read “what do I owe this client” was “whatever your contract says you owe.” Then I see they have no contract so the answer is “nothing.”

      1. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

        Not really a great idea, because there is also no contact that says the client owes OP #4 money either. If you want people to treat a handshake agreement with good faith, you have to give them good faith back.

  13. Viette*

    OP#1 – It’s not clear if the superstar is irritated by the fact that Darcy’s good-to-mediocre work requires more effort on the superstar’s part, or if they’re annoyed that Darcy’s good-to-mediocre work exists at all.

    I certainly know some extremely high-performing extremely judgmental people who get very wound up and angry about people who are not up to *their* standards, irrelevant of whether those bejudgèd people are doing work the rest of the world thinks is acceptable.

    Sometimes it’s an element of hyper-self-critical ‘superstars’ judging other people as harshly as they judge themselves, aka “extremely and unnecessarily harshly all day long”, but it’s still not appropriate and doesn’t dictate your own judgment on Darcy.

    1. Quantum Possum*

      I certainly know some extremely high-performing extremely judgmental people who get very wound up and angry about people who are not up to *their* standards, irrelevant of whether those bejudgèd people are doing work the rest of the world thinks is acceptable.

      ^ This 100%.

      Those people are not good team players. Imho, no one is high-performing enough to justify having to deal with that kind of judgment and resentment. Job-wise, everyone is replaceable.

      1. allathian*

        Oh yes, absolutely. Thankfully I haven’t run into them at my current job, but I work for the government where we have pretty fixed pay bands, very little room for negotiation on pay, absolutely zero room for negotiation on benefits like PTO thanks to collective agreements, and very limited personal bonuses, if any. Extremely competitive high performers tend to self-select out because they won’t be rewarded for working themselves to death. Instead I get to work with professionals who are committed to doing a good job, but nobody expects work to be the only significant thing in our lives.

        1. Quantum Possum*

          Fellow fed here! :) I honestly love how it’s set up. (Well, except for the limited bonuses part, lol.) Everyone knows where they stand. And teamwork is (usually) valued much more highly than individual ambition.

          As you pointed out, one of the most positive effects of this environment is how well it supports a healthy work-life balance.

    2. JSPA*

      This, exactly. And if you’re young, it’s easy to mistake “dealing with an increasing burden of life-crap, none of which individually rises to the level of accomodation, and a decreasing level of coping ability” for “doesn’t GAF / coasting until retirement.” With all the judgementalism that involves. (Noting that there’s a different sort of judgementalism that comes into play, if you do share.)

      1. Introvert Teacher*

        Yes love the way you phrased this. Coming from someone whose parents both had to retire a couple years early due to job stress affecting health and burden of becoming caregivers for aging parents, I support giving a soon-to-retire employee plenty of slack as long as they’re not incompetent. I don’t think it’s ageist to acknowledge that the changes at work are harder and harder to adapt to the older one gets. A young high performer doesn’t perhaps understand the external pressures an older person faces with health, family, etc, and I think it’s a kindness to allow someone to finish out their career with mildy reduced expectations and responsibilities, especially if benefits/pension are affected, seeing as full social security benefits kick in at 67.

        1. Goldie*

          And recruiting a training a new person is probably way more work that supervising a not perfect person.

        2. aunttora*

          Re the challenges of adapting to change. For me, approximately where the subject of this message is, demographically, I Have Thoughts. It’s not that my brain has lost the ability to adapt/learn new things, or that I lack energy to do the job – it’s more that I increasingly kind of wonder why I am spending these possibly last few years of good health dealing with what frequently amounts to nonsense.

          1. JSPA*

            Exactly. Also, the first 2 or 3 or 5 times you see some new! and revolutionary! reorganization come through the office…or the first 10 or 20 or so times you jump to handle a crisis that’s “unbelievable and like nothing we’ve ever seen”… you buy into the hype.

            By the time you have a few decades on most of the people in the room, a lot of it is business as semi-usual. Or rearranging deck chairs on the titanic. Or maneuvering for status points in a way that doesn’t really affect getting the basic job done.

            At which point, yeah, on some level you’re probably phoning it in, a bit.

            But in another sense, you are triaging effectively.

            Either way, if you are quietly doing the core job to a reasonable standard, that doesn’t have to be seen as a problem, so long as you’re not also doing anything actively negative or undermining.

            Besides, this isn’t lake woebegon; we can’t (by definition) all be above average. And if everyone’s a superstar, then nobody’s a superstar.

            1. aunttora*

              LOL yes. And regarding your first point specifically, I can say after decades of working in offices, none of new/revolutionary technology innovations never seem to reduce MY workload. I’m pretty sure AI isn’t going to accomplish that either, despite the constant barrage of messaging on the topic.

      2. My Useless 2 Cents*

        JSPA, that is what I always said about college. Going from high school to college, I didn’t think the course work was any more difficult. It was dealing with all the other life stuff on top of the school work that made it seem like a struggle. I keep waiting for the life stuff to become easier but it’s been well over 20 years and that hasn’t happened yet. Every time I get something down, the world changes and there are more challenges that I have to deal with that I didn’t realize would be so hard when I was young. And the more that happens the less important being a superstar at work becomes.

    3. Sparkles McFadden*

      Oh, I love this comment. I have seen many versions of this as both a manager and an individual contributor over the years, and I always found it ridiculous. It’s the work-world version of the kid in school who made a big production of finishing a test first (usually followed by some comment like “That was so easy and I didn’t even study at all!”)

      If Darcy’s mediocrity isn’t affecting her coworkers’ workloads, your “superstar” employee has no real reason to be complaining to you. If everyone else does have to keep fixing her mistakes, then it is a real issue. If you thought Darcy was “good enough” before your other employee complained, then look at things a little more closely, but don’t let one coworker’s complaints substitute for your own observations and judgment.

  14. Vi*

    LW3 – If you’re okay with the following solutions, it is fine to put W. S. Lastname, or Wolf Lastname (I know a conservative German guy who’s named Wolf!), or W. Legalmiddlename Lastname. Your resume is just a marketing document meant to get your foot in the door.

    1. The Prettiest Curse*

      Yeah, there are lots of German guys called Wolf (I work in higher ed and have come across several), so especially in a field with many international employees, nobody would bat an eyelid. I personally wouldn’t care about the full name, but then I don’t hire people.

      1. Siberian Husky with a high wolfiness quotient*

        1. They are called Wulf, not “Wulfskull,” and definitely not “ Wolfskull Shadow Bones C.” all
        while dressing in goth clothing.

        2. Even if they were this isn’t Germany. In Spain the name “Adolfo” doesn’t raise eyebrows. It does in Germany for obvious reasons.

        1. amoeba*

          Eeeh, there are definitely still people called “Adolf” in Germany/Austria – you might get a few jokes and I personally wouldn’t be happy with the name (apart from the gender issue), but it’s not like people would automatically assume you’re a nazi or something. “Adolfo” would probably not even raise the association at all.

          The coach of a major soccer league club is actually called “Adolf Hütter”. Adolf H. From Austria as well. He does go by Adi, apparently.

          Also, yes, Wulf is a somewhat common name, but “Wolf” as well (although slightly less common), and “Wolfgang” was extremely popular in my grandparent’s generation. So yeah, I’d probably just assume a “Wolf” had some kind of Germanic roots…

          1. Nel*

            I mean, I do think that calling your kid Adolf if your last name is Hüttet is A Choice (looked him up on Wikipedia and there a brief section on where the name comes from – clearly people do wonder about that one).

            1. Enai*

              Yes, but it is A Choice by Mr. Hütter’s parents, not his own. Laws around changing one’s name are strict in Germany, so he may not even be able to do anything about the unfortunate first name :(

              1. amoeba*

                He was named after some relative, wasn’t he? I mean, guess he’s happy as an Adi and sees no need to change it. (Also, he’s obviously famous now, so that might be a factor in keeping the name…)

              2. Myrin*

                He would be one of the few people who’d be able to change his name – “unconscionable associations” people will most definitely have when hearing your name is one of the very few reasons you’re allowed to change your given name in Germany.

