I believe my foreign sounding name makes it more difficult to get a job as a software engineer. Are there any statistics backing my observations? And should I put an Anglo/American name on the top of my resume?

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    I know there have been studies where the same resumes were used with the names varied between typical Afro-American names and white names - the white names were more likely to get an invite to interview. The implication was not that it's intentional bias, but there is bias. I'd expect the same bias may be at play in your situation. – HorusKol Feb 25 '17 at 23:44
  • What country, and area are you looking to get a job in? In the US, a name like Dylan, is quite common. Chensky is less common, but should not be a problem in most cities and large metro areas. – MikeP Feb 26 '17 at 1:54
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    @MikeP in Northeast USA. Dylan is not my real name, my real name is more like Fjbgsdkbgjs – Dylan Czenski Feb 26 '17 at 2:16
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    A lot would depend on locale and the employer. I know many people who would discriminate based on ethnicity or religious names. Some are unspoken company policy, others personal bias. – Kilisi Feb 26 '17 at 5:10
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    I would put both your legal and the name you go by commonly. SPIDERMAN A. CAPTAINAMERICA ( Michael ) – Mister Positive Feb 28 '17 at 14:47

No. If you get past the interview and they do a background check and the names don't match, that could be perceived as misrepresenting who you are - or worse - as lying - unless it was very obvious. That could be quite fatal.

That being said, you could include an Anglicized nickname that would indicate you prefer to use that name.

That will make your resume stand out, as well as communicate the name you would prefer them to use, all without having to take the risk of being perceived as misrepresenting your name.

For example: Dylan "Jack" Chensky

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    To me using a nickname in a resume looks rather unprofessional. Especially when applying for a conservative industry (banking, government, ...) you don't neccessarly want to stand out as the "cool" kid with the nickname. – dirkk Feb 26 '17 at 12:03
  • I agree that using a nickname to try to be "cool" would be bad. However, that was not the intent. The intent was to make it easy for the company to identify and talk about the person. For example, at one of my clients we received a resume from a Ram...(about a 14 character first name). He had "Ram" as his nickname. There was no hope that we could ever pronounce his name correctly. By giving us his nickname he made it easy for us to discuss him among ourselves and permitted us to skip the "how do we pronounce your name" bit. Making it easier for the hiring company is a good thing. – user45269 Feb 26 '17 at 15:33
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    Sure, it is not the intent. However, if a HR manager get's your resume/CV, how should she/he know the intent? – dirkk Feb 26 '17 at 15:54
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    @dirkk It's not a "nickname", but an alternative name, and this is in fact very common. For example, many English-speaking Chinese have both Chinese and Western/Christian names, typically prepended to the name or added in parentheses: Harry Lee Kuan Yew, Lee Kuan (Harry) Yew. – lambshaanxy Feb 27 '17 at 0:45
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    Normally when they ask for a background check they give you a form to fill in where you can put your correct details in. If a company is doing a background check without my permission (E.g. without me signing off on it), I would consider that a breach of privacy. I see no issues with using your prefered name on a CV and then supplying your correct name when (if) they ask for a background check – Draken Feb 28 '17 at 12:23

A resume is a marketing document, not a binding legal one. It's best to use whatever name you go by on your resume, as opposed to your full legal name (unless your name is Benjamin Franklin du Pont or Maddox Chivan Jolie-Pitt). This also goes for LinkedIn, your professional website, and any other professional/marketing documents you have out there.

There is ample research on the bias at play when someone reads your resume. You're more likely to get an interview in a western country with an Anglo-western name. Regardless of how difficult it is to pronounce your name, picking an anglicized name to go by is a strategic move. Why wouldn't you give yourself every advantage, especially given that finding a job can be hard enough?

Personally, I use a shortened version of my name on my resume. Not because I have a foreign or difficult to pronounce name, but because my full legal name is quite long (around 30 characters) and it looks awkward on the page. Also, nobody calls me Elizabeth (my legal first name) and I would prefer it stay that way.

To answer your question: Yes you should absolutely put an anglicized name on your resume if you're applying for jobs in the US.

