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Whimsy and flamboyance is all well and good, but your choice of email address has the potential to hurt you professionally

My little sister used to have a ridiculous email address. I won’t tell you it exactly – I don’t want to flood her inbox – but it was something similar to “these_fish_have_bowties@example.com”. I asked her about it a few times, and she said it was an inside joke between her and her friends.

I see these kinds of email addresses all the time with my students. (Put your hand up if you have one too…)




Whimsy and flamboyance is all well and good, but your choice of email address has the potential to hurt you professionally. If you choose not to be serious, well – it shouldn’t be any surprise if people don’t take you seriously.

What I’m talking about is looking a little more professional for things like applying for a job. It’s fine if your friends know you as “ugly_terrano123@example.com”, but do you really want that as your first impression? It’s a bit like wearing thongs to a wedding.

Take some extra time to make a new email address today for all your formal, professional correspondence. A good bet is your firstname.middleinitial.lastname. If you have a common name, you might have to get creative, but again, don’t go overboard. Try different combinations of periods and underscores. For example Jon Smith could try:

  • JonSmith@example.com
  • Jon.Smith@example.com
  • Jonathan.Smith@example.com
  • Jonathan.R.Smith@example.com
  • Jonathan_Smith@example.com
  • Jon.Smith.Australia@example.com

A little creativity and a touch of perseverance and you’ll find one that’s available.

Use Gmail or Yahoo mail or Microsoft’s Outlook.com.  Avoid more exotic (and less professional looking) providers.

If you’re more technically minded, you might even consider getting your own domain. A domain (web address) is fairly cheap. If you shop around, a .com would cost you under $15 a year.

However, a .com.au has a few restrictions on it, most notably you need an ABN. An alternative would be an id.au. These domains are intended to be used by Australian individuals. Again, you should be able to get one for around $15 a year. I think “john@john.smith.id.au” looks much more professional that “that_smithy_boyee@example.com”.

Search for “gmail for your own domain” if you want to hook up your own custom email address to Gmail. It’s not too hard and you won’t have to pay extra for cloud storage of all those new emails you’ll be receiving.

My sister eventually gave up her fishy email address. It served her into university, but she was embarrassed filling out job applications after graduating. She found out that nobody would take “these_fish_have_bowties” seriously.

None of the addresses used in this article are the email addresses of real people.


Henry Sapiecha