          2. Dust Bunny*

            One of my high school principals was Adolf (born after World War II). It was attention-getting, but he was a good guy and I hope nobody gave him a hard time about it. I don’t know if it was a family name.

        2. The Prettiest Curse*

          Nope, I have known more than one German man called Wolf, though I don’t doubt that the other spelling also exists. German people also live and work outside Germany, which is why I have encountered German people named Wolf outside Germany and why I said that that the specific abbreviated name Wolf might go without comment in a work environment with lots of international employees. Now, if you will excuse me, I need to write to the Germans named Wolf that I have encountered to inform then that they are, according to you, spelling their own names incorrectly.

          1. Siberian Husky with a high wolfiness quotient*

            You are deliberately being obtuse. I couldn’t care less whether the spelling is “Wulf” or “Wolf” or “Wolfgang” or whatever, as you well know. My point, again, is that it’s not “Wolfskull” (excuse me, “Wolfschadel”) in Germany. This is not a question of someone being German. It’s a question of someone being performative.

            1. Elsajeni*

              This is a thread suggesting abbreviating the name to “Wolf” for resume purposes, so yes, the relative normalcy of the name “Wolf” and the fact that it might be perceived as “oh, maybe he’s German” is relevant. Also, you are the one who raised the question of whether it’s spelled Wolf or Wulf, so… don’t raise issues you couldn’t care less about if you don’t want people to reply to you about them, I guess?

    2. BlueberryGirl*

      Yes, I think this is a good compromise and was coming here to suggest this. I confess that if I saw Wolfskull Shadow Bones C. on a resume, I would be a little concerned. Mostly, because I would worry about someone’s understanding of professional norms and their ability to interface in the more formal environment in which I work. However, if I saw W.S C and later found out someone’s name was Wolfskull Shadow Bones C, I would simply think- huh, I hope kids weren’t too mean to them when they were little- and move on.

    3. ecnaseener*

      Or even just Wolfskull C., drop the Shadow Bones. It would still stand out, but significantly less so. My reaction would be more “huh, well some people do have strange names” and less “is this a fake application?”

    4. Catwhisperer*

      Came here to suggest this as well, especially because it’s a solution that doesn’t involve your deadname but still remains professional.

  15. Bleah*

    For #4, is there a chance that there were layoffs at the company? They still should have talked to you in person or over the phone, but it’s possible that the manager has a lot going on, and you got the short end of the stick.

    It’s also possible the project you were working on has been completely cut, and there is no work to do for a wrap-up. If you are in the tech industry, layoffs and project cancellations are everywhere.

  16. SailsUp*

    LW3 – I would assume the resume was a joke/prank. Sorry to be so blunt, but there is no reason for me to take seriously someone whose main identification reads like an exaggerated cartoon canine villain when I have (literally) hundreds of applicants per job role to consider. There is no taking that name seriously. New Zealand agrees with me, as do numerous other countries who have actual laws about names because sometimes people need that creative freedom to be a little less free.

    I think the suggestion of going by a nickname after you’ve been somewhere long enough is one you should lean into

    1. allathian*

      Yes, Finland has laws like that and I’m generally very happy with them, although I’m also glad that the laws have been relaxed a bit in recent years. The only part of the law that I disagree with is the requirement that names need to be split along gender lines and you can’t give a traditionally male name to an AFAB baby, or vice versa. There are some names that are gender neutral in the sense that they’re fairly new, mainly taken from genderless natural phenomena, and were initially given to both girls and boys in about equal numbers. The rule only applies to babies and children, which is mainly a problem for the small number of intersex babies that are born every year. Adults can change their legal name to something gender neutral. At 15 teenagers can do the same, but they need parental approval for the change to become legal.

      I do like the specific rule against giving names to kids that are likely to cause offence and be a detriment to the child growing up. There’s also a rule against giving company names to kids, so there are absolutely no Apples, Nokias, or ESPNs here.

      1. Jopestus*

        Another feller from finland with pretty similar outlook. Though if I saw that someone from US would be applying to our company with that name I would just assume a background as native american and not think about it again.

        /me no familiar with native americans outside cartoons and westerns. I honestly have no clue about their naming traditions besides the common knowledge like Sitting Bull.

        1. Sun*

          Yes, I would also take it to potentially be a culturally adopted name at first glance. I would be pretty thrown to learn it was self-chosen if the person was not Native American.

      2. MissElizaTudor*

        Seems like those laws would cause the least harm in very homogenous societies, but then, it also seems like they’d be the least useful in those kinds of societies, as well, given then homogeneity.

        Idk, I get the idea that the US goes too far in prohibiting limitations of free expression by the government, but stuff like this makes me appreciate the benefits despite the costs, so thank you for the reminder. It would suck for the government can’t tell you what you can and can’t name your kid, so it can’t stop you from naming your daughter after your grandfather, and you don’t have to wait for the country to become more diverse and the government to change laws based on that in order to give your kid a name from your own culture.

        OP, your new name is going to sound silly or fake to a lot of people. So, yes, it could hurt your job search. If you’re okay with that, go for it, although I still wouldn’t include whatever the full name is, since what you put here is already long and it sounds like you’re flexible on this. If you’re not okay with it hurting your search or you can’t afford to have that happen, put a different name and introduce part of your new name as a nickname once younger a feel for the workplace.

        1. Emmy Noether*

          I see the objection, but usually if you can demonstrate that it’s a traditional name in your culture, it is approved. At least in Germany, there’s not a list of approved names you have to choose from, it’s more that they weed out the unacceptable ones (which of course can run into problems with bigoted/xenophobic officials, but there is an appeal process). There actually aren’t that many rejections per year. Perfectly commonplace to name one’s children Muhammed or Aishe, on the diversity front.

          1. amoeba*

            Yeah, and there’s definitely waaaay more unusual names than that that are accepted. I’ve seen some examples of names that were rejected and those were mostly names that were either offensive, impossible to pronounce (not just for Germans, for humans in general), or outright hateful to the child.

            What I really didn’t like was that until recently, you were only allowed to use a gender-neutral name – even the more traditional ones, there are a few, like Kim – in combination with a second name that was clearly gendered. I believe they’ve finally changed that though.

            1. Worldwalker*

              Why do so many people have a hangup on what’s in someone else’s pants, to the point that their name is required to announce it to the world?

              1. amoeba*

                Because people need to fit neatly into the categories in your their and they get confused when somebody doesn’t. (In German, we actually have a word for that that I find really fitting – “Schubladendenken” or “drawer thinking”. Everything needs to fit into a drawer.)

          2. Zoe Karvounopsina*

            My father had a friend from Sri Lanka whose name for his son was rejected in Switzerland under this name rule.

    2. Emmy Noether*

      Germany also limits what children can be named, and I generally think that’s a good thing, minus the forced gendering (it’s also really difficult changing one’s name here, so children tend to be stuck with their parent’s choices).

      I’m kind of surprised at the reactions here on a majority US site, as what I’ve usually seen is strong defense of freedom in naming. So one can name one’s child literally anything, but said child will be punished for the weird name once it tries to apply to jobs? Huh. That doesn’t seem fair.

      1. MissElizaTudor*

        You can believe in freedom in naming but also recognize that people are judgemental. They shouldn’t be, but this site does have at least a partial goal of giving people actionable advice and realistic ideas about the working world.

        Thinking the government shouldn’t prohibit something isn’t the same as saying there shouldn’t or won’t be consequences for that thing.

        Giving your child a name that reflects your family’s heritage might really hamper someone’s job search in a highly homogenous society or a racist society. That isn’t a good enough reason for the government to stop someone from doing that, as some governments with naming laws have done or currently do.

      2. Ferret*

        This is a weird thing to be surprised about. I don’t think the government should regulate what people can wear but I would still judge a job candidate who showed up to interview in a clown costume, or a string vest and booty shorts. Btw I’m in the UK where it is very easy to change your name I’ve known people who did it temporarily for a joke/stunt

        1. Emmy Noether*

          I’m presuming the candidate’s parents did not choose the clown costume to wear for life.

