}

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Could Your Email Address Cost You A Job?


                                                     

Several months ago I wrote about emails being your personal brand.  Your name belongs as part of your email address so that recipients can quickly and easily identify you – especially when you are looking for a job.  You should never use nicknames, initials, or your high school monikers (e.g. stud@....).  So much for that.  (Check out the link if you want to know more).

But recently I heard several disparaging remarks about people who use email hosts like AOL and Yahoo!  I thought I would make some observations about this.

I attended a seminar a couple of weeks ago.  An agency president, who was on the panel, commented that when he sees a résumé with an AOL or Yahoo URL, he immediately discounts those candidates as being old fashioned and out of touch.  I found that ridiculous and slightly insulting.  However, then this week, I was interviewing a very senior executive who said the same thing. The first time I heard a comment about email URL's was a year or two ago when a candidate asked me about this since another recruiter had told him to change his host.  So now I am thinking that there really is some substance to these comments.

I can think of a number of senior agency executives who still use AOL and Yahoo.  In one case I actually commented this to an agency principal who used AOL.  His response: “I have had this email address since the 1990’s when I first got email.  Thousands of friends and business associates have it and it would be too difficult to change it.  Besides, who cares?”  I fully agree with him.

But...

This discussion and the recent comments started me thinking.  Just like my premise about bringing coffee on an interview, if there is a five per cent or even 2% chance of turning someone off while looking for a job, why risk it?  Especially since adding an email account from Google or another contemporary company is free and easy.  And, it can be done only for your job search, if you prefer.

It would be sinful for someone not to get a job because an executive they were interviewing with did not like their email host. Or even worse, decided not to see them because of it.

I would love to start a discussion about this topic.  What do you think?

49 comments:

  1. Sad but true...I've also heard from several younger or digital agencies that aol, hotmail, yahoo are turnoffs as they seem outdated, antiquated and so on. gmail, outlook, me, etc. are more accepted. A friend of mine foolishly applied to Google with a Yahoo account. While it shouldn't always be an immediate dealbreaker, it can be an indicator.

    It is rough to switch email addresses and takes a few years to completely transfer but depending on where and to whom you're applying, it's worth it.

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    1. I hate the concept that who you selected for your email account ten years ago could affect the outcome of a job search today. I understand the issue of applying to Google with a Yahoo account. (It is like interviewing for a job at the Pepsi agency and asking for a Coke). But rejecting someone based on a URL, without meeting them, is a bit much. But it is a fact of life which should not be ignored.

      Delete
  2. It's a form of discrimination. Most people have more than one account for a host of reasons - job search is clearly one of them. To judge anyone by their email host is no different that judging them on age, the color of their skin or what neighborhood they live in or the silly hat they were wearing on a FB post. But thanks for the heads up - I'll be sure to never use my google account for any professional reason. :)

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    1. I have to chime in: it's not comparable at all to judging someone for the color of their skin.

      Your race is not something you can change nor is not any indicator of potential job performance, technological know-how or digital prowess. We have no constitutional provisions for discrimination based on goofy email addresses.

      Delete
    2. Uhm...are you kidding? Yes, deciding not to interview someone with a freemail account, especially an old one, is discrimination. Equating email discrimination with discrimination based on protected class status? Hardly.

      Besides, an old freemail address can tell you something about that person's online comfort level. People (and their email addresses) tend to evolve along with their web experience, so if I'm looking for someone with significant online experience, putting fred290239@hotmail.com on a resume is a red flag.

      Not that difficult to change an email address, by the way. Set up your new address, then have the old address forward to the new. Update your stationery/signatures with the new address, set your Outlook/whatever to always use the new address as your return/reply address, and you're set.

      That way, old friends and associates can still reach you, and can gradually change over.

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    3. Cynthia, while I wrote that if there is a 5% chance of turning someine off it worth while to get a contemporary email address while job hunting. But I personally think it is nonsense. There is a president of a major, well known digital agency whose personal email is still Yahoo! But who cares. Judging people on their email address is a mistake.

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  3. Funny enough I just tried to 'JOIN THIS SITE' and had to sign in using Google, Yahoo or Twitter. I guess Twitter would be the best choice? Or Google over Yahoo? Will you judge me?

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  4. This is one of the reasons I sometimes wish the internet would implode. Petty stuff like this smacks of the meaningless pap we all thought would end after high school graduation.

    Having said that, however, I would be willing to bet the problems of discrimination - which on its face is just choosing one thing over another in either arbitrary or calculated ways - have always been with us, and this conundrum in particular seems easily solved.

    Is a person who graduated from Yale a better worker than one who went to a public college? On paper, they seem more desirable. What about the name you give your kid? Will it influence their future earning capacity? Should you go by your initials if you are a woman? When I got out of college I did just that and I got more job interviews. Was it because I was a woman or was it because they couldn't pronounce my name? I still wonder.

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    1. Sadly, Siobhan, we know that these kinds of factors effect hiring - looks, dress, college, haircuts, etc. So add emails to the list.

