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The Many Names of Freelancers

Human Resources

What's in a name? For freelancers at least, it turns out the answer is plenty. Paychex analyzed more than 400,000 freelancers' resumes posted on the job site Indeed.com and revealed some interesting trends.

What are the most common names for freelance workers? And which names crop up most for the longest- and shortest-tenured independent contractors? Keep reading for this fun twist on freelancer characteristics.

Top 20 Names for Independent Contractors

The top twenty most common first names of freelancers.

Based on our analysis of resume names, it appears men dominate the world of freelancing. Among the 20 most common freelancer names, 15 are typically male handles. Amazingly, over 1 in 100 freelancers are named Michael or David, while John comes in a fairly close third.

The most common female freelancer name is Jennifer–0.75 percent of freelancers have the name. Other common female monikers include Jessica, Michelle, Sarah, and Lisa. Meanwhile, other popular guy names include Christopher, Robert, Daniel, James, and Matthew.

All 20 names are also found on the Social Security Administration's list of top names over the last century. One clear trend in our results: Even in today's casual world, formal names still dominate on resumes. While many are commonly shortened–for instance, Michael becomes Mike, and David becomes Dave–most people choose to use their full names on resumes.

Popular Names for Long-Term Freelancers

The top ten longest tenured freelancers by first name.

For some, freelancing is more than a stint between other jobs–it's a long-term career. We looked at the top 10 names for those with the most years self-employed. Male freelancers named Kent, Alfredo, and Rich top the list, averaging over six years of self-employment. Female freelancers named Marcia, Jo (commonly short for a longer name), Peggy, Misty, and Mindy also average over six years.

Top Names for Short-Term Freelancers

The bottom 10 shortest tenured freelancers by name.

For a variety of reasons, some freelancers decide to go back to work after a relatively brief period of self-employment. We compiled the top 10 names for freelancers based on the shortest time spent going solo. Despite its association with supernatural strength, Samson is the name of freelancers averaging the fewest years of self-employment: 1.3 years. Lia, Renae, Hugo, Jasmin, and Royce have similarly short tenures.

What's in a Name?

Congratulations to Michael, David, John, and Jennifer for dominating the world of freelancing. And kudos to Kent, Alfredo, and Rich for sticking with self-employment longer than most. Admittedly, our analysis was mainly for fun. However, researchers have discovered several disturbing truths about names on resumes.

The Clayman Institute for Gender Research highlighted one study in which researchers applied for STEM jobs using resumes from "John" and "Jennifer" with identical qualifications and experiences. They found that the female candidate was less likely to be hired and also received lower salary offers. In addition, Politifact discussed, an older – yet recently cited – study which revealed that applicants with traditionally "white-sounding" names were 50 percent likelier than candidates with traditionally "black-sounding" names to get a call about a job after submitting a resume.

We can all agree on one thing: Whether freelance or full-time, people of all genders and races deserve equal opportunities. Let's hope these types of trends are changing for the better.


We looked at over 400,000 resumes mentioning the word "freelance" on Indeed.com and categorized their contents. Once the data were aggregated and sufficiently categorized, we visualized the results.


This website contains articles posted for informational and educational value. Paychex is not responsible for information contained within any of these materials. Any opinions expressed within materials are not necessarily the opinion of, or supported by, Paychex. The information in these materials should not be considered legal or accounting advice, and it should not substitute for legal, accounting, and other professional advice where the facts and circumstances warrant.