Picking the Right Email Address and Head Shot

Written by David Marwick for KempMillJobAssist on . Posted in Advice Columns

To get a new job, dozens of things need to go well for you. However, your approach to two seemingly insignificant items may make the difference in whether you land the job.

 

Email Address

Email addresses seem innocuous. We all have at least one. What could be wrong with an email address?

Believe it or not, an email address can work against you in two ways.

First, some people use email addresses that reflect their hobby or other preferences. I could cite some doozies, but I don’t want to embarrass their owners. For your personal email, it’s fine to use, for example, backnine2017@xxx if you’re a golfer. But for job search and other business purposes, your email address should be business-like.

Second, some email addresses reflect a favorite sports team or something similar. But your favorite team may be someone else’s least favorite team. Let’s say that your email address is GoYankees2017@xxx. If the person receiving your email is a Boston Red Sox fan, that email address will not help your chances.

Headshot

Many people have one or more photos of themselves in cyberspace. If you are searching for a job, you almost certainly should have a LinkedIn account and, as part of your profile, you should have a head shot. In addition, many people have photos linked to their email addresses.

For a LinkedIn head shot, there’s no question that the photo should show you dressed appropriately for your profession, and it should not include extraneous or distracting images —  no kids, no beach scenes, no pets.

Almost exactly two years ago, I noted that a client’s LinkedIn head shot showed him and his toddler. When I suggested that he change the photo to a more professional (less personal) picture, he initially resisted.

That led me to pose a question to Caroline Ceniza-Levine, a New York-based career coach and the co-founder of www.SixFigureStart.com.

“One of my ‘clients’ (I’m a volunteer) is looking for a policy analysis job in DC. His LinkedIn head shot shows him and his toddler. I suggested that a shot of him alone is better because the people he wants to work with may construe him as too family-oriented, not willing to do whatever it takes to get the job done, and pass him over. He responded that having the kid in the picture adds a touch of levity. What’s your reaction?”

Ceniza-Levine answered:  “I agree with you — no to the toddler.”

He later changed his LinkedIn head shot to a more standard photo. He got the job. Was there a connection? Who knows? But in a highly competitive job market, why take a chance?

For a photo linked to an email address, there’s a difference between those appropriate for personal and for business purposes. For personal emails, if your hobby is raising guinea pigs, for example, it’s okay to show you with your favorite guinea pig. But for your business email, the same rules apply here as for LinkedIn photos.

Nevertheless, the sky is not the limit even for a photo linked to your personal email. You should expect a prospective employer to scour the web for anything and everything about you. Thus, if the photo linked to your personal email account is too far “out there” (for example, you’re wearing a toga or chugging a beer), it may count against you.

(For more on the issue of your web presence, see my March 2, 2017, Kol HaBirah article “When Your Interview Really Begins.”)

The Bottom Line

For-job search and other business purposes, you need to project a professional image, including an appropriate email address and LinkedIn head shot.

By David Marwick for KempMillJobAssist

 David Marwick is KempMillJobAssist’s workshop coordinator. He studied economics at George Washington University and worked as an economist for George Washington University and the U.S. Government Accountability Office.