Your E-Mail Address Has a Stigma Attached to It

When the Web first exploded, now known as Web 1.0, a candidate sent me a resume from the following email address:  spicegirlsrule@yahoo.com.  My reaction was to throw it in the virtual trash.  Although it did have a cover letter, I was still 10% afraid to open the attachment, thinking it could be a virus.  The reality is, this was probably just a kid straight out of school who didn’t think that her email address would have any effect on her job hunt. She was wrong.

Fast forward to today.  I’m currently working on a resume for a writer/editor who is in her early 50’s.  One of the biggest challenges that she’s having is that she wants to do more dot-com work but is afraid her age is going to hurt her. She’s got worlds of relevant professional experience and has taken post-graduate work in her field, and most recently, courses on writing for the Internet.  Her credentials are very strong and it’s my job to make those credentials pop on her resume, without having the potential hiring manager focus on her age.

One of the first things I noted when starting her rewrite process is that she has an AOL email address. Even though AOL took Tim Armstrong out of Google, it remains to be seen how this makes AOL relevant today. It’s a dinosaur.  My first email account was jashenj@aol.com.  I had it for years.  If you are past the age of 35 or so, I would guess you had an AOL account too.  Not so, if you are younger. (I wonder what Tim was thinking when he had to change the @google to @AOL on HIS email account.  I can’t imagine that his fingers didn’t twitch just a bit.)

If you’ve still got an AOL email, frankly, you really need to change it.  The best thing to do is create your own domain name, especially if you’re a creative person with a portfolio to show off.  When I launched my resume business, I registered TandJam.com at Register.com.  The service allowed me to then create the email account, Jane@TandJam.com.  You can do the same.  Jane Doe could purchase a domain and then create an email, jane@janedoe.com.    If that doesn’t work for you, I do believe an @gmail account is still relevant but I’d stay away from Hotmail and Yahoo as well.

I’m not suggesting that changing your email is easy to stomach. In fact, my client is distinctly unhappy, even though she recognizes that I’ve got a point.  Changing your email address is similar to deciding whether or not to take your spouses name when getting married. Everyone knows you by that name.  Your past colleagues, family and friends are used to using this particular calling card.  But, this is a not a time for looking back.  It’s a time to move forward and if you’re trying to get a job, you gotta put your best foot forward.  Keep your AOL account if you want.  This way you won’t lose out on any emails that might come your way.  Use your new email moving forward and slowly but surely get the word out to your past contacts.  Trust me, they’ll come around, even if it takes a year or so.

For another blogger’s reaction to the same topic, check out what Scott Greenfield has to say at Simple Justice.

11 Comments
  • Liz
    Posted at 13:46h, 17 August Reply

    Another great point that is so easily overlooked. I would not have given much thought to the email provider being a tip off on the age of an applicant, but you are right! I am hoping that my @me.com (Apple’s email) will look “hip” enough.

    Thanks for all of the wonderful info, it has been helpful to me throughout my job search.

  • anonymous
    Posted at 04:24h, 18 August Reply

    Its easy to create your own domain and then forward all your e mail accounts to that new account. That way you are only checking 1 account and you dont have to send out a mass e mail telling the world you changed your e mail address. I have 1 main e mail account and then 3 others that I have used in the past for things (grad school, etc) that I occasionally still get mail on. This way I dont have to check 4 e mail accounts all the time. I use Gmail as my main e mail because it works best with my Blackberry.

  • Mike
    Posted at 22:04h, 18 August Reply

    I totally agree that aol email addresses raise eyebrows. It’s not that it gives away an age, per se, but it makes me question your judgment? Are you really paying AOl for ISP service in this day and age? I can hear the modem cranking up now!!

    • Paul
      Posted at 21:48h, 19 August Reply

      AOL e-mail has been free for quite some time.

      • Jane
        Posted at 23:38h, 19 August Reply

        For years….for years. 🙂

    • Eric
      Posted at 22:16h, 10 October Reply

      I suppose it is a little odd to see an AOL email address, but really, why should anyone care what email provider people use? And I think AOL has provided high-speed internet access for quite some time now. But anyway, how is using dialup access a sign of bad judgment? You don’t know their situation (perhaps they currently live in an area that doesn’t have access to high-speed internet), or perhaps they’re sticking with dialup to save money. Unless their home internet service will affect their job performance, why should you care?

  • Pingback:News blog » Blog Archive » Non-Sequiturs: 08.18.09
    Posted at 22:54h, 18 August Reply

    […] * Do email addresses really have a stigma? I guess I'm glad I canceled my CompuServe account. [Let's Talk Turkey] […]

  • Wayne
    Posted at 23:36h, 18 August Reply

    Some alumni associations offer lifetime email forwarding. You get an @SomeCollege address and all mail sent to that address is forwarded anywhere you like. That should knock a few years off your perceived age.

  • EJ
    Posted at 01:17h, 19 August Reply

    Most university alumni associations offer an alumni email address (yourname@yourschoolalumni.org, yourname@alumni.yourschool.edu, or similar). You’re pretty much guaranteed to get your name or at least something close to your name (as opposed to on gmail or yahoo where you’d be johnsmith99999) and there’s nothing not respectable about the domain name.

  • David Banner
    Posted at 01:47h, 19 August Reply

    Why would gmail be ok but not Yahoo mail? Google may be the number 1 search engine but Yahoo is still the number 1 website hands-down!
    http://blogs.zdnet.com/web2explorer/?p=56

    Aol is understandable but Yahoo? Doesn’t compute!

  • Joanne
    Posted at 11:51h, 21 August Reply

    You’re dead on Jane! I found out that my personal email which I thought (and still do) is clever – had the word “bed” in it. Company security software may delete my email thinking it is spam. I had to switch email addresses.

    Keep up the good work!

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