Study: Short Names Are Long on Earning Power

If you don’t already have a nickname, you might want to consider giving yourself one. New research has found the shorter your name, the higher your salary.

After celebrating your mother yesterday, you might want to thank her again if your name happens to be Tom or Lynn.

Those two names were found to be the highest-paid monikers of working professionals, according to a study by job-matching site TheLadders.

In recognition of Mother’s Day, researchers at TheLadders wanted to see how the names our moms gave us can impact our careers, so they analyzed data from their almost 6 million members, looking at things like industry, salary level, and location.

What the company found is the shorter your name, the more money you make. The sweet spot of higher earning power factored in at around five letters, while every additional letter cost roughly $3,600 in annual salary.

To further test this idea, the researchers looked at full names versus nicknames—Stephen v. Steve, William v. Bill, Deborah v. Debbie, etc. When comparing 24 pairings, only one full name, Lawrence, had a higher average salary than its nickname counterpart, Larry. So parents-to-be who are considering bestowing multiple syllables on their children may want to contemplate names that can easily be shortened.

Even spelling names with one less letter made a difference in salary, the study found. For example, Saras, Philips, and Micheles made more money on average than Sarahs, Phillips, and Michelles.

For men, the top earners  included Tom, Rob, Dale, Doug, and Wayne. Although fewer letters meant more money in the study overall, that correlation did not hold perfectly for the top five highest-earning female names, which included Lynn, Melissa, Cathy, Dana, and Christine.

The study also looked at the most common names of individuals in C-level positions. For women, the top five names included Christine, Denise, Cindy, Shannon, and Sarah. For men, the most popular names among C-suite executives were Bob, Lawrence, Bill, Marc, and Martin.

How many letters are in your name? Would you consider shortening it if it meant a higher salary?


Katie Bascuas

By Katie Bascuas

Katie Bascuas is associate editor of Associations Now. MORE

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