I am Chinese and I am applying for graduate jobs in the UK.

Is it ok to use my English name when applying for jobs?

up vote 56 down vote accepted

Usually, yes. There's no reason why not.

I assume that your official documentation has your formal name, and this shouldn't be a problem.

We have a couple of Chinese guys in our team and they've done the same thing. It's not an unknown situation.

(It might help to parenthesize your English name after your formal name on your application to follow the English-language convention for nicknames: Charles (Chuck) Smith or Li (David) Wong.)

When applying for a job in the UK you have to use your legal name when an employer asks you for your full name - however, there tends to be a “preferred name” box in which you can use your English name.

If your English name is not your legal name then it's likely that you’ll have to use your Chinese name but just state the name you’d like to be referred as when applying.

I am also Chinese and use my Chinese name on applications but am also referred to and known as my English name.

Yes, you are free to use any name you feel represents you.

In the application process, the only times you need to use your legal name* are for background checks, right to work checks and other similar official procedures (*the name on your passport or other identifying documents).

You are absolutely free to use your preferred name on an application or CV - without a disclaimer.


Importantly, in the UK - your legal name is whatever name you are currently using.

From Total Jobs:

The law in the UK regarding changing your name is actually really simple: your “legal name” is the one that you are using. Full stop. You don’t need to do anything or pay anything.

Supported by UK government:

You don’t have to follow a legal process to start using a new name. But you might need a ‘deed poll’ to apply for or to change official documents like your passport or driving licence.

As such, you will not get into any trouble for using a name that you weren't given at birth. Also, in the UK, it is not uncommon for people from non-UK backgrounds to have multiple names (one they use with family, and one they use with friends and workers).


It's worth making clear that while other answers have noted that including both names is an option - if you are concerned that you may be discriminated against for having a non-English name; you are under no obligation to do so.

  • @DonFusili I think it will still apply in this situation – imdannyboy909 Aug 13 at 14:46
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    @DonFusili Apologies, I did a UK based search and due to "Rochester" being a town 2 miles from me - didn't realise this was a US source. I believe the advice is still applicable, but will find new references. – Bilkokuya Aug 13 at 14:49
  • In a free-form CV, using your preferred name as the heading and including a "full name" field is one way to do this. You can include any middle names there too. – Chris H Aug 14 at 11:19
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    That's it updated with UK specific references now. @LightnessRacesinOrbit "Polytech's...Polytech's everywhere." ;P – Bilkokuya Aug 14 at 12:30
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    @Bilkokuya Yep "Rochester Poly" far more likely ^_^ – Lightness Races in Orbit Aug 14 at 16:20

You need to clearly specify your English name and Chinese name to your employer. In fact, Chinese nationals working internationally usually have 3 names: English name, pin yin, and your name in hanzi script. They must be consistent and clearly defined so there is no confusion in documentation. In China, you use hanzi characters for any legal paperwork because English or pinyin language docs have no legal power in mainland China. Foreigners have no idea how to read pinyin properly so having an English name is pretty much necessary for you to work outside of China. And pinyin is often required for official government documentation outside of China. Just be specific, consistent, and confident in the use of all three names, it is easy to get used to.

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