Did you know that my full name is Shawanda Latarra Greene? By many standards, my name is World Hip Hop g.h.e.t.t.o.
Why didn’t my mama just name me Bunifa Latifah Halifah Sharifa Jackson? Yet, some how, this same mother settled on “Derrick” for my older brother’s name. Yep. Derrick. Shawanda and Derrick aren’t even in the same genre!
Before I started applying for jobs in my profession, I was terrified prospective employers would take one look at the name on my resume and disregard me as the stereotypical, sunflower seed eating, sassy, black woman.
For a while, I seriously thought about legally changing my name to something more palatable like my grandmother’s name, Sarah. But, ultimately, I decided against that. I shouldn’t have to alter who I am because of other people’s prejudices.
Plus, I honestly don’t think my name hindered my career progression. A comically ethnic name didn’t hurt Condoleeza Rice *shutters* either.
And here’s why: Employers don’t hire names. They hire people.
Unless your parents give you a dumb name like Adolf Hilter, your career success is largely based on the benefits you provide your customers or your employer as well as the relationships you build.
For instance, I landed a fairly prestigious internship during my junior year of college by networking. A group member in a Cost Accounting class recommended me for an interview with the company where she interned. She did so because I was a freaking awesome teammate. Not only was I brilliant, but I was also a hard worker (and I like to think that I still am). These traits come across in job interviews.
Even if my name was Amber Smith, I think the outcome would’ve been the same. You simply cannot have a negative impression of me once you’ve met me in person or worked with me. On second thought, maybe there are a handful of people out there who despise me.
Either way, I don’t think your name influences your job prospects.
But what if it does? Hmm.
Maybe we can change our names to match the professions we’re interested in. Would you modify your moniker to play to other’s prejudices? So, if you want a job as a software developer, you go with an Indian sounding name. Or if you want a career in investment banking, try appending “berg” or “stein” to the end of your last name.
Isn’t that silly? (I wonder if it works.*shifty eyes*)
Once you’re in front of the hiring manager, then you can wow her with your knowledge and personality.
What do you think? Have you ever been discriminated against because of your name?