Your Email Signature

woman writing on a laptopAn Alphabet Soup Worth of Abbreviations

A while back I had a meeting with Mary Jean* to discuss amending my existing insurance coverage. Mary Jean is professional, personable and easy to talk with. She explained my current coverage amongst other issues. I recently received this email message from her.

Dear Denise,

Thank you for allowing me to speak with you about your supplemental insurance options. These decisions are not easy to make, so please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any other questions or concerns.

Have a wonderful day!

Mary Jean Baptise, CIC, AAI, PLCS, MBA

There is nothing wrong with the message, and it was short and straight to the point. I like this form of communication the best. Messages like this help save time. But it bothered me how she signed her message with the credentials of CIC, AAI, PLCS, and MBA.

I knew that MBA stood for Masters of Business Administration, but what about CIC and AAI? A Google search provided me the definitions:

CIC-Certified Insurance Counselor

AAI-Accredited Advisor in Insurance

PLCS- Personal Lines Coverage Specialist

Please, don't make people search through Google to figure out your titles.

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Showcasing Fancy Titles Doesn't Always Work

So, maybe thinking, "you don't like professional accreditations?"

I do not want to discredit the hard work you or anyone did to obtain their respective title(s).

  1. In some cases, it is important and legally necessary to list your certifications. So if you need to place it in your correspondence, please do so.

If you do have multiple credentials, I just want to ask you some questions:

  1. Is listing certain credentials necessary?
  2. Is your audience familiar with the credential abbreviation?
  3. If you are required to provide a credential, how can the recipient validate your information?

For example, I have a certification in project management from the Project Management Institute. My certification number is 2461832 and you can verify it by visiting When I communicate with a potential client, I sign my name as follows:

Denise Lee, Professional Project Manager (PMI# 2461832)

Of course I have other credentials, I have a college degree and certifications in CPR and other wellness programs, but those credentials are not relevant to project management. In this circumstance, I only listed what was important; my project management certification.

Prospective clients have easy access to verify my information, which is included in my signature. And after you sign a contract with me then I will simply sign an email message with “Denise.” I do that because you most likely will call me by my given name.

If you want to call me Mrs. Lee, knock yourself out.

The point is that you have to take into account your audience when you list your credentials. There is no need to be cute or fancy. Excessive credential listing shows that you are an awesome test passer and enjoy paying examination fees.

Furthermore, excessive credential listing does not impress. On the contrary, it can appear pompous and intimidating.

Intimidation is neither needed nor appreciated when you are trying to gain business from a prospective client. Too many suffixes shows clients your self worth is wrapped around certificates. Aren’t you more than an alphabet soup of vowels and consonants?

Do you agree or disagree with my thoughts? I would love to read them. Please drop me a line in the comment section below.

*name was changed

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