I know when my phone rings and it’s my candidate database administrator from another room in the office, it must be a doozy. After 10 years of reviewing hundreds of résumés per day, my assistant has developed a shockproof exterior, believing she’s seen it all when it comes to the job seeking crazies. But this particular instance took the cake. She called me to come up front, claiming with both disgust and determination, “You have to take a look at this résumé.” As instructed, I leaned over her shoulder to view what, at first glance, seemed like a normal résumé with a name, address…and then I saw it. In bolded black font, the email read: I’firstname.lastname@example.org. (Note: I cannot share the individual’s exact information for legal and ethical purposes, but I assure you, it shared the same provocative theme as the example I gave).
Best practice led me to believe that her email address was in some way related to her occupational field, which, in her case, would be unfortunate to say the least. But lo and behold, before me sat the professional history of an executive assistant with over a decade of experience and, believe it or not, consistent career progression. My assistant and I go through the same song and dance each time a “what-the-heck-was-this-job-seeker-thinking?” moment comes up. Was she too sexy for her boots? And why was she too sexy for her boots? Why would she buy boots that weren’t sexy enough anyways? Once we got past the drama of it all, it was time to address the sad reality of the situation.
It’s very disconcerting each time we are reminded of just how clueless many job seekers are when it comes to the kind of impression they make to employers. The more we see it, the more it both scares us and drives us to help these unfortunate souls. When marketing yourself to new organizations, it’s important to first take a moment to realize and appreciate just how much technology has magnified your presence to the world. As a leading recruiter, I know first hand that the manner in which an already suspicious employer interprets information is completely different than the impression the candidate hopes to deliver. Would this woman be prepared to hear that her strong background would most likely be misinterpreted because of one mistake? My gut, rooted in three decades of experience, tells me she’s not.
Most job seekers are shocked not only by my knowledge of the employer-job seeker disconnect, but also by my candor. Here goes: planting a provocative, inappropriate email address at the top of your resume changes the entire tone of your professional story. In fact, a mistake like that would ignite such a negative mindset in an employer that each piece of information that follows would be immediately called into question. It may seem like an obvious example, but how you introduce yourself today goes far beyond a name and number.
My advice: Keep your professional brand professional. For starters, that means you should have an email address that matches your brand, a voicemail that appeals to hiring managers, and an active online presence without any red flags.
It’s tough out there so be sure not to unintentionally shoot yourself in the foot, or in this case, the boot!