Why You Should Never Send Your CV via Gmail

Pen Magnet
Feb 9, 2020 · 7 min read
Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

Three months back, I applied to a game studio. Not that I was a great match, but the demographics were on my side: Very few developers possessed the deadly combination of C++, C#, Node JS, and Mobile development technology in my geography.

Throughout my 20 years long career, I prevented myself from becoming a software manager. I never got promoted.

I wanted to remain a steadfast developer because only technical prowess could one day empower my great escape: side project entrepreneurship.

With my experience, I was sure of an interview call.

I sent my application to the Human Resources email via Gmail.

Three weeks passed, I heard back nothing. I sent a follow-up email using a different subject line, and the HR got back to me:

“Unfortunately the position is recently filled up. By the way, when did you apply?”

I forwarded him the same e-mail again when he responded: ”Yeah, I got this one, but the earlier one was in my Spam folder. Gmail quarantined it because the attachment contained your personal data.”

They must be using Gmail client to access their office emails, I guessed.

“And yes, you were indeed out of luck. The guy who got hired applied 2 days after you.”

I was aghast. Was Gmail filtering out every attachment that contained a phone number or an email address? Was this really effective in their efforts to fight spam? After all, I didn’t send it to everyone in my recruiter’s office.

Whatever it was, it cost me a job position.

In the past, I had sent my application to a Google recruiter 3 times. I never heard back from them. Two of them were through Gmail.

Maybe, my CV still lies in the Spam folder of some Google recruiter.

Looking back, I feel that the number of jobs lost via Gmail could be more than 150.

The Gmail Email Writing Experience:

Your cover letter reveals your persona to the future employers. Gmail’s writing suggestions setting masks it.

That was enough reason to quit using Gmail for job applications.

But there are more reasons to abandon Gmail for everything.

After a smaller keyboard size, the thing that I hate most about texting on an iPhone is auto-correct.

Gmail goes one step further with auto-suggest.

Every time I type “I am a Senior developer with 15 years of…” and Gmail hints me with “experience”. What if I wanted to write “expertise”?

When type “I hope the position…” and it pops up “is still available” when I really want to write “open”.

How does it feel to tell your prospect date that you are available, instead of open to a new relationship? It preserves the mutual respect for a relationship that is still to be built.

The whole idea of wondering if a job is available places the applicant in a baggers’ basket. It puts the employer on a higher pedestal.

Gmail kills the most important aspect of a job application: free writing. Even if it may suck grammatically/verbatim, I still want to hear the voice of my words. I want to ponder upon the good, bad and ugly of my emotions.

Your cover letter reveals your persona to the future employers. Gmail’s writing suggestions setting masks it.

No cookies for writers that are good enough. Boilerplate junkies? Most welcome.

But Then, It Powers the Executives:

The whole idea behind Gmail’s auto-suggest is to make people productive with their mobile email experience. What if you are typing during a commute or a meeting? It really speeds up the process.

Except that it tries to replace/mimic the messaging experience.

In doing so, it tries to get under our minds and our communication patterns via the most powerful weapon called AI.

In fact, I envisioned quite a lucrative future for the messaging+AI wedlock.

But empowering organizations to better understand consumer needs is true value addition.

Crippling email writers while mining up your datasets is, well, gross.

While the feature can be turned off from Gmail Settings (Writing Suggestions option), it is obvious most people don’t bother to alter defaults, especially when updates happen on Gmail servers.

Google itself acknowledges the value of Defaults, by the way. It handsomely pays Apple a few billions every year to keep Google the default search engine on Safari.

What Is in It For Google, Anyway?

There is no such thing as a free lunch.

-Barry Commoner

A cute boost in email drafting productivity is a gateway to sell more Gmail for business packages to their enterprise customers.

While the cloud is a given choice for even large corporations, organizations are reluctant to host their internal communications on servers controlled by behemoths. Such nice value additions can provide an enormous boost to Gmail for business.

Google is in hiring business too.

