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Set Up a Special Email Account

Besides an increase in privacy while you job search, the nice thing about setting up a Web-based email account is that you can receive and send email from anywhere in the world, as long as you have access to a computer with a Web browser and an Internet connection.

I've found over the years, too, that using a work-based email account or an account through a local service provider can cause headaches if you change jobs, go away for the summer, go on vacation, or change Internet access providers.

Another benefit to having a job-search related email account is that you don't have to rely on your account at work to send and receive job search-related emails. Doing so not only increases your chances of getting nabbed by your current employer, but it sends a negative message to potential employers. It's almost the same as a guy two-timing his honey and borrowing honey's car to take his mistress out to a romantic dinner. Play it safe and get your own darned email account!

The downside to free Web-based email is that your inbox might become flooded with unsolicited emails (spams) from all sorts of characters. As the saying goes, there's no such thing as a free email account.

Although you can use your regular home account for the job search process, I think it's best to have a separate account devoted just to your job search email. Why? It's easier to track and separate your job search email from your personal email. It's that simple.

Choosing the Right Email Handle

When communicating with potential employers via email, you don't want an email handle such as cupiedoll@freeemail.com. Instead, choose a username that's more serious and professional, preferably some variation of your real name, such as j_doe@freeemail.com or tomwalters@freeemail.com. If you already have a free email account and need to change your username for the job search process, do so.

Here are just a few of the free Web-based email services out there. If you want to look for something different, just type in the keywords "free email account" at any search engine and you'll get a long list of services.

  • Hotmail.  The good folks at Microsoft Network make it quick and easy to sign up and access your free email account with Hotmail. Just go to www.hotmail.com and click Sign Up for FREE Email and you'll choose a username and password, and then fill out a brief registration form. Be sure to access your new account within 10 days, or else it won't be activated. You also need to check in every 60 days or the account gets closed.

Stop Junk Email Before It Starts!

One of the potential downsides of signing up for a free email account is junk mail, also known as spam. To limit access to your email address from fellow members who really want to help you "get out of debt" or "learn how to earn thousands of dollars without lifting a finger" (read: gimmick), uncheck the box that says you want to be entered in the member directory or any other Internet directory listings. You can also reduce the amount of direct email that comes your way by not signing up for the free subscription offers, or at least sign up only for those you have a strong interest in.

  • Yahoo! Mail.  Do you Yahoo!? Yahoo! Is another popular free email service. Just go to www.yahoo.com and click the Check Email icon or Mail link (you'll find both on the front page). The next page has a link that says Sign Me Up!, and by clicking this link you'll go to a page that asks pretty much the same information as Hotmail: name, gender, occupation, age, and whether you want to be listed in the People Search directory.

  • JobMail.  Signing up for an account at JobMail is pretty similar to Yahoo! and Hotmail. Go to www.jobmail.net, click Sign Up, choose a username and password, answer a few registration questions, and you're on your way to a new job search email account. This one even seems a bit more appropriate because the word "job" appears in your address. No guessing what this email is about!

    Is JobMail any different from the preceding free email services? If you sign up for the more advanced features, you can use tools such as the Global Response folder, which can save you time when responding to many people with the same message. For example, your global response could be "Thanks for your interest. I have accepted an offer but thank you for contacting me about opportunities with your company" or something similar.

The Least You Need to Know

  • The Web can yield an unruly amount of results in your job search—be prepared and organized before you begin.

  • Before you start sending out résumés, decide on a game plan according to how quickly you need a job.

  • You can use job agents to have positions delivered to your email inbox instead of visiting job-posting sites.

  • The Web contains endless resources to help you research target companies, network, and get ahead of your competition.

  • Setting up a Web-based email account offers added privacy and access from any Web-connected computer.

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