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Avoiding mistaken identities in a Google world

Q. I love my married name. It’s a rhyme-y, memorable name, which is a vast improvement over my maiden name. Unfortunately, someone in the entertainment industry feels the same way. If you do a quick Internet search of my name, the majority of hits on the first page refer to an elegant and demure entertainer. I have started looking for a new job, and I’d hate to miss out on an opportunity just because the hiring manager thinks I’m someone else.

What should be my plan of action here? I’ve thought about including some sort of disclaimer on my resume, maybe a lighthearted joke. Or is it best to just ignore the issue and count on the intelligence of my future employer to know the difference?

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A. Your problem is more common than you would think. Several years ago, I answered a similar question. The job seeker was concerned about being mistaken for a convicted felon with the same name from the same town.

First, think about how you can alter your name so it is bit different than the name of the well-known entertainer. If the famous person’s name is John Robinson, consider using John R. Robinson III or Jack Robinson. Or you could also attach an acronym, like BFA, after your name to clearly designate that you hold a bachelor of fine arts degree.

Consider developing a LinkedIn profile and putting the URL on your resume. The reader can then look at your profile, including your photo, and be assured that you are not the famous individual.

Those who share names with the famous carry a bit of a burden. Some may still ask you about it, but usually after the initial comment or joke, the focus returns to the candidate’s ability to do the job.

On a related note, I had a client that had a small department of four employees, three of whom were named Sara or Sarah.

When hiring additional staff for this team, they hoped they could find talent with a different first name.

Patricia Hunt Sinacole is
president of First Beacon Group, a human resources consulting firm in Hopkinton.
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