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I am posting this on behalf of a colleague of mine who has begun job hunting. Her problem is that she shares the same first and last name of a local politician. The local politician has a poor reputation within the community.

My question is, how does someone with the same name make it clear that they are not the same person as their namesake?


N.B. Please make your answers apolitical. I'm not interested in naming the politician in question or discussing their politics. They are so small town that you really have to be a local of my area to know who she is.

  • 11
    If it's that local an issue, employers will probably know it's not the politician who is applying. Especially if a foto is included (which is standard over here). – Fildor Oct 6 '17 at 12:22
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    Thanks for your suggestion @Fildor. Just to let you know, in the UK job applicants are encouraged not to include a photo on their application. – WorkerWithoutACause Oct 6 '17 at 12:23
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    How common is the shared name? I see a bit of difference between "John Smith" (a very common name, at least in the UK) and "Athelstan Percival-Ffolkes" (a very uncommon name). – Philip Kendall Oct 6 '17 at 12:24
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    Also, often adding a middle initial is enough to make people realize it's a different person. If the politician is known as Jane Doe, and the resume says Jane S. Doe, that's often enough indicate you're not the same person. – David K Oct 6 '17 at 12:27
  • 22
    As a wise philosopher once said, "Why should I change? He's the one who sucks!" – corsiKa Oct 6 '17 at 14:56

10 Answers 10

65

You don't need to - I think your colleague is worrying over nothing. The CV is unlikely to bear any resemblance to that of the politicians and I'm sure anybody who knows the name would be able to quickly ascertain that this is different person.

Namesakes aren't unusual.

  • 8
    Besides, depending on the job, it could be ridiculous to assume they're the same person. Like for a software development or teaching position, people would assume it is not the politician instead and be surprised if it actually was the politician. – John Hamilton Oct 6 '17 at 12:57
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    @JohnHamilton but we're talking "local politician" here. I don't know about most places on earth but here politicians on communal or county level are usually not full time politicians (at least most of them). So they might very well be software developer or a teacher and actually have a job in their respective field too. So it's far from being ridiculous that they could be the same person. (However, I'd agree to not do much about that on the CV either.) – Ghanima Oct 6 '17 at 15:46
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    I'd say if someone discounts my CV purely based on the name, then they're doing me a service -- that's not the sort of organization I'd care to associate with. – Dan Mašek Oct 6 '17 at 23:19
  • Not so sure whether you are correct. You should be, but don't forget to account for dumb people. Some anecdotes about people with Nazi names (German). – Alexander Oct 8 '17 at 9:28
  • That's not what "namesake" means. These are just two people that happen to have the same name. – Era Oct 11 '17 at 15:28
15

Just do it.

There's no need to make any kind of artificial looking compromises here. People often share the same name as celebrities (I myself have the exact same name as someone I'd rather not be confused by).

It's all in the context. And your friend won't be adding a stint of political office in his CV, will he?

  • 7
    I have a mate called Michael Jackson who is a builder. He is blond, pale-skinned and very large. If people laugh when he's introduced he says, No, my parents got there first! – RedSonja Oct 6 '17 at 13:07
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    there's a celebrity named snark shark? – Woodrow Barlow Oct 6 '17 at 13:40
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    You mean like the famous Michael Jackson, inventor of "structured programming"? – gnasher729 Oct 6 '17 at 14:19
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    "Why should I change, he's the one who sucks"--Michael Bolton (Office Space) – Dean MacGregor Oct 6 '17 at 18:14
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    My first manager was a programmer named Will Smith. Middle aged white guy. – WernerCD Oct 7 '17 at 16:14
12

Lets assume the politician has recently resigned, and the role in question is some sort of council/management type opening which the politician could reasonable be expected to be taking.

Only in that scenario would I think it worth putting any reference to attempt to disambiguate. You also need to be cautious about the inclinations of your interviewer, and keep any comment as neutral as possible.

Name: T. Blair (not the Ex.PM)

If the politician is still active in politics, they won't be applying for the job. Any interviewer influenced by the presumed association will not take a positive view of you attempting to state the obvious.

4

Do not shy away from the association. Use it to anchor your presence in the mind of the interviewers, so that they remember you later. Find something positive about the politician and apply it to yourself but immediately refer to a negative quality about them, which you don't share.

