How Professional is Your E-mail Address?

Last Updated Jan 21, 2010 9:43 PM EST

What does your e-mail address say about you, your business, and your professionalism? You might say "nothing" -- it's superficial, just a way to be contacted, like a phone number. But unlike a phone number, which is assigned to you, most people get a hand in creating their e-mail address.

That means a lot of people judge you by the alias you keep, not unlike the way you might be judged by a personalized license plate or your clever nickname. (Rick, for example, has started calling himself "The Predicament." And his license plate is "Hottie42.")

Does your e-mail address say the right things about you to clients, co-workers, and potential employers?

Lifehacker recently conducted an online poll to see what its readers thought about e-mail addresses, and the results are fascinating. Here are the most interesting conclusions:

Beware of cutsey or unprofessional usernames. Regardless of the domain (the part after the @ symbol), you might want to base your username on your real name (like davejoh or dave.johnson) rather than goodwriter or editorstud).

Avoid domains with bad reputations. This is kind of a subjective thing, but AOL and Yahoo addresses are kind of, well, 19th Century. They make people think you're out of touch or technically unsophisticated.

If you have your own business -- even a small one -- you should invest in your own domain name. If you freelance, for example, you don't look like you're serious about a career if you're using a Gmail or AOL domain in professional correspondence.