How to appear ‘intellectual’ on your job application

Here’s a quick life hack that could change your life – or at the very least, help you land your next job – if your new year’s goal is to switch careers.

A study has revealed that the way you present your name has an impact on the way you’re perceived.

By simply adding your middle name initial into your name, you may be perceived as being smarter, more intellectual, and a higher performer at work.


“Of whom do people expect a higher intellectual capacity and performance: Jane Smith or Jane F. P. R. Smith? Who would be more admired and respected? Who would earn more?” asks study authors Wijnand A. P. van Tilburg & Eric R. Igou.

“Eight studies indicate that, from the perspective of other people’s inferences, the answer is consistently ‘Jane F. P. R. Smith’. Authors with middle initials compared to authors with no (or less) middle initials were perceived to be better writers. In addition, people with names that included middle initials were expected to perform better in an intellectual – but not athletic – competition, were anticipated to be more knowledgeable, and to have a higher level of education.”

Why not try this out and see how much more respect you command? Whether you’re ordering a coffee at Zarraffa’s, checking your car in for a service or applying for a new job, slide that middle initial in for size.

If you’re female or foreign, then a slightly different strategy known as the Harry Potter approach might work: ditch first and middle names altogether in favour of initials.

Back in the day, when author Joanne Rowling pitched her idea for a series about a school for wizards, publishers told her young boys would never in a million years read books written by a female.

She adopted the penname J K Rowling, and the rest is history.

A shadow of undisguised racism persists in working Australia, so this could be a strategy that lands you an interview.

Victorian Minister for Multicultural Affairs, Robin Scott, says that when candidates with unusual sounding names apply for jobs, their applications can be left at the bottom of the pile, regardless of their skills and experience.

His wife, Shaojie, found that “when she sent out her CV for employment opportunities, there were greater responses when she used the name ‘Jade’, the Anglicised version of her Chinese name”.

You shouldn’t have to change your name. But sometimes, you’ve gotta do what you’ve gotta do to get your foot in the door. Try the ‘initial only’ strategy, because what have you got to lose – except a few letters?!