What’s In A Name?

I think having worked in the recruitment industry for so many years, I was very fortunate in that I could always remember the name of any candidate or client that I met.

Some of my colleagues used to refer to me as “Rain Man” which in some ways made a lot of sense given that I would have easily met with thousands of people throughout my career.

OK so maybe I just have a ‘thing’ for names.

I would often be surprised when I would bump into an old candidate at an industry event, or perhaps even just walking in the street, and I’d say “Hey Rina … it’s been a while. How are things going at …?” to be greeted with what I could only describe as a completely blank look.

Clearly the fact that I had found them their ‘dream job’ 5 or 6 years earlier hadn’t left much of an impact.

Some people can remember faces but very few people can quickly remember the name that goes with it.

This week I met up with a new client in the city. He gave me his business card and out of habit I put it straight into my pocket. As I handed him my card, he looked closely at it, stared at me for just long enough to make me feel slightly uncomfortable, looked back at my card, and then said “thanks Paul“.

We were sitting outside and it was a little windy so he placed my card under the salt shaker just to the right of his note pad. As we started talking properly I realised that for at least the first 10 minutes he started every sentence with the word “Paul”.

I tried not to think anything of it, but he must have noticed my slightly puzzled look since he said, “Sorry, Paul. I am just really terrible at remembering names. And unless I either stare at your name, or keep using your name I probably won’t remember it“.

How do you recall a person’s name?

Is it by word association? Do you literally just “put a face to the name”? Would you remember the name of someone you met at an event 2 years ago?

If nothing else, using someone’s name is a sign of respect. It’s easy for a recruiter to refer to his or her candidate by name, since typically they will have a copy of the CV right in front of them which probably has the candidate’s name printed on every page.

If you are looking for work, you need to ensure that you address the recruiter, HR officer, or your potential new employer by name throughout your interview. Just how you do it is entirely up to you.

You might want to keep their business card within your line of sight (just please don’t hold on to it and keep flicking it during your meeting). Perhaps you can associate their name with something that will help you remember it. If you are making notes, you can always jot down their name down clearly so you can see it. This is particularly important if you are taking part in a panel interview where you may need to address up to 3 or 4 people.

Never underestimate the power of using someone’s name. But even more importantly the power of being able to remember it later on down the track.