Everyone would agree that in today’s market, you’ve got to do everything possible to stand out in the crowd of job seekers, and one of the key elements of the job search is the resume.
The areas that most people focus on while critiquing a resume are the summary/objective, experience and education sections. While I do agree that those sections are critical to resume greatness, there is one area that is often overlooked by job seekers and resume writers alike: the contact information section and what it says about you.
One of the first elements hiring managers look at on the resume is the contact information section. After all, it is usually the first section on the document. While job seekers don’t have control over much of this section (name, address, phone), they do have total control over the email address they use on their resume. Utilize the email address to improve your personal brand.
Let’s consider some helpful dos and don’ts of the email addresses to be used on resumes and job search correspondence:
1. Keep it professional
The most commonly used email address type on resumes is the simple and effective method of using one’s own name plus one of the free email providers. The benefit of this choice is that it is virtually risk-less. The flip side, of course, is that it can be boring and non-value-adding for a resume. All in all, though, it is a good way to go if you don’t want to think too hard about your job search email address.
Examples: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org
2. Show school spirit
Many schools nowadays offer email addresses with life-long forwarding benefits. Using a school email address will capture the attention of alumni immediately and emphasize the job seeker’s values on education. This tactic is especially beneficial for graduates of top-ranked schools, as well as graduate programs.
Examples: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org
3. Hint at your skills
A great method for emphasizing your unique skills, accomplishments and goals is to put one of them in your email address. That way, every time someone contacts you, they will be reminded of your single most important attribute. Consider what you might want to stress to hiring managers and recruiters in terms of your hard skills, soft skills and other attributes such as geography or work experience.
The hard part is figuring out what to emphasize, but spending the time to create a unique email address could pay good dividends. Everyone will have a different level of comfort with word choices and phrases with respect to what is appropriate versus cheesy. Keep the point relative to your career and job skills, and you should be fine.
Examples: JaneThePPTMaster@email.com, BostonSalesExpert@email.com, JaneSixSigmaDoe@email.com
4. Buy your own domain
One way to prove initiative and entrepreneurship is to buy your own domain name! I am always impressed when I see job seekers (particularly non-tech job seekers) that have taken the time and effort to obtain their own domain name and email address for their own use instead of using a free email provider. It is not always necessary to actually develop the domain website, though it will give you bonus points if you actually put something on your newly acquired site. You might as well use the space to your advantage and promote yourself.
Examples: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com
1. Use nicknames
Lets face it: all of us have email addresses that we used when email first became popular, or when we were younger, that have no relative meaning to people outside of our social circles or say too much about our personal lives. Stay away from using such legacy personal email addresses on your resume. Create a brand-new email address just for your job search (by following the dos in this article) if you don’t have another, more professional personal email address.
Examples: firstname.lastname@example.org, jDoeGoBlue97@email.com, SarahsDad@email.com
2. Try to be too smart, funny or philosophical
There is a fine line between witty and funny, and unfortunately, that line is variable from person to person. I always advise people to stay away from using overt humor when you don’t have the luxury of building context with complete sentences. Also, avoid using clichés, catchphrases or overly used buzzwords, as you will probably turn off more people than you will impress.
Examples: CarpeDiemJane@email.com, RightSizeWronged@email.com, SolLegitIQuit@email.com
3. Emphasize the politically incorrect (age, race, gender, political affiliations)
This is probably the most obvious rule of the don’ts. (Or at least I hope it is!) These cardinal conversation sins should never grace the page of your resume—that is, unless you are applying to organizations that directly desire one of these attributes (such as a political campaign). Avoid all connotation of your age, your race, your gender and your political affiliations, period.
Examples: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com