How to Choose a Professional Email Address

Matthew Lui

Emails are second to none in the business community. If you want to put up an email address on a business card, resume or professional document, you should ensure that it expresses professionalism and reliability.

Email Businessman

If you’re struggling to pick an email address, this guide will break down your options and the rules you need to follow.

Make Sure it’s Permanent

Before I go on, consider the permanency of your current address. How many years you think it will last before mail sent to it will no longer lead to you?

To maximise your contact reach, you should change your email address as infrequently as possible.

Old business cards and websites with your contact information might still be displaying your information, causing you to might miss out on valuable opportunities from old sources.

Consider durability as the most important aspect of a professional email address.

Buy your own Domain

Purchasing your own domain based on your name is a first step to building an online identity. It comes at a cost of about $50 a year, but email addresses such as john@johnsmith.com give the impression that you can be contacted no matter which company you're currently working for.

If it’s taken or you work as freelancer or if you’re considering a personal website, add your industry to the end. For example, you can buy johnsmithphotography.com or alternatively extend it with an appropriate domain extension to make it johnsmith.photography. This seamlessly combines your name and field of work.

It can be tempting, but try to avoid .co, .info and .net despite their lower prices and greater availability. The .com extension is the commercial and professional standard, and it will avoid any confusion.

If you really want something else, the .me extension works well for personal email address accounts.

To get your own email set up, first buy a domain name. There’s millions of possibilities, and you’ll find special prices for different terms and domain extensions on each site, so take your time choosing.

Next, purchase some cheap web hosting which gives free email address creation and has email forwarding capabilities. The hosting package will come with a nameserver (you might need to search the FAQ of the hosting service for this) which you can give to your domain registrar to link them.

Now that they’re linked, you can use your hosting control panel to set up an email address and a client to access it, or have it forward to an existing address you have.

Email Acc

Make sure not to forget to renew your domain each cycle, as some companies try to snatch up recently expired personal domains to sell back to you at a much higher price.

Forward a Business Email Address

If your company has given you an email address to use, you can set this to forward to your personal one so you can manage everything from there.

It’s good practice to always use the provided company email addresses whenever you’re in a situation where you represent your organization instead of yourself. Many organizations also require business communications to go through the provided address as an IT policy. This lets firms create backups and view the communication of their employees. 

However, most policies shouldn’t prevent you from setting up an automatic forward, as all sent and received mail still goes through the account.

Steps for this will depend on the service you’re using, so here’s the steps for the main platforms:

How to forward Gmail (Google support)

How to forward Yahoo Mail (Guiding Tech)

How to forward Outlook Emails (Microsoft support)

If none of these are applicable, contact your IT team. 

Style and Format

There’s a few ground rules to choosing a clear and memorable email address.

  • No numbers. If you ever end up in a situation where you need to share your email address with someone but they can’t it write it down, they’re likely not going to remember any numbers.
  • Can you repeat that? Some email addresses become too long or difficult to say. Try reading them out loud and choose an option with good flow.
  • First name before the @. If it's not available, try firstnamelastname@ or lastnamefirstname@. In the worst case, use a dot to separate the names or drop in your middle name.

Gmail and Yahoo

Freely provided email addresses make up the majority of personal emails. They won’t look quite as professional as your own domain, but if you can’t afford the cost then it’s your second best option as a business email address.

Gmail is easily the best option out of any of the free services, as it’s unlikely that Google will halt their service anytime soon; in contrast to the possibility of Verizon closing Yahoo accounts.

In addition, Google accounts are more useful when using other services like Google Drive.

ISP Provided

Using an email address given to you buy an internet service provider is a huge mistake. These accounts are tied to your internet plan, so if you ever want to change providers you’ll usually need to purchase an entire separate email hosting plan so you can keep receiving mail.

This is a huge breach of our principle of permanency, so you should try to avoid it. 

Temporary and Multiple Emails

Setting up short-term addresses can be a useful way to manage your contacts. If you own your own domain, you can set up addresses for specific clients or services and then forward them all to one.

Email Forward Diagram

The advantage to this is that you can simultaneously give the best impression on those copying your email address as well as gather information about where people emailing you must have come from. Further, you can disable forwarding for some emails if they become overwhelmed with newsletters and unwanted mail.  

Good Examples

  • john@johnsmith.com
  • johnsmith@gmail.com
  • photography@johnsmith.com
  • contact@johnsmith.me
  • films@johnsmith.photography (forwarded)
  • inquiries@johnsmith.photography (forwarded)

The Bottom Line

If you can sustain it, then investing a personal domain name can be well worth it. If not, a Gmail account will provide the reliability you need. Take care of your account, and try to keep it for as long as you can!

Why are you switching emails accounts? Let us know below. 

Read Next
How to Quickly Switch Between Email Signatures in Gmail
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Matthew Lui

Written By

Matthew Lui

Matt's an Aussie math lover, PC enthusiast and hobby programmer who has applied his interests wherever he can online. You'll find him studying or writing, but gaming when nobody's looking.