For example: "Yes my name is XXXX. Senator XXXX is no relation, but like them I am a very YYYY sort of person, though I don't share their love of ZZZZ. I think QQQQ is much more important continues...

Believe me, you'll be getting the best of both worlds!"

Done successfully, you'll be remembered as "The good XXXX person".

  • 5
    Application letters should not normally contain one's political views. What if the HR manager thought that YYYY was a bad trait of said politician, and ZZZZ was a good trait? – S.L. Barth - Reinstate Monica Oct 6 '17 at 14:52
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    Just let the name itself work to make your CV slightly more memorable, and do nothing more. If the hiring manager makes that connection, great, if not, you didn't want that in the first place anyway. Putting personal political views into a CV sounds insane. – pyro Oct 6 '17 at 15:05
  • @pyro Mostly agree, only they should do one thing more. They should make it clear that they are not the politician. That holds regardless of the (im)popularity of the politician. – S.L. Barth - Reinstate Monica Oct 6 '17 at 15:12
  • -1 for "find something positive". If you do that, you are presenting yourself to the interviewer as someone who likes the despised politician (and maybe who is just trying to downplay how much you do). It's not going to come across the way you want. The word for someone who finds something likeable about despicable people and points it out is "apologist". – R.. Oct 6 '17 at 16:00
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    "Find something negative about them..." That's in poor taste. Flippancy is not a good way to deal with associations or relationships, and certainly not a good way to set yourself apart. – employee-X Oct 7 '17 at 15:47
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Your CV isn't the place to write a chatty essay about such things. If you are applying to a large company, or for a popular job with many applicants, you might be surprised (and/or horrified!) at how fast CVs are scanned in a first pass to weed out the obvious irrelevancies.

Assume the first person who reads your CV will spend 30 seconds or less looking at it before it goes in the trash, unless you give him/her a good reason to spend longer. How much of those 30 seconds do you want to waste pointing out that you are not related to someone else with the same name?

  • 1
    As a person who did hiring: Unless you apply for an expert position where 10 or less people apply, 30 seconds is a very optimistic estimate. For a secretary we hired, the initial filtering of about 200 applications gave each CV maybe 5 seconds to convince us to go on the right pile. – Tom Oct 7 '17 at 5:45
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Use First name, Middle name. You wouldn't be lying and later in the process you can sign the forms with your full name.

One thing is to have Donald Trump send you a CV, a whole different story would be a CV from Donald John.

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    So you're saying to leave off your surname entirely? That makes practically zero sense. – David K Oct 6 '17 at 14:57
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    Maybe go by DJ Trump or D. John Trump then :) – Džuris Oct 6 '17 at 15:21
  • Or just Don/Donny Trump. – NL - Apologize to Monica Oct 6 '17 at 21:23
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This can be a good or a bad thing.

On one hand, studies show that people with certain names do face bias (whether it be that it is an uncommon name or they have a predisposition towards people with that name). However on the other, it could be a reason for the employer to spend a little bit longer than an initial scan.

Personally, I'd keep it there cause I think the latter would be a bit more likely since it's a politicians name, but if not you could make a point of using your middle name instead, or a nickname.

0

The other answers have pretty good suggestions.

One approach I haven't seen mentioned is using your middle initial like the actor Michael B Jordan.

  • Welcometo Stack Exchange! I'm glad you're contributing. I have seen it. Take time to read the comments before you answer. – employee-X Oct 7 '17 at 15:44
  • The author did state in a comment that they share the middle initial as well. – David K Oct 10 '17 at 11:51
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If the politician is well-known but hasn't been dominating the media and local public consciousness for the last 24 months, probably do nothing. People with the same name come up some times.

If you really are concerned, you can literally just put a different name on your resume. Try:

  • Your middle name
  • Your initials
  • Some plausible nickname

Use something plausible enough and just go by it for a while. Sort it out after you're hired. To clear the one obvious question, resumes do not have to have any bearing to legal name.

0

There is no requirement that you use your legal name on a CV - in fact, many people don't. Many people use a shorter version of their legal name on almost all their documents. For example, why call yourself Bartholomew when everyone knows you as Barry or Bart? And most married women discard their last name in favor of their husband's, but no one complains that they are using the wrong last name on their resume.

Your friend is free to put a similar first name on their resume, and mention "people usually call me ...." during the interview. This is useful for people with unusual or potentially unappealing names who worry about discrimination.

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