Some people upon arriving in Canada wonder if they should change their name to sound more “Canadian.” People are concerned that their name may sound too ethnic, and are worried that people will discriminate against them because of that; or simply because people will have a hard time pronouncing their name. Quite often newcomers ask if they should pick a more “Canadian sounding” name for their resume and correspondence. Is this necessary?
The answer is no, it’s not. Even in Canada, people will choose a different first name for people to address them by. This is usually because their first name is long (John, v.s Johnathon) or because they simply don’t like the name they were given. For example, I have a friend whose first name is Agnes, but she prefers to go by “Sue.”
Most people in Canada are used to “ethnic” sounding names because Canada is a nation with a long history of immigration. Canada is a meritocracy where people’s ethnic background is largely considered irrelevant to whether they can competently perform a job. The majority of Canadians have no concern over what your name sounds like when it comes to hiring decisions.
Use the name you are most comfortable with and be consistent. This means whatever name you choose, use it all the time and on everything involving your job search and work (including all marketing material) such as:
– Cover Letters
– Email address
– Personal websites or blogs.
If for instance you use your full name on your resume, use it on your cover letter as well. If you shorten it on your cover letter, shorten it on your Resume.
Name formatting and naming conventions in Canada
In Canada, people’s first name or “given name” comes first, and the family name or “last name” comes second. For example, it would be ‘Jane Smith,’ not ‘Smith Jane.’ In many cultures it is the opposite. If this is the case with your name, consider changing the order to match the Canadian style, otherwise people will call you by your last name.
Try and get an address that reflects the name you choose to use on the rest of your marketing materials. If your name is John Doe, try and find an address like firstname.lastname@example.org or the closest thing to it.
Official documents (Transcripts, Passports, government Identification)
You can change your first name for work purposes but it is best to not changing any of your official documents. Your last name is how people will verify that your transcripts, Identification, etc. really does belong to you, even if the first name is different. If people ask you why your first name is different, just explain you were more comfortable with a shorter or Canadian sounding name.
Use whatever name you are most comfortable with, but use it consistently, all the time, and on everything.