Your email address says more about you than you think

Summary:The email address you use shows more about you than you think. There is a psychology to everything, and using the 'wrong' email address could cost you an employment opportunity or more.

It sounds simple enough, but I do worry that many of my generation don't quite see things from a prospective employer's perspective. I can, in all honesty, because to me an email address guarantees somebody's relationship with a company, and can be used to prove an identity on behalf of an organisation.

Email has not gone out of fashion with the younger generation. Devices such as the iPhone and the BlackBerry have brought email directly into the hands of already-digitised young adults. Social networking increases, but email has remained steady and will increase exponentially throughout their university timeline - and onto their careerpath.

It’s the first thing they see

But more often than not, when you apply for a job, your name won’t stick out but your email address will. It’s the first public information they will see and first impressions count more than most would lead you to believe.

Email addresses can be used like social statuses. To have a *.gov.* email address signifies political importance, whereas certain *.edu addresses can automatically show academic credit. The domain you use shows who you are and what you do. If you’ve worked hard to get to the position where you have such an email address, then use it to your advantage.

Your email can pre-determine the outcome

There is no doubt you would have experienced the, “oh, you only go to Yale? Yah, darling, I go to Harvard Law” (and it by no means just applies to the products you use or buy). My university is a world leader in criminology and my degree will be far more in credit than its counterpart degree from Oxford, but Oxford has an international name for itself and trumps pretty much every other university in our meager little country.

Email addresses are the same. My *@kent.ac.uk email address may not compare to one of *@harvard.edu but it will. Harvard will take precedent over Kent, UCL or even NYU and Yale. It’s not to say everyone will act in the same way towards a person’s academic institution; but the one point of information will increase your chances.

It’s a university email address. That automatically shows a level of education that so many still don’t achieve. Any email address associated with a university or academic institution by *.ac.* or *.edu makes you look good from the word go. It can tell a lot about you without having to say a word.

But if you graduate from a lesser-to-a-higher institution such as NYU to post-graduate study at Harvard, use the Harvard email address when sending your resume. It looks better from the start, but don’t miss anything off your resume. The person about to employ you might have graduated at NYU themselves, for example.

Personal email accounts just look trashy

But they do!? The Oatmeal has a hilarious yet true insight into how email addresses translate your computer literacy. I agree in that Gmail accounts do look best from a personal perspective, and Hotmail does look a little bit “I still go on MySpace”, but as I’ve said before, if you wish to overcome the *@hotmail.com stigma but still use the service – get a *@live.com or *@live.co.* address which can also signify your citizenship status (ie. *@live.co.ca for Canada).

Seeing as your email address can identify who you are and who you work for, or rather which organisation or institution you are associated with, those with their own-domain could be at an advantage if you are trying to make an impression.

But your own discretion is important. Identify who you want to work for, the type of people you are applying to, and which account you should use. It does make a difference, and it takes an element of common sense and third-person perspective to determine which email address to use.

And one last thought; if you are using your work email address to pursue other employment opportunities, make sure your current employer cannot read your email. It’s happened, and people can end up losing out altogether.

Topics: Collaboration

About

Zack Whittaker writes for ZDNet, CNET, and CBS News. He is based in New York City.

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