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Does it matter what e-mail address you use to apply for a job?

Yes it does!

In fact, it might matter more than you think.

Why? Because an unprofessional e-mail address on a resumé can be a first sign to an employer that you’re not taking your job search seriously. Some e-mail addresses could even cause your application to get picked up by a spam filter and land in a junk mail folder. Here are a few tips for choosing the best e-mail address for your job hunt:

Consider the Domain Name

(after the @ sign)

  • If your e-mail address ends in @hotmail.com, that’s a red flag for some employers. Hotmail was all the rage in the early 2000s, particularly for teenagers who were using the address as their log-in for MSN Messenger. For many, it was their first e-mail address. But those pre-teens are now in their 30s. MSN Messenger has been replaced with Facebook Messenger. And if you’re still using Hotmail, it’s time to grow up. (Sorry.)
  • So what’s a safe alternative? An @gmail.com address is considered more professional. Powered by Google, it has a user-friendly interface, but if you prefer the look and feel of your Hotmail account, you could create an @outlook.com address. You’ll get all the same features as Hotmail, but without the stigma attached to the antiquated e-mail address.
  • Another safe alternative is to use an address provided by your internet service provider (ISP).
  • Don’t use your work e-mail address. Doing so tells potential employers you’re using your current employer’s servers to look for other work, and you’re quite likely doing so while you’re supposed to be working for them. That’s not the first image you want to give a recruiter.

PRO TIP: Don’t want to give up the e-mail address you’ve had for years? That’s OK. There’s nothing wrong with creating a separate address for your career elevating needs. Just remember to check it at least once per day for responses.

Don’t Forget the User Name

(before the @ sign)

  • Keep it professional. The safest bet is to use a variation of your name, like “daniel.wheaton” or “dwheaton”.
  • That can be tough, especially if you have a common name like John Smith. Rather than appending numbers like your birth year, the current year or other random numbers, consider using a common acronym for a relevant place name. So if you live in and are looking for work in New Brunswick, it could be “danielwnb” or as a Saint Johner you could use “danielwheatonsj”.
  • Try to avoid anything but letters and dots. Hypens and underscores may work, but they’re uncommon so I recommend against them. Other punctuation characters like !, #, $, %, &, *, and ~ won’t work. (Gmail does something interesting with the + characher. Read here if you’re curious.)

PRO TIP: Contrary to popular belief, capitalization makes no difference in an e-mail address. Whether you write it as Daniel.Wheaton, daniel.wheaton or DANIEL.WHEATON, your message will be delivered.  And if you’re using Gmail, the periods don’t matter either. You could leave them out, like “danielwheaton” or add others, like “d.aniel.w.heaton” and your message would still arrive. You can also use the domain name @gmail.com or @googlemail.com and it will arrive. (Stick with @gmail.com).

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