          1. Ferret*

            But even in countries where it is difficult/expensive to change your name legally it is generally easy to just go by a chosen name or nickname socially? Is there any country where you are legally obligated to share your full legal name when introducing yourself?

            1. Emmy Noether*

              Socially, yes. But you need to attach your diplomas to your application, and those will have your legal name, which opens the question on whether and how to acknowledge the discrepancy. Also employers may be weird about it.

        2. Media Monkey*

          there’s a great (i have no idea if it’s actually true) story in advertising that Kelvin McKenzie’s son (who owned Mirror Group at one time) changed his name to News Bunny to promote Live TV (this was a short lived TV channel which had a Norweigian model reading the weather in Norwegian, little people on trampolines playing darts, topless darts and a person in a rabbit costume reporting on the news). apparently once you are convicted of a crime you can’t change your name, and so he was stuck with it after beign convicted of a driving offence!

      3. Kit Franklin*

        As an American, I would describe it as “you have the freedom to do “x” but that doesn’t shield you from the consequences of doing “x”. Freedom and responsibility or freedom and wisdom aren’t in opposition.

        1. Emmy Noether*

          Yes, but in this case the freedom is for the parents and the consequences are for the child. Which is why the government is protecting *the child* from their parent’s idiocy. I’d be on board with anyone naming themselves whatever they want. Similar to being able to choose to tattoo your own face, but not your child’s face. (Names are a lot more permanent here).

          1. amoeba*

            Yeah, I agree! And even in countries where it’s easier to change your name – I guess you have to be a certain age to do that, so that wouldn’t really help you as a child. Which is honestly probably the time when people with weird/unusual names suffer most.

            1. Emmy Noether*

              Thinking out loud here: I guess it’s logically coherent to judge a (presumably adult) candidate for not ditching their weird-ass name if this is possible. Just because it is legally possible, it may still not be easy, however (having gotten attached, not wanting to offend their family, being an emotional connection to a time or person,…). AND there’s the whole topic of rare cultural names that sound “weird” or “jokey” to the mainstream/in another language.

              I think I’m actually talking myself into more surprise at the comments, seeing how the usual tenor here is quite tolerant.

          2. Emmy Noether*

            Wanted to add, I’m aware this is getting off topic, because the LW did choose the name themself, not their parents. If they just put their name on the application without comment, this is indistinguishable for employers, however. So the comments about taking unusual names as a joke rub me the wrong way (don’t punish people for their parent’s choices!)

            1. amoeba*

              Well, true, but I think for me it would be the conscious decision to include all names – unless explicitly asked for “full name as stated on birth certificate”, most people would probably only give the first name. Even with less unusual middle names. So actually writing “Wolfskull Shadow Bones C. instead of “Wolfskull C.” would actually still obviously be their own choice, no matter what their parents named them.

              1. Emmy Noether*

                True. Which is why I advised elsewhere in the comments to drop the “middle” names. That’s a reasonable and easy adjustment to convention, so doing otherwise will read as purposeful.

      4. amylynn*

        On top of the concept of “freedom to do X does not mean protection from the consequences of doing X”, there are two other factors in play here.

        1) Some of the reaction to “weird” names is based in racism or xenophobia. Don’t have citations, but research has been done showing that resumes with names that “sound” African American are less likely to get callbacks. Some organizations will go so far as doing the first review of resumes with the name removed.

        2) In certain sub-cultures (largely religious) there is a belief that parents have or should have near-absolute authority over their children. And while most people in the US reject the most extreme versions of this the idea is still very influential. Any time there is a widespread news item about “country Y has laws about what you can name your kid” some non-trivial number of people in the US will lose their heads.

        Ironically, a lot of the people who will lose their heads over the idea of countries having laws about what you can name your kids will also be the first to judge parents for giving their kids “weird” or “foreign” names. Go figure.

    3. Worldwalker*

      Imagine if “Talulah Does The Hula From Hawaii” had tried to get a job with that name! (yes, that was a name someone really named their child)

      1. JB*

        Or Number 16 Bus Shelter. Too many parents need to think about what it’d be like growing up with the outlandish names they think are cool or “unique”.

  17. PedestrianMoniker*

    #3- Agree that you shouldn’t put a name disclaimer on your resume, but maybe this is a good opportunity to think through different options for how you want to put your name in writing and how you actually want to be referred to at work. Many people with three or four names do not put all of them on their resume. And whether right or wrong, most workplaces/people will refer to their coworkers day-to-day by just one name. Maybe two. Do you want your coworkers to call you just Wolfskull? Shadow? What shortened version of your name are you okay with, if any? Are you *actually* okay with using your legal middle name at work? Do you want to make the legal middle name part of your “work name” for now? You could write a list of all possible versions to see which ones feel like a no, a soft yes, and an enthusiastic yes.
    You may want to have some responses prepped for interviews or future workplaces when someone asks about your name, because many people will ask about it. Could be as brief as “It is unusual! I’m so glad it suits me.” and a cheerful change of topic. Resist the urge to overexplain and avoid trying too hard to validate your name in others’ eyes.
    Some people who desire more boundaries between work and the rest of their life sometimes go by their full name at work and a nickname elsewhere, or the reverse.

    1. By Any Other Name*

      For the first many years after I started using a preferred (or “discovered”) name over my legal one, I was prickly, fussy and defensive if it wasn’t pronounced or used correctly. I got much more relaxed over time. But at my recent job, the schedule roster changed (per corporate decree) to our paycheck names. There were a handful of us we had to learn who it meant (Richard on the roster, Ed on the name tag, etc.) I fill out official forms with my legal name followed by my preferred name in parentheses. But when they talked about requiring our legal name on our public-facing badges, I would have had issues if it had gone into effect. I’m fine with a paycheck name for that purpose, but it’s not the “who” that I am or want to identify as on the daily.

      1. Worldwalker*

        Here in South Carolina, there are a lot of people whose names are very different from the ones on their birth certificates (or presumably on their paychecks). Joseph Charles Smith might go by “Dave” for some reason I can’t quite understand, and so on. It probably drives accounting departments nuts, but whatever works.

      2. Michelle Smith*

        This is a good point. I think I recall a letter where someone wrote in about their frustration with their workplace refusing to change their email address (I think the person got married and changed their name). You’ve got to think about email addresses, signatures, name badges, company directories, etc.

        For me, I just use my legal name despite the fact that it causes me to be misgendered literally all day. I’ve decided that’s easier for me to stomach than dealing with potential transphobia from clients (same reason I dress more femininely than I typically want to for work). Definitely important for LW3 to decide how they want to be perceived, what their dealbreakers are, and then make sure to thoroughly vet how these things are handled during the interview process, once they get there.

  18. John Smith*

    re LW3, I’m a bit confused (it’s early and not had a good sleep). When you say your legal middle name, do you mean your given name or the name you’ve chosen? TBH, saying your OK being called Shadow Bones will come across the same as using any other part of your name. It sounds as though you’ve chosen a name for yourself but have not changed your name by deed poll (or whatever the legal mechanism is in your country to change your name). If that is the case, you might want to consider possible implications, such as background or employment history checks that an employer may want to make which may be difficult if using an assumed name rather than your legal one.

    If you still retain your given name as your legal name, I’d use that on your resume and at some future point (though I cant say how it will go down), simply tell people that you go by the name you prefer others to use for you. Apologies if I’ve misunderstood, though, but what I will say is that, rightly or wrongly, you will have to accept that your chosen name will put some people off hiring you (if his dad wasn’t Elon Musk, how do you think XAeiii…. I give up…. would get on with his name?).

    On saying all of that, I thought the name Fyfe Dangerfield was utterly ridiculous when I first hear it and now I really like that name. We also had a kid in college who’s first name was Woollff (not a typo). Everyone, including lecturers, thought it was a chosen name to be different but it was his actual name. He was like marmite (and so was his name).

