Career Advice – Does your email address matter?

Jan 21 2011 in Featured, Job Search Strategy, reCareered Blog by Phil Rosenberg

career advice, job search information, job search advice, job search help, job search tips, career information, career help, career tips, career info, job search info

Does your email address matter?

Some career advice I often give candidates – Your email address is often the very first impression you make as you apply for a job, and the first establishment of your personal brand.

It’s often the first thing a hiring manager looks at when deciding whether to open an email … or delete it. Unfortunately, many candidates choose an email address that doesn’t help them, or possibly hurts their chances.

A strong email address can also help employers and recruiters find you. If an HR staffer, recruiter, or hiring manager can’t find you easily, they are not likely to spend much time searching, when they have a huge universe of applicants. Instead, they will likely find another candidate.

I’m continually amazed at the email addresses candidates use to send resumes and communicate with hiring managers and recruiters.

Here are the major types of email address mistakes I’ve seen as a Career Coach, recruiter and hiring manager:

  • Drinking/Drug reference – (Example: PartyDude26@aol.com) – Unless PartyDude is applying for a job as a bar manager, this isn’t the first impression the Dude wants to make.
  • Sexual reference – (Example: Hottie22@gmail.com … or much more explicit) – Unless Hottie is applying for a job in a gentleman’s club, this isn’t the impression she wants to make. And don’t ever use the number 69 in your email address, even if that’s your birth or graduation year. Assume readers will think the worst.
  • Professional – (Example: engineer123@gmail.com) – Engineer will be impossible to search for. If I’m having a continuing conversation with you, I’ll remember your name. Unfortunately, unless your name is communicated on the header of the email, it’s going to be difficult to find you by email address in my inbox. Who’s going to remember this one?
  • Hobby – (Example: marathonrunner@gmail.com) – Again … impossible to search for. Let’s say I got marathonrunner’s resume last week, and talked to them. Marathon Runner is a left-handed PHP programmer with design skills, writing skills, strong English communication skills, fluent in Japanese, and has an intimate knowledge of the Andes. Next week, I get a call from someone needing that exact combination of skills, and they are having a tough time finding this unusual combination (any wonder?). I’ll know I talked to someone a few weeks ago, but I can’t remember their email address just their name. How will I find you in order to refer you, marathonrunner?
  • Shortened name – (Example: rosenph2402@gmail.com) – I may have a better chance of finding this email, I may not. Do you want to risk that a recruiter can’t find you when they have a job they think you are qualified for?
  • Desperation – (Example: SearchingForWork@gmail.com) – Searching, will you appear desperate in an interview?
  • Cell phone email – (3125551212@verizon.net)
  • Sports – (CubsFan1908@gmail.com)
  • City – (NYCGuy2001@gmail.com)
  • State – (CaliGirl75@gmail.com)
  • School mascot – (Dawgs83@gmail.com)
  • Music – (DeadHead340@gmail.com)
  • Nickname – (Zippy83@gmail.com)
  • Pet’s name – (Elwood22@gmail.com)
  • Car – (Mustang68@gmail.com)
  • Children’s names – (Matthew&Daniel;@gmail.com)

    … all tough to find in an email search

  • Birth Year or Graduation Year – (Example: bobsmith1961@gmail.com) – Subjects you to ageism, which can work against younger as well as older candidates.
  • Ethnicity or religion – (Example: MachoLatin82@gmail.com) – Subjects you to potential hiring bias.
  • Current Employer – (Example: bobsmith@ibm.com) – Does Bob not realize that the people who run the network at IBM now know that Bob is looking for a job? If you want your boss to know that you’re looking for a job, use a company email address. That way, when your boss fires you, and a recruiter or hiring manager wants to send you a job description, your email can bounce…because you’re no longer at IBM.


Instead, try these 5 strong examples of email addresses to use to send your resume:

  1. Firstlast: robertsmith@gmail.com, robert.smith@aol.com, robert_smith@gmail.com, robert-smith@gmail.com, smithrobert@gmail.com. If none of these combinations are available, put a number that’s not your birth or graduation year after your name.
  2. Use one of the free services from Gmail, Yahoo, or Hotmail: It doesn’t expire when you change internet or cell phone providers. Gmail is my favorite because it’s easily forwarded, can easily have other email addresses forwarded into it, and integrates easily into Outlook (Yahoo charges approx $20 to have Yahoo integrate with Outlook).
  3. Forward this email to your personal Outlook (at home), cell phone or main personal email account, so you’ll see interest from hiring managers and recruiters quickly. You’d be surprised how seldom job seekers check secondary email addresses and can miss opportunities.
  4. Different name variation in header: Most emails allow you to set up the owner’s first and last name which also displays (and is searchable) in many email systems [Example: robert.smith@gmail.com (Bob Smith) so that both the name as well as the email can be searchable].
  5. I recommend to my clients that they set up a separate email specifically for their job search. Even after they get a new job, they can collect emails from recruiters and employers that still contact them. This provides an easy starting point the next time they have to search for a job.

Note – These suggestions are even more relevant when applying to smaller firms and when sending to contacts and when trying to apply directly to the hiring manager. When information is entered correctly into an Applicant Tracking System used at larger companies and recruiters, they are organized by name. But when humans enter information into databases, errors happen and misspellings occur. Email addresses and email inboxes are secondary searches used to find “lost” candidates.

Will you change your email address, PartyDude?

Recruiters and employers – please comment with the worst email address you’ve seen from a candidate.

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Author: Phil Rosenberg

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