posted on January 27, 2012 08:25
The name is one of the most talked about topics when having a baby.
It can cause confusion, stress and family disputes. It can be controversial. Or, it can be a no fuss, streamlined, and safe option. A non-event really. It all depends on your taste and what is important to you.
But the reality is whether you choose to agonise over your choice or make a quick and simple decision there are so many things to consider along the way;
· first and middle name
· sibling names
· worldwide and local trends
· the number of syllables
· the harmony between first name and surname
· whether or not you choose to create patterns and rules in your little brood of names
· other names already nabbed by family and friends
· family traditions/expectations
· And last but not least – the relationship between names and careers
So why am I qualified to talk on this subject? After seven children I have had my fair share of baby naming responsibility. And particularly as a Career Coach and Resume Writer consideration of how my choice of name will impact on my child’s future career has been among my top list of priorities.
To be honest naming my first child involved many hours of research and discussion but I didn’t find it particularly difficult. The names for the second and third child were much the same, but it was then brought to my attention that I had created a pattern in the initials chosen. We had also set a rule that all middle names would be named after a family member. By the time we had reached baby number 4, and 5 we had quite a strict criteria to meet! This resulted in baby number five remaining nameless or better yet, nicknamed ‘princess’ for three days while we made our final selection.
But does the name you choose for your child inadvertently impact on their profession? Some research would suggest it does.....
Research your family history and you may find that surnames once matched occupation or geographical region. This is particularly true among royalty. My own family history goes back to Richard Guise who immigrated to Australia after escaping the French Revolution. He was a royal and known as Richard Duke of Guise. But come to Australia and his name (which was reference to his origins) was quickly changed and adopted as his surname. Furthermore, there are many family surnames such as Carpenter, Blacksmith, Plumber and so on which were derived from ancestral professions. Does this mean that future generations are drawn to that profession? Perhaps subconsciously they are. Does it mean that we seek out a profession that can somehow be linked to our name? Does this explain why I became a Resume Writer? Rebecca the Resume Writer!?. I doubt it, but it is an interesting point. My eldest daughter is particularly sporty. Is this because her surname is Stewart? Sporty Stewart? Probably a bit farfetched.
There is also the unfortunate case of names becoming inappropriate for the beholder, particularly later in life. What started out as ‘trendy’ or ‘a good idea at the time’ can later cause confusion, embarrassment and even, poor self esteem. Cast a thought to a family whose surname is Bridge. When their son was born the year the Sydney Harbour Bridge opened, their son was aptly named Sidney……and his middle name was………….yep you guessed it, Harbour. I am sure he spent his entire life dealing with unwanted comments and opinions. And a constant pull to explain away the name. I know because I was there and heard the story myself.
Perhaps we are drawn subconsciously to activities (whether recreational or professional) that sound like our name or reference our initials. Do people with the surname Smith feel drawn to move to Smith-related suburbs such as Smithfield or Smithton? Are those with a competitive sounding surname drawn to competition sports? Take Tiger Woods. His name has a certain ring to it and sounds very competitive. Much like the person himself. What about Greg Norman? A very unassuming name but he was quick to adopt a nickname which implied greatness, and something to be feared. Are those with a political surname drawn to politics? A quick scan of the internet reveals an article written by Eric Ostermeier. In his article Eric reveals that Smith is a very common name among US politics with more than 110 Smiths elected to the US House, more than twice the number of any other surname. Or could be more to do with the fact that there are 3 million Smiths living in America? Do the math. Could explain why more Smiths end up in politics.
As a business servicing clients from varied origins we frequently come across migrant names. Clearly these names imply that the family has immigrated at some point, whether in this generation or in past ones. When developing a resume/CV for these clients we often recommend including a phonetic description of the name to ensure it is easy for the recruiter to pronounce and hence more chance that the phone will ring. But does this really influence the outcome of a job application? Well, I would hate to think that someone missed out on a job opportunity because the recruiter couldn’t pronounce the name and was embarrassed to pick up the phone. On a more solemn note, if a recruiter was discriminatory toward a certain ethnicity then it is clear that this judgment can be passed well before any interview takes place – just looking at the first page of the resume assumptions can be made. I have personally witnessed many who assume an Anglo-Saxon name because they believe it will improve their employment outcomes. Perhaps employers unfairly and hastily pass judgment from candidate names and discriminate. There is little research to imply this but stories from our clients suggest it does happen.
So in summary, when naming your brand new baby, give it some thought. Well, give it alot of thought! Some research suggests that our name is linked to our destiny but the research is vague. So vague in fact, that it was pointless referencing much of it here. Perhaps the only definitive conclusion I can arrive at is; discrimination happens. It just does - and that impacts on careers. If the name is strange, unusual, quirky or implies that this person is from a different part of the world – and the person handing out the jobs doesn't like that, you can bet discrimination will happen. But important to remember that not every recruiter will discriminate.
Perhaps it is more the fact that life just happens and we find the connection, whether glaringly obvious or subtle. Because we want our name to have meaning.