Is Your Email Account Double-Crossing You?

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I rarely see inappropriate email addresses anymore. Many job seekers now know the importance of having an email address that’s consistent with their professional image. For most people, that’s simply a variation on their name and hosted through a free email provider like Google. But email is increasingly sophisticated and interconnected, and there are new problems creeping up.

Some people start a new, clean email account specifically for their job search. But if you’re using your existing email account, then you need to make sure that it’s not going to double-cross you.

1. Check your user photo. Is your photo consistent with your professional image? Or undermining it? I’ve received numerous emails from lawyers and law students whose email addresses were fine (like janedoe@gmail.com) but were accompanied by a user photo of their cleavage, short dresses, or partying. Or all three. Consider the impact of your user photo on your job search and career development. Are you inadvertently sending hiring attorneys photos of you in a bathing suit?

2. Check your style settings. You can choose your email font. Again, choose a font size and type consistent with the image you’re cultivating. I’ve received emails from an attorney in large Comic Sans font. My gut response was that the emails looked like they were handwritten by a first grader. The effect was heightened by typos. I’ve really wracked my brain on this, but I’m unable to imagine a circumstance where Comic Sans is an appropriate font for a lawyer’s job search—even if that lawyer wants to be in-house counsel for the circus.

3. Check your auto-signatures. Many people have different auto-signatures for different accounts and different devices. Confirm the auto-signatures you’re using for your job search email account are appropriate ones—check every device. In one case, a lawyer had a hobby he didn’t want employers to know about. Usually, he replied to employer correspondence by logging in from his laptop—he had created no auto-signature through the email provider and so never had to worry. He forgot he had created an auto-signature on his smart phone however. That auto-signature referenced his “taboo” hobby. When he synced his job search email with his smart phone and started sending out emails that way, the phone automatically added the “bad” signature. The result was that he had spent a lot of time and energy burying a hobby, only to out himself with his auto-signature.

Remember that professional presentation and good judgment are required job criteria for attorneys. Make sure your email account is reinforcing your professional image rather than undermining it.