Application Raters Not Impressed with Quirky Email Names


Newswise — In moments of creativity young people often develop an email moniker they think is cute and defines their identity. It may be well and good when communicating with friends, but when it comes to applying for jobs, that moment of creativity may be a job killer.

Kevin Tamanini, an industrial and organizational psychology doctoral candidate at Ohio University, undertook a study to determine what, if any, impact an email address has in screening job candidates' applications.

Millions of job applications are being sent to companies and organizations via computers, which is where the email address comes into play. It has been estimated that more than 90 percent of Fortune 500 companies have career sites on their web pages and take applications online.

A recent example: when the MGM Grand casino in Detroit announced it was accepting on-line applications to fill 1,000 jobs for its new $750 million casino/hotel/entertainment center, officials specified that the jobs must be applied for online. Within the first week more than 25,000 people had applied.

With the increasing use of on-line screening, Tamanini wondered if applicants' email addresses influenced the selection process. He will be presenting his findings at the annual conference of the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology in New York City later this month (April 27-29).

Studies have shown, he pointed out, that various attitudes and stereotypes toward individuals based upon gender, race, physical attractiveness and religion have been shown to negatively affect evaluations. "As a result, some applicants who possess the necessary abilities and applications are not being considered for jobs," he added.

Now, email addresses can be added to the list, according to Tamanini.His study found that application evaluators did not react positively to applicants with quirky or unprofessional email names.

Some of the actual email addresses deemed unprofessional: alliecat@, bacardigirl@, bighotdaddy@, drunkensquirl@, foxylady@, gigglez217@. "The urge to be creative may lead some people to deliberately select email names that could be considered unprofessional," he said.

"What many don't realize is that these names may hinder them when applying for a job," Tamanini noted.

First impressions are important and an unprofessional email moniker does not help create a positive reaction. In fact, those impressions may very well derail a person from the application process, even though he or she may otherwise possess all the necessary qualifications.

The good news in Tamanini's study is that if the applicant advances in the selection process, raters will often give the person the benefit of the doubt and the quality of the resume and his or her qualifications becomes more important than the email name.

Actual email addresses Tamanini's study considered to be professional included herrington@, jsmith@, mmtm203@, and tjs2409@.

"A person has no control over gender, race or physical attractiveness, but can determine an email name," Tamanini noted.

Which leaves HR evaluators scratching their heads wondering why a serious candidate would employ an unprofessional email moniker.

In his research, Tamanini used 200 students to rate email addresses. One concern was that students would be more lenient since it is generally young people who are using quirky or unconventional email names, but the majority of raters still gave them lower job-related evaluations. "I would think that people in the actual business arena would have an even stronger reaction to unprofessional email names," he said.

The Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology (SIOP) is an international group of 6,600 industrial-organizational psychologists whose members study and apply scientific principles concerning people in the workplace. For more information about SIOP, including Media Resources, which lists nearly 2,000 experts in more than 100 topic areas, visit http://www.siop.org.

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