Could it possibly be that something as commonplace and mundane, as the contact email address you include on official job-hunting correspondence, result in your personal brand being cast in a very negative light? You bet it can! Every single element, no matter how large or small, or apparently insignificant, of your personal branding “package” can have both a positive and a negative effect on how potential hiring managers, human resources professionals and “headhunters” perceive you as a potential job candidate. And that, of course, definitely includes the contact email address you use in any official correspondence during a job search.
Put yourself in a hiring manager’s, human resources professional’s, or a “headhunter’s” place for just a moment. What immediate image would you likely have of an applicant who used a contact email address like any of the following on his/her résumé, cover letter, online application, etc.? (For the record, these example are not “made up.” Over the years I have actually seen candidates use these specific contact email addresses, plus some even far more outrageous and professionally inappropriate!)
Would it be fair to say that you would at least have some . . . er . . . “reservations” about the level of professionalism possessed by such applicants/candidates? Of course it would! Yet, I (and hiring managers and HR professionals) see these kinds of email addresses used on official job-seeking correspondence and documents virtually all the time. Amazing, and so self-defeating for applicants/candidates who might actually possess excellent credentials and sought-after skill sets.
Your email address can get you eliminated
Rather than receiving at least a cursory initial review of their correspondence and/or job-seeking documents, these candidates risk being quickly ELIMINATED from further consideration. Why? Hiring managers and HR professionals—and, yes, “headhunters” like me!—simply don’t have the time (or at least won’t take the time, usually) to look beyond this email faux pas. There are just too many candidates to screen to go the extra step. Right or wrong, our thinking usually is: If the candidate/applicant is this careless (or clueless) about this detail, what other negatives will we find upon closer examination?
The point is, why even risk being negatively branded by such an easily avoidable misstep?
The best advice I can offer is to stick to the tried and true. That is, I recommend that all of our candidates create a professional contact email address that consists of their first names, followed by a dot, and then their last names, plus of course the domain at which they have registered their email address.
For example, here is my business email address:
Similarly, your professional email address could become:
Setting up a professional email address is really quite simple and is almost always free. Google’s Gmail is widely used nowadays for creating professional email addresses, as is Microsoft’s Hotmail. Simply go to www.google.com and/or www.microsoft.com to create your own FREE, unique email address quickly and easily.
Consider setting up your own website
Want to really stand out from your competition, i.e., other job seekers, and substantially—and very positively—enhance your unique professional brand? Establish your own website, and then use one of the email addresses associated with your personal/professional website. For example, if your name is Jenna Jones, once you establish your own website, your professional contact email address would become:
I am aware of an excellent site that offers a FREE website: www.wix.com (an upgrade to the basic site is around $10 per month, but an upgrade is not required). I’m sure you can locate other sites that are either free or very inexpensive merely by doing a Google search.
Check out the site that a recent college graduate created using wix.com at this link:
Pretty impressive, huh? This is the kind of “out of the box” branding some of the Generation Y folks (and others, of course) are doing to compete effectively in today’s very challenging job market. Efforts such as this are certainly a very creative way to significantly enhance one’s personal brand! It can also pay you to check out the advantages of creating a SlideRocket presentation at www.sliderocket.com. (Click on the following link to check out my recent blog on how one young woman landed her dream job after creating a SlideRocket presentation: http://www.personalbrandingblog.com/how-hanna-landed-her-new-dream-job/)
Hey, don’t misunderstand me here. I, like nearly every hiring manager and HR professional do have a sense of humor. But remember, applying for a new job, a new career, is serious business, and it is absolutely imperative that you reflect and maintain a very high level of professionalism in every contact with a potential employer. Otherwise you seriously risk degrading your personal brand.
Keep your humorous email addresses to use in your personal email correspondence, but never, never use it as your professional contact email address. It’s tough enough to compete in today’s job market without throwing unnecessary obstacles in your own path.
Skip Freeman is the author of “Headhunter” Hiring Secrets: The Rules of the Hiring Game Have Changed . . . Forever! and is the President and Chief Executive Officer of The HTW Group (Hire to Win), an Atlanta, GA, Metropolitan Area Executive Search Firm. Specializing in the placement of sales, engineering, manufacturing and R&D professionals, he has developed powerful techniques that help companies hire the best and help the best get hired.