Wednesday, 21 October 2015

Regain your (email) identity

Amir ... RichardYoung@ ... Sarah & Simon ... TheJohnsons@ ...

These are all variations on email names and addresses which have recently shown up in my inbox. Stay-at-home dads looking to get back to work? Emails from friends? No, all of these messages were from professional women wanting advice about returning to work. 

What's in a name?

It sounds like a small thing, but don't underestimate what your email name and address say about you. An email is often your first point of contact in your job exploration, be it for a networking connection or a recruitment application. In the same way as recent research* has found that you're less likely to appear hirable to recruiters if you have a funny or informal email address, using a family, joint or husband's mail name/address can affect how people see you. Your electronic identity risks labeling you as a mum or wife, with all the accompanying stereotypes, rather than the giving credible professional image you want to convey. 

There is also something symbolic about setting up a personal email address for your back-to-work communications. If you're at home looking after your family, it's easy to lose sight of yourself while you're caring for others and being someone's mum/daughter. This is one simple way to start regaining your own independent identity.

How to create a professional email identity

  1. If you only have a family or joint email, set up a personal one - it's a 5 minute task using a provider such as hotmail or google mail.
  2. Make sure that your work email address is a formal one, ideally some variation on your full name (eg.
  3. Use the name you'll be using for work and on your CV. Be consistent - don't make your email your family name if you'll be using your maiden name.
  4. Whether it's a new or an existing address, check how your email name appears when it's received. You can see this by sending a test email. Make sure it's your full name that comes up & if not change the user name in your email settings.
  5. And, of course, make sure you add the new address to Outlook, your phone and anywhere else you monitor emails so you can easily monitor and promptly reply to all your work-related emails.  
Research from VU University Amsterdam in Cyberpsychology, Behavior & Social Networking journal

Related posts on the psychological side of regaining your identity

Reconnecting with your professional self
Who am I anyway?

Posted by Julianne

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