Does your email address say you're a rube?

Summary:Opinions are often formed by many subtle factors. Can your email address sink you in the eyes of the tech glitteratti?

Let's say you're looking for a job as a social media manager. You've sent out query emails to a bunch of likely companies. Obviously, the subject line of the email is important. Byt what about your email address?

Opinions are often formed by many subtle factors. A social media manager has to be well-connected, and certainly seem current on all the new technologies and trends. You might have a good Klout rating, you might have a lot of Facebook friends, and you might even have four or five digits worth of Twitter followers.

But can your email address sink you in the eyes of the tech glitteratti?

Let's do a simple test. Here are six email addresses. Think fast. What are your first impressions?

  • dloudon22@gmail.com
  • dloudon22@cfl.rr.com
  • dloudon22@aol.com
  • dickloudon@facebook.com
  • dloudon22@greenmtnbb.net
  • dick@dickloudon.com

dloudon22@gmail.com

Let's take them one-by-one. The first email address, dloudon22@gmail.com, seems perfectly normal. The only red flag is the idea that there are 22 other dloudons, and perhaps you weren't creative enough to come up with a unique name. You lose a point, but you still seem reasonably current. On the other hand, if you'd used beerlover@gmail.com or marysdad@gmail.com, it would seem even more unprofessional.

The gmail address is safe enough.

dloudon22@cfl.rr.com and dloudon22@greenmtnbb.net

These are clearly ISP-provided email addresses. These definitely show you as a rube, because you'd have to change your email address if you move. It doesn't demonstrate that you care deeply about your email address. You just took what you were given.

ISP email addresses lose points.

dloudon22@aol.com

This email address says you're a bed and breakfast owner from the eighties, perhaps someone's grandfather, or at the very least an out-of-touch father-in-law. You're someone who's always calling for help with your computer, someone who is terribly excited by MagicJack, and someone who really enjoys posting pictures of your yard tools up on Facebook.

You're completely out of touch. No one will hire you.

dickloudon@facebook.com

You're clearly into this whole Facebook thing, and as a social media manager, that's not a bad idea. But you're probably too into Facebook. You've probably maxed out your Facebook friends, and you probably follow them all, reading every last update. Worse, you're on a first-name basis with every Zynga character, and you spend half your salary on in-game purchases of extra radishes so your farm will grow faster.

You're too risky.

dick@dickloudon.com

If your prospective hiring manager or client can't go to dickloudon.com and see a site that describes you, with examples of your work, and probably a pithy blog, you shouldn't have this email address. But if you've filled out your self-promotional space properly (and that probably also means you're @dickloudon on Twitter), then you're probably quite a good candidate for the gig.

You know how to register a domain, set up a site, promote yourself, and do it tastefully.

Does your email address say you're a rube?

So does your email address say you're a rube? What about dick22@hotmail.com or dickloudon@outlook.com? Or dickloudon23242@yahoo.com?

An email address alone isn't enough to kill your chances, but every little impression matters. Outlook.com is probably going to pick up quite nicely. Yahoo.com means you're just too cheap to get a real email address and not bright enough to get a gmail address. Hotmail.com means you're probably a spammer.

Don't make yourself crazy about your email address, but do keep in mind that it's part of your overall branding as a professional. If you have any questions, you can contact me at cookiemonster@hotasballs.com.

P.S. There really is at least one real-world Dick Loudon. The domain dickloudon.com redirects to a bio page for a real estate agent named Dick Loudon. Leave the nice man alone.

Topics: SMBs

About

In addition to hosting the ZDNet Government and ZDNet DIY-IT blogs, CBS Interactive's Distinguished Lecturer David Gewirtz is an author, U.S. policy advisor and computer scientist. He is featured in The History Channel special The President's Book of Secrets, is one of America's foremost cyber-security experts, and is a top expert on savi... Full Bio

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