    1. Ellen Ripley*

      One of the students I TA’d for was named Merlin, definitely one of my favorite uncommon names. He was a big guy who was (former?) military so definitely did not fix the skinny grey wizard look.

      1. amoeba*

        I think it was mentioned upthread already, but that’s actually a traditional (although not common) name though…

      1. John Smith*

        It’s not about whether a chosen name is an actual name, but the legal identity (the name given and is on the birth certificate or chosen and is registered as the name and legal identity). I can go by the name of John Smith here (and elsewhere maybe) but if I want to apply for a passport, get a bank account, apply for a job and so on, I have to use my legal name (which happens to be the one given to me at birth). If I want to apply for a passport, etc, in the name of John Smith, then I must legally change my name to John Smith. You can’t just decide “I’m going to be called X” and have the whole world revolve around your whim.

        1. londonedit*

          You can use a preferred name that isn’t your legal name at work, though. It’s very easy – I’ve been doing it for 20 years. There’s no need to put your legal name on your CV, and you just notify HR and IT that although your official documents will be in the name of John Smith, you actually use Jack on an everyday basis and you’d like your email address/work accounts to be set up as Jack. As long as they know in advance, it’s really not an issue, and it isn’t ‘having the whole world revolve around your whim’. It’s very common.

        2. bamcheeks*

          As far as I know, you actually can! There isn’t really such a thing as “a legal name” in the UK separate from the name that you use. If you want a passport in the name Johannes Smith, you just need to tell the passport office that you are using the name Johannes Smith and provide a couple of official documents to demonstrate that you are using it. The list includes things like payslips, bank statements– places that will usually change your name based on your say-so. Deed polls and statutory declarations can make it easier, but it’s perfectly possible to start putting John Wolfskull Smith down on official documents, then drop the John, and have Wolfskull Smith recognised as your legal name without ever going through an Official Process.

          1. Ferret*

            Yeah my understanding is that the UK is one of the easiest places for changing your name. You can just do it and even getting it “officially” registered via deed poll only costs £50. I know someone who did it temporarily as a stunt at uni.

            1. aqua*

              You don’t need to register a deed poll! You can just print and sign one and use that to change all your legal documents. You can also use multiple names as long as you’re not attempting to defraud anyone, although that can get more administratively complicated.

          2. Emmy Noether*

            ooh, fascinating. My bank and my employer will definitely not rely on just my word for my name or change it just on my say-so here – they require a passport or identity card, and will verify that I resemble the photo. Actually a lot of things require photo identity documents with a matching name, from picking up your parcel at the post office to checking in at a hotel or renting a car.

            1. bamcheeks*

              We don’t have anything like Anmeldung, so most official documentation things rely on you showing OTHER official documentation, on the grounds that if someone else has accepted it it’s probably OK. This can cause really annoying circular issues when you’re trying to get started, like you can’t open a bank account without an electricity bill or similar and you can’t get an electricity bill or similar without a bank account, but once you’ve got one, you can usually get the others, and it is definitely possible to change the least secure one fairly easily and then use that to change the next most secure and so on. And like you just have to scratch the surface of any online trans community to find guides like, “start with your Netflix account, and that’ll make it easier to change your bank account and once you’ve done that your employer should accept it and then you can…”

              I do think it’s getting harder, as institutions become more aware of identify fraud and more things are held on computer databased which talk to each other and are more likely to beep and say, “Deb is not the same as Deborah, what’s going on”. But we’ve never had the *principle* that a legal registered name on a birth certificate or a passport takes precedence over the name you use in daily life, so it’s more about figuring out how bureaucracy works and how to play it than doing anything illegal.

              1. Emmy Noether*

                I’ve had similar issues proving place of residence to the French government. I mean, I guess being able to log into my live-in boyfriend’s phone provider’s website and change the street name of the address to “Emmy Noether (linebreak) Anonystreet” so that both our names would appear is proof of something, though of what I’m not sure. An ability to deal with asinine bureaucracy? Creativity?

                I did recently successfully argue (to a German passport official, of all things) that my three week old son has no electricity or phone bill in his name, and that one in my name should suffice.

              2. Azure Jane Lunatic*

                I’m going to bring back the libraries here — if your library does cards with names and has relatively chill rules about how you can obtain a card, that’s a good first/early step.

          3. Michelle Smith*

            That is not how it works in the US, at all. My bank is not going to change my name because I ask them to. My very sweet grandfather wanted to set me up with his credit union as a surprise and he couldn’t. It required a lengthy inquiry on the phone with me on the line providing (among other information) my social security number and drivers license numbers, both of which connect back to my legal name. I’d need to show a court order of name change or marriage certificate to get them to update my name. AFAIK my paycheck also needs to be in my legal name so everything is reported properly to the IRS. I’m actually not sure if my bank would allow a direct deposit of a check that didn’t have my name on it – I’ve never tried.

            1. Avery*

              Can confirm, as someone who’s legally changed their name in the US. A lot of official documents–including, yes, bank statements and the like as well as things like passports, driver’s license, Social Security card, etc.–will require a copy of a legal name change order to get your name changed on there. There might be an exception with women changing their last name upon marriage where you can provide marriage paperwork instead, but that’s about it. And the actual name change process is no walk in the park, either–I had to fill out a bundle of paperwork, pay a fee to get said paperwork filed, pay a local paper to publish an announcement about my upcoming name change for a set number of weeks on end, and then go to court for the judge to pronounce it official. And that’s in a fairly liberal state (Illinois), and without any issues about the name being nigh-unheard-of or obviously the “other” gender from the previous name or anything like that. It’s not easy, and there are plenty of reasons why people might want a different name but wouldn’t be willing to go through that process! (Actually I myself am in that boat now. Neither my birth name nor my new legal name are Avery, but that name’s been growing on me while I’ve soured on my legal first name now, and I wouldn’t mind swapping out my unusual, often mispronounced or misspelled surname either… but I’m pretty sure I don’t care enough to go through that rigmarole again.)

        3. aqua*

          You are using “actual name” to mean “legal name” rather than “chosen name”, which is what I’m taking issue with, rather than the concept of legally changing your name.

  19. Quantum Possum*

    OP #1

    I’m going to diverge somewhat from Alison’s view. Grain of salt and all that.

    Honestly? I would seriously side-eye the resentful “superstar” employee, not the average employee about whom they were whining.

    I don’t tolerate this kind of sniping from my employees. It comes across as petty and small.

    No one should expect everyone on a team to perform at the exact same level. This is why we have performance reviews that allow us to score our employees as “below expectations,” “meets expectations,” and “exceeds expectations.” And guess who DOESN’T write those evaluations? Our employees’ colleagues.

    I recommend stepping back and considering how much influence you are letting this “superstar” employee have. I know it seems counterintuitive, but those types of employees can often have a souring effect on team morale.

    1. Cmdrshprd*

      “I don’t tolerate this kind of sniping from my employees. It comes across as petty and small.

      No one should expect everyone on a team to perform at the exact same level.”

      I do think this needs more detail we don’t have.

      but I don’t think that it is necessarily sniping to point out same level employees not being held to the same standards, especially one employees lack of hitting their numbers leads to other employees having to pick up the slack.

      Like if the goal/minimum is 10 tickets closed per hour, and Darcy is doing her 10, but Jane is doing 15 and wants Darcy to also do 15 I agree with you.

      but if the goal/minimum is 10 and Darcy is doing only 7 and getting away with it because Jane has to always do 13, but often does 15/18 I think that would be faie for jane to bring up.

      1. Quantum Possum*

        We don’t know that it has any impact on the “superstar.” It sounds like they’re upset because 1.) Darcy isn’t “amazing” (she doesn’t need to be) and 2.) Darcy needs micro-management, which is the manager’s job and not Darcy’s colleague’s job.

        Even if it does directly impact the superstar’s work, the appropriate way to approach this with a manager is to focus on the technical details – e.g., “I have to close 2-3 of Darcy’s tickets per day.” There’s no need to bring resentment to the table or make it personal.

