}

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

What Your Email Address Says About You




I owe this post to the folks at recruiting blogs.com who are the inspiration for it. Their recent commentary on this subject lead me to reevaluate my thoughts on email addresses.  This is the result.

Everyone has a personal brand.  Your brand is your name.  It should be used in your email address, especially if you are job hunting.

Our email addresses are so much a part of us that we don't even think about them and we totally take them for granted.  But if you want to be taken seriously as a professional, then your email address has to be professional.


Many people established email addresses years ago before we knew what emails would become.  In those days I received lots of emails with cutsie names on them. You know,  Happyface@yahoo.com. In those days, mine was PSGumby..  I still occasionally see emails with these kinds of addresses.  They are wrong for professional use.

The first problem is that cutsie names do not identify you as an adult.  They are precious. They are clever, but they are not serious.  And they may communicate that the people who use these kinds of email addresses are not serious executives.  The second problem is that they do not identify you at all.  I get notes all the time from candidates who assume that I know who they are when they sign their email, “Bob”.  They have strange and cute email addresses and then sign their first name only.  If they do not use their full name as part of their email address, I cannot tell who they are.  (A few years ago, I had a string of Kiersten’s.  I actually had five people by that name interviewing during one month.  Two of them used email that did not have their full name;  it drove me crazy and I had to email back and ask them which one they were.)

I get a fair number of emails from husband and wife combinations.  You know, PaulAmye@.  Sometimes I can figure out who the candidate is, but often not.  Imagine if you were a hiring manager and you get a thank you note with that as an identifier, especially if you have interviewed two people with the same first name.

Here is a brief list of  dos and don'ts for email addresses:

Use your FULL name - Your full name identifies you.  And, unless you have your own identifiable web site (I am paul@gumbinnercompany.com), you cannot just use your first name and initials.

Not your name – Some candidates actually use other names.  I have never understood why Bob Jones should use Peter Brown as an alias.  (One candidate told me he did this to avoid spam.  Huh?  Ridiculous!) If they think that I can remember who it is, that person is very egocentric.   

Cutsie name – Ilovebaseball@ is unacceptable, unidentifiable and unprofessional.  Your college nickname, a description (e.g. longlegs@), sports names and crude names don’t belong on a professional submission.

Spouse Combo – Covered above.  Email addresses are free.  Get your own if you are job hunting.  And      remember that maybe, the client company does not wish to communicate with both you and your spouse.

Unidentifiable Numbers or Initials – Do you really expect a reader to know who you are? e.g. lpm2@  - I might remember this during the immediacy of interviewing, but I certainly won't remember it three weeks later. This also applies to your first name with last name initials e.g. PaulG83@.  When I see this I cannot possibly remember or know who it is.

Office email – You should have a personal email address if you are job hunting and not use your office,    even if you own the company.  It is just unprofessional.

Your email is your personal brand.  It should contain your full name.  If you have a common name, like Ed Jones, make it identifiable to you Ed.Jonesadguy@ or something similar.

Remember, your email has to make you look serious as an executive.


20 comments:

  1. I love love love this post! I am so frustrated when I have to respond to emails with, "sorry, who is this?"

    I'd say also...job titles matter. Because I'm in the parenting space online, it's amazing how many people call themselves something like "chief executive mommy." Or freelance writers who call themselves "copy diva" or something. That may be cute for a blog, but not on your linkedin profile if you want employers or brand partners to take you seriously.

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  2. People also do this on Twitter all the time. The issue with it is that I cannot remember who I am following or who the email is from.

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  3. I have my full name as my email since before I got married and got one with my nasties name as soon as he proposed. So glad to see I did it right. Also so very very true.

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  4. I teach career development to college students and one of the first assignments is getting a suitable email to use for communicating with professors and employers.

    Most of them genuinely do not see the problem with the ones they have, which often aren't work-appropriate. This surprised me at first. Now I just expect it.

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  5. I'm @Mom101 on twitter (which is my brand) so I can't say that everyone on twitter needs to use their full names. But unless you're anonymous for a reason, you should have a real name linked on your profile as well as a URL with contact info.

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  6. @Laurie: I love that you teach this. I am taken aback when you say that many of your students don't see the problem.

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  7. I'd love your opinion - I am rachel@liminalresearch.com. It's on my (NEW) business cards, etc. Do you think I really need to be rachelgeller@liminalresearch.com? I thought there's only one me in my (one person) company, and it would be enough.Now I'm reconsidering, given your very strong rationale.What a hassle, though...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. In my opinion Rachel, I deal with high-level ceos from websites and new media companies who are mark@....

      I don't think it's necessary since your domain name identifies your company. The problem is when people are rachel23@gmail or gophillies@hotmail

      Delete
  8. @Rachel: I thought about your situation for a couple of hours. Two issues for you. One, the world knows you as Rachel Geller; you are well known and very respected. The world does not, however, know your new company. So in that context, Rachel alone does not identify you. However, over time as you build your company, your identity will become intertwined. (It took about five years for people to learn the Gumbinner Company and stop calling my home.)

    I think Liz is right; leave well enough alone. However, make sure you have an auto signature at the end of all your emails that identifies you by full name, title, etc. just as I do.

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  9. Nice post Paul. Agree with you especially in regards to Twitter. I recently started using twitter again after a 2 year absence and apparently I was following a lot of people none of whom I know or can identify.

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  10. OOPS.Forogt the blog was set up as CCB.

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  11. You would think this was a no-brainer but clearly enough people make these mistakes to warrant a blog post.
    But thank you for bringing this issue to light as I'm sure there's a good number of people who will read this and realize they need to change their email user name.

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  12. @Anonymous: You would be surprised at the huge number of emails which come this way. I understand that most people don't even think twice about it.

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  13. Your extension matters too. I've had an AOL email since the beginning -- that's the problem. It makes me look old. At least that's what the youngsters tell me. I now use my Facebook email account too. Very hip.

    Thanks Paul. Great post.

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  14. @cjkawalec: Funny, I have been thinking about this very subject. A friend and long time candidate told me that he was criticized by a recruiter for having an AOL extension. The recruiter told him it made him look old fashioned. Well, for sure, AOL is not as hip as Facebook or Gmail. But I certainly wouldn't judge someone based on who their email carrier is. I am not that complicated or snobby. I can think of at least two ad agency presidents who use AOL for their personal email.

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  15. I love this post! I'm starting to see this problem more often now.
    I also own an ad/design blog (it's in Chinese).
    I often get e-mails from readers with e-mail addresses such as: hotasianguy8998@, if it wasn't for their clear message title, i would've totally marked it as spam!

    In my opinion, not only the first part of the e-mail address matters, the domain name after the @ also matters. I had a @hellokitty.net e-mail address back in high school, and I thought it was cute. I used it to apply for college and a part-time job. I never got any responses back, many years later, I knew the reason why. *sigh*

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Jin: Thanks for the nice comment. You are right about the domain name. However, as long as it is one of the major acceptable names - Yahoo, gmail, AOL, ATT, etc. it is fine. I am not sure I would even look at the resume of someone who used hellokitty.com!

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  17. Amazing that, in this decade, there's even still a need for this topic.

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    1. John, a huge percentage of the emails I get are totally unidentifiable. When email first started I was PSGumby, never thinking about the business aspects of email. Then, it was purely social. When I realized (in the late 1990's) how email was used, I changed it.

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