Years ago, Bruce Hurwitz, an executive recruiter and career counselor, found the perfect candidate for a position that one of his clients was looking to fill.
"The client immediately called me, said she liked the resume," Hurwitz said.
And then his client tossed the applicant's resume in the trash.
"She was troubled by the candidate's e-mail address," he said. The handle of the applicant's e-mail address included the phrase "psychogamer."
"[It] lit a red light for the client," Hurwitz said. "My instructions were to find someone with similar work experience, but more professional."
It's a detail that many job seekers may not consider closely, but using an e-mail with a handle that reflects hobbies, interests, opinions or physical traits could be the thing that kicks them out of the competition for a job, several recruiters told amNewYork. Most suggest using a "firstname.lastname" format.
Hurwitz has learned that lesson. He recently interviewed a job candidate who used "grannyslittlesweetheart" as an e-mail handle.
"I only submitted her once she set up a Gmail account with her proper name," he said. "I made her do it on the spot, in my office. ... If the e-mail address is unprofessional, I won't submit the candidate."
The problem is that many people may find it impossible to get an e-mail handle in their names.
The number of e-mail users could reach 1.6 billion worldwide this year, according to The Radicati Group, an Internet research firm. That means the arena of available handles is rapidly decreasing. The more common a person's name is, the more unlikely it is to find a corresponding handle.
Megan Howie, director of AOL Jobs, recognized that many people are "having difficulty pinning down an e-mail address with [their] first and last names." She added that about 25 million e-mail accounts have been created through AOL.
A Google spokeswoman said that the search engine's Gmail service boasts "hundreds of millions" of accounts, but wouldn't comment on the availability of certain e-mail handles.
It's not just a problem for people with common names. David Zweifler, who works in Manhattan, hasn't been able to get an e-mail handle in his name on any service accept Gmail — and the only reason he got that is because he was an original beta tester when the service was first introduced in 2004.
"I don't know anyone who has their 'firsname.lastname' for their logins on public sites," Zweifler said.
Howie said that AOL is launching a new e-mail service this spring to alleviate the issue. Project Phoenix will create different domain names, freeing up millions more handles, she said.
Variations you can use to get an e-mail in your name:
* Separate your first and last names with an underscore or other symbol to create a more unique handle, Howie said. You can also add numbers to the handle, as long as they're appropriate. That excludes "69."
* Use the e-mail address you were given in college, said Carol Meerschaert, director of marketing for Healthcare Businesswomen's Association. E-mail addresses issued by universities are guaranteed to be neutral and professional.
* Create your own domain in your name. That's what former Manhattan businessman John Mallen did. "Someday, these names will be hard to get, and you'll wish you had," a colleague of Mallen's advised back in 1995, when he created his domain. The cost of creating a domain is generally around $15.
If you want to be a stripper
Want to know how your cutesy e-mail address might go over with recruiters? Here's what some had to say:
"These e-mail addresses are potentially as revealing as having party pictures on your Facebook profile" — Jeanne Achille, CEO of the DEVON group, a New Jersey-based PR firm
"It is a quick way to get a thumbs down before you are even seen. It shows a lack of judgment." — Lesley Mitler, president and founder of Priority Candidates, a career services firm for college graduates
"Does a cute or sexy e-mail address hurt your chances of getting a job? Not if you're applying to be a cocktail waitress or a stripper." — Lee Miller of NegotiationPlus.com, a career coaching company
"Silly e-mail addresses are usually fine, in my opinion. ... If your freak flag is offending anyone, let it fly. Clients won't see your personal email address anyway, if you're hired." — Kevin A. Mercuri, founder of Propheta, a Manhattan-based PR firm
We won't be in touch
Recruiters share some of the worst e-mail handles they've seen on applicants' resumes, including: