Sunday, March 8, 2009

Is Your Email Address Sending the Wrong Message?

Yes, something as simple as your email address can turn off an employer, and in the current job market with hundreds of competitors all vying for the same job, do you really want to take the risk? You shouldn’t.

Make your professional email address with only your name. It can take many tries to find a version that isn’t taken, but it’s worth the time to find one. You can have another address for friends and family if you like, but you want to keep your professional email address PROFESSIONAL. Just as your resume represents you, so does your email address. It doesn’t get much safer and professional than using your name only. Some examples of versions you can try:


Use of other terms and words as your email address just doesn’t give off the same level of professionalism, and can sometimes give off a bad impression or lead to discrimination because you’re giving your email address a personality of its own. Some examples of poor ones I’ve seen:

Lazydaisy420@.... <-- Who wants to hire someone lazy? And what does that 420 mean?

Tonysmamma@... <-- Don’t advertise that you have children, which can be a negative for some employers!

Honorthyfather@... <-- Stay clear of religious context in any way! Religion, politics, and sex are no-no’s!

Holla_atcha_boy@... <-- There is no place in the workplace for Ebonics

Mary1957@... <-- This may indicate the year you were born, leading to age discrimination!

tommylovestheraiders@... <-- What if the hiring manager is a Giants fan?

superhotgirl@... <-- Sexual harassment lawsuit, anyone?

thesmithfamily@... <-- We want to hear from YOU, not you, your wife, and your children

I think you get the point.

You may have to try different variations on where to get your email address as well, since many of the older email providers such as may have all the versions of your name taken. You may want to use a free non-subscription based email provider, versus using one from your current internet provider (such as Comcast), because should you ever cancel your service, you will lose your email address and all efforts associated with it.

Here are some other websites where you can obtain a free email address:

You may also want to be careful about the email provider you choose in relation to age or tech-savvy discrimination as well. Diane Danielson, CEO of Downtown Women’s Club, states, “I tend to favor those who seem more technically literate and the email address is a big giveaway. To avoid an HR person assuming you are a Boomer (and with no technical relevancy) best to get a gmail or yahoo - or better yet, use GoDaddy or another service to purchase a personalized URL that can be redirected to outlook or Mozilla Thunderbird.”

As Diane says, if you want to really look like a pro you can always get an email address such as (with your own name of course). Rita Ashley, a Job Search Coach, also suggests, “I always recommend a first step in their revised search plan is to acquire their name as the domain for their email; lose the free email accounts. It shows professionalism and for technology professionals, it is a must.”

Not only should your email say who you are, but so should your email signature! It’s a great place to not only provide pertinent contact information, but also to market that you’re looking for a job. Here is my email signature as an example:

Megan Pittsley
Free2 Succeed Job Center Manager
Livermore Public Library
Phone: 925-373-5500 x5595
Fax: (925) 373-5503

A signature and a name-based email address also helps with follow-up communications. Lori McCormick, an Independent College & Career Counselor, explains another great reason why your email should be your name: “You want to confirm that your application has been received. To respond to your unidentifiable email asking for proper identification and once this is confirmed, respond with an update of your application status (translation: a lengthy email dialog) is highly unlikely! Usually they will be too busy to try and figure out who you are and delete your email.”

Don’t switch back and forth between your “fun” email address and your professional one. You want to send a consistent and clear message about where you can be reached. Make sure you are using the professional email address to list on all resumes, register with all job board websites, to send cover letters and resumes, for all professional social networking sites, etc.

NEVER use your company email for any job searching communications. As Alanna Faro, a Coach and Human Capital Strategist put it, “I really question the judgment of people who email me from their current employer's computer instead of a private account - especially if that employer is a direct competitor. What they'll do to that company, they'll eventually do to me or my client.”

Cristen Rice, Senior Branch Manager of Spherion Staffing: “When we are hiring, if we see an email address that is not professional, it reflects on the candidates maturity level, professionalism and how serious they are about obtaining a career.”

Shel Horowitz, a professional resume writer and ethical marketing specialist states, “I have actually stopped my clients and said ‘you are setting up a new e-mail address...right now’, and we go and set one up that won't embarrass or handicap them.”

Glenn Phillips, a hiring manager at Forte’ Inc. tells it like it is: “Candidly, we intentionally ask that the first contact from applicants be by email just so we can see if they can communicate professionally via email. If they cannot pass that easy test, then we don’t waste our time on harder evaluations. Our thought is that if they do not understand how important it is to represent themselves professionally, then we have little faith they would think the same about representing our firm.”

In closing I leave you with these thoughts from Bruce Powell, Managing Partner of IQ Partners, an Executive Recruitment Firm: “Why work so hard on making your resume the best it can be, only to have something as simple as your contact information plant a seed of doubt in a Hiring Manager's head and make all that hard work for nothing? With such fierce competition out in the job market today and the critical importance that hiring carries, Hiring Mangers can get extremely picky and have eliminated candidates for much less. In the end, why risk it?”


  1. There is a place for your free email address.
    The professional email address which includes your name should only be used for your personal email. When you register for online products or services, use your free account. Otherwise the spam will pollute your mail box.
    Rita Ashley, Job Search Coach
    My clients get hired.

  2. Thanks for the tip Rita, great point! No one likes to be inundated with SPAM! Thanks for contributing to the conversation!

  3. Tweeted it, posted links, etc. Great article!