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    I don't think that link really backs up your argument. It is specifically about Africian-American names resulting in a form of racism on resumes. From what I can tell, the question is more about using a hard to pronounce name such as Siobhan or Joaquin. As far as a resume not being a legal document, that's true, but a potential employer may use the name on it for background checks or to look you up on LinkedIn to get more insight into you before deciding to call you in for an interview and they need your "real" name for that. – bluegreen Feb 28 '17 at 12:32
  • Whatever name is on a resume should also be on LinkedIn, etc. It's also nearly impossible to run an accurate background check with only a name, especially if it's a common one like Joe Smith. I've updated the link to a more relevant article. – LMGagne Feb 28 '17 at 14:39
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    @bluegreen: There is also evidence that people prefer familar-sounding first names irrespective of the associated racial characteristics. See this blog post ramscar.wordpress.com/2015/10/26/… – sumelic Mar 1 '17 at 17:04
  • Very interesting article @sumelic Thanks for sharing! – LMGagne Mar 1 '17 at 20:07

I would recommend always putting your own name on your resume/CV.

And you can ask yourself, do you really want to work for a company that would discount you because of your name?

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    do you really want to work for a company that wouldn't hire you because of your name? Yes. We're not talking about hiring, we're talking about giving the recruiter yet another reason to chuck your CV in the bin. Do yourself a favour and make it easier for those who look at 100+ CVs a day. – rath Feb 25 '17 at 23:36
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    Changed my wording slightly based on your comment. I think it's a very bad thing to (have to) lie just to get past a recruiter. – Thijs Tijsma Feb 25 '17 at 23:42
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    "do you really want to work for a company that would discount you because of your name" Bias can be subconscious. Recruiters are human. – speciesUnknown Feb 26 '17 at 1:43
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    Yes. Not everyone has a wide range of choice, and we do not live in an ideal world. – Alic Feb 28 '17 at 15:28
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    I think recruiters are far too focused on reading the content of your CV to care what your name is. People must really have no connection to their name if they are willing to change it for an employer. – ayrton clark Feb 28 '17 at 17:11

I personally find it a little patronising when people pick a "fake" anglicised name because they think I won't be able to pronounce their real name - I would recommend you simply use part of your real name that is short enough to pronounce.

Its quite normal to shorten your "first" name. For example, if your name was Jonathan you could use Jon. This is not considered dishonest or secretive as everybody knows that many first names are short forms of longer ones.

If that doesn't apply (depending on culture), you can also use your given name or equivilant, e.g if you were Li Min Chen where Chen is your given name, you can go by Chen. In this example, its one syllable, nobody should have any problem.

You can use your full name on anything official.

  • I can't really see anything patronising in using a "fake" name. I do find it a bit weird to call Chinese people "John" and "Arnold", when I know these are not their real names, but I think it is perfectly reasonable to suspect that I am not able to read Chinese signs and to suspect that I will not properly pronounce Chinese names. Of course, Chinese is just a prominent example, this basically applies to any language (but especially to ones with different signs or from a different language family). – dirkk Feb 26 '17 at 16:36
  • That;s not a reason to adopt a totally fake name thats nothing like your own. What's wrong with my suggestions above? – speciesUnknown Feb 26 '17 at 17:28
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    I have no opinion on whether it is appropriate or not. I only contested that it is patronising (also you claim). But to answer your question: Because it is not always feasible. For example, how would you shorten the quite common Chinese name 秀英 (Xiùyīng)? I am quite sure even if we shorten it to Xiù many English speakers (including myself) will pronounce it incorrectly. – dirkk Feb 26 '17 at 17:36
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    The question is about resumes, i.e. hearing someone pronounce there own name is not possible. And even then people in general seem to have much more problems with pronouncing foreign names than you seem to have. Even my own name (with only four letters very hard to shorten...) gets mispronounced heavily in foreign countries and I can understand people when they maybe prefer something completely different than a weird pronunciation of their own name or always having to correct people. – dirkk Feb 26 '17 at 18:16
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    The question is about bias on names, not ease of pronunciation. – Alic Feb 28 '17 at 15:28

The US is such a diverse country with people from all over ending up here, I don't think I would worry about it too much. I've seen resumes with all kinds of complicated names on them.

I don't think I would put an alternative name on the resume itself, but offer it in the signature of a cover letter or at the initial contact for an interview. This is similar to someone who might go by their middle name, they would usually put their official name on the resume and then offer another one on contact.

Just don't use Kanji or Cyrillic, give them a shot at pronouncing it.

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    So what if Kanji or Cyrillic is the real name? – Alic Feb 28 '17 at 15:27

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