Your name and photograph comprise your personal brand’s foundation online (LinkedIn, social media, etc.).
As your life evolves, you might find yourself “rebranding” with a new name. When that happens, you need to know how to change your name on LinkedIn.
Why People Change Their Names
I got curious about what motivates people to change their names.
Google gave me a load of answers:
anonymity, assimilation, avoiding debt collectors, divorce,
avoiding embarrassment, financial gain, hiding from someone,
joining the Witness Protection Program, liking a particular name,
marriage, political statements, religious reasons, simplicity, spelling,
transgender identity, un-assimilation, whim, and more
As you can see, people have many compelling reasons to change their names. In essence, they’re rebranding themselves for the lives they want.
How to Change Your Name on LinkedIn
Thus, it makes sense to understand how to change your name on LinkedIn.
You have 4 options. Three of them pertain to LinkedIn’s name fields. The 4th concerns how you choose to display your last name on LinkedIn.
- Change either or both your first and last name using LinkedIn Help’s simple instructions.
- Further establish your brand by adding credentials to your last name.
- Add a maiden or former name.
- Abbreviate your last name to its initial.
Abbreviating Your Last Name on LinkedIn
LinkedIn lets you hide your last name from people who aren’t your connections. However, your full name is always visible to your connections.
To do this:
- Click your mini “Me” photo on the top horizontal rail of your profile.
- Click “Settings & Privacy.”
- Click “Visibility” on the left vertical rail.
- Scroll down to “Who can see your last name” in the right vertical rail and click.
- Choose your name and your last initial.
That’s it; you’ve abbreviated your last name on LinkedIn. Only your 1st-degree connections can see your full name.
Why People Hide Their Last Names on LinkedIn
I write for active and passive job seekers. Thus, it’s hard for me to understand why anyone would hide their last name on LinkedIn. I reached out for help and got these reasons:
- Didn’t realize it was hidden (LinkedIn coach Andy Foote).
- Protect privacy (resume writer Annette Richmond).
- Avoid recruiters (legal recruiter Wendy Schoen).
- Prevent discrimination (developer Todd Lovett).
- Avoid connection requests (sales trainer John Marrett).
- Avoid people who might be dangerous (coach Lauchlan Mackinnon).
- Lack of confidence (LinkedIn trainer Irving Frydman).
We see overlaps when we look at why people change their names and hide their last names on LinkedIn. For many reasons, some people want to be present but don’t want to be seen by certain people.
Lisa Rangel, a resume writer, observed, “Not everyone on LinkedIn is using it for exposure. Some people only connect with people they know well and use that philosophy effectively.”
Does Hiding Your Last Name on LinkedIn Work?
However, does hiding your last name help you accomplish your goal?
Brian Stewart, a recruiter, noted people can often find your last name in your profile’s URL.
Your original LinkedIn URL contains your name.
If you haven’t changed it, LinkedIn will do so when you go private with your name. However, if you have a custom URL that contains your last name, you’ll need to update it. LinkedIn won’t change it for you.
Beyond that, hiding your last name puts people off. Several people mentioned they wouldn’t connect with anyone who hides their last name.
So, if you invite someone to connect, add a brief note that includes your last name. Also, share your reason for the invitation.
Irving Frydman suggested getting comfortable with LinkedIn incrementally. If the site makes you uneasy, that’s a great approach.
First, hide your public profile page from Google and other search engines. Next, limit your contact information’s visibility. Then, open up as you get more familiar and feel more comfortable with the platform.
What’s in a Name?
As you can see, when it comes to LinkedIn, names are complicated.
The conversations described above mostly took place in a LinkedIn thread. They gave me a richer understanding of what names mean and accomplish on LinkedIn.
Use the platform in a manner that helps you achieve your goals.
If you’re a job seeker, establish your personal brand, including your last name(s), unless you feel at risk by doing so.
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Let’s Connect on LinkedIn
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Updated January 2023
© 2019 – 2023, Donna Svei. All rights reserved.
Donna Svei, an executive resume writer and former C-level executive, retained search consultant, and CPA, authors all of AvidCareerist’s posts.
She is a Fast Company Contributor and has written for and been quoted by 100+ business and general media outlets, including Forbes, Inc., Entrepreneur, CNBC, the New York Times, USA Today, Time, US News & World Report, CBS, the BBC, Lifehacker, Social Media Today, IT World, and Business News Daily.
Let her expertise inform your job search strategy and decision-making.
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I’ve had Coaching Clients change their name on LinkedIn for several reasons: to add Credentials (a happy reason), due to marriage or divorce, and to hide from a stalker.
It’s so helpful to have the instructions all in one place! Thanks Donna!
It’s also very helpful to understand the “ins and outs” of hiding your last name (who would have known that if you have a custom URL it doesn’t change when you change your name).
I think Andy Foote’s reason (#1) is true for quite a few people. I’ve encountered a few myself who didn’t realize their last name was hidden. So I would suggest readers have a friend check to see if their last name is shown or hidden. Many people won’t connect with someone who’s last name is hidden, including me (unless it’s someone I know well) and that might be the reason they are unable to build their network on LinkedIn.
Brian Stewart has given me several good job search tips (from his recruiter’s perspective!) over the years.
I also appreciate your additional insights.
OMG! after reading through your post, Dona, i went on a search hunt.
Only to realize mine has been hidden.
Well, this post sure is an eye-opener. I see why LinkedIn is always updating so many stuff.
Time to get back from my 3mnonths exile and put up an edit on my profile again.
Thanks for sharing,
Get after it!
Donna: My last name is foreign on Linked in. I want to change it to a regular name. But then when I interview, I would have a problem. Please use email below. Any suggestions.
How does changing your name create a problem when interviewing?