I've been starting a resume recently, and I'm struggling with picking an email.

What should a professional email address look like? Will employers look down on me if I have numbers at the end of my email address? Do they favor particular address formats?

For example, do people consider j.doe456@example.com to be worse than a j.doe@example.com? Most of the email domains on popular email sites (GMail, Y!Mail etc.) are mostly taken.

  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. – Jane S Nov 24 at 6:28
up vote 61 down vote accepted

I disagree enough with the originally accepted answer to write my own.

  1. Pick an address that you can stick with - your current copy of your resume may last a lot longer than you think. The email address is an ideal way to contact someone about a job, so make sure you'll be regularly findable at that location. Things to avoid here: a friend's server, domains you think you'll leave within 3 years, work addresses that will go away when you leave your current position.
  2. Get good spam filtering - resumes are public things, they get spread far and wide. That's great for your career options, bad for spam. Make sure you have a reasonably decent spam filter on this account.
  3. Set up your account for frequent checking - many fields and recruiters expect a turn around time in hours to days, not weeks. Don't set up an account that you aren't prepared to check regularly.
  4. Avoid references to race, creed, gender, religion, or particularly wild things in your username - john.smith.programmer479 is better than wildandcrazysaturdaynightspecial - no matter what you read into that... it's just not professional.
  5. Avoid very long, typo-prone cases - Realize that in some cases you'll have to hand write the email address or that it may end up being hand-typed by a reader - a few numbers are not a big deal - john.smith.394857 is fine. But something with a very long string of digits, or cases of highly typo prone usernames are something to avoid (Il|1i - are easily confusable with each other - particularly in some styles of hand writing, as are oO0 - easier to figure out from context - if the context is clear).
  6. Do connect it with anything professionally related to you, don't connect it to anything that makes you look unprofessional - the classic being don't use a username for your email that is easily connected to your drunken pictures on Facebook. But the positive view is that it's not so bad if, for example, your username is easily connected to great questions and answers on Stack Exchange.

In general, no one is going to be bothered by an exceedinly boring email. Just keep it easy to read, easy to type and non-offensive. And check your email early and often.

  • 2
    Yes, this is the better answer, because there is an expectation that your email address be professional, probably your name. See the discussion on askamanager.org/2013/02/… – thursdaysgeek May 13 '13 at 21:40
  • I use j.doe.isc@gmail.com where isc stands for computational systems engineer – jsedano May 14 '13 at 14:49
  • If that's a standard use of "isc" in your vicinity - then great. As a security geek, "isc" to me refers to the company ISC^2 (squared) - www.isc2.org - so I'd be confused, but it really only matters what the typical reader thinks. I've used bethlakshmi as a username forever - partly a social thing a long time back, partly the low risk of naming conflicts, but since it's permeated so much of my life and my writing, I worry less that "Lakshmi" is not my given name. – bethlakshmi May 14 '13 at 14:52
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    I would suggest GMail for such an account. Excellent spam filtering, and well integrated with e.g. Android phones. For $10 a year you can set up a domain with Google Apps which you can then use for your resume and the various email addresses. – Thorbjørn Ravn Andersen Jul 18 '13 at 11:00
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    @bethlakshmi, my email address is in format [firstname][currentyear]@gmail.com Is it perfectly fine? Kindly tell me. Thanks – Anonymous Dec 24 '16 at 20:12

No one will look twice at an email address that is used on a job application, unless it is something explicitly unsavory (politics, sex, racism and such for example).

In that respect, whether it is a gmail, yahoo or any other address doesn't matter, at all.

There is no expectation that you will spend money on a personalized email address / domain name.

The name by which you're known professionally should be in it

"Professional" means not making people learn a separate nickname for someone they've never met. If you're known professionally by a nickname, fine, use it in an email address: dr.dre@. The point is that when people see the email address they should associate it with you. It makes it easier for them to see that what they're doing is correct when they send messages. It's easier to hold in memory if it's the only name they know for you. Probably other benefits.

Nothing that you don't actively want to tell them should be in it

If it's an unusual domain name, a few people will look it up. So don't use firstname.lastname@ your anonymous politics blog, unless you want to in effect introduce yourself to business contacts as "the author of this anonymous politics blog". It doesn't mean you're ashamed of it that you're not introducing yourself that way, it's just not your profession. If you're applying for jobs as a politics journalist disregard that part.

