Misspellings on your LinkedIn profile (or anywhere on LinkedIn) are NOT usually a good idea -- damaging your credibility.
However, one exception does exist.
Unless everyone always spells your name correctly (without your help), misspellings of your name currently cost you network connections and visibility in LinkedIn.
Why You May Need Misspellings (or Alternate Spellings) in Your LinkedIn Profile
Names are often much more complicated in the Age of the Internet than in the past.
Unique names are an advantage because they minimize the problem of mistaken online identity (Beyoncé, for example).
But, they also can cause problems because the unique name can be easily (and, probably, often) misspelled. Of course, "standard" names are frequently misspelled, too.
Have You Changed Your Name?
If you changed your name with a marriage (or divorce) or have otherwise modified your name, that "old" name may be the only name that some people know, even if you haven't used that name for years or decades.
My cousin Catherine Byrnes (not her real name) has been married twice, so some people know her with her maiden name, Cathy Miller, and some people know her with either (or both) of her married names, Catherine Sullivan and Catherine Byrnes. All of those different groups of people may not be aware of other versions of Cathy's name or the name she uses professionally now.
Do You Have a Well-Known Nickname?
If you have used a nickname, or other version of your name, professionally, adding it to your LinkedIn profile will help you connect with people who knew you by that name.
For example, when cousin Cathy (a cat lover) was in high school and college, her family and friends often called her "Kitty." She used that name in her summer jobs, internships, and her first job after college before she was married. So, many people from her past remember her as Kitty Miller, a name very different from -- Catherine Byrnes -- the name she uses in her LinkedIn profile.
Is Your Name Misspelled Sometimes?
Some names are spelled many different ways, and someone looking for you may not remember exactly which version of your name to use. LinkedIn's search function, now, is not adept at offering all the different variations of a way a name could be spelled.
Cathy's first name could also be spelled "Kathy," "Cathie," or even "Katherine." To complicate matters, her last name could be spelled "Burns" as well as "Byrnes."
How to Add the Right Misspellings to Your LinkedIn Profile
Anyone who knows my cousin well (or who is holding her business card) will probably spell her name correctly in a search for her on LinkedIn and will find her. However, many will not remember exactly how to spell her name, and they might not find her at all.
Unfortunately, even if your name is less complicated than my cousin's name, it may be misspelled. And when it is misspelled, the correct profile won't appear in the search results unless you take these steps.
Leverage Your LinkedIn Summary
Although very few people will have the number of name variations that Cathy has, consider adding a version of the sentence below to your own profile, highlighting the most common misspellings and alternate spellings -
Other versions of my name, including common misspellings - Cathy Byrnes, Kathy Burns; Cathy Miller, Kitty Miller; and Cathy Sullivan.
Then, when someone searches for "Kathy Burns" or "Kitty Miller," LinkedIn (and probably Google, too) will also show "Cathy Burns" in the search results because that spelling is included in her profile.
If your parents were creative in naming you, which should be great personal branding, by the way, you should also include more conventional spellings and even other misspellings. You may still need a paragraph in your profile's Summary which you label, "Misspellings" or "Other Spellings of My Name" and include those variations of your name in that paragraph.
Consider Adding a "Former Name" to the Top of Your Profile
If you have changed your name with a marriage or some other circumstance, LinkedIn offers you the ability to add a "Former Name" to your profile. Just click the edit link near your name when you are in the Edit Profile screen.
The good news is that by including any name variations from earlier in your life, in addition to the misspellings, you increase the probability of connecting with friends from your past on LinkedIn. It's a very good idea to add these same misspellings to your Google+ Profile, too!
Note: Except for Beyoncé, all of the names used in this article are fictitious.
More information about names on the Internet:
- Your Most Important Keywords - May surprise you...
- Defensive Googling - What does Google show employers when they search on your name?
- Name Confusion Can Make Your Job Search More Difficult - Mistaken (online) identity - why defensive Googling is important.
Follow me on Goofle+ for more job search tips!
Susan P. Joyce is president of NETability, Inc. and the editor and chief technology writer for Job-Hunt.org. This piece first appeared on Job-Hunt.org.