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I was born in Indonesia, where a surname isn't mandatory so I only have a given name, let's say "Samirah" on my passport. I am now in Belgium, in the last year at college, where I signed up using only a given name. I need to find an internship in Luxembourg, but I am confused about how to list my name in my CV or LinkedIn. I'm considering using my father's name but I don't know if this will not be a problem in the future and I'm worried about using "fake information".

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    Relevant blog-post: kalzumeus.com/2010/06/17/…
    – simbabque
    Sep 16, 2017 at 22:39
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    @Michael: "N/A" would be clearer than "NA". Sep 17, 2017 at 3:55
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    As a software tester, I thank you for being the living proof that not only do people exist that don't have both a first name and a last name, they live and work within Europe. I wish you lots of luck in navigating the many forms (both online and in real-life) that wrongfully assume that all names confirm to an unnecessarily narrow standard. Know that your question on this site will help testers everywhere to argue in favour of more sensible solutions for name fields.
    – Cronax
    Sep 18, 2017 at 15:43
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    In forms that require both a last and first name I just would enter my name in both fields. That is the most safe option to ensure that you will always be addressed either as Mrs Samirah or Samirah. You don't want your letters to be send to "Mrs N/A". If they just give you a single name field you can just enter your name as is. That way you can be sure responses to your applications will actually reach you.
    – seg
    Jul 25, 2022 at 8:46
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    Anything with non-alpha characters, e.g. "N/A", has the potential to cause problems. Some systems will accept these characters, some won't (or will remove them). Then you end up arguing with systems that refuse to accept that "Samirah NA" and "Samirah N/A" are the same person. This is a known issue even with familiar Western names like "O'Sullivan".
    – G_B
    Jul 26, 2022 at 6:45

4 Answers 4

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Both LinkedIn and your resume should typically always use the name or names you use to identify yourself with. If you only have a given name and no surname, that's the name that should be on your resume.

To use a fictional example, Milla Jovovich's character from The Fifth Element's full name was "Leeloominaï Lekatariba Lamina-Tchaï Ekbat De Sebat". The name she actually used and what she was called by was "Leeloo". That's usually called your "assumed" name or simply "the name you go by". Official documents like an ID card or Multipass if we're sticking with the movie theme don't have the room for long names and so also use a standard variation, commonly the first given name and the last section of the surname to arrive at a "standard" name, for instance "Leeloo De Sebat". If Leeloo were to apply for a job all her application materials would use that shortened name while her actual hiring materials, contract and (being an alien immigrant) her work permit would use her full official name.

But you have rather the opposite problem. Firstly, a name is important in business and it's what you build your reputation and contacts with, so you indeed don't change this lightly or at a whim. But doing so is not uncommon or frowned upon and plenty of people end up partially or wholly changing their name throughout their professional careers. For more on that see the following questions:

In your case, you'll need to apply with the name you go by, which is currently just your given name. If you have plans to adopt a specific surname or if you actually already have one that you use but just isn't official or listed on your passport, use that to form your full name. As mentioned in the above questions you'd use the name you go by in any contact with a potential employer until you get to the offer stage. At that point you'd simply say something like: "By the way, while I go by X the name on my ID/passport is actually Y." Since you're going to need a work permit or something similar it is absolutely vital that you are clear with any prospective employers that your official name is just your given name. Your hiring paperwork will need to use the name on your passport and discrepancies can cause annoying delays in that process.

Beyond that, it would indeed be helpful to get your name legally changed to use a surname. It's less important if your first name is fairly unique but even then some people will subconsciously think you're less polished or educated because you only have a given name. A distinctive name can be an asset sometimes but generally you want people to remember you because of the excellent work you've done and the skills you possess, not the fact that you don't have a surname. So if possible I would suggest changing your name legally, but for that you'll need to figure out what your country's policy is on that.

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    Change your name to please someone else? WTF.
    – gnasher729
    Jul 25, 2022 at 8:34
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    @gnasher729 Well if in Belgium do as the Belgians. It's always a good idea to adjust to the local customs and expectations to some degree. And if we like it or not the reality is just that international communication is dominated by Anglo-Saxon culture. So having a surname is a very useful thing just to avoid confusion. At least for official purposes. Most people just see this as a practical issue and not an ideological one.
    – seg
    Jul 25, 2022 at 8:42
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    The official attitude in the UK is that everyone should be accepted as they come. Your culture should be accepted as long as it doesn't violate the local laws. Asking me to change my name to please them is unthinkable in the most Anglo-Saxon of Anglo-Saxon cultures.
    – gnasher729
    Jul 25, 2022 at 11:25
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    @gnasher729 I'm not sure where you're getting that from? I'm only stating that having a surname is helpful for a number of obvious reasons. So if OP was considering adopting a surname, as was clear from the post, I'd certainly recommend doing so legally as well. That's all.
    – Lilienthal
    Jul 26, 2022 at 17:51
  • So: What should OP fill in on forms that require a surname when she doesn't have one? This doesn't seem to address the given question? Jul 27, 2022 at 1:37
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I had a coworker, who had only one name. In company records and all, he was called as "FirstName FirstName", probably also in passport and work visa (its mandatory in my country).

So, in resume and all, use "FirstName" only. In cases where last name is mandatory, use "FirstName FirstName".

Personally, I prefer not to change my name to please others.

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On your CV or on LinkedIn, you want something that identifies you to the reader. There is no legal consequence. So it would be not unreasonable to enter your name both as surname and given name. Like Mr. or Mrs. Maiiooe Maiiooe. If you are asked about this then you can tell that there is only a given name.

For things like driving license, passport, taxes and pensions, best to call the right government agency.

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Working in Luxembourg for 7y, I see 2 sides to consider on your question :

  • Socially : I personnally never met someone without a lastname. My personal reaction would probably be to be surprised then to discuss about that cultural point and learn a bit more about your culture. You may encounter some morons that will think poorly of that but overall Luxembourg is quite open to foreigners.

  • Administratively : Your best bet would be to reach the Chamber of Salaries of Luxembourg (https://www.csl.lu). They answer all kind of questions about working in Luxembourg. They will tell you if having no surname may be challenging for paperwork, and if so how to overcome them.

I hope this will help you, that you'll find an internship in Luxembourg and that you'll enjoy your time in this nice little country.

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