Cheap Email Services Are UnProfessional

I can’t help it, but every time I see a yahoo or hotmail email address on a resume, or a piece of official correspondence I cringe. It just looks incredibly unprofessional and tacky! I’m sorry if that offends you in some way but its true and I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one who thinks this way. If you know any recruiters or HR people, ask them about it. Some probably don’t care, while others will probably agree with me. It’s a turnoff! It makes you seem cheap, even if you try to be all business like and actually sign up using your real name rather than a nickname of some sort. Most people these days know better than to put their HotStuff69 or TheRealGangsta email address on official documents but it happens too.

I use Gmail for my personal mailings but I feel the same way about it too. If you put it on a resume, it looks tacky. Yes, I understand that there is a notable difference between a typical Hotmail user and a typical Gmail user. The later tend to be more careful as a rule. Possibly because Gmail was for the longest time an invitation only service. Even now it employs a non-standard, more involved sign-up procedure that gives them a bit more control over their user base. So while Gmail address is slightly more tolerable, it is still frowned upon (at least by me).

Don’t think that you’re off the hook Mr. amd Ms.! The fact that you actually figured out how to use your ISP’s email service just means you are a tiny bit smarter than the average internet user. You see, most of the folks out there sign up for free email services because they can’t figure out how to access their ISP based mail, or they don’t know they have it. It’s great that you have figured it out, but it is still not your email! It belongs to the people who sell you your internet connection. It does not represent you, and you should not use it.

There are 3 types of emails I consider appropriate for resume’s and official correspondence and/or paperwork:

  1. Business email, but only if you own the company or are representing it company in some capacity.
  2. School (.edu) email but only if you are a student, faculty member or a recent graduate.
  3. Non-free, personal email from a domain name you own – but only if the domain includes your name.

And yes, it is a little bit restrictive. For example, putting your current work email address on your resume while you are out job hunting is probably a stupid idea. Not only can it get you in trouble at your current job (but since you are looking for a new one, then you probably don’t care) but it also shows prospective employee that you are willing and able to use company resources for personal business. Probably not the impression that you want to give to a potential employer. That’s what I mean about representing the company in some capacity.

Then again if you are a one-man consulting firm, or a successful business owner the rules here are a bit more lax. In such circumstance using your company domain name may add weight and prestige to your name even if the matter at hand doesn’t directly involve your company.

School emails are fine, unless you have graduated like 6 years ago and you are no longer affiliated with the school in any way. Why the hell would you still be using their mail system at that point?

How do you make yourself look semi-professional when you can’t really use your work email, and you are not a student? Get a domain name. It looks 100 million times better when your email looks like, or some variation on that theme. I do understand that all of the John Smiths out there might have trouble setting that up. But that’s the idea, and it looks very impressive and speaks volumes about your level of professionalism.

It does cost money, but not a lot. For example, if you go with Google Apps registering a .com domain will only cost you $10 a year. This works out to be less than a buck per month, and you get a full suite of Google applications including Gmail, Google Docs, Google Chat and Google Sites – all configured and ready to go. So you actually don’t need to pay for hosting and email. Just buy a domain name through Google and enjoy awesome personalized email!

No Google is not paying me to say this (I wish they did though). I just don’t think you can find a better deal at the moment. I mean, you can probably buy a domain name for roughly the same price from Godaddy or NetworkSolutions or wherever. But they will charge you extra for the Whois anonymisation (which Google does for free) and you will still need to buy some email hosting service. If you go through Google it’s all free, and it works “out of the box” (so to say). It’s no harder than signing up for Yahoo or Hotmail – but you get so much more out of the deal. Not to mention that IMHO Gmail has possibly the best Web mail interface out there.

For me, registering your own domain and setting up a personalized email address is an investment. And it’s not just for you. If you actually get lucky and you can register your last name as your domain, you can easily hook up your whole family with super easy-to-remember accounts following the firstname@lastname.tld pattern. This way your friends and relatives no longer have to remember something as silly XxJohnSmith5691xX – in the end, everyone wins.


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