For my entire life, I have been called by my middle name. However, my resume contains my first and last name, so in all contact I've had with recruiters and potential employers, everyone has called me by my first name. I have interviewed for a company and been invited back for another interview. Would it be awkward to tell them that I prefer being called "Sara" at this point, considering that I didn't bring anything up during the first interview? It's not a big deal and I'd rather avoid awkwardness, but I am more comfortable being called by my middle name.

  • 6
    Given your first sentence, why does your resume (which presumably you wrote yourself) have your first name?
    – AakashM
    Oct 20, 2016 at 7:45
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    @AakashM: In some countries CV counts to be formal document and part of integrated processes, so not providing your official name but something else would count as falsifying.
    – Sonic
    Oct 20, 2016 at 10:18
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    My rule of thumb, which has served me well for over 60 years, is that if you know you are going to have an awkward conversation, do it as soon as you can. The longer you wait to bring up something you feel awkward about, the more difficult the conversation is.
    – HLGEM
    Oct 20, 2016 at 17:46
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    @Lilienthal Yes, I'm in the US.
    – Student
    Oct 20, 2016 at 19:20
  • 4
    Possible duplicate of When do I notify a potential employer of a nickname I go by? Oct 21, 2016 at 0:59

6 Answers 6


When you return to this company and are introduced, just say "that's my full name that I put on my resume, I usually go by Middlename" and leave it at that. If they use your given first name, just roll with it - don't repeatedly correct them.

For future interviews/resumes, use either the name you prefer or First Initial Middlename Surname, a la S. Epatha Merkerson and make sure that anything you use to communicate matches (email address, name attached to the email address, etc.). When it comes time to fill out official paperwork, use your legal name but introduce yourself (and ask that things like network and email accounts be set up with) your preferred name.

  • This seems fair to me. Raise this in your interview but try not to make an issue of it. It will probably help going forward to ask for your preferred name to be added to the email/employee directory system as this reinforces the way you wish to be addressed.
    – user44108
    Oct 20, 2016 at 7:47

I think the simplest solution would be to abbreviate your first name. That way it keeps it there and it people need to know what it stands for, they will ask. Such as:

  • A. Whitney Brown
  • C. Thomas Howell
  • F. Murray Abraham
  • F. Scott Fitzgerald

I know a banker who goes by his middle name Watson. I once wondered why he chose to go by a somewhat peculiar name over his first name. Then I found out his first name is Clyde.

  • in your banker's case Going by "C.W." may have been a better solution. Oct 20, 2016 at 12:53
  • Except that it's not a hypothetical and it's what people call him. C.W. sounds a bit "chummy" like a nickname.
    – Chris E
    Oct 20, 2016 at 13:59

I have had a slimier issue. I am Christopher but go by the name Topher which is a very unusual shortening of Christopher. (I know of only 4 other people who have shortened it like that and most people I meet have never heard of it before, the only ones that have seem to be fans of Joss Whedon's show, dollhouse which has a character with the name and is one of the 4)

What I did was, used Christopher on any documentation because putting a name that is not your official name on any paperwork only leads to confusion when asked your name and you dont know if they have your official name or known as name on the paper. I only corrected people if they asked what I go by during the hiring process. Once hired I would introduces myself as Topher or if I thought I would see that person more than once then correct them with my preferred name.

In writing I will sign emails with Topher unless I feel there needs to be some professionalism or was about official things. My email address is [email protected] and that, in the past has caused problems, depending on how big the company is, they may give you an extra/change your email address.

This is only what I have done, the other answers give very good suggestions too.


In general, it's best to clear this up as early as possible. An interview situation in which you are on first-name with the interviewer is probably relaxed enough for you to state your preferred name during the introduction, though I wouldn't correct them if they slip up. (I say "probably" because that depends a bit on how you read the interviewer.)

