Career Management

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} gmail.com” 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}yahoo.com.”

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}hotmail.com.” 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.

Email and Phone Number

Include your telephone number and your email address. You want to make it extremely easy for recruiters and hiring managers to contact you. Don’t make it difficult to be reached. Believe it or not, there is some spontaneity in the corporate hiring process. Recruiters and hiring managers may call you on a whim, on a hunch, but you must make it easy for them. Having your phone and email address on every new, forward, or reply email can make the difference.

Tagline

Marketing is key for the viability of any business. Treat job search as a business. This means you must market yourself. When you are in job search you are not exclusively an information technology professional, sales professional, or engineer, you are also a marketer! You must market yourself because no one else will do it for you. I repeat… no one else will do it for you.

All successful marketing campaigns include a tagline or catch phrase. You need one, too. Your tagline should be just a few words boiled down to your professional essence.

Some examples:

  • Tax Accountant: In taxing times, count on me.
  • Web Designer: Visually translating your complex thoughts.
  • Training Professional: Amy is the name, Training is my game.

Even better, give the consulting company, discussed above, a logo. If you do, you can include your logo in your email signature. (Starting a consulting company when you are unemployed is a great idea: you create a brand for yourself, it shows you are motivated, you can make some interim cash, it is an insurance policy against a future layoff and you can use the business as a soft landing upon retirement.) You can consider adding your own branded logo even if you are not associating it with your new consulting company. The logo can be simply your own personal logo.

Website and Blog Links

Adding your website and/or blog creates a brand of a busy, successful, current, relevant and technologically-savvy professional. This is the exact image that you want to project when in job search mode!

LinkedIn and Twitter Hyperlinked Icons

In this section you can really demonstrate your 2011 brand. Companies need professionals that can relate to all of the generations in the workforce. You will clearly be showing your connection and adaptability to the Gen Y and Millennial generations by adding social media hyperlinks to your email signature. It goes without saying that the content you link to must be of the professional variety only! LinkedIn is perfect because of its professional focus. Twitter is also being used extensively by professionals and executives to share cutting edge business information. Twitter is no longer just for kids to tweet about their favorite mocha latte.

You can find the full instructions for creating the clickable hyperlinked icons from this YouTube video. These instructions assume that you use Outlook as your email client. The time consuming part is finding the right LinkedIn and Twitter icons and resizing them so that they look appropriate for your email signature. Not to worry – I have already done this for you. You can download and save my LinkedIn icon here (click “download here” in upper right corner) and my Twitter icon here. Now open Outlook and follow these steps to complete the process:

1. Tools
2. Options
3. Mail Format
4. Signatures
5. New (or edit)
6. Click: Insert picture (on right hand side of screen) >> Insert desired picture
7. Now that picture is inserted into the signature click on the chain link icon (hyperlink) >>type in desired URL
8. Save

Finished Product

At this point, you have all the tools you need to create a professional, sophisticated, branded and technologically-savvy email signature. One last tip: don’t left-justify everything. Give it some visual appeal by using different alignment, fonts, point sizes and color.

Please leave a comment below with your new professional email signature!

[Image Credit: Shutterstock]


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