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For my personal family related reasons I don't use my legal last name online. I would like to change it, but unfortunately it's impossible to do in the near future. Also I'm eastern European and I use the western latin version of my name for convenience and personal preference. And if you don't know how to read it properly my "online name" and one I have in my passport kinda don't look as the same name on paper at all.

Is it ok? Would it cause any troubles for employers? Is there any ways to specify it's not my legal full name? Is there any practices to at least make it more private between me and potential employers, and not all world to see?

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At least in Canada you can use any name you like as long as it is not for deceitful purposes.

For example if you legal name is Dwight Reginald and you prefer to call yourself John Elton, that's perfectly OK, as long as you aren't claiming to do or be anything that you aren't. And especially as long as you aren't trying to confuse people into thinking that you are another person called John Elton.

At some point you will need to prove that qualifications issued in the name of Dwight Reginald are in fact you, and that the company that employed a Dwight Reginald did in fact employ you, which means you will need to to own up to your legal name. But that's probably not a real problem.

Of course rules in different countries may be different.

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    For what it's worth, the same applies in the UK. Jun 22 at 21:30
  • +1 for the Rowan Atkinson reference :-)
    – gidds
    Jun 22 at 23:50
  • This applies to the US as well.
    – Corey
    Jun 24 at 4:15
  • But at some point, he will have to give his real name for paper work, won't he ? Wouldn't that seem like a "red flag" for the employer ? What is the point if, at some point, you will have to give it anyway ? Jun 24 at 11:50
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    There is a big difference between letting the one company that is currently employing you know your real name and letting everyone who sees your profile on LinkedIn, or everyone you send a resume to see it. Jun 24 at 13:49
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It's not at all unusual for a person to go by a professional name that doesn't match their legal name*. Common reasons include:

  • Person from non-Western background goes by a Westernised version of their name for the comfort/convenience of Western co-workers or customers.
  • John Smith goes by middle name "James Smith" to avoid confusion with his father John Smith.
  • Robert goes by Bob, etc. etc.
  • Person changes legal name due to marriage/divorce/etc. but has a ton of work published under the old name so sticks to that name in a professional context.
  • Person has more than one career and uses different names to distinguish between them. Often used by authors who write in more than one genre.

Any large employer should be familiar with the idea that an employee's everyday name may not be the same as what's on their bank accounts/tax paperwork/etc. and have systems for dealing with that.

If necessary, you can put something like "John Smith (passport name Johann Schmidt") in your CV but I wouldn't usually consider this necessary until you're getting to stages like payroll or security checks that might require that name.

*Noting that "legal name" is often a murkily defined concept that doesn't necessarily equate to "what's on your birth certificate". Likewise "real name".

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    And of course, many authors never wrote under their real names at all. Samuel Clemens, Theodore Geissel, and Daniel Handler, for example, exclusively wrote, respectively, as Mark Twain, Dr. Seuss, and Lemony Snicket.
    – Andrew Ray
    Jun 23 at 3:28
  • @AndrewRay Not exclusively for those three. AFAIK Handler only uses "Lemony Snicket" for A Series of Unfortunate Events and related works, with his other books as "Daniel Handler". Theodore Geisel is credited for film writing, and also wrote some books under "Theo LeSieg" and "Rosetta Stone". I'm not sure if Twain ever published as Clemens, but he played around with a couple of other pseudonyms in the early years, including "Thomas Jefferson Snodgrass". Jun 23 at 4:38
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    My current workplace has me down with either my maiden name or my married name depending on which system I'm in, because when I started working I had just gotten married but hadn't changed my name legally yet. I never know which one they're expecting when they ask for my name.
    – Esther
    Jun 23 at 13:24
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From the LinkedIn docs (with my emphasis):

The name fields of your profile name may only include the first, middle, and last names of your real or preferred professional name...

Generally you can use your preferred name anywhere your legal name is not mandatory.

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I would suggest against using nicknames or fake last names in Linkedin, but you can keep only one letter in the last name, for example, John D. in Linkedin and resumes.

Then for your legal contract you will have to disclose your full name.

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You do not have to disclose your name on LinkedIn. However, if you are looking for a job you must disclose your legal name to potential employers in order to sign a legal contract.

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