Picking a Successful Name for Your Baby

Can choosing the right name for your children really make or break their career later in life?

| June 28th, 2012

"Sesame Street" may promise to make your babies smarter, but your children's success could also depend on what you name them.

Studies have shown a relationship between names and résumé success, the types of career paths chosen—even whether or not a child will be recognized as gifted early on in school.

And let’s be honest—talking about names is just plain fun.

To find out the names that are most likely to ensure future success academically, professionally and, eventually, financially, we spoke to Pamela Redmond Satran, co-creator of Nameberry, a baby-naming site based on the ten books she co-authored with Linda Rosenkrantz.

Here are the six things Satran says matter most when it comes to naming a future billionaire/CEO/President of the United States—or whatever title you attribute success to.

1. Think About the Unique Factor

“Names that are unusual can be an advantage, especially in creative businesses and fields. Names that would get your child noticed in Hollywood or the art world are often unique and stand out on their own,” says Satran.

The New York Times reports that many parents are now doing a quick Google search of their child’s potential first name and last name to see how common the combination is (not to mention whether the name already belongs to a “serial killer, pornography star or sex offender”).

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Choosing a unique name will ensure your child will eventually rise to the “top of future search results,” writes The Times. So it stands to reason that doing a quick Google search for potential name combinations to make sure there aren’t 1,000 other prominent people with the same name could be beneficial. If it turns out that there are, it might be a good idea to consider choosing another favorite first name on your list.

One thing to avoid? Creating your own variation on the name through unconventional spelling choices. “Olivia’s a popular name, so you see some parents creating variations, like ‘Alyvia,’” says Satran. “This is basically never a good idea. People will always be misspelling your child’s name, and they’ll assume that you, as the parent, didn’t know how to spell the name correctly … which doesn’t reflect well on you or your child.”

2. Pick a Name Without Ethnic or Cultural Associations

“Traditional names likes Caitlin, Claire, William and Henry are not necessarily associated with a particular class or ethnic group and are socially acceptable to a wider range of people,” says Satran. “This makes them easier to understand in a corporate setting.”

Additionally, a study published in the American Economic Review titled “Are Emily and Greg More Employable Than Lakisha and Jamal?” found that applicants with names perceived to be more common in the black community received 50% fewer callbacks after sending résumés than applicants who sent out identical résumés with “white-sounding” names. It’s regrettable, we agree, but we’re just reporting the facts.

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