Why Debra and Bob Are Better Baby Names Than Bella and Edward

Baby Names Most parents choose their children's names carefully. They realize that their offspring will be branded with these names for the rest of their lives (or at least until they can legally change them at 18). No rhyming names. No names where the initials spell out something silly or embarrassing. No names of famous villains or criminals. Though, last year the Social Security Administration did see a surge in names influenced by the "Twilight" films and books. Suddenly Edward, Bella and the like were the names to bestow on babies.

But how often do parents wonder, "Is this name better suited for a CEO or a vampire?" If not, they should.

Certain names are more likely to be found in the corner office than in the cubicles, a new survey finds. LinkedIn, a professional networking site with more than 100 million members, analyzed its own data and discovered which names are most common among CEOs, engineers, human resources professionals and other fields.

These are the five names for each gender most popular amongst CEOs throughout the world.

For women:

1. Deborah

2. Sally

3. Debra

4. Cynthia

5. Carolyn

For men:

1. Peter

2. Bob

3. Jack

4. Bruce

5. Fred

The female names are either two or three syllables, while the men's are mostly one syllable. Apparently you can climb the corporate ladder faster if you don't have the weight of too many letters weighing you down. These short, common names might not be entirely incidental, says one expert.

"It's possible that sales professionals in the U.S. and male CEOs around the world use these shortened versions of their name as a way to be more approachable and accessible to potential clients," says Frank Nuessel, the editor of NAMES: A Journal of Onomastics (a publication of the American Name Society) and a professor of classical and modern languages at the University of Louisville.

Females, Nuessel observes, tend to avoid nicknames. He hypothesizes they might want to avoid being too casual and unprofessional. Meanwhile, men might use their nicknames to be more repeatable and personal, especially among sales professionals.

Look at recent presidents and note that President Clinton went by Bill, not William. President Carter was Jimmy, not James. Even the most recent President Bush often went by W. (or Dubya, affectionately). Considering that these men were attempting to appeal to millions of voters across the country, they or their advisors probably felt a short nickname went over better than a string of polysyllabic family names.

Names by industry

The survey also sliced the data by industry and found certain names rise to the top of workers in several professions. To see the full survey results, check out the LinkedIn blog, but for a snapshot of the top results from various industries see below.

These are the 5 most popular names for:

U.S. Male engineers

  1. Rajesh
  2. Ravi
  3. Vijay
  4. Amit
  5. Raj

U.S. Female engineers

  1. Kiran
  2. Jun
  3. Yi
  4. Ming
  5. Li

Human resources

  1. Emma
  2. Katie
  3. Claire
  4. Jennifer
  5. Natalie

Law enforcement

  1. Billy
  2. Darrell
  3. Pete
  4. Rodney
  5. Troy


  1. Ryan
  2. Matt
  3. Jessica
  4. Matthew
  5. Jason


  1. Chip
  2. Todd
  3. Trey
  4. Fredrik
  5. Jesper

The importance of a name

Although the survey is fun, it also highlights the fact that people do pay attention to names. Now, you won't necessarily be CEO because you're Debra, but it's something that could have a factor on how you're perceived by other people. Names matter and professionalism counts in the business world, so keep a few things in mind:

1. Tom is not your buddy

Just because your CEO goes by Tom instead of Thomas, don't assume you can talk to him like he's your drinking buddy. He's still your boss and you should treat him with the respect you would any higher up at the company.

2. Don't assume nicknames are OK

Two years ago a Capitol Hill staffer named Elizabeth went into an e-mail tirade when someone referred to her as Liz. Although she overreacted a bit, she served as a good example that nicknames aren't for everyone. Not all Williams are Billy and not all Allisons are Al. Follow the other person's cue and wait for them to use the nickname before assuming it's appropriate.

3. Don't make fun of people's names

This probably sounds like a no-brainer, but you'd be surprised. Names are extremely personal for some people, and often they come from a family or cultural tradition. Mocking someone's name, even in good spirits, can come across as insensitive or simply ignorant.

4. Choose your name carefully

Go by whatever name you want at work, but feel free to draw a line between your workplace name and your social nickname. David can be Dave at home and at work without much controversy. Kevin the Keg King might have a full social calendar on the weekends, but he's probably not going to get promoted anytime soon.

5. Mind your name

Type your name into a search engine to see what comes up. Also hit that "images" tab at the top of the search page to see what images pop up, too. You might not be the same Kayla Smith that was arrested for shoplifting but an employer doing research might not know that. If you have a LinkedIn profile, online portfolio or Twitter account, make sure those are updated so that employers can see that you are someone they want to hire and not one of the other bad-behaving namesakes online.

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