What Your Name Says About You in the Workplace

Male CEOs tend to shorten their names, while females stick to their given name, LinkedIn data shows.

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When it comes to how we're perceived at work, men tend to aim for approachability while women focus more on appearing professional, new data from LinkedIn suggests.

On the social networking site's newly-released list of common names for CEOs around the world, men often shorten their name, going by Bob rather than Robert, Bill over William, and Don over Donald—in other words, choosing the less-formal option. Women, however, tend to forgo shortened versions and stick to their given name, identifying themselves as Carolyn, Pamela, and Deborah.

"[Men go by] names you'd use with friends and close colleagues," says Frank Nuessel, professor of modern languages at the University of Louisville and editor of Names, a journal produced by the American Name Society. "It suggests that they want to be accessible and friendly and deemed approachable."

But the list of 10 most common names for female CEOs includes no shortened versions. "This could be an attempt by females to be professional," Nuessel says, "and not to suggest too close or too friendly an association in the business place."

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The most common names for male CEOs around the world are Peter, Bob, and Jack. For females, Deborah, Sally, and Debra own the top three spots. LinkedIn created the lists based on public profiles for its more than 100 million members.

LinkedIn also ranked the most common names for male CEOs in the United States. They're similar to the global ranking, although Howard—as in Howard Schultz, CEO of Starbucks, and Howard Stringer, CEO of Sony Corporation—tops the list. LinkedIn did not provide a list of most common female names for CEOs in the United States, saying the sample size is too small.

The company also provided most common names around the world for restaurant and food services, all 10 of which are French and male, like Thierry and Philippe. For sales, Chip, Todd, and Trey landed in the top three. And for engineers, a ranking narrowed to the United States, Indian and Asian names dominate: Rajesh and Ravi top the male list; Kiran and Jun, the female list.

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Looking to set yourself apart on LinkedIn even though you have a common name? Here are some tips from Krista Canfield, a spokeswoman for LinkedIn:

Customize your URL. Use a firstnamelastname format for your LinkedIn profile URL (for example: http://www.linkedin.com/in/JoeSmith). Not only will that help your profile float to the top of Google searches for your name, it also makes it easier to link to your profile in your email signature or on your business card. To make this change, visit your "Edit Profile" page and click "edit" next to "public profile." If your URL is already taken, consider using lastnamefirstname or adding your middle initial. "The big, key thing is making sure that you're consistent," Canfield says. Don't call yourself Susan Smith at work and Susy Smith on LinkedIn; being consistent will make you more findable.

Show off your skills. Anyone who shares your name is unlikely to share your skills, so tell the world what you're good at to differentiate yourself. To add skills to your profile, go to "Edit Profile," then click "Add sections" and choose "Skills." Users—including hiring managers and recruiters—can search for certain skills, so this is another way to boost your name in search results.

Use keyword identifiers in your summary. The summary under your name not only differentiates you, it also helps people find your profile. Make effective use of this space by using industry keywords that succinctly describe you and your line of work.

Fill out your past work experience. Include more than your current job. LinkedIn approximates your years of experience based on your work history, so filling it out in full sets you apart from another person who has more or less experience than you. Those work experience descriptions also provide more keywords that will help users find you through search.

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