EconomyEditor's PickThe problem with generic employer e-mail addresses

November 4, 2021

Is it advisable to answer job advertisements from a company that has no professional business e-mail address and website? BusinessWorld is publishing a lot of these ads that are too small to be noticed and read. What do you think? — Suspicious Susie.

Many decades back, dynamite was used to clear farmland for development. A salesman for explosive products was known for his extreme attitude on safety. Since he had covered the same area for 30 years, he knew most of his customers on a first-name basis.

One day, he met a new customer, a man who had just bought a farm and needed explosives to flatten the field. The new customer asked if he could be billed for the explosives later. “Well,” the salesman asked, “have you ever used dynamite before?” The new customer replied in the negative. “Then I’m afraid, I’ll have to ask for cash in advance.”

Even today, we must be extremely careful with our dealings, including job opportunities. Better to be safe than sorry. Also, you can’t argue against having a professional e-mail address and website that tells you many things about an employer’s brand.

Having a professional e-mail address costs about $3 a month in many cases. It should cost less if you have hundreds of employees working for your organization. An employer must spend something to promote a business name and protect its reputation, including the people behind it.

Your response to such ads also depends on your personal circumstances. If you’re unemployed and with no other options, you may answer those ads with a sense of calculated risk. Let me give you an example: Before the pandemic, my youngest son applied for work with a small lending company without a website. He sent his curriculum vitae to a generic e-mail address listed in the job ad.

He was accepted after only two interviews, which I found unusual.

The job offer was conditional on the submission of basic pre-employment documents and the payment of a fee to cover his medical examination. That’s a red flag. He asked the human resource (HR) manager about the company and the people behind it. He then asked, “Sir, if you don’t mind, isn’t your business required to have a license by the central bank?”

The HR manager gave an evasive answer. That’s another red flag. After several days, my son received a call that the job offer was withdrawn and gave a vague explanation. The employer’s actions confirmed my suspicions that it was one of those fly-by-night companies.

I’m not saying we should be suspicious of all employers with generic e-mail addresses. Far from that. I myself use a generic e-mail address as an alternative to my office e-mail. You must take extra steps to discover more about that company before it’s too late. On the other hand, organizations with expensive-looking e-mail addresses and fancy-looking websites don’t necessarily tell us they’re legitimate and trustworthy.

But why waste time on organizations that are unmindful of their reputation? Focus your attention on major employers. It can be a challenge to be accepted by those companies, but the experience of going through their interview process might help you gain confidence when you undergo the same process with other employers.

It’s a good idea to know about a prospective employer, not only for purposes of acing the job interview but to clarify the reasons for the vacancy and why the company is resorting to an external hire instead of promoting people from within.

The more interested you are in the inner workings of a prospective employer, the better you will understand if it is a good fit with your career aspirations. It can be discouraging to prepare for an interview and a complicated story from an employer. That’s why it is essential for anyone to have a sense of clarity on the path forward at the close of an interview process.

Your inquisitive mind could be a double-edged sword to a prospective employer who may think of you as the best fit for any organization that believes in an industrial democratic system. Or you could be considered a nuisance applicant who could rock management’s boat. Whatever you decide, it’s better to shake things up and know how the dice will roll for the sake of your future.

Have a chat with Rey Elbo via Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter or send your workplace questions to or via

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