Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Is that name too ghetto for the Fortune 500?

Regular followers of my blog probably realize that my typical reader is a male baby boomer.

I'm going to step away from that target demographic this time to address a decidedly different audience -- soon-to-be baby mamas.

I want to plead with you that when the time comes to name your boy child, that you consider the long-term consequences of saddling him with a name that is too far out of the mainstream of contemporary American culture.

Sure, giving your baby a unique name might show the other girls in home room how clever you are when you pass around his picture on your Obama-phone. But please, look 20 years down the road.

Recently I've read of several studies conducted in which nearly-identical resumes were submitted to companies in response to job openings. The only difference in the resumes was in the names of the fictitious applicants.

The studies showed a remarkable difference in the selection of those who were invited for interviews or other second steps in the hiring process. Overwhelmingly, resumes of candidates with "normal" contemporary American names were shown preference versus those resumes on which the name was one which most people -- at least the people who make hiring decisions -- would perceive as "ethnic" in origins.

Unfair? Yes. Racist? Sure. Reality? You bet.

But please give this matter some serious thought. The "wrong" name at the top of a resume seems to insure that it never makes it out of the slush pile.

The following caveats are all related only to male first names. Surnames like Ramirez, Washington, Al-Mustafa, etc., are also likely to prompt an immediate rejection in today's business/corporate culture but to an extent, short of going to court to make a change, a person is stuck with his patronym.

And don't get me started on female first names . . . 

So here's ol' Uncle Bob's baby-naming tips to give your son a leg up when he goes job-hunting in 20-25 years.

That first name may be too ghetto:

  • if the name has the "shon" sound in it, and isn't "Sean" or "Shawn"
  • if the name ends in "us" or, especially, "ius," and it isn't shared with one of the 12 Caesars or 266 Popes
  • if the name has four or more syllables and is not found in the Old Testament.
  • if the name has an apostrophe
  • if the name has a "q" anywhere except the first letter
  • if, upon being introduced, the name has to be spelled or pronounced more than once
  • if the Scrabble-tiles total value of the name is more than 21
  • if the name starts with "Da" or "De" and the next letter is capitalized
  • if the name can’t be found on the revolving rack of miniature souvenir license plates at the truck stop/tourist trap/gift shop

If you were the unfortunate victim of first-name child abuse and are now having difficulty getting a foot in the door of corporate America, remember: there's no law against putting a different version of your first name on your resume (i.e., Da'Andre = Daniel), or even a completely different first name. "The Man" doesn't have to know the truth until after you've been hired and have to fill out HR paperwork. Then it's too late to renege on the job offer without landing in Federal court.

1 comment:

  1. Along with these, I think any overly "creative" spellings of common names are also a mistake in the long run.

    At the same time, there should be some kind of 30-60 day grace period for the re-issue of a birth certificate in the event the parent or nurse filling out the form just couldn't spell. I have a Great Aunt Dot; her mother named her Dorothy, and called her Dorothy her whole life, but her birth certificate says "Dortha".


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