Could Your Name Be Affecting Your Career?

What’s in a name?

A rose by any other name may still smell as sweet, but it’s not going to get you into that C-Level suite, nor will an unwieldy name do you any favors when it comes time to negotiate your pay.

According to data analyzed by The Ladders, it appears as though your first name makes a difference in how much money you make, as well as the level of success you achieve.

In fact, those with relatively short names — and whose names are rather commonplace — are more likely to earn more. As the number of letters in your first name increases, your salary drops. In fact, The Ladders insists that each additional letter in your name leads to a salary that is lower by $3,600 a year.

The data even held up for those with nicknames. “Steve” makes more than “Stephen”, and “Sara” even makes more than “Sarah”. The very strong implication here is that you should also consider your nickname. If you want to be more successful in your career, it might be a good idea to adopt a professional name that is short and easy to remember.

Where There Exceptions to the Longer Name Rule?

As always, there are exceptions. The Ladders found that the name Lawrence resulted higher pay than its shorter counterpart Larry. Additionally, if you look at the chart above, you’ll see a decline in pay versus number of letters in a first name — except at the number seven. If your name has seven letters, you get a little bump in pay. A good example is the name “Melissa”, which appears on the list of top five highest paid female names. (Incidentally, my own name has seven letters. Corporate success, here I come!)

Another interesting aberration is the fact that Christine (nine letters) shows up on the list of top five C-Level names and in the top five when it comes to pay. No other name — male or female — showed up on both lists.

The Ladders says that the top 10 highest paid C-Level executives are names that earn 10% more than other names. That’s a pretty big difference, and one that might make you think.

Help Your Kids: Pick a Short, Boring Name

Looking at the lists compiled by The Ladders also yields another interesting pattern: The names are rather conventional. You see names like Cathy, Shannon, Rob, Bob, Tom, Marc, Lynn, and Martin on these lists. No mention of oddly-spelled names or exotic names. I live in a state full of names like Jessyka, Gavvyn, Joyellen, Moroni, and SheriDawn. I’m no stranger to “unique” names.

However, no matter how cool you think your child’s name is now, the reality is that an unusual name that is hard to spell or confusing to pronounce won’t do you child any favors. Not only does he or she risk a long and difficult childhood, but you may be condemning him or her to a life of lower pay and career failure.

What do you think is in a name? Do you think the analysis from The Ladders makes sense?

About the Author

Miranda writes about financial topics for several web sites. Her blog is Planting Money Seeds, and her book, Confessions of a Professional Blogger, is available on Amazon.