Whoops, I Have Two Names!
My LinkedIn page is full of recommendations for my alias that would give a boost to my job applications. How do I get out of this mess without looking like I was working fraudulently? My business and service was successful, but I am worried that in an interview they may get confused and not offer me the job due to this problem. Am I over-thinking this? Should I explain it to them? Should I legally change my name?
- Me/Other Me
Oh, what a tangled web we weave! Fortunately, it doesn't sound like you "practiced to deceive," with fraudulent intent. You served your customers honestly; you just wanted to put your best foot forward, namewise.
I can't advise you on the legalities (you should consult an attorney with any legal concerns), but I'll try to address the social aspects of your naming predicament. As is so often the case, it all comes down to the name itself.
If your alias is only a first name and you use your own surname, your path should be simple. Treat the alias as a nickname. If, say, you chose to go by "Blaze" rather than "Elmer," then you'd write "Elmer ('Blaze') Finkwater" at the top of your resume. Include the URL of your LinkedIn profile on the resume, to make it clear that Blaze's reputation is your own. No prospective employer should end up confused.
If you adopted a new full name with clear professional advantages over your birth name, you can take a similar approach. Supposing that you worked as a website designer under the name Webb McCool, the resume header would read "Elmer Finkwater (AKA Webb McCool)." Note in the body of the resume that the McCool name was used for promotional purposes; the eye-catching name helped you stand out in a crowded marketplace. Again, include that LinkedIn URL.
But if you swapped out your full, ordinary name for a different full, ordinary name, then yes, you're in more of a pickle. A resume that reads "Todd Barkford (AKA Keith Lockwell)" does raise a lot of questions. Even if you have answers, the first impression you're making on employers is dodgy, or at the least a bit odd. That could start an interview off on the wrong note and color their impressions of you.
Since you say you don't like your own name, a legal name change would be an extreme but reasonable solution. Otherwise, I hope your business is in sales. It will take the persuasive and trustworthy manner of a sales professional to convince interviewers to ignore your double identity.