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I use a pseudonym everywhere. Literally, everywhere. You cannot find me online using my real name, but if you know what pseudonym I have, then you can find out a lot about me (not personally of course, but things like forums posts, and such).

I even use this pseudonym as my LinkedIn name. I'm also filling in this name every time some field asks me for my "Real Name". I always feel really uncomfortable, because I feel like I'm lying to the site by using my pseudonym.

So, my question is, is this see as unethical and would hurt my professional "image" if an employee/colleague finds out that I'm using this fake name, even if I shouldn't?

For a CV, I would use my real name and put my pseudonym in quotes, is that enough?

It has happened once on IRC that a moderator asked me if that was really my real name (it's obviously not a real name - it's basically two conventional words from the dictionary) and I said no, and they asked me to change it. I complied, but only because I knew that the site where I registered is not being indexed by search engines.

  • @JoeStrazzere But they'll see it whether or not I include it because I'll link to other sites where this name is visible. Or from LinkedIn. – MTree13 Sep 9 '17 at 12:24
  • @JoeStrazzere Because I don't like using my real name (fear of something). – MTree13 Sep 9 '17 at 12:40
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    @MTree13 Do you use your pseudonym on your driving license or other identity documents as well? What do you do when you are asked for an ID proof, for example, by your employer or bank? – Masked Man Sep 9 '17 at 14:44
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    @MaskedMan Then I show my ID. In person encounters are not a problem, online ones are. – MTree13 Sep 9 '17 at 18:19
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    Hmm, ok, now I am confused. If you are giving your real name to your employer, and using the pseudonym online only, why do you see an issue? A lot of people do this (except for the LinkedIn thing). For example, my user name here is Masked Man, which is not my real name, of course. I don't see why it is unprofessional. – Masked Man Sep 10 '17 at 1:15
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There's nothing unethical about using a pseudonym online. It's a very reasonable privacy-protection technique. On sites like Facebook that have a "real name" requirement, your account may be at risk of deletion, especially if someone who wants to harm you finds out that it's not your real name and reports you to the site.

I wouldn't worry about employers being bothered in general that you use a pseudonym online, UNLESS the actual pseudonym you use sounds either childish or rude/inappropriate. Using it on your LinkedIn is definitely going to come across as weird, since that's a site that is specifically oriented towards real-life interaction, and most people only use pseudonyms for purely-online interactions. Something like Github is less clear-cut; I know a number of people who don't include a real name on their Github profile, but I don't think many use fake names.

Depending on what industry you're trying to get work in, it's entirely possible that you will lose job opportunities to this, but it sounds like you're very serious about your privacy, and I can entirely believe that's a tradeoff you'd be willing to make.

I think it could make sense to disclose the pseudonym on your resume, especially if you're already using it in places you link from the resume that prospective employers will certainly see. I suspect you would come across more professionally with a footnote rather than an internym -- that is, instead of writing 'George "Tree Beard" Lucas', write something like 'George Lucas*' ... '*For privacy reasons, I use the pseudonym Tree Beard online.' This will help readers understand what they're seeing when they visit the links you're providing.

One way to mitigate coming across weirdly would be to have a stock answer you can give, as an explanation for why you use this practice. Whatever you offer as an explanation should ideally be true -- don't lie! -- but it doesn't have to be specific/detailed, and it doesn't have to be the "real reason" (maybe there is no single real reason). For example, has someone you know had their identity stolen? Do you have estranged family? Did you previously work in an environment that had stringent rules about what you could disclose about yourself publicly (teaching children?) If you mention something like this, people will be much more understanding about your quirk.

For what it's worth, the company I work for has on two occasions interviewed potential employees whose full names we didn't even know at the time. But this is extremely unusual; I work in a very niche computer-security-related field where many of the most talented professionals are extremely paranoid people. Perhaps you could look into computer security as a field of employment? :-)

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I use a pseudonym everywhere. Literally, everywhere. You cannot find me online using my real name, but if you know what pseudonym I have, then you can find out a lot about me (not personally of course, but things like forums posts, and such).

It sounds like your pseudonym was originally created, and is still mostly used, as a kind of internet identity. That being said, I would recommend you keep it to that, and not put it on your CV, or use it to represent your real-life self.


I even use this pseudonym as my LinkedIn name. I'm also filling in this name every time some field asks me for my "Real Name".

For websites that involve demonstrating yourself in a professional manner, or anything "official", you should use the same name that you go by in real life; the one you answer to all the time, to everyone, always. This should also be the same name that you put on your CV.


For a CV, I would use my real name and put my pseudonym in quotes, is that enough?

For a CV, if you were using a pseudonym in real life, then you would put that and nothing else. You should not include both your pseudonym and real name; it defeats the whole purpose. Legally speaking, the only time that you are required to disclose your true name to your employer is when filing out paperwork with HR. At that point, you would provide both your pseudonym and real name. If anyone else is to know your real name, it's completely at your discretion.


So, my question is, is this see as unethical and would hurt my professional "image" if an employee/colleague finds out that I'm using this fake name, even if I shouldn't?

It depends on why you're using the pseudonym.

When people use pseudonyms in real life, there's generally a reason why. For some people, it's because of various legal issues; for others, perhaps they're in the process of getting their name changed, and are going by the name preemptively. Also, it could be that someone has a high exposure job, and wants to keep family and work as separated as possible. That being said, if someone finds out you're going by a pseudonym, you'll probably have to provide some kind of explanation. If not, it will become extremely tense between the two of you, and word may spread to other employees/colleagues. To be on the safe side, only go by a pseudonym if your reason why is sensible & justified; i.e., if you really need to.


..it's obviously not a real name - it's basically two conventional words from the dictionary..

If even you don't think it sounds like a real name, should you really be using it to represent yourself on a professional social networking site, or putting it on your CV? Hmm, I would think not..

I'm sure your real name is just fine, and recommend you stick with that when in a professional setting.

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Unless you're an actor, or in the InfoSec sector, or a YouTube star, then using a pseudonym in a professional setting is pretty unprofessional.

As Joe mentioned in a comment, using a pseudonym on a CV can make you look silly/weird, and this lessens your credibility. There's no need for a pseudonym on a CV unless the said name is applicable to the role you're applying for.

It's ok to use your pseudonym on your LinkedIn profile if you don't want to use your profile for business networking or sharing with potential employers.

Using a pseudonym in business-facing profiles will most likely paint you as being overly paranoid.

It's ok to be protective of your internet security, but many social networks give you tools to do this.

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