Is Your Professional Contact Info Unprofessional?
When it comes to your job search, first impressions count. Many of us know the saying that "you only get one time to make a first impression." A significant part of the professional first impression you make centers on your contact information. In many cases, you may never have the opportunity to make an in-person first impression if your unprofessional contact information already made your first impression for you.
In preparing for this article I asked just one division of my company to provide me with recent examples of resumes, cover letters and emails that had unprofessional contact information. There were dozens of examples on my desk within an hour. In fact, we get hundreds of unprofessional contact info examples annually which demonstrates the need for jobseekers to take a second look at the impressions their contact information are leaving.
Look at the professional contact info you are using. For each contact venue contact it yourself from a customer or employer’s perspective. What are you conveying in your impression? Are you telling the world that you are a professional that means business or are you conveying that your just trying to wing it and don’t pay attention to the importance of even the basics of being a professional?
Let’s go through the steps of making sure your professional contact info isn’t unprofessional. The two primary areas of concern are with your voicemail and email.
I called a candidate once (once being the key word) and got his voicemail. What I heard after a couple of rings was the chorus of the song “Dirty White Boy” from the band Foreigner. Then the beep. I hung up without leaving a message.
Another “cute” voicemail people like to create is one with their child leaving the voicemail. Even if the child is really hard to understand it doesn’t matter because its cute because of course it is their child. Not so. Not professional. Don’t do it.
When someone calls the “professional you” for the first time and gets your voicemail it is this voicemail that portrays the first impression of your professionalism. Make sure any contact number you have on your resume, cover letter, email correspondence or what you leave in a message to be called back at leads back to a professional voicemail from you if you are unable to answer the call.
Don’t have music, children or sound effects on your voicemail. The funny prank type voice mails have no place in your professional contact info. The sarcastic messages that is fun for your friends to hear is not what you want for people calling the professional you to get. It is best to not leave your home phone number on any of your professional contact info. My advice is that you only use a cell phone number as your contact number. If you don't have a mobile phone get one. For many professions it is hard for anyone to take you seriously as a professional in today’s world without having such a business necessity. This gives you easier accessibility to the primary phone that a recruiter or employer can reach you at. Make sure you check voice mails regularly.
The best kind of voicemail to have is one that is short and business like. Make sure you say either your name or your phone number so the person calling knows they did reach the right person. A couple of excellent voicemail examples would be: “Hello. You have reached Darin Manis. I am currently unavailable. Please leave a message and I will try to promptly return it. Thank you.” Another would be: “Hi you’ve reached the phone of Darin Manis at 888-928-0008.” Leaving the phone number and not your name is also fine by having something like: “You have reached 888-928-0008 please leave a message.” Keep your messages brief and on point.
If you are an employee never leave your current work phone number. Think about it. What does that tell a future employer? It says you are willing to discuss other opportunities or interview with another company on your employer’s dime. This is unprofessional and is not perceived well by hiring authorities.
When you are leaving an email address on your resume you need to make sure the address isn’t going to disqualify you. I am going to protect the email addresses that we have received by replacing the carrier with XYZ and deleting or changing numbers, but these are real examples of email addresses that we have received on resumes: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com.
For the email address you are using for your job search avoid anything that would be considered tacky or inappropriate. Do not have religious, political or other ideological references in your email address. firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, or firstname.lastname@example.org are not only unprofessional email addresses but also divisive to those with different ideological viewpoints who may be screening your resume or doing your interview. These are not screening or interview discussions you ever want to get into. You can get email addresses for free. If you have a personal email address that you love but that happens to be unprofessional then don’t use it. Get another one for the professional you. Make a simple email address like email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org. It doesn’t have to be a business email address. It doesn’t have to convey anything positive. It just can’t represent something that could be potentially considered as negative.
If you are an employee do not leave your work email address. In the same way you should not leave your work phone number you should not utilize your work email address on resumes. It is also not a good idea to email potential employers or recruiters from your work email where the work email address is what is on the reply address. This doesn’t convey a professional image, shows you are a person that looks for jobs and other career opportunities while you are on the clock (even if you are doing so on your break) and can get you in trouble if they hit the reply button and return your email.
Most employers, job boards and recruiting firms have auto reply emails that go out anytime you submit a resume. It is very possible (and if you work for a large firm highly probable) that your employer monitors emails or at least spot checks them.
In conclusion, if you want to be taken seriously as a professional, your contact info needs to convey professionalism. Keep the personal you separate from the professional you in regards to all phone numbers and email address provided.