I was born on the 24th of March 1988, christened Natasha Maria Foster and for the next 25 years largely called by that name, or some close variation of. Then I started working in recruitment and suddenly, inexplicably, my name became Natalie.
It is still one of my favourite things, to post an advert calling for candidates with strong attention to detail and be flooded by emails proudly stating one’s such ability – addressed to the wrong name.
I marvel at the creative genius it must take, to manually type my name in the To box then a different name in the body of the email. Do people just read the first four letters then tune out? “Nata … oh, she’ll be right. I can work it out from there.” Are their attention spans really that short? Do people just forget, in that brief space of time?
Sometimes, they get really close. Super close.
I wonder if I was jinxed – my first boss in recruitment couldn’t quite get a handle on “Natasha”, and so called me by whatever name starting with N first came to mind. Nancy, Nadia, Natalia, Nanoushka and, yes, Natalie.
Over the last two years I have dropped “Natasha” anywhere it’s not strictly required, and gone simply by Tash instead. I have been Tash in my personal life since age 13, so it felt natural. And it worked, briefly. People called me Tash. I received email after email addressing me as Tash. Yes, that’s me! That’s my name! I was right on the cusp of a smug, “Don’t wear it out!” when it happened.
My eyebrows nearly shot off my face the first time it happened. A job application came through, opening with a clear, proud Dear Tashkent. I’m sorry, what? Are you calling me a – ?
Don’t worry. I Googled it. Tashkent is the capital city of Uzbekistan. They weren’t calling me a kent (I hope.) Rather, I think the Tashkent incidents (of which there have been eight now) are merely run-of-the-mill auto-correct fails. Which leads me to wonder, has that been the problem all along? Is it an auto-correct thing? More and more people rely on their smartphones now for communication, with fewer all the time firing up actual computers to send emails. More than half of SEEK’s traffic comes via mobile devices, and at least 20% of their job applications are made using the SEEK mobile app. Has it been auto-correct schtumping us all this time?
And, if so – what makes Natalie so much preferable to Natasha, huh?
Tell me, is this a Natasha problem? Or is it an affliction bestowed upon all recruitment consultants? Hit me with your name-fail stories!