Your Email Signature Block is Not a Resume

John Hancock Signature on Declaration of Independence

I’ve noticed a trend.

Students who are heavily involved in activities will be quick to let you know… in their email signature block.

Like most (all!) of what we write in public relations, your email signature line should be appropriate to your target audience. The advice on email signature lines will vary dramatically (just do a search). But here are a few tips for students and young PRos to make the most of this tiny piece of real estate:

1) Keep it simple: Less is more! Include the info your recipient needs – name, basic contact info – and avoid information overload.

2) Create more than one signature block: Your email signature block should not substitute as a resume. If you’re an intern, an account manager at the student-run PR firm, serve on the PRSSA executive board and participate in your sorority or fraternity, that’s all wonderful. However, each of those roles serves different purposes, and your signature line should, too.

If you were my intern, I would want you to represent my clients as a member of my firm (not as a student leader or participant in campus activities). If you were my intern, you’d also be using a company email, so putting that info on your personal signature line doesn’t seem appropriate (although I’m glad you’re proud!).

Put your Web site or blog address in your subject line and provide your resume there.

3) Avoid quotes. I might get in trouble for this… I know lots of people who have quotes in their signature blocks. I’d say if you want to include a quote, make it a positive one and keep it short. But generally, think about the point and think about your audience. Is it necessary info?

4) Don’t use lame fonts. Lots of fonts don’t translate from machine to machine or from HTML or “rich text” to a plain text email system. If you’re trying to do something fancy-schmancy… don’t (refer to tip 1).

5) No personal info. Keep the info business-oriented. No one needs to know how many days left until graduation.

So what should you include? No more than five or six lines and keep any “mini commercials” to one line.

  • Name
  • Credentials relevant to the email and to the recipient
  • Phone Number
  • Email
  • Web site or blog address

For other tips, look here, here and here.

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