But the real cherry on the cake is what auto-suggest (possibly) does behind the curtains: Gather data on users’ communications to power their relevant businesses.

Sent an email to your recruiter with a salary request? Gmail matches it up with their own employer database and uses it on https://hire.google.com/. When it happens in real-time, you will have 50 more applicants to compete with, thanks to their Hire portal.

Worse, your job offer that your employer sent you to your Gmail account could be scanned for your salary data.

Yes, Google is in hiring business too.

Did you just send an invoice to your client using Gmail? It could be used to optimize Google Pay for Businesses. Next month, when your competitor signs up for such an account, he might get a sale price recommendation based on your pricing.

Did you request a booking with a hotel with your passport number? Did you send your ID to your kids’ school? Did you write to your crypto wallet provider customer care about the last problematic transaction?

Gmail has a way to keep you guessing…

Conclusion:

People will always want a free lunch.

-Wayne Rogers

While Google’s blatant abuse of user data is yet to be evaluated fully across all domains, job applications aren’t something one cannot do without Gmail. Not at least yet.

Hire, Google’s recruiting product is still in its infancy. But once we feed itself with our CVs, it will become an indispensable giant. Powerful employers may also pay to know if their applicant is applying to their competitors.

LinkedIn, on the other hand, is already cool and mature enough that gives your employer first view of who you are, and what you have been up to. Most importantly, it advertises itself as what it really is, without any backdoor AI gimmicks. It also provides messaging, which as of now, hasn’t been known to analyze your salary requests.

You could write your cover letters on StackOverflow, LinkedIn, or directly on your recruiter’s site. They all also provide facility for an attachment. A free Wordpress website (or a custom domain, if you can afford) can serve as your live CV, and you will never need Gmail for a job application.

Update:

I was truly overwhelmed by the enormous response to the post. While I could not respond to and thank every responder, I feel the need to address the core issue in dissenters’ responses:

It’s not your gmail account — it’s the recipient’s spam filter:

Except that both of them belong to Google in this case.

To be fair, why should one care? As an email service consumer, when you press Send, as long as you are not sending to 10+ (debatable, but not something that cannot be fine-grained) recipients, you would like to be rest assured that it reaches the receiver, as long as the destination exists (in which case you would know immediately).

Knowing when it wasn’t inboxed would be fair and cheap.

If your email was quarantined, an acknowledgement flag wouldn’t hurt Google. A decade past WhatsApp blue ticks, guarantees about “Yes, it reached the destination” is a no-brainer.

And no, I don’t want to go into settings to request read receipts for every email I sent. Knowing when it wasn’t inboxed would be fair and cheap.

There has been widespread discussion around Gmail spam filters becoming way more aggressive than before with the introduction of AI, and response of Gmail team isn’t quite encouraging, looking at the communication thread.

If that’s how Spam filters work, maybe it’s time to change the implementation. Google has been at the forefront of numerous innovations in the web, especially when it comes to ensure its dominance on the web.

To me, a recruitment professional choosing to weed out PDFs with personal data is far less likely event (unless it’s a default) than Gmail reading it — the question where it reads it is entirely irrelevant.

Your switching to non-Gmail won’t change a thing:

Just like you abandoning plastic alone won’t reverse climate change. Or your one vote cannot change the government.

The entire backbone of AI is more data. Data about sender’s domain, combined with data about message (careful! we are treading muddy waters!) — why not? It helps us fight spam, along with some really interesting insights!

Besides, there is a thing called Domain Name System Based Blackhole list. It rates emails for their relative spammy-ness based on the domain it originated from.

So it’s highly likely to end up in Spam sending from Gmail / Yahoo than your personal domain — if your attachment has personal data + 100 other things Google might categorize as Spam.

Except when it just works, we will never know.

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Pen Magnet

Written by

The Startup
Pen Magnet

Written by

Startup writer, Programmer, Tech Career Blogger, Education Engagement Enthusiast

The Startup

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