How to Include a Name Change on Your Resume

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What should you do with your resume when your name has changed? People change their names for all sorts of reasons, from the mundane (marriage or divorce) to the off-beat.

Regardless of why you've changed yours, a name change mid-career comes with a whole new set of complications beyond updating driver's licenses and credit cards. For example, you need to figure out what to do with your resume.

It's not a rare problem these days.

Harvard Business Review reports that just 8 percent of brides in 2011 kept their birth names, as opposed to 23 percent in the 1990s, and 6 percent of those who changed their names either hyphenated or created a new one with their partner.

Harder to find stats for: the percentage of men who take their partner's name. But, name changes in general seem to have gained popularity in recent years for every reason under the sun, including mimicking favorite pop stars or just ditching a moniker that never quite fit.

Regardless of why you've changed your name, you have to figure out how to deal with it on your resume.

Do You Have to Include Both Names on Your Resume?

Why not just slap your new name on your CV and go about your merry way? Well, for one thing, personal branding is important in this day and age, and even if you've decided to tweak yours by altering your legal name, you want your accomplishments to follow you.

Beyond that, it's important that your resume match your employment history, so that hiring managers and the people who conduct your background check can easily track you from Point A to Point B and know that you are who you say you are.

So how should you list a name change on your resume? Here are a few options, which work for resumes, cover letters, and job applications, plus an example of a resume including both a current and a former name.

Options for Mentioning a Name Change on a Resume

When your name has changed, due to marriage, divorce, or another reason, there are a couple of options for including the change on your resume.

You can list both names on your resume. Either put your former name in parentheses or list both names, with your previous name in a smaller font:

Nancy (Smith) Simmonds
First (Maiden) Last

or

Nancy Simmonds
formerly Nancy Smith

Resume Example With a Name Change

In the resume example below, the job seeker has put her former last name in parentheses.

Katherine (Smith) Milano
6 Pinell Street, Arlington, VA 12333
555.555.5555 (home)    
566.555.2222 (cell)
kmmilano@gmail.com

Experience 

Assistant Manager, Panorama Specialty Boutique
20XX - Present

  • Manage payroll, scheduling, reports, email, inventory, and maintain clientele book and records
  • Integrate new register functions and train all 10 employees
  • Place orders to restock merchandise and handle weekly receiving of products
  • Extensive work with visual standards and merchandising high-ticket items; design over 25 windows

    Sales Associate, Bloomingdale's
    20XX - 20XX

    • Set up trunk shows and attended monthly clinics for new incoming fashion lines
    • Collaborated with tailors and seamstresses to arrange fittings and ensure customer satisfaction
    • Scheduled private shopping appointments with high-end customers
    • Oversaw and provided feedback on new sales associates’ private shopping appointments

    Assistant Manager, General's Corner
    20XX-20XX

    • Provided customer service in fast-paced bar atmosphere with over 50 nightly customers
    • Maintained and restocked inventory
    • Administrative responsibilities included processing hour and tip information for payroll and closing register

    Education 

    Ramapo College, Arlington, Virginia, 20XX
    Major: English
    Minor: Business

    A Few Words of Caution

    Consistency is key when presenting any materials for a job application, which is one reason why so many job-search experts recommend securing an email address in your name. (The other, of course, is that "creative" email addresses often seem less than professional.)

    It's not uncommon now for married women to have a number of different names, depending on the situation and the circumstances. Take, for example, a married writer with a byline, a legal name, and a birth name.

    Although she should be prepared to provide a list of all three variations to her prospective employer in order to assist in verifying her identity and background, her application materials should reflect one, consistent name – to go with the one, consistent message she's hoping to convey as part of her personal branding strategy.

    The goal is to express in as few words as possible who you are and what you've accomplished, without making the hiring manager dig around for information. Otherwise, you run the risk of looking like you've changed your name in order to hide from creditors or the law, instead of getting married or ditching a hated surname or even just adopting a chosen name that sounds more like the person you feel yourself to be.

    List Both Names on Your Cover Letter

    With your cover letter, you can use your current name, or list your former name in parentheses like you did with your resume:

    Nancy (Smith) Simmonds
    First (Maiden) Last

    How to List Your Name on Job Applications

    You can do the same on job applications. What's important is consistency, so use your current legal name on all your application documents and hiring paperwork.

    Mention it to the Employer

    Don't worry about an employer having difficult checking your references or your work history because of the name change. You can let the prospective employer know that there are employment records in your former name.

    Suggested Reading: Resume Examples | Top 10 Resume Writing Tips | How to Create a Professional Resume | Resume ObjectivesName Change Email Example - Married | Name Change Announcement Example

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