Believe it or not, I’ve noticed that a certain percentage of job hunters (more than you’d expect!) are continuing to use their work e-mail address as the primary point of contact during their job hunt, despite the risks and what certain tenets of “common sense” would suggest about this practice. While receiving e-mail at work is understandably convenient for those folks who are searching confidentially while holding down a full-time job, however, I still recommend — STRONGLY — that all job hunters immediately switch to using a personal e-mail address for every aspect of their search campaign!

Here are three good reasons to back up this recommendation, in case you need them:

1) Remember, the contents of any e-mail you send or receive from your work computer are generally considered (with a few rare exceptions) the legal property of the company, so even if you don’t think the IT staff monitors your communications, they have every right to do so. Do you really want to take the chance that your boss finds out, either deliberately or inadvertently, that you’re looking to jump ship?

2) Also keep in mind that a fair amount of the material you send out as part of your search, such as the resumes you send to recruiters or post on Internet job boards, will linger in databases and web caches for years to come. Do you really want to cut off the possibility of receiving future leads, once you’ve taken a new job, due to having an old or outdated work e-mail address on your materials?

3) Lastly, even if you’re not worried about your current employer finding out that you’re looking around, the perception that your potential future employers will have when they see a work-related address is that you’re job hunting on company time. This is a BIG turnoff, right from the outset, and I know for a fact that companies can and do pass on interviewing otherwise-talented candidates for this very reason.

Luckily, this problem is a piece of cake to solve. Simply sign up for a new account on any of the main free e-mail sites out there (e.g. Hotmail, Gmail, Yahoo) and use this address for all of your search-related activities, going forward. You might have to check the account separately each day, on a break or when you get home, but in the long run you’ll be glad you made the switch!

P.S. Also, when signing up for social networking websites like LinkedIn, make SURE to use your personal address, as well, and not your work e-mail address in these cases. If your job should suddenly come to an end, and you lose access to your work computer, you’ll be cut off from your LinkedIn account and will have to go through a lengthy appeal process to get reinstated by the system!