Wednesday, September 12, 2012

How to Create a Professional Email Signature for Your Career or Job Search

In prior blog posts I spoke about some rather sophisticated career management documents such a brag book, a networking newsletter, and a one-page biography. Today, I would like to focus on a more simple aspect of your job search toolkit but one that is many, many times overlooked: adding a professional email signature.

Consider the following scenario:

You are a “heads down” corporate employee doing a good, no, make that a great job. Somehow, due to a perfect storm, you lose your job in a downright awful economy. After the shock wears off, you sit down at your personal computer and realize you have to start using your personal email as your “base of operation.” So, you make a list of everybody you know and you start firing off emails letting people know of your situation. Like any savvy job seeker, you begin the networking process which creates a lot more email activity.
What you may not have considered are three key issues related to your newfound “base of operation” – your personal email account. For the time being while in full-bore job search mode, your personal email account is really your work email account. Why? Because you need to put forth the same professional image in your email signature when you are in transition (unemployed) as you do when you are employed. Let’s look carefully at each component of a professional email box: the email address itself, your display settings and the email signature.

Email Address

This is quite obvious but so often overlooked. “WineKook10 {at}” is not an email address that evokes professionalism, intelligence and competence! Instead, create an email address more in line with what you would see in a work setting, for example, “Firstname_Lastname {at}”

Email Name Settings

In a prior article I ranted about one of my pet peeves regarding LinkedIn etiquette. Well, here is a second pet peeve. Often I receive emails that read in my email program like so: from “ronjones{at}” Or just as bad: from “ron” with no last name. Emails should always be sent via “First name Last name” (or vice versa). Not only is it professional, it is also the only way that recruiters and hiring managers can find your email in their overstuffed email bins – by sorting or searching on your name. This setting is easy to find and adjust in your email program.

Email Signature

It also amazes me as to how many emails I receive that have no email signature whatsoever. At best, I might see the person sign their name. For example, “Thanks, Matt.” While on the job you used a professional email signature, now, while in transition, it is more important than ever to convey a professional image.
Here are instructions on how to create a highly professional and functional email signature when you are in job search mode. I bet you will keep the signature you create even after you land. After all, job search is not a one-time event during a time of need. Instead, you must incorporate a professional email signature and other strategies into your on-going career management. I am using my email signature as an example. Feel free to tailor these ideas to your own style.

Name and Title

Certainly lead with your name. Consider a larger point size and an attractive font and color. If you are in transition, consider starting your own consulting company. That way you can give yourself a title just like your last full time job! You may find yourself becoming a successful entrepreneur. If this strategy is not right for you, you can still add a tagline like the examples below.

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