        1. kiki*

          “her colleague, my top superstar, has recently expressed (to me) resentment that Darcy isn’t amazing — makes some repeated mistakes, needs some micromanaging.”

          It’s not clear to me how exactly this was expressed to LW, though. I could see it being way too intense and out of touch with norms, but I could also see something like, “Hey LW, Darcy needs a lot of hand-holding to get through some of these tasks and it’s holding me back from getting as much of my job done. It’s hard for me not to feel a bit resentful of the encroachment on my time and bandwidth.”

          As a manager, sometimes your direct reports aren’t going to express something to you perfectly. Part of your job is to get through the initial ask to make sure you’re understanding the intention and meaning of the ask.

          1. Quantum Possum*

            As a manager, sometimes your direct reports aren’t going to express something to you perfectly.

            I don’t expect them to word things perfectly. That’s a far cry from an employee who is radiating resentment and judgment while talking about a colleague’s work “not being amazing.”

            OP#1’s superstar may not be presenting themselves in this way – the wording is vague, and something about it reads to me that the superstar is more venting about “unfairness” than having specific issues.

        2. Michelle Smith*

          Okay? We have plenty of people who write in to AAM specifically because they don’t know how to properly word their complaints to “focus on the technical details.” It doesn’t mean “superstar” is necessarily a problem because they didn’t perfectly frame their complaint. People do need help with that, as this blog regularly demonstrates.

          Even if though, as you suggest, it doesn’t actually impact Superstar’s day-to-day work, being dismissive of the complaint and “side-eyeing” may not be the best response IMO. But I think it’s highly unlikely that it doesn’t, because if it doesn’t impact her at all, how does she even know that Darcy is making all these mistakes? Unless LW is like the manager who wrote in about how to mitigate the damage caused by her rookie decision to publicly call out individual mistakes in a group Slack. I don’t know when my coworkers are making mistakes until (1) I get a generic group reminder from my boss reminding me to do stuff I already am on top of doing or (2) my boss pulls me in to “help” with oversight on something someone else on the team is doing before she takes a look (signals to me there have been quality issues she wants me to address before she edits). How else would I even hear about it?

          1. Quantum Possum*

            Okay? This is not about perfect wording – it’s about whether the employee is complaining about specific impacts on their work, or just grousing about perceived unfairness.

      2. Just chipping in*

        Agree that this is a “more information needed” point. Not saying Quantum Possum is wrong and I’ve definitely worked in a few places which would have been nicer and more productive places if people concentrated on what they were doing rather than being so hung up on what other people were or weren’t doing. And I agree superstar could be presenting their complaint far more effectively and professionally than OP says they are if Darcy’s work is having a negative impact on their performance, but what I don’t think is there’s enough information to say this is definitely a case of the superstar needing to stay in their lane.

        I suppose a couple of things for OP to consider would be a) as Alison asks, how would they feel if Darcy doesn’t retire in a couple of years as planned and b) how would they feel if superstar left (for whatever reason, not saying this would be a Darcy-related reason here).

        A should help OP address whether there are any areas in Darcy’s performance which would be problems if they were there on any more than a temporary basis because those need addressing (or, alternatively, if OP is confident that they would be just fine with Darcy’s performance if she was still there and working to the same level in 5 to 10 years time, then they are likely holding her to the right level).

        B should help OP address whether superstar is currently filling any serious gaps on the team because, if so, those need addressing. If the answer is to “what if superstar left tomorrow” is “well, that would be a shame and we’d certainly get less done but we’d still be able to meet all our targets/get what we needed to done” then the team – and Darcy – are probably fine as it is. If the answer is “oh no, we’d be operating below targets and we’d need to get everybody working to a higher level ASAP to get what we needed to done” then that’s a sign superstar has a point and their work is being unfairly affected by Darcy’s (and other lower performers) performance.

        1. Allonge*

          Yes, we just don’t know a lot of things overall.

          Superstar may be right or not about so-so performer, impacted very much or not at all by that performance AND at the same time going outside of their lane by bringing this up to their manager or not: many separate issues.

      3. Irish Teacher.*

        Yeah, I’d agree. People use terms like “average,” “not excellent,” “adequate” and “mediocre” quite differently. To some people, terms like those mean the person is similar in ability to the majority of employees, they do their job perfectly well, but don’t stand out as a likely candidate for promotion, etc. To other people, they mean “just about meets the standard to avoid being fired”.

        If Darcy is just doing her job competently but without taking on extra responsibilities or staying late, etc, then I agree the superstar needs to stay in her lane. If Darcy is doing the bare minimum to avoid a PIP, then the superstar’s complaints might be more reasonable.

        1. SansSerif*

          Even if Darcy is doing the bare minimum, if it doesn’t affect the superstar, then it’s none of their business.

    2. Cmdrshprd*

      Relaxed standards can be discrimination if it end up cutting across a protected class.

      the minimum is 10 but all the men Re allowed to get away with only closing 7 tickets, but the women get in trouble if they don’t do they 10.

        1. Cmdrshprd*

          It was going toward the idea that if another coworkers accountability/work (or lack of) does not impact you at all it is just complaining about “perceived unfairness,” and you shouldn’t do it.
          Wanting people/coworkers to be treated fairly/held to the same standards as everyone else is not necessarily unreasonable even if it has not direct work impact on you.

          If the standard is 10, but one or two people are allowed to get away with producing 6/7 widgets, even if the other coworkers are not asked to make more than 10 it can be unfair. If two people are allowed to only make 6/7 a day, then everyone else should be able to go down to the 6/7 widgets production. This is assuming there is not some kind of reasonable medical accommodation that is being given to the two employees.

    3. JSPA*

      I’ll go stronger than that, and disagree with Alison’s thought experiment more generally.

      “Would you do this for a younger person” is not a good metric, for all the following reasons:

      1. A younger person will, on average, have a reasonable chance of finding another job that’s a better fit. (The theoretical subtle agism of letting someone coast barely touches the well-documented agism of the hiring process.)

      2. when you keep pushing to develop skills in someone who has a long career in front of them, despite the fact that it’s not showing much effect, you’re at least theoretically doing them the favor of preparing them for future jobs.

      3. For everyone who’s audibly shocked that you’re letting a Darcy who’s kind of “meh” float for a year or two before retirement, there is almost certainly at least one person who’ll be shocked, offended, and willing to consider moving on, if they see you hound Darcy beyond what they can learn from (or even tolerate), or fire them.

      4. “intensively holding someone to standards they have not previously been held to, when they’re close to retirement” and “Hounding someone until they quit” can look very similar (and feel very similar, on the receiving end). And if her aging comes with increased medical costs, there’s an additional presumption that the company might want to ditch her. Again, the low-level hypothetical agism of letting someone continue as they have been–rather than coaching them repeatedly or firing them–pales in comparison with the extremely well-documented agism involved in firing people as the wear-and-tear of aging incrementally shifts the cost-benefit analysis of keeping them on.

      IMO, unless the company is willing to cover two years of health care plus two years of severance, it’d be pretty shitty to cut Darcy loose, or to start pounding Darcy with ultimatums, or to coach Darcy daily just for the sake of doing so, despite not seeing any effect (with the predictable outcome of undermining her last shred of self confidence and patience).

      None of this is to say that employers in the US legally owe aging long-time employees a continued paycheck for continuing to be about as good as they have always been, even as technology and benchmarks shift, around them. Only that it’s pretty cold, and offputting, and probably not an overall benefit to the company to (effectively) badger someone for dropping to 90% of their peak, a bit more error-prone, and not entirely current, when they’re a couple of years from retirement.

      Finally, don’t discout the value of institutional memory, if they’re been with the company a long time. Whether it’s, “Oh, old boss intentionally lost the Smith file 15 years ago, because the Smith family were a nightmare to work for” or “we had this water problem before, it happens when the gutters are clogged, and you have to tarp or move the computers in these two offices on the other side of the building, because it crosses over on a beam”–there’s a lot of value in that unwritten knowledge.

  20. Alex*

    LW3 as someone whose involvement in hiring is mostly in technical interviews, I’d probably think ‘That’s odd’ but not because of the name itself, more because you’re using what looks like three (assuming C. is the last name) personal names on a resume, and offhand they don’t appear to be coming from a culture where that’s common. Wolfskull C. and there’s a good chance I wouldn’t even notice until I was checking it immediately prior to the interview since I’m interested in relevant technical skills/projects and the name attached isn’t particularly useful unless/until we’re about to talk. Wolfskull Shadow C….okay, sure, still not all that noticeable category, middle names on resumes aren’t that uncommon. Wolfskull Shadow Bones C. and you’re getting to the point where the name is actually drawing attention to itself, and at that point Allison’s question about whether that’s something you want to do is more relevant.

    1. A Lady with A Long Name*

      Yeah, I have six names and I do not put all of them on anything except my passport. I think people would look at be a little oddly if I wrote out the equivalent of Mary Elizabeth Diane Ludwig Maxine Smith on my resume. So for me, I agree, it’s the number of names rather than the name that strikes me. Wolfskull S. B. C. would seem reasonable or W.S Bones C. or something… but the whole thing feels like a “bit much” and would make be worried the employee would be “a bit much.”

      1. WolfskullShadowBones*

        I only put down that my chosen name was Wolfskull, and I didn’t mention my middle names at all. I understand the confusion though

    2. gandalf the nude*

      the thing with Wolfskull C. is that it sounds like the person is keeping their last name confidential for some reason (“I’ll tell you it starts with a C but that’s all you can know at this point”) and that would be really surprising on a resume. you pretty much have to include your last name. this person’s last name is just “C” I guess, but I don’t think employers will realize that.

        1. amoeba*

          Yeah, honestly, I think that’s really a relevant distinction, because “Wolfskull Shadow Bones C.”, no full last name, would read infinitely more weird to me than even “Wolfskull Shadow Bone Commonlastname”.

      1. Astrid*

        I am guessing the C. is just to keep the name a little bit anonymous when submitted to this site.

      2. New Mom (of 1 5/9)*

        I think that they redacted their last name, hence calling it their “(mostly) full name”

  21. Dawn*

    LW#3: Hi, trans woman here. Unless there’s some reason you have to have your full legal name on your resume, go by your middle name on it. If you absolutely must, put the initials, but employers are likely to ask what W.S.B. Charlie Cuttingham stands for and you’re back to square one.

    I have friends and colleagues with names that run the entire spectrum, and even I’d hesitate hard about giving you a call or otherwise moving you forward if I saw that name on a resume. And even if an employer treats it as legit, you’re probably telling them things about yourself you may not want them to know or assume.

    1. Xyz*


      … Wall Street Bets? That would get you more judgement than Wolfskull.

      At least, it really wouldn’t surprise me if part of WSB’s subculture includes changing your name…

      1. MissElizaTudor*

        In case you aren’t joking, that’s not true. The majority of people aren’t extremely online, especially not in that specific way. They wouldn’t see WSB and immediately think “wall street bets”, and even those who did think that would just be reminded and not have it factor into their judgements of the name.

        Wolfskull would ping way more people as weird and result in judgment from them, compared to three letters.

        1. Relentlessly Socratic*

          I am excessively extremely online and have never heard of wall street bets. I see W.S.B. [name] on a resume and assume that their parents gave them a very long name.

      2. kiki*

        It could also stand for Walter Samuel Brandon or Winona Sarah Bailey. Assuming WSB stands for Wall Street Bets is an odd jump I don’t think most people would make.

  22. anywhere but here*

    LW #2, on behalf of people everywhere who want noise levels to be tolerable in public spaces, please end the speakerphone shenanigans. I’m not sure why you’ve let it continue this long if it’s also happening during open hours.

    LW #3, I would be sympathetic to someone who had been given that name by parents, but seriously question the judgement of someone who chose that as a name and decided to use it professionally. If you decide to go by that name professionally (which I recommend against), you’re better off letting people believe that it was given to you.

    1. allathian*

      How does that work? Especially in jobs that require a college degree or some other certification? Can you get your diplomas reissued in your new name? If not, your name history will always follow you around.

      1. amoeba*

        Eh, sure, but at least in my company, those would probably just be seen/confirmed once by HR. You can include them with your application, but it’s often also fine to just put the grade onto your CV and then provide the document once before hiring if they want to confirm. It would definitely not be seen by your whole department, the whole interview panel, or necessarily even the hiring manager.

      2. aqua*

        I got my degree reissued when I legally changed my name. But to be honest I was assuming this person was too young to have a degree yet going off the writing style and name choice.

        1. Oh, just me again!*

          Whoa! To continue with the speculating, though, you’re probably right. ‘Cause the whole thing seems just. . . immature. To be clear I’m using that in two different senses: changing names is usually something people do while young; but the CHOICE of name, and the waffling on it speak to romantic notions and indecision/uncertainty common someone in a “less settled” stage of life/personality

          1. Kel*

            The implication that someone only changes their name when they’re young erases an entire population of queer and trans people who come out way later in life. Check that assumption please.

      3. I went to school with only 1 Jennifer*

        My favorite bodyworker changed their name when they transitioned, and had their diploma re-issued. (The diplomas were created over a decade apart, and Bodyworker likes to joke about how each is signed by (different) undesireable governers.)

  23. just another librarian*

    #2 – you wouldn’t let patron do this, right? If a patron didn’t heed your requests to stay quiet, they would likely be asked to leave because they aren’t abiding by behavior policy. Do you have an employee handbook? You should.

    While she is contracted by the city, she works at the library so she needs to follow library rules. I know and understand why you are nervous about escalating, but she is disrupting your entire building by having her phone so loud. (In reality, she shouldn’t even be making hours long personal calls on the job, but that’s a different fight all together).Think of how many patrons may not be coming to the library after 2pm because they can’t study quietly, or pick out a new book peacefully. This is actively harming the people you are there to serve. You need to get this behavior to stop, and I feel that talking to her manager is the only way to do this.

    1. LifeBeforeCorona*

      Yes, I’ve packed up and left my library at 4pm because that’s when the afterschool crowd arrives. They are reasonably quiet but the library is filled the kids trying to get homework done and the noise level is different from the complete silence of 1pm. If I was subjected to loud speaker phones every day I would say something to the staff on my way out.

      1. Delta Delta*

        My local library is sort of the hangout for kids after school. They’re generally good, but there are a lot of the and they need to get some wiggles out after sitting in school all day. I try to use the library at different times if I need quiet. But I’m not rude about it – the library is for everyone to use and sometimes it’s noisier than others. That said, if they all had phones on speaker I’d lose my mind and would ask the staff to do something about it.

        1. IneffableBastard*

          Same! I love to see how the library’s environment changes along the day and welcomes different crowds/patrons, and I can also choose the best hours for me to go. But one person being this inconsiderate and hogging up the sound space would drive me out for good.

    2. WeirdChemist*

      Absolutely! She needs to follow the rules of your workplace even if she is technically employed by another entity.

      I work in a lab, and it is very important that our cleaning staff follow the rules of our lab when working. We have absolutely gotten cleaning staff reassigned/fired for not following rules such as: touching or messing with equipment because “Idk it looks cool and I want to know what it does” or “the beeping was annoying”, ignoring hazard labels and trying to throw chemical waste in the regular trash, trying to enter rooms that have giant “Do not enter without proper authorization” signs, and memorably a guy who kept trying to steal swigs of our lab-grade ethanol.

      The woman who cleans the lab currently is great, always follows the rules and ASKS if she is ever unsure about anything. She works in our lab, and thus must be able to follow the safety rules of our lab. People who don’t should not work in our lab, full stop.

      If Patsy can’t follow the rules of your library then she is not suitable to work in your library. If she can’t or won’t change her behavior, then it is up to her employing agency to decide what to do about it, but don’t feel guilty for asking someone to follow some pretty basic rules!

