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Today’s article will cover a rarely-discussed issue about job searching: missing opportunities because of your email address! It is becoming more common to receive correspondence and/or job offers from employers via email, and it is important to make sure that you do not miss out on any opportunities.

Most job seekers, according to my experience, use widely-known free email providers, such as Hotmail, Yahoo, and Gmail. In 2012, web analytics company comScore released statistics indicating that Hotmail had 325 million unique visitors, Yahoo was in second place with 298 million users, and Gmail was third with 289 million users. Collectively that is approximately 912,000,000 users! Due to the increasing number of “spammers” and identity thieves online, these free email providers have implemented strict spam filters, also known as junk filters, which automatically route suspicious emails into a spam or junk folder. This service has saved several users from accidentally divulging their personal information online.

The downside to this technology is that spam filters often have issues determining which emails are safe, and which are not. If you receive an email from someone in your contact list, or address book, typically it arrives safe and sound in your inbox. Emails from non-contacts, especially with attached files, have a much greater chance of ending up in the spam folder. If you apply for a job and the employer emails you, without being in your address book, there is a chance that you will never even see the email! Based on my personal experience, I estimate that 75%+ of free email users never check their spam or junk folder, which could mean that several job seekers are missing valuable employment opportunities. So what do I recommend? Well, you have a few ways of resolving this issue:

1) Always check your spam or junk folder. There will probably be hundreds of emails in there, but it is worth your time to sift through them to make sure you didn’t miss anything important.

2) Add potential employers to your contacts (address book). Although this method isn’t foolproof, it can certainly increase your chances of receiving their email(s) correctly. The main problem with this strategy is that most companies use a single email address for incoming mail (for instance, jobs@companyname.org) but you may receive a reply from a different email address (for instance, diane@companyname.org). The reply email may or may not be routed to your inbox, since it’s not technically in your address book, but this is still a good “best practice” for free email users.

3) Get a new email provider. Nobody likes getting new email addresses, but if your job depends on it, perhaps you should consider this. In my opinion, the best free email provider (of the ones mentioned above) is Gmail. Throughout the years I have had email accounts with Hotmail (now Outlook), Yahoo, and Gmail, and Gmail’s spam filter seems to be the most intelligent with the least amount of accidents.

Ultimately, the best advice is to be thorough and use common sense. Check your spam folder multiple times daily, add people to your contact list, and use a better email provider if you continue to have issues. Companies do not have time to wait around for you to reply to job offers, so take the necessary steps to ensure your success.

By Drew Roark