One of the great resources here on Cube Rules is Cube Rules News, my monthly (sometimes bi-weekly!) newsletter. It has great tips for your career. When I send out the newsletter, I invariably get back 50-100 e-mails stating that the person is out of the office, on vacation, etc., and to contact someone else in case it is urgent. You know, your typical out of office message from your corporate e-mail account.
Now, it doesn't matter to me that I get back 50-100 e-mails when I send out the newsletter. What matters to me are the assumptions -- and dangers -- of putting your career information onto corporate, rather than personal accounts. In my mind, we are all in charge of our own career. That means we provide our own resources and assets to manage and build our career and not depend on corporations to help us along.
Yet, every month, I get between 50-100 e-mails from corporate accounts saying the person is out of the office. Here's four good reasons to move your career resources onto your personal accounts.
1. Your access to corporate resources is temporary. In a layoff, you can easily be walked out the door and all access to corporate resources removed -- and gone with it are all of your career resources as well. Even if you are not laid off, you can change jobs and change e-mail accounts resulting in even more transition maintenance for you to switch all of your career resources to a different e-mail address.
2. You are not your corporate identity. By associating your identity with the corporation you work for, you inhibit your personal brand. When you change companies, you need to change your e-mail with your friends, associates and family. Right now on corporate accounts you are You, The Data Janitor II from Enron, not You, The Solver of Problems. Until you get off of Enron's corporate resources (like when they went bankrupt...), you are associated with their brands, not yours.
3. You lose business networking. Your most important career resource is your business network. Yet, when you do all of your networking via corporate e-mail accounts, you have no personal connection to the person in the corporation. When that person leaves the company -- especially if you are not aware they were leaving -- they walk out the door and you have no quick and easy way to find out where they went or how to contact them. Having their personal e-mail account and cell phone number -- and they having yours -- means the relationship can easily continue.
4. Corporate assets have no privacy. None. This is not a whine; corporations can be held liable for many reasons. They can do anything they want with your accounts in terms of privacy. You have no say and can easily, unknowingly, violate some small business Code of Conduct rule in the company and get fired with no recourse. Why would you want to have your career stuff on corporate accounts when there is no privacy for the accounts?
To get your career resources back to your personal assets, get a personally branded (preferably, your name) e-mail account that you can use for your professional work. One that you'll keep for as long as you are working, so seriously consider the account and the company where you get the personal account. Make sure all of your career resources, mailing lists and coworkers you want to stay in touch with have this e-mail address. Get all of it off corporate assets.
One of the principles we teach here on Cube Rules is that you, and you alone, are responsible for your career. You can't depend on any company to magically move you along in your career; you have to do that on your own. It makes sense then, to get your career resources and your business network on your personal assets, starting with a professional, personal e-mail account.
Then, when your out of the office message comes back to me from your personal account, I can tip my cap to you and celebrate your foresight and career wisdom.