    3. Observer*

      This is actively harming the people you are there to serve.

      This is the heart of the matter. OP, you HAVE to put a stop to this if you care about the mission of the library. And while I hope that can be done without her losing her job, if she won’t stop after you have been crystal clear to her, it’s on her.

      As comes up so often here, you cannot be more invested in someone’s success than they are.

  24. Skippy*

    OP 3: If I saw this on a resume, I would be looking for other signs of unprofessionalism. My prejudgment would be that you would be more interested in self expression than getting–and doing–the job. I’m not very old, or traditional, or in a formal field, but I do hire for skilled roles that are competitive. I might absolutely be wrong, but I would lose no sleep over it.

    1. Chester Copperpot*

      “My prejudgment would be that you would be more interested in self expression than getting–and doing–the job.”


    2. A Lady with A Long Name*

      Yes, I hadn’t thought of this, but I could see this being someone’s assumption as well.

    3. Yours sincerely, Raymond Holt*

      Yes, this name will definitely communicate that to a lot of people, unfortunately.

  25. No Tribble At All*

    #2- she’s disrupting storytime? I’d be furious as a patron if storytime for my kid was interrupted by a staff member’s loud droning speakerphone conversation. Same with a club meeting — I’m one of those people who can’t have a conversation if there’s another loud conversation held right next to me. You’ve probably had patron complaints or people silently leave and not come back. Patty’s incredibly inconsiderate. Do not feel bad about taking action to stop her from being loud!!

    1. Lilo*

      When my son was a baby, storytime was one of my few safe outlets during maternity leave. Think about how very important these events are to your patrons and how much damage you are doing to yourself as an institution and place of community by allowing these to be ruined.

  26. VeryAnomToday*

    LW3 – we’ve had several candidates join our office in the few years who didn’t work out (for many different reasons). It can be exhausting to be both understaffed and stuck with teammates who never come up to speed. I think if I was told “Wolf Skull Shadow Bones” starts on Monday, my immediate thought would be “okay, here’s another new hire that comes with drama and isn’t going to last”. I understand this is my opinion/experience and that it may be unpopular.

    1. Scylla*

      I agree, and I’d also be thinking “great, I’ll have to do damage control every time I introduce them to a client, coworker, vendor, etc.” Even if the hiring manager doesn’t care about the name, it’s pretty much a guarantee that *someone* will and will make your job harder because of it, and that’s just not something I’d want to risk

  27. Keymaster in absentia*

    3. I describe myself as corporate goth and am a woman who’s close to 50. I’m also an IT manager in a very conservative industry.

    I wouldn’t bin your CV, but I’d judge it a bit. Basically if it was heavy on experience dating back years I’d just assume you had a weird name and carry on.

    A CV that has far less experience and a name like that I’d first wonder if this was an attempt to stand out and be edgy. Which, like a lot of gumption, wouldn’t impress me at all.

    And here’s some advice from a corporate goth LGBTQ person: work within the boundaries of the system. I didn’t start wearing my long sweeping coats till I’d been established but nowadays I rock up in all black floor sweeping dresses and nobody notices anymore. It’s just me.

    1. Also goth*

      This, definitely. I also work in IT and did not start out with the stuff I wear now.

      The only comments I get about my clothes are people being mildly surprised that I crawl under desks while wearing a corset and long skirts.

    2. Lilo*

      I think there’s also the reality that men who push themselves as edgy often can be a bit difficult to work with if you’re female or female presenting. We’ve all had that one colleague who liked to push buttons.

    3. Anon for this*

      For me, the name would be a problem, but it wouldn’t stop me from interviewing. The problem would come in once it became apparent that OP 3 has chosen a Native American name because it sounds edgelordy, not because OP has any Native American ancestry. It would then make me wonder what other cultures is OP going to not treat with respect, and I would likely go with other candidates.

      1. Flor*

        Is Wolfskull a Native American name? I know that a lot of Indigenous cultures use compound nature names like that, but that’s not exclusive to Indigenous naming (as others have said upthread, Wolfram, Wolfhard and Wolfgang are traditional German names, all compounds formed from Wolf + [other word]). It would be different if OP had chosen a name like Pocahontas or Tecumseh, both of which are names in Algonquin languages and therefore specifically names from an Indigenous culture.

        I’m asking seriously – I can’t find any evidence of any Indigenous people called Wolfskull or Wolf Skull or any reason that this combination is specifically Indigenous, but if I’m wrong I’d like to know.

        1. sparkle emoji*

          It aligns enough with stereotypes of Native American names that I get where other commenters are coming from, but not so much that I would consider its use a guaranteed indicator of disrespect towards Native Americans or cultural appropriation as Anon for this seems to be suggesting. When I looked up “wolfskull name” most of the results were for Skyrim, nothing came up for any Native people(or non-native people) using it as a name.

      2. Not Totally Subclinical*

        Wolfskull doesn’t immediately ping me as a Native American name. It’s certainly possible that it or something that translates as it might be used as a name in some tribes/bands, but I’m not going to automatically assume that any animal-related name originates from a Native American language.

        1. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

          Especially wolves, which are native to pretty much all of North America, Europe and Asia.

      3. Angry socialist*

        The specific name Wolfskull makes me flip flop back and forth between “Native/Indigenous?” and “Definitely an actual Nazi”. Shadow Bones makes it tilt more towards the nazi side.

    4. Zap R.*

      Yeah, I’d make the “edgy” assumption as well. At the very least, I’d assume LW was extremely online.

      (Also, as an extremely online person myself, “Wolfskull” immediately connotes “furry” to me but that’s a whole other conversation.)

      1. Yikes Stripes*

        I also immediately assumed furry and that Wolfskull Shadow Bones was their fursona name. Which, yeah, would actually prejudice me against them – I know a fair number of furries and none of them are trotting out their fursona at work. It’s just not something generally regarded as professional, I guess?

    5. straws*

      Off-topic, but just wanted to say how much I look forward to your responses. They’re always so practical and helpful.

    6. Sparkles McFadden*

      The boss I had for the job I had in college once said something like this: “Nobody wants to see your entire personality on display right away. They want to know that you can do the job well and be professional. You can be more yourself once you’ve proven you can do that. Once you’re established, no one will care.”

  28. s. diver*

    “Darcy is good at her job, but she’s not excellent”.
    Firing an employee over 40 is essentially an invitation to litigation. Even in an at-will state, federal law still applies. The OP’s company will end up in EEOC/court and will have to pay the company’s legal fees out of the project’s budget, hire PR crisis management for the bad publicity. I could go on. As between OP and Darcy, OP will be fired first.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      It’s a myth that you can’t or shouldn’t fire an employee in a federally protected class. There’s always a risk you could be sued when you fire someone, but a manager who can show where the employee is not meeting the job requirements, gives clear feedback, documents that, warns transparently, gives time for improvement, and ensures they’re holding all employees to those same standards is not exposing the company to undue legal risk, just like if they fired someone in any other protected class. But there’s also no sign that Darcy needs to be fired at this point; she may need coaching, she may need nothing.

      1. NerdyKris*

        It should also be pointed out that EVERYONE IN EXISTENCE is in every protected class except age. It’s not “blacks, women, gays”. It’s “race, gender, sexuality, etc”. A 30 year old white straight man has exactly the same protections as a 25 year old gay black woman.

        Stuff like “a person in a protected class can’t be fired” isn’t just wrong, it’s promoting the idea that non straight white men are somehow not deserving of their positions.

        1. Avery*

          Yep. Actually, oddly enough ageism is the one protected class where this isn’t true–it’s specifically people over 40 that are protected, without similar discrimination laws backing up ageism against younger folks. (In US federal law, anyway.) But yes, race, gender, sexuality, etc. all are illegal to discriminate against whether it’s the majority or the minority being discriminated against, meaning that everyone is in a protected class–in all of them, actually, except for age.

    2. NotEveryoneSues*

      not true unless there’s a history of age discrimination or something fishy clearly going on. Most people are not litigious unless something truly weird or outlandish happens to them. I know plenty of people who’ve been let go post 40 years old and just moved on.