If you can avoid disambiguating junk, do so

j.doe@gmail.com just is better than j.doe456@gmail.com. It looks "neater", and neatness is a professional quality. Each little thing doesn't matter, but together they add up to a kind of "hygiene" that signals you've put effort into the details.

A secondary reason, you would be amazed how many people don't use copy and paste. Most people over the age of 30 have, at the critical point in their life when they bought a mobile, lost the ability to remember a 7 digit number for 20 seconds. Those under 30 never had it ;-) As a courtesy to others, do not make your email address hard to type. I won't go so far as to say that if your name is hard to type you should find ways to simplify it, but I slightly wonder if it would help.

Sure, it's hard to get hold of a neat email address at a major provider these days. It's also hard to write a good resume, so you can always try a few variants on your name while you're mulling that over. If you must add junk, try to think of some relevant junk. If your name is so depressingly common that you really can't get a decent @provider address, maybe register a domain and throw up a few pages related to your profession. It doesn't need a whole lot on it, just your resume and anything you'd like a business contact to see. Finding a good domain name isn't all that easy either, but at least you're limited by your creativity, not your given name.

If you actually use it, it should remain the same for years or decades

This applies to any email address used as a general point of contact, professional or otherwise. You do not want to be that idiot who keeps sending out messages to your entire contact list with your new address.

You don't have to actually use it

Check the address on your resume for at least as long as you care to receive inquiries about that version of your resume. Or, you know, there is such a thing as email forwarding. Make sure that you receive the email, that you receive any error messages generated by email you send, and that you remember to send using the "correct" email address. Beyond that you don't have to log in to whatever awful web interface the provider has produced.

If you come up with a better email address later, you can put it on the next version of your resume and forward the email from the old one just in case. And even that might be overkill - I guess it depends what industry you work in, but think about your odds of ever getting a decent job lead from a resume more than a year or two old. Firstly you'll send an updated resume to recruiters you care about more frequently than that, and secondly who head-hunts with no idea what you've been doing for the last two years? My experience is that recruiters stop bothering you after about 18 months or three rude emails telling them you have a job/alternative recruiter you're very happy with.

Once employers hire you, they won't use it

They'll give you a company email address. So your resume address is solely about the hiring process. It's not even about maintaining contacts after you leave, you can give them any other email address you like. It doesn't need to relate to any of your other online activity unless you want it to as part of what prospective employers will see if they choose to research you. Between lack of time and consistency in hiring procedures, many won't, but some will.

If you plan to change jobs a lot, things are a bit different

If you're perpetually looking for work (for example as a contractor) then you do want a single permanent email address for the purpose. It's probably best to register a domain in this case. Depending on the jurisdiction you're in, you might want a specific name to trade under anyway, even if you don't have a registered company. This doesn't need to be your own name, and firstname.lastname@tradingname.com is ideal. Or your national equivalent of .com: .co.uk in my case.

  • If you're going to register a domain make sure it's got proper hosting - many spam filters consider bad return addresses, missing or non-responsive originating servers to be spam signatures which can get your application or replies binned unseen. The RBLs may also blacklist the IP you're sharing with other cheap users and you won't be able to unblock it. The $10/year type hosts may look attractive but you may never be able to reach anyone using google, yahoo, apple or microsoft mail systems. – Móż Feb 5 '14 at 3:23
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    @Ӎσᶎ: agreed. Aside from anything else if the hosting is flakey you could have significant downtime. It's possible to host your domain through Google (they aren't a registrar but they partner with some). I don't know what it costs. – Steve Jessop Feb 5 '14 at 9:16

There are a couple features available through gmail email accounts that may help you with your email name creation decision. The first is the ability to forward your emails from this newly created email address to an existing email address so that you gain access to emails more quickly. The issue that may arise is that you may forget to log into the email account with the name you provided causing you to send an email from a less professional or desired email address. The other option is to simply create a filter to send emails to a selected email address to alert you to the fact that an email was sent to you regarding a job position you are seeking.

I generally avoid common domain names and numbers for professional emails. Currently I have something like me@mywebsite.com. Generally that's what I prefer to use. I did have it set up to forward to gmail for a while but turned it off after accidentally firing off emails from gmail instead of my personal domain. I think that the important thing really is to just make sure that your email address isn't overly verbose or containing too many numbers (prefer 0 numbers if I can help it).

protected by Jane S Aug 17 '16 at 1:44

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