In your case, this is slightly more complicated because all the people you talked to in the interview know you by your first name. How to proceed depends a bit on the circumstances. If you talk to different people, you get a new chance for a first introduction: use it. Otherwise correcting an earlier assumption might be awkward. On the other hand, a friendly explanation ("Actually, I prefer to go by Sara but I was so nervous last time I didn't say anything") might also leave a favourable impression. Again, it depends on your interviewers.

Either way, when introducing yourself to the team as a group, it's probably best to mention your full name (first and middle name, because some of them know you by your first name) and stress your preference to be called "Sara". When introduced to people one at a time, you can go directly with "Sara" from the start. If you're introduced by someone else, ask them beforehand to introduce you as "Sara". Later on, a few friendly reminders are probably okay, but if your nickname doesn't stick, it's best to just accept that.


Should I clarify that my first name isn't the name I go by?

Well, not really. What you should do is clarify that your full name differs from the name you go by and use the name you go by on your resume and all other communication with potential employers.

While I've recently brought up the fact that your resume should be factual and having errors or different (company) names in it can cause problems, the name you go by is a special case. If your full name is "Alice Sarah Collier" then you can just put "Sarah Collier" on your resume and be done with it. There is no need to list your full name in your resume, cover letter or other application materials. You can make an exception if a company uses an online application system that explicitly asks you for your full name but even there you can just enter Sarah Collier.

In the US your legally registered name doesn't have to match the name you commonly go by, whether you're using a different first name, last name or even both. Name change laws vary by state but in general your assumed name can sometimes be considered a legally assumed name even without following the necessary paperwork for an "official" name change.

You've assumed Sarah as your first name so you should use it in nearly all interactions, especially when meeting people for the first time, and especially when you're meeting with potential employers. The alternative is too error-prone and will likely lead to any number of people using an incorrect name, your company account and e-mail being in the wrong name and so on.

All that said, your actual hiring paperwork should list your official name to avoid administrative issues. Once you accept an offer you can simply include the following in your reply: "By the way I wanted to let you know that my full name is actually Alice Sarah Collier but I always go by Sarah."

  • Care to explain the downvote?
    – Lilienthal
    Oct 20, 2016 at 9:53
  • You should highlight your answer is related to US environments at the beginning, not in the 3rd paragraph. In general I do not support to use different name than what is on official papers, because other way it generates alternatives and working in IT I find it against the good sense to register someone not with common procedure, but up to his/her own wish. Avoiding misunderstanding, I'm OK if she wants to use different name, but if she is so into that, changing documents should worth the effort to align with that. If not, then keep documents coherent.
    – Sonic
    Oct 20, 2016 at 10:35
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    @Sonic My answer is not US-specific, the third-paragraph is US-specific. Looks like I forgot to mention in my answer that you'd pass along your full name once you accept an offer so I've edited that in.
    – Lilienthal
    Oct 20, 2016 at 10:40
  • Thank you for that addition, and now I see you meant the US specifics only for that part. I still find it bad practice to encourage different name on CV than legally registered. It may serve her or residential local habits, but it is an extra errand to make a heads-up about that you just said a name and actual legal name is something else. I find people socially sensitive enough to roll with a nickname if asked, and so all-the-time errand is eliminated.
    – Sonic
    Oct 20, 2016 at 10:56

In my country there are 2 practices:

1) If you are not even using a firstname for signature neither, we underline or highlight the one in use, like: Dorothy Jane Doe
We are still obligated to use full name on papers, but it is accepted to not include in signature, and it is well marked up to see, there is some preference or irregular way to handle it.

2) You roll with the formal rules, get employed, make contract with full name, and in the community/team/group where you begin to work, you make a note to people that you prefer to be called as ______ . My environment is more used to this way, because there will be no discrepancy at HR papers, and it is anyway your personal preference, not a general rule which would be trivial and commonly know (in order to fit your preference).

  • Could you please explain the downvote?
    – Sonic
    Oct 21, 2016 at 13:40

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