How Your Email Address Is Harming Your Career

Recently I explored a study from the recruitment software specialists Cornerstone OnDemand that revealed how our choice of browser can help to determine our suitability for a job opening. The research found that if you are the kind of person that takes the initiative and installs a non-default browser on your computer, then you’re more likely to survive and thrive in your new job.

See Also: 5 Reasons to Have a Professional Email Signature

The finding emerged as part of a wider exploration of the big data trends that help recruiters predict the likely success rate of job candidates. One of the interesting trends to emerge was around email addresses. The study didn’t so much look at the domain used in the email address, but the bit before the @ sign. Perhaps not surprisingly, if the address contained text that was somewhat unprofessional, then the omens were not good for that candidate.

It’s a hypothesis that has been tested by a separate study that was recently published in Cyberpsychology, Behavior and Social Networking. The study revealed that when recruiters are frantically screening through the hundreds of CVs they receive for any given vacancy, the email address is one of the most influential factors in the first impression they gain of a candidate. It can, therefore, have an outsized impact on the chances of that candidate landing an interview.

The Importance of Email

The paper, authored by a team of Dutch academics, explored whether candidates obtained more success when using an informal email address versus a more formal looking one on job applications.

For the purposes of the study, an informal email address was regarded as one that included things such as slang words, made up names or even cute sounding words in place of the applicant’s actual name.

The authors highlight how the formal nature of the email address we use when applying for jobs has a big impact on the perception a recruiter makes about the hirability of a candidate. The email address used was found to be just as influential in forming those perceptions as other common resume mistakes, such as making spelling mistakes or using an unusual typeface when writing our CV.

"We all have unconscious biases, and first impressions, as we know, are often difficult to change," the authors say. "This study may assist recruiters in becoming more conscious of their biases, as well as aiding job applicants in understanding the importance of their electronic identities."

The question then becomes, of course, whether an informal sounding email address is actually a good proxy for potential hirability? The paper is less forthcoming on that, but if you’re in a position where you’re actively looking for work, the issue is probably not worth taking the risk over.

It’s relatively easy now to get a professional looking email address, and you can even pick up a personally branded domain name if you want to look super professional, rather than relying on Gmail or Hotmail. If it gives you an edge, then the small investment would be well worth it.

See Also: 6 Email Etiquette Tips

Have you found greater success in your job hunt after getting a professional email address? Or have you noticed no difference at all? Your thoughts and comments below...