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When You Should Let Co-Workers Know Your Nickname

Your name is usually the first thing other people find out about you — in college, your name on the door allowed your roommate to begin speculating about your appearance and personality, and when you apply for jobs your résumé introduces you in larger letters at the very top of the page. In order to be professional we usually introduce ourselves formally, even though your mom may be the only person who occasionally calls you by your full name. So when is it appropriate to let a potential employer or a new employer know your preferred name? To see what I think about timing just


If you’ve always gone by your middle name then that’s what you should put on your résumé. I’ve met a lot of people who have always been called a name that has nothing to do with their legal name, and in that case your legal name should be what you put on your résumé. Once you’ve accepted a job, let the human resources director know that you prefer to be called by your nickname. That way, you’ll be introduced to your new colleagues as the name you wish to be called and won’t be put in the position of explaining your nickname to everyone you meet. While I haven’t been in that position myself, I’ve heard from friends that it gets old very fast.

So what if your name is Christine and you prefer to be called Christie? If your name is one that’s often shortened, the best scenario is that the other party will ask you what you prefer to be called. If you’re not presented with this easy out then you have two options. If the tone of your interview and attitude of your interviewer was friendly and more casual, then I think it’s OK to sign your postinterview thank-you with your shortened name along with your last name. If it’s a more formal interview and your interviewer and company are more conservative, I think it’s best to wait until you’re offered the job to let them know your preference. Just tell tell the human resources director when you accept the job so you’ll be all set from day one.

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