I used to know a man who always used his middle initial. Even a quick note would be signed with his name & that middle initial. After a while, it started being a bit of a joke, but it isn’t a bad idea to use your middle initial professionally because middle name initials enhance evaluations of intellectual performance according to a research study in the European Journal of Social Psychology.
That study found that people think an author is more intelligent if there is a middle initial; more middle initials in an author’s name look smarter still. How does this play out in the working world?
Think About The Impact Of Your Name
Your name affects your brand — the overall impression people have of who you are. Think of this name: William Henry Gates III. He sounds like a different guy than W.H. Gates, who sounds like a different guy than William H. Gates, who sounds like a different guy than Bill Gates. One of the richest guys in the world doesn’t need to use his middle initial because he has achieved a brand recognition for his ‘everyday’ label. But should you?
One of the advantages of using a middle initial is the clarification of who you are. When you are applying for that job and your name is John Smith, using a middle initial helps identify which John Smith, John Q. or John W. It also can help when you set up your professional email address. On your resume, using your professional name — with that middle initial — has been proven to make you look smarter according to that study mentioned above.
Saving the nicknames for a more casual setting in the workplace is usually a good idea because here you are developing a different sort of network. There’s usually a dynamic in each workplace that will determine how casual your name can be without losing the impact you hope to have. Names create images, and your brand is nothing but image if you think about it.
What if your name is not as professional-sounding as you’d like? Here’s where those initials can be career-savers. If your name is Pinky Baby Johnston and you want to be taken seriously as an account manager, P.B. Johnston sounds a lot more like someone a client would trust. It’s unfortunate, but it’s the way our minds work.