I used to recommend using one of the well-known, free email services for executive job search.
Most of us are already using Gmail, Yahoo, AOL, Outlook or other free email. We’ve gotten used to them and, for the most part, they work well for us.
Not necessarily so when you’re job hunting, even though it’s a plus that using Gmail or the others keeps your emailing activities away from your email account associated with your employer. It’s never a good idea to use your work email for job search or any personal communications.
By the way, if you’re still using Hotmail, it can mark you as someone who is woefully out of date with technology and social media.
If you’re an older job seeker, a Hotmail email account could rule you out from the get-go.
Recruiters and other hiring professionals may overlook Hotmail messages in their inboxes, especially if they are inundated with email, and especially if they’re filling IT or other tech roles that require up-to-date tech skills. Although they can’t legally discriminate based on age, why take the chance?
Free email comes with other risks
The Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) warned of other risks associated with free email services:
“Although free email services have many benefits, you should not use them to send sensitive information. Because you are not paying for the account, the organization may not have a strong commitment to protecting you from various threats or to offering you the best service. Some of the elements you risk are:
Security – If your login, password, or messages are sent in plain text, they may easily be intercepted.
Privacy – You aren’t paying for your email account, but the service provider has to find some way to recover the costs of providing the service. One way of generating revenue is to sell advertising space, but another is to sell or trade information.
Reliability – Although you may be able to access your account from any computer, you need to make sure that the account is going to be available when you want to access it. If the service ends or your account disappears, can you retrieve your messages? Does the service provider give you the ability to download messages that you want to archive onto your machine?”
It’s no secret that Google bots read your Gmail messages, and that Google mines and stores an enormous amount of data. Yahoo email has its own history of spam and hacked accounts. Consider that all free email services may be creating huge marketing databases for some future use.
Let’s say you’re in the interview process with one (or several) employers, and you’re hashing out salary and other hiring issues via email. Do you want to risk Google having access to that, and other sensitive information?
Over the years, free email has been notoriously susceptible to hacking and other privacy issues. So I no longer recommend them for job search, or for any other sensitive matters.
Dump the Free Email Service and Get a Private Email Account
Gmail, Yahoo, and the other free email services don’t reflect well on executive job seekers, and give a bad first and lasting, impression of them. They negatively impact the professional image you need to put forward.
Think of it like this:
If you’re an executive, especially at the senior and c-suite level, seeking top-dollar compensation and you’re not willing to present yourself in the most professional way with your emails? You could be overlooked in favor of your competitors who DO look more professional and savvy because they have a personal, private email account.
You wouldn’t use an impersonal, same-old resume template in your job search, right? You need to stop using a free email service that can damage the brand you’ve worked so hard to build.
How recruiters (may) treat messages from free email accounts
According to recruiter Nick Jones,
“My email box works in the following way: If I am the only recipient of an email, it heads into my main email box. If I am cc’ed into an email, it automatically heads into another part of my email box. If your email comes from a free email client such as Gmail, Outlook or Hotmail, it’s a CV and can head directly to my CV folder.
If I am the hiring manager that you’re trying to get your CV in front of and you send me your CV from your Gmail account, it will automatically head into a sub-folder of my email box, and I will not be reading it today.
Luckily there is a way to get around this. You need to send your CV from a personal email address where you own the domain name.
If you own the domain name and send me your CV, my email box will not recognise that you’re sending me your CV and as a result, it will head directly into the main section of my email box to be read.
Most hiring managers I know have this as a minimum set up on their computers to filter through emails that are not important.”
How to Set Up Your Private Email Account
It’s a relatively inexpensive and simple process. You’ll first need to purchase an appropriate domain name, which will be the @ part of your email address.
There are any number of domain registrars, such as GoDaddy, which I use to host my domains.
Once you’ve purchased your domain name, you can easily set up an email account with it.
Selecting your domain name
Be prepared with several name options, when you begin searching available domain names, which you can do on whichever domain registrar you choose.
First choice is “yourname.com”.
There are thousands of possible domain extensions these days, since the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) added to the original 22 top-level domains (.com, .net, .org, .edu, etc.).
But because .coms are the most recognizable, accepted and valuable extension, try for one of these first. If nothing for .com is available, move on to .net. And it’s best to use just “your name” (in some form) for the domain name.
Here’s what I mean: Play with all variations of your name, including/excluding your middle name, using your nickname, etc. For instance:
susiemilner.com (if Susie is your nickname)
If none of the above are available, try them all again with the .net extension, then other Top-Level Domains (TLDs).
Get the idea?
Don’t use numbers or hyphens in your domain name. When you’re verbally communicating the domain name it can be confusing to people whether the number should be written out or is an actual number, and whether the hyphens are actually required. Also, hyphens are associated with spammy behavior, so they’re not desirable.
Setting up your email account
Once you’ve purchased the domain name, set up your email account with an address such as:
Use whatever first name you use across your other social media, whether it’s your full first name or a nickname.
Understand that, even when you have a private email account, as described above, your emails are still subject to spam and other nefarious intruders, but you can put safeguards in place for that. If you use a Gmail account, you can’t keep Google’s nose out of your email content.
Don’t be sucked into creating a website just to get your private email account. You don’t need to have a website to have an email account associated with your domain name.
But, of course, having a personal website to provide those assessing you for jobs a deeper look into your value to them is an excellent way to build your online brand. Once you set up your private email account, think about going back and building a brand-reinforcing website or, better yet, use your website to blog.
More About Email and Executive Job Search
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