    3. GythaOgden*

      Yeah, no…In situations like layoffs IIRC American companies do have to put forward extra information about the age of those laid off so they can be surer of meeting discrimination protection, but if it were solely the case that you could never sack or lay off anyone over 40 because of fears over litigation, then you’d basically guarantee those over 40 a job for life. And since everyone is in a protected category (gender, sexuality, race, etc) then that would mean you could never get rid of an underperforming employee or sack them for cause.

      UK law doesn’t to my knowledge have the over-40 issue, but any kind of equality legislation only applies where it can be proved. (And it’s actually rather difficult to prove it in court; that’s not necessarily how it should be, but I can see that plaintiffs should really have a strong case before taking it that far.) If the company could show that they had documentation which proved the employee was underperforming, then they would be able to head it off at the pass.

      It’s unlikely to come to that — the situation I’m in, where an underperforming employee is being reassigned now they have a team admin in me and another colleague, is being dealt with really well by allowing her to continue in a job but in a role she’s more comfortable in herself. There are a lot of safeguards in UK employment but performance can and should be addressed regardless of a protected characteristic. Everyone is an individual as well as part of a group; the individual is who turns up at work every day, not their age or neurology or parts or skin colour. It’s doing us a disservice as individuals if we are constantly treated as part of a group.

    4. Keymaster in absentia*

      I’m in a country with far more employee protections than the US and even here I can fire someone for not meeting expectations – even if they are over 40, disabled, belong to any marginalised group etc.

      To fire anyone for anything other than gross misconduct takes paperwork, warnings, more paperwork but the procedure is the same regardless.

      But looking at it logically OP doesn’t need to fire this person if they just treat them like everyone else. If there are performance issues address them and work out improvement plans.

    5. Chocolate Covered Cotton*

      “Firing an employee over 40 is essentially an invitation to litigation.”

      Yeah, spreading this kind of mythical BS is really harmful.

      You’ve just given a reason to never hire anyone over 40 in the first place.

      Did you intend to justify age discrimination?

      1. Enai*

        Also, everything can be interpreted as inviting litigation. Even in less notoriously litigious societies than the US, anyone can sue anyone else for anything and everything under the sun. The courts may have more discretion to throw the suit out for being absurd and even impose penalties on the litigant for wasting the court’s time, but you _can_ file for anything your petty little heart desires.

        Point being: just because someone might sue doesn’t mean they will, and it doesn’t mean you’re at fault for them coming after you.

    6. kiki*

      This isn’t true and spreading the idea harms folks over 40. People over 40 are let go every day without any litigation. Most people are not litigious and if you do your due diligence as an employer and clearly document any performance issues, you’re probably not going to see any trouble.

    7. T.N.H.*

      A smart employer would let her go with severance or a deal on early retirement. There’s no reason it should come to this.

  29. NoToLibraryNoise*

    LW2, I’d be complaining so loudly and so frequently I’d be shushed. I would almost certainly get a migraine from her shenanigans and definitely would be unable to do whatever I went to the library to do. If the librarian on duty didn’t do anything I’d complain to the branch manager and if the branch manager did nothing I’d complain to the system manager and if the system manager did nothing I’d complain to the mayor’s office. Loudly and every single time. Just because libraries don’t need to be pin drop silent anymore doesn’t mean they should be loud, barring a very well regulated and spatially segregated planned activity.

  30. HardToGet*

    Opt, tread lightly. Ask after things get serious (not in an early interview) and preferably if they schedule you with an interview will HR which is fairly common for multi session interview processes, but be prepared for vague or otherwise unhelpful answers and to get pushback if you keep trying (too worried about insurance, must have expensive needs, will drive up our premiums, etc).

    1. LW5*

      Yeah that’s a big concern. I also have visible medical devices so I’m always worried about how people assess my abilities and I try to hide them during interviews. It’s always awkward asking for insurance info or medical accommodation because their ableist bias could skew how they view me as a professional. It’s a difficult line to walk: looking out for my own interests while being proud of being disabled while also not indulging people’s nosey questions (or them trying to touch my medical devices!).

  31. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

    OP1 (Darcy will retire in a couple of years) – I think the whole retirement and age part is a bit of a red herring. Maybe she isn’t interested in advancement because she’s retiring in 2 years, but it could just as well be that she is happy doing what she’s doing indefinitely (like the letter we had a few days ago) regardless of how long she intends to be in the work force.

    If she requires “micromanaging” (as per the superstar employee) but OP wasn’t previously aware of this, is that because a lot of this management stuff is falling to superstar instead? Is it time for OP to take a closer look at Darcy’s work. There may need to be a conversation (or Conversation, like a PIP ultimately) if she is genuinely underperforming. Don’t fall into the trap of “she’s retiring soonish anyway so we will just wait it out” which will do a number on morale for others (and is also discrimination in its own right, if you would have taken management action on a younger employee but have decided to just wait it out with Darcy).

    1. Kuleta*

      I could see this. And what if it isn’t just superstar who may be compensating for Darcy’s underperformance.

      Sometimes when superstars try to draw a line to protect themselves, they get accused of not being team players. Instead of the underperformer being made either to get with the program, or leave.

    2. gmg22*

      Agree with this. There’s a distinction between “do I need to invest a ton of time and mentorship into trying to make Darcy into something that looks more superstar-like” (no, because it seems most likely that that will have diminishing returns) and “are there specific performance things that we can and should address right now to improve both Darcy’s and her colleagues’ collective work experience” (possibly yes). That distinction seems like it might be slightly eluding the LW.

  32. Xyz*

    LW5, you can also allude to a sick child/spouse/fiance/(prospective) registered partner, if you feel the need to explain the importance but don’t want to disclose your own disability!

    1. Lisa*

      There’s no need for that, and a company that cares if you’ll be expensive to insure or will take time off for medical issues will care just as much that you have a dependent that is expensive to insure or who you need to take time off to care for. Just say the insurance is a very important part of your compensation package and you want to make an informed decision.

  33. Xyz*

    If I heard someone changed their name to WSB, and the full name was something very dramatic, I might expect them to also sling ableist slurs around.

    wallstreetbets has a reputation, and it’s not a good one.

    1. Xyz*

      I wouldn’t assume that just by someone having received those initials from their parents, of course, but if you’ve (recently) *chosen* to go by them? yeah.

    2. Yours sincerely, Raymond Holt*

      I’m very online and WallStreetBets rings a vague bell with me now you mention it but I don’t remember what it is. I don’t think it’s much of a thing to worry about.

    3. Enai*

      What on earth is wallstreetbets and why would I care? Also, the initials matching need not mean anything.

      1. Xyz*

        It’s a subreddit that contributed to the GameStop fiasco a few years ago. There were Congressional hearings about it in the US.

        The people tend to be culty and flamboyant, taking out ads on Times’ Square when they make a good trade. Changing their name to resemble the subreddit would be entirely in character.

    4. myfanwy*

      That’s far from universally familiar. This would not be my primary concern. I don’t think most people would make the connection.

    5. new old friend*

      This sort of association rings of “chronically online” to me, and I think it’s unlikely to be a factor in an interview.

    6. Kel*

      literally have never even heard of wallstreetbets, that’s not where i think a lot of people’s brains would go for a name WSB.

    7. sparkle emoji*

      I’m familiar with wallstreetbets, but I still wouldn’t connect this acronym with the subreddit unless I’m primed to be thinking about it already. If WSB is presented as initials I’d probably start wondering what they stood for (Wilhelmina Starlily Brown? Wallace Stephen Bartholomew?) long before thinking of a conspiracy theorist subreddit. I’d assume most people’s reaction is similar to mine.

      1. Scarlet2*

        Yeah, same. I really don’t think 99.99% of people would make that association at all. Even less so the association with ableist slurs. I heard about wallstreetbets around the GameStop thing, but I have no idea what the community itself is like. That GameStop business was just about people playing around with the stock exchange…