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I'm considering changing my legal middle and last name, for unrelated personal/emotional reasons. As a man, this isn't common for obvious reasons. I'm worried that this will negatively affect career opportunities in the future and invalidate my current references on my resume. I'm currently a student and have been getting summer employment in the field of my study and have built up some really good work experience and a few references. I'm worried that by changing my name, when job prospects call my references they won't know me by my new name and I'll look like I'm lying about work experience. Is there a common practice in applying for jobs or building a resume when you get a name change?

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    Related - workplace.stackexchange.com/questions/43254/… – David K Jun 25 '15 at 19:34
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    Could you contact those references and inform them of your new legal name? Then when the new potential employer calls and asks, they will know how to connect you with the new name. Also, for this reason date of birth is used as an additional identifier. For example, if your family name changes but the DOB is the same, people can reason that it's the same person. – Brandin Jun 25 '15 at 19:35
  • Thanks, that seems like the only real solution. I'm also worried about what this says about me without knowing the circumstances. I'm worried potential employers might assume I changed my name to hide something. – Nickknack Jun 25 '15 at 19:37
  • I would even just tell the recruiter that references 3 and 5 know you by Nick Knock, not Nick Knack (say that 5 times fast). – David K Jun 25 '15 at 19:40
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    I think by being upfront and telling them you used to go by a different name, you are showing that you aren't trying to hide anything. – David K Jun 25 '15 at 19:52
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I think the best way to approach this is to just be honest about having changed your name. Either in your cover letter or resume, mention that you used to go by a different name and specify which references will know you by that name. Maybe even just list the date of the name change so that all contacts before that date will know you by your previous name. This question gives a good example for earning a degree under a different name.

As to your worry that you will be judged - don't. Many people change their names for reasons besides marriage, and you have no obligation to explain why. The fact that you are being honest about it should show that you are not trying to hide anything. If an interviewer asked why you changed your name, I would find that highly inappropriate and respond with "for personal reasons" or something equally as vague. Marital status is considered a protected class in the US, and asking about a name change gets very close to asking if someone is married, which is illegal in the US.

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    I've been through this, and this is exactly how I approached it. Right on top of my resume I lost my legal name followed by an "A.K.A. Previous name". When asked about it, although I know I don't have to respond, I personally am okay with talking about it. If you're not, politely decline by saying it's deeply personal and you'd rather focus on your qualifications. I just landed a new job after a relatively short search. Almost no one actually asked about it. – ThatGuy Jun 26 '15 at 0:10
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    @ThatGuy Just to be pedantic, I'd probably not use "AKA" as that implies an alias. – Dan Jun 26 '15 at 11:35
  • What else is a prior legal name but an alias @Dan? What would you suggest instead? – ThatGuy Jun 26 '15 at 11:40
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    @ThatGuy I would probably say "(formerly Previous Name)" rather than "AKA", but that's also because "AKA" has always soundded a bit informal to me. – David K Jun 26 '15 at 12:17
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    I think maybe you're both overthinking it, or perhaps I come from a culture where people have many names over the course of their lives and there is no negative connotation to ever having an alias. Regardless, I had no issues with the approach I took. YMMV. – ThatGuy Jun 26 '15 at 12:19
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I'm worried that by changing my name, when job prospects call my references they won't know me by my new name and I'll look like I'm lying about work experience. Is there a common practice in applying for jobs or building a resume when you get a name change?

This one is easy.

Let all of your references know of your name change, before they are contacted.

This is what everyone I know who changed their name has done. And it hasn't ever been an issue for them.

  • It even gives you a great excuse to contact the reference and remind them who you are and what you are good at. – Kate Gregory Dec 4 '15 at 12:49

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