Branding To The Extreme: What’s In A Name?

Shakespeare said that a rose by any other name would still smell as sweet. If he were alive today, he might say that a job-seeker by any other name is not as employable.

I just listened to the most recent podcast by my two favourite quasi-moms, Cristen and Molly of Stuff Mom Never Told You, entitled, “Do baby names make a difference later in life?” Read on to find out.

Personal branding is the new resume when looking for work; you need to have it. Not only is your name going to be seen on your resume, a potential employer is likely to see your name on LinkedIn, your Twitter page, your Facebook page and your blog before they meet you in person.

If you have been able to sit through an episode of Pregnant In Heels, you might have seen one couple, Samantha and Mitch, consult a branding consultant before naming their newborn baby. Crazy right? Maybe not so.

Professor Albert Mehrabian (at UCLA), author of The Baby Name Report Card, parents are increasingly, both self-consciously and subconsciously, “branding” their children with the name they choose. According to experimental findings, Mehrabian says, “that people with desirable or attractive names are treated more favorably by others than are those with undesirable or unattractive names.”

What’s this got to do with choosing a career?

According to LinkedIn, the names Peter and Deborah are the top names for CEO’s. The top HR names: Emma, Katie, Claire, Jennifer and Natalie. The top athletic names: Ryan, Matt, Jessica, Matthew and Jason. The study used over 100 million LinkedIn profiles to find out the most popular names for a variety of careers. Checkout a neat infographic from the LinkedIn study here.

The most interesting and ‘I can’t believe it’ thing I learned from the podcast and further Googling is that there is actually a correlation between the first letter of someone’s name and the career they choose.

In 2002, a paper published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found that people are more likely to choose a career that sounds similar to their first name. There is even a name for it, “aptonyms,” referring to people whose names mirror their careers. For example, Ima Lawyer. (Ok, I made that one up, but check out this list with some giggle-worthy examples).

Another study out of Ohio University found that when employers are looking at job candidates, the gender associated with the applicant’s names has an impact on their hiring decisions. For example, feminine names, like Emma, are more likely to have a more stereo-typically feminine career, like a nurse or hairstylist.

Men with more masculine names, like Hank or Bruno, are expected to be more successful in stereo-typically male career like a plumber or electrician.

Are you Dennis the Denist or Nancy the Nurse? Do you think your name has affected your chosen career field or job search? Let us know!

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  1. Amanda Taylor
    Posted June 29, 2011 at 12:27 am | Permalink

    Love this!! So interesting. Last summer, my boss was looking to hire someone. Someone dropped of a resume, had great experience and seemed right. The downfall? The applicants name was the same as my boss. She thought it was “unfortunate” but thought things could get too confusing.


  2. Dan
    Posted July 2, 2011 at 1:58 am | Permalink

    O nix i think my parents were gona call me ima stationcookatrendezvous but opted for dan instead… Nice post especially the quasi-parent comment, i’v bn diving into m&c’s back catalogue recently too:)

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