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Business

Will you hire 'honey.bunny@'?

Job applicants should be mindful their e-mail addresses are not offensive or risk putting off prospective employers, say recruiters.
Written by Sol E. Solomon, Contributor on

Unusual e-mail addresses could reveal job applicants' quirky personality traits to prospective employers, even before their first interview, cautioned recruiters.

According to a 2008 report by Germany's University of Leipzig's Psychology Department, published in the Journal of Research in Personality, there is some validity in first impressions formed from what people choose as their e-mail addresses.

The study, How extraverted is honey.bunny77@hotmail.de? Inferring personality from e-mail addresses, analyzed how personality manifests itself in e-mail addresses and how e-mail addresses influence the personality judgments of strangers. It roped in 100 independent observers who made personality judgments on the e-mail addresses of 599 people who also provided their self-tabulated personality scores.

The impressions of the observers contained some degree of validity for neuroticism, openness, agreeableness, conscientiousness and narcissism, but not for extraversion.

Everything went smoothly until I found out that the
e-mail address was "flyshit123@EmailServerAddress". I then stopped reading and trashed the resume.
Ernest Towle, JenJOBS.com

Explaining the purpose of the study, its authors wrote: "Nowadays, a rapidly growing proportion of our social interactions and perceptions occur via computer mediated communication (CMC)." One of the most pervasive forms of CMC is e-mail, they said.

About the whole package
ZDNet Asia spoke with some employers and human resource professionals who noted that applications must be mindful about all components involved in their job search, including their chosen e-mail addresses.

Ernest Towle, sales and marketing director of job portal JenJOBS.com, said employers basically want to find consistency in the people they hire.

"If the candidate presents himself as a mature, reliable and trustworthy person, the entire package could be unraveled by an e-mail address such as that," Towle told ZDNet Asia in an e-mail interview.

"I strongly suggest that job seekers who are serious about impressing their potential employers and securing a job, scrutinize the entire 'package' from resume to interview, in order to ensure that the correct unspoken messages come through consistently."

Ellis Seder, IT and telecommunications manager at Hudson Hong Kong, said it is common among younger candidates in Asia to have "creative" e-mail addresses.

"We receive resumes from candidates with first names such as Starfish, Devil and Nike, so it really does not matter too much about the e-mail address. In fact, it shows a sense of humor," Seder said in an e-mail interview.

"On a personnel level, it would not bother me what they decided to call themselves via e-mail, as long as it was not rude or offensive," he said.

In fact, Towle has some experience in this area.

"I did receive a resume from someone for a position I posted. Everything went smoothly until I found out that the e-mail address was 'flyshit123@EmailServerAddress'. I then stopped reading and trashed the resume," he related.

Although Seder perceived "honey.bunny@" as someone who "does not take themselves too seriously", he said: "But you must never judge a book by its cover, so it is imperative that you read the resume and dig deeper.

"To throw away a resume in this 'talent war' just because of a silly e-mail address would be irresponsible," he noted.

An IBM spokesperson said diversity in the company's workforce "brings a wealth of perspectives, knowledge and talent to the organization", which in turn enables the company to develop innovative products.

"Therefore, a prejudiced view of a job applicant, based solely on criteria such as an e-mail address, will definitely not interfere with our decision to hire the concerned person," the spokesperson told ZDNet Asia in an e-mail interview.

"We will read through every candidate's resume, provided their skills and qualifications match our requirements."


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