People Who Use Nicknames Earn Bigger Paychecks

People Who Use Nicknames Earn Bigger Paychecks


NOV. 27, 2013, 2:28 PM 2,613 3

Sam or Samantha? Bill or William? Should you opt for short and friendly, or formal and serious? Experts say that not only can you use a nickname at work, you should, since doing so could boost your career. According to a study conducted earlier this year by job search site TheLadders, people who go by shorter names tend to earn more money. From an analysis of nearly 6 million names, the study found that every extra letter in a person’s name tended to correlate with a $3,600 drop in annual salary. That was true of names as similar as Sara and Sarah, Michele and Michelle, and Philip and Phillip. Over a 40-year career, the corresponding loss in earnings can amount to nearly $150,000.LinkedIn discovered a similar correlation between short names and success in 2011, when it analyzed the top CEO names around the world. The site’s analysts found that the most popular ones — names like Peter, Jack, and Fred — were either already short names or shortened versions of common first names. Frank Nuessel, a names specialist, told LinkedIn such abbreviated names are often used to “denote a sense of friendliness and openness.” 

Beyond compensation benefits, experts say nicknames can provide several other advantages. Nicknames can often sound less formal and more approachable. That can be especially valuable if you’re in a creative industry, like acting or media, says Vicki Salemi, a career and human resources expert and author of “Big Career in the Big City.”

On the other hand, if you’re going into a more traditional career in Corporate America or on Wall Street, Salemi says you might want to stick with your full name for the sake of formality. You should also be wary of any nicknames that sound silly or childish, like “Bunny” for Barbara or “Mookie” for Michael.

In general, women are more likely than men to stick with their full names in the workplace, perhaps to portray gravitas. The five top-paid names for women are Lynn, Melissa, Cathy, Dana, and Christine, according to TheLadders, and Christine is the most popular female C-level name. By contrast, Bob is the most common C-level name for men, and four of the five highest-paid male names contain four letters or fewer. According to Nuessel, female CEOs will often use their full names to “project a more professional image.”

That said, a nickname can easily become part of your professional brand if you prefer it. As a general rule of thumb, any nickname that is just a shorter version of your given name is fine for the workplace, says Amanda Augustine, career expert at TheLadders. Salemi agrees that you can make a nickname work in any occupation so long as “you own it and you’re proud and you’re professional.”

For that reason, Salemi and Augustine both emphasize that it’s important to decide how you want to be known from day one, and then be consistent across all channels. If you use a nickname on your LinkedIn, then you should have the same one on your resume, your Twitter, and any public professional accounts.

“The idea is you’re building your brand, no matter what level you are, so you need to be consistent,” Salemi says.

About bambooinnovator
Kee Koon Boon (“KB”) is the co-founder and director of HERO Investment Management which provides specialized fund management and investment advisory services to the ARCHEA Asia HERO Innovators Fund (, the only Asian SMID-cap tech-focused fund in the industry. KB is an internationally featured investor rooted in the principles of value investing for over a decade as a fund manager and analyst in the Asian capital markets who started his career at a boutique hedge fund in Singapore where he was with the firm since 2002 and was also part of the core investment committee in significantly outperforming the index in the 10-year-plus-old flagship Asian fund. He was also the portfolio manager for Asia-Pacific equities at Korea’s largest mutual fund company. Prior to setting up the H.E.R.O. Innovators Fund, KB was the Chief Investment Officer & CEO of a Singapore Registered Fund Management Company (RFMC) where he is responsible for listed Asian equity investments. KB had taught accounting at the Singapore Management University (SMU) as a faculty member and also pioneered the 15-week course on Accounting Fraud in Asia as an official module at SMU. KB remains grateful and honored to be invited by Singapore’s financial regulator Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to present to their top management team about implementing a world’s first fact-based forward-looking fraud detection framework to bring about benefits for the capital markets in Singapore and for the public and investment community. KB also served the community in sharing his insights in writing articles about value investing and corporate governance in the media that include Business Times, Straits Times, Jakarta Post, Manual of Ideas, Investopedia, TedXWallStreet. He had also presented in top investment, banking and finance conferences in America, Italy, Sydney, Cape Town, HK, China. He has trained CEOs, entrepreneurs, CFOs, management executives in business strategy & business model innovation in Singapore, HK and China.

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