Personal branding is a key ingredient if you want to look for new opportunities. It is worth investing some time in creating an online presence, e.g. using your personal blog or website, professional profiles, social media channels or by designing an engaging signature for your e-mail correspondence.
Private e-mail signature
You may think that using an email signature in your personal correspondence is a waste of time and space. Wrong! Your closest friends and family could be completely unaware of what you’re currently up to. Put a link to your personal twitter feed or flickr profile in an email signature and voila, they’re in the loop again.
Even more importantly, your personal email signature can also act as a virtual business card. In just a few lines it will help you transmit the most important information when it comes to the job search or sending business proposals. By using a detailed signature, you will also show your recipient that you are really interested in what you do or want to do. Do not try to replace your email signature with a vCard and remember to make sure that all the data you give is correct and up to date!
A good private email signature should include your:
- First name, (optional middle initial), last name – Consider using a bigger font, different color or simply underlining it. Do not use a nickname.
- Email address – It is very important that your e-mail address looks professional. Addresses like hotbabe88[at]yourmailservice.com are not good ideas as they show lack of competence and intelligence. The simplest way to create a good email address is to use your first name and last name, e.g.: <first name>_<last name>[at]yourmailservice.com or <first name>.<last name>[at]yourmailservice.com. Moreover, all your emails should be sent via your name. It not only looks professional, but also helps other people find your email (by searching your name or sorting), when their inbox is full of messages. Most webmail services include configuration options for both display names and custom email aliases, so you should have no problem with this.
- Telephone number – Provide the phone number at which you can be most often reached. Remember to include the right telephone prefix in front of your number: for landline a local and country prefix, and for your mobile phone number only a country prefix. Do not include more than two telephone numbers in your signature, as it will be confusing for others. A fax number is optional, as not many people use fax nowadays. For more on international telephone number format standards see this Wikipedia article.
- Website/Blog/Social Media URL – When you are building your personal brand, it’s a good idea to link to your active social media sites from your email signature. You can use icons to represent social profiles, but make sure that your signature is not muddled with too many icons or images. Remember: before adding a social media site to your signature ensure that it does not contain any embarrassing posts or pictures.
- Small photo or personal logo (optional) – If you use one, make sure it is small (50×50 pixels is perfectly enough for an image or a logo). And if you want to be taken seriously, don’t add animated pictures, even a dancing Big Bird from Sesame Street. Learn more about photos and graphics in e-mail signatures here.
Two examples of what a good email signature should look like:
Fig. 1. This email signature is very clear and informative. It gives the most important information about a person.
Fig. 2. In this example, only social media thumbnails are real pictures. The blue backgrounds were creating using the table background HTML attribute. You can add a background of any color to your HTML table cells by including a BGCOLOR attribute in your <TD> tag. See this article for more.
A cautionary example of what your email signature should NOT look like:
Fig. 3. This email signature shows lack of competence – it looks like something you might use when you write to your 11-year old friends! A silly email address, empty places in contact details and cheesy graphics are not helping Laura look professional.
Note that due to the increasing number of emails being received on smartphones, you need to optimize your email signature to make it look professional on mobile devices. Remember that screens in smartphones are quite narrow and preferably your email signature should be oriented more vertically rather than horizontally.
Learn how to configure a personal email signature in: