A leading résumé writer and mentor helping you to explore all your options
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What's in a name?
full name is Jason Martin Darke, yet I've always been known as Martin. It's a
long story. Whilst Jason is a very common name nowadays, in my childhood it was
extremely rare. Consequently, kids used to laugh at me and my name was always a
stigma whenever I heard it mentioned. It has taken me years to accept, and I
reckon now that, should I ever become a film star, then Jason Darke would be a
But that's besides the point. You will never ever see 'Jason' on my cv/résumé, but not because of what you've read above.
When applying for a job, you are not applying for a passport or a driving licence. For the latter it's compulsory to provide your full name. For job applications, use the name by which you want to be called. So if your name is 'Robert' but you prefer 'Bob', then use 'Bob'. Likewise for 'Margaret' and 'Maggie'. This also obviates the need to explain how you prefer to be addressed whenever a recruiter calls you to set up an interview.
In western countries this might seem a minor issue, but for foreign nationals from countries such as Thailand and India, their names can be an impediment, often extending to six or seven syllables. Sometimes recruiters might not even bother to call for fear of embarrassing themselves trying to pronounce names.
Imagine an executive narrowing down an interview shortlist to ten candidates, all with more or less the same credentials, and then telling his secretary to line up five for an interview. It's obvious which ones the secretary will call first if some candidates have unpronounceable names.
Should you be someone with a long name, if you haven't done so already, adopt an easily pronounceable short form of your name, Anglicising it if necessary, to make it easy for the recruiter or employer. You won't regret it!
Another point on names. Occasionally it is difficult to tell the gender of an individual, so the use of 'Mr' or 'Ms', in brackets, can easily overcome this issue should it ever arise. Of course we are assuming that discrimination will not take place as a result, but sometimes that risk has to be taken.
I can't over-emphasise the importance of reviewing your own name. It is the first thing the employer sees. In an ideal world, discrimination can be removed at the start by removing names from cv/résumés, similar to the way in which some orchestras conduct auditions behind screens, so that the selection panel cannot tell the gender of the player.
Names carry a lot of information and research in the USA, UK, Australia, New Zealand and Canada has demonstrated that stereotyping occurs not only in recruitment but in job sectors. Some fields are dominated by candidates according to race, age and gender. It's a sorry state of affairs but barriers are slowly breaking down, for instance as more women enter the scientific arena.
Some good news on this subject arrived in the United Kingdom in October, 2015. Following a round table of business leaders conducted by the Prime Minister, a number of organisations across the public and private sectors, together responsible for employing 1.8 million people in the UK, signed up to a pledge to operate recruitment on 'name-blind' basis to address discrimination. Under this agreement, names will not be visible on graduate recruitment applications, reducing potential discrimination.
This is a step in the right direction, but there is still a long way to go. Therefore, don't put yourself at a disadvantage because of your real name.
Your name is one part of your personal details. What else do you need?
Simple. All that's required are your contact details, namely:
• telephone numbers
• email address
In most cases you won't even need to include your physical address as virtually all correspondence will take place by email, but it's probably wise to include this so that an employer can gauge where you live in relation to commuting time and the responsibilities of the job.
On the subject of email, ensure you have a 'sensible' address, as something like firstname.lastname@example.org can create the wrong impression. Some time ago, when helping my own brother, a professional golfer, with his cv/résumé, I came across an interesting example as he was using 'belliedwedge' for his email address. This conjured up all sorts of things in the imagination but it is in fact a golfing term.
To sum up, as far as personal details are concerned, name and contact details are all that's required.
So forget marital status, children, health, driver's licence (unless actually required) and all those other things which recruiters might use to rule you out. They are not necessary. (Note however, in some countries, where there is an affirmative-action policy, it is actually a requirement that applicants indicate their race on their cv/résumé.)
Though it seems obvious, we've covered the vital first element of our new cv/résumé, our personal details. The best part about this is that we've taken up only two or three lines at the top of the page.
Here's an example:
14 xxxx xxxx, Quinns Rocks WA 6030
Phone: (Home) (xx) xxxx xxxx (Mobile) xxxx xxx xxx
Let's now look at what comes underneath. This is the heading, and it describes you and how you stand out above the rest.