The shorter your name, the higher your pay?

Career website The Ladders found that every letter over 5 in your first name may cost you $3,600 a year. Hey, William, make it Bill.

By Bruce Kennedy May 8, 2013 7:17AM

Image: Businessman adjusting necktie copyright Tom Merton, OJO Images, Getty ImagesWe've seen studies about how physical factors such as height, weight, looks, eye contact and even the firmness of your handshake can influence your success in business. Well, how about the length of your first name?


A new study by the job and career website The Ladders says people with shorter given names -- or shorter nicknames -- appear to enjoy bigger salaries than the folks whose parents gave them multisyllabic monikers.


The Ladders says it's not just making this up: It analyzed data from the site's nearly 6 million members -- matching first names against other variables such as location, salary level and industry -- just to prove "the null hypothesis that what your mother names you makes a difference."


The website also put together some lists comparing the top five corporate executive position names, along with the top five highest-paid names.


"One point we noticed," the site says on its blog, "was that shorter names seemed to be higher ranked across all categories and metrics, so we investigated further. It turns out we were right, and there is a correlation between the number of letters in your name and the average salary."


On the whole, according to the study, people whose first names have four to five letters have higher annual salaries than those with first names of six or more letters. And every letter beyond five accounts for a $3,600 drop in yearly pay.


There were, of course, exceptions. The name "Christine" appeared in both the top five and top five highest-paid names. Names with seven letters, like Stephen, apparently did well. But the study points out that seven-letter names "lend themselves to males over females, so it's higher paid males over-indexing and inflating the seven-letter bucket."


A short nickname also does the trick: The study says workers who go by their shorter nickname earn more. In other words, a Bill will get larger paycheck than a William. Same for Debbie vs. Deborah or Chris vs. Christopher. (Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) CEO Meg Whitman, who, like late Apple (AAPL) chief Steve Jobs and Facebook (FB) founder Mark Zuckerberg, draws a symbolic $1 annual salary, notwithstanding.) 


The Ladders says it tested 24 full-name-to-nickname pairings and in only one case (Lawrence vs. Larry) did the longer name come out on top.


"Still not convinced?" it asks. "The definitive proof for this theory can be seen in Sara vs. Sarah, Michele vs. Michelle or Philip vs. Phillip -- one letter less positively correlates with increased salary."


So perhaps a good answer to the Shakespearean question "What's in a name?" is earning power.


More on moneyNOW

May 8, 2013 9:49AM
Well. That explains how the whole world has come to be run by so many Dicks.
May 8, 2013 10:15AM

Well, that explains why DaQueishia and Laveranues work at MickeyD's!!

May 8, 2013 9:02AM
So I guess Donald Trump is making less than he "could be making"....
May 8, 2013 9:11AM

could be simply that say 50 years ago people being born in usa had generally short names? 


figures don't lie, but liars can figure.  so who's really reviewing the data and to what intented result? 

May 8, 2013 9:32AM
this is the most ridiculous article ever written .
May 8, 2013 9:57AM
Nuts! Why did my parents have to name me "Chronsynclastic Infundibulum"?...
May 8, 2013 9:40AM

I wonder if this data was tainted by racial factors.  Did they consider the possibility that minorities have a larger percentage of longer names?  I am not saying they did or didn't, but I wonder if this is another case of researchers thinking they stumbled upon a simple secret while missing something really obvious.  It is a clever headline, all you have to do is name your kid Buba and he will be wealthy, but I think it takes more then just that.

May 8, 2013 9:29AM
Yes, indeed. Everyone should be named "Jon Doe" , be paid like a CEO of a Fortune 500 company ... and do as little.
May 8, 2013 9:14AM
Really???....someone actually wasted time on this study & article.  I guess it's a slow news day and they are scraping the bottom of the barrel.  How about it's "Who you know" to get the better paying jobs & not the length of your name.
May 8, 2013 9:27AM
Not only is this implying that correlation means causation, but they also have the null hypothesis wrong!  The null represents your status quo, which is that length of firsts names DO NOT matter in salary.  You can't go around setting the point you are trying to prove as the status quo...if you can do that then you can say pretty much anything and have "statistics" to back it up
May 8, 2013 9:35AM
Bo, Joe, Bob

Susy, Sara, Jill

Seems to me that these three
Common as they are
Are never the names of the famous made
Their money in a jar

Donald Trump
Every Hollywood actor
That quarterback or running back
Or your friendly neighborhood trader

Warren Buffet
Larry Ellison
Alice Walton, Jim and family too
Sergey Brin
Is there anyone I missed?

I see no Joe
Billy Bob or Thorton
No Susy who sells
Or Bob who builds

You want money, honey?
It isn't in a gift bag
Work with talent
Hard and creative
Stylize and emphasize

Long and short names
They are given at birth
But from that point on
You are the one that shows your own worth!

May 8, 2013 10:22AM

Such findings are grossly oversimplified.

They mean nothing.

May 8, 2013 10:46AM
I guess, with that theory, I should be a homeless street beggar, with my name, instead of making more in retirement pay than most people make in regular wages. Go figure.
May 8, 2013 12:32PM
This belongs in the National Enquirer. Absolute junk. MSN, you have reached bottom and you are now digging deeper. Where are your standards?
May 8, 2013 9:18AM
May 8, 2013 9:41AM
My friends are named Al, Bo, Di, and Ed.   They are all millionaires. 
May 8, 2013 10:16AM
omg my name is netzahualcoyotl  15 letters

May 8, 2013 9:48AM
When Regalman reads this he will change his name to "Midget"...... that's the way his brain works.
May 8, 2013 1:05PM
Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum (worth 14 billion) just told me you have your head where the sun don't (he doesn't speak very good English) shine.
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