      Delete
  5. I recently changed my email address, because, while I know it's a superficial judgement, I found my self judging people's email addresses. I know it's a judgement without much merit, but there it was anyway, which means someone's going to judge me, too. Luckily it's easy to run your domain email right out of your gmail account, so I hooked it up without having to start juggling accounts.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sadly, we are all too judgmental. You did the right thing.

      Delete
  6. Yep. I have a cutesie bloggy email address on Gmail, and no way would I ever use it on a professional resume.

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    1. You would be shocked at how many I see. And when I tell people, they get insulted.

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  7. Okay okay - anyone with an aol account I'm guilty of judging, or at the very lest questioning, but I wouldn't NOT hire them for it. Jeeeeez.

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    1. I fully understand. But I think you are in the minority.

      Delete
  8. I'm a recruiter for a large US company (in the wireless/technology industry) and I can say that yes, I (and my other recruiter co-workers and colleagues) will judge you if you have an old email client (yahoo, aol) but if they have a great resume, it can be overlooked, but I admit it "factors" in to our opinion about you being out of touch. But I think it's a stretch to compare it to judging on age, skin color, etc. Also, too personal of email addresses really get to me (stonerguy420@whatever.com, prettyprincess@whatever.com.) Besides, it's EASY to set up an email address exclusively for job search use.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Thanks, Anon. All us recruiters are human! My point exactly. But you know as well as I do how hard it is to get a candidate to listen to us when I tell them that "prettyprincess" is inappropriate as an email address. On the other hand, I always go to the resume before looking at the details like email URL.

      I recently dealt with a candidate who went to AOL as an executive. He, naturally, adopted an AOL email account. After a year or two he left, but he said to me that the other change was such a hassle that he was going to leave the AOL address. He is a fabulous marketing executive and got a great $400+k job in very short order.

      Delete
  9. It's true! We've been making that joke for years, that AOL stands for "Amateurs On Line." For those of you who feel it's discrimination, this is the real world where not everyone gets a trophy. We're in the perception business, and as Paul has aptly written, you need to be thoughtful about your personal brand. Would you walk into an interview in something hopelessly unfashionable? Would you put your Palm Pilot on the desk? AOL isn't even reverse-chic. I hate to admit it, but we even look askance when potential clients use @aol. Not a deal-breaker, but certainly a harbinger that they may not understand much of the digital epicenter/cloud strategy we might present.

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  10. Hey Paul. I think I still own spoppe@kidrock.com but haven't logged on in a number of years. Hee hee. Steve at whatstheidea

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  11. I like to tease that AOL is retro and back in- but this is good feedback- and would likely use my alma mater email address- which forwards to my personal one just in case.....

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  12. The stigmatization of AOL email addresses dates back to when many AOLers would use the software platform for their entire Internet experience. But no one still using AOL is a dial up Luddite. Those with AOL Email addresses because of convenience were in fact early adaptors. It may show you're Genx or a Boomer instead of Gen Y, since no Millennial would be caught dead with an AOL account, but it is no indication tech savviness

    Also why is Gmail considered more cutting edge than Yahoo. Because it's newer?

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    1. Roy: I wish I could answer your question re Yahoo vs gmail. But I suspect the newness of it makes it more hip. As for the generational thing, that is why I included mention of an agency president who maintains his AOL account; he was a very early adapter. Thanks for your comment.

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    2. Yes, it could indicate that you WERE an early adopter. However, to me, as a former hiring manager it also says you may be adverse to change. You certainly are no longer an early adopter. If I'm in an environment where change is common and frequent, that AOL account or the one attached to your cable company would give me pause. If your resume was strong enough, it wouldn't prevent an interview. But it's just like anything else, it's a screening tool. I've got 50 resumes to look at for 1 position, and that's just the ones I have today, without thinking of the ones that come in tomorrow. I'm not interviewing 50 people, so I'm going to screen - auto disqualifier off the bat is spelling. Then I'm going to start screening based on qualifications. If the piles still too big, I'm going to look at how far from work you are, what your email is, the style of your resume to see if these things indicate you'll be a good fit for my team. Because honestly, there's probably still 15 people in the pile that on paper meet the qualifications.

      For me on the yahoo vs google thing: Yahoo is outdated. I find myself thinking "wow, you're still on yahoo" when I realize a friend is still there. For everyone who says moving your email is too hard. Yeah, as a hiring manager that says lazy. It's not that difficult. You can forward one to the other, you can keep both going. There's not a financial cost here. When something else comes along for email, I'll most likely adopt that as well. It's about showing yourself to be flexible, open to change, current in your skills and exposure to technology. As long as it's an employers market and not an employees market, setting yourself apart in a good way matters. It's such a small thing to do that if you think it's big, I have to wonder about you and how current you really are.

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    3. Dawnmarie, you raise a great point. Thank you. But when I mention it to people, their response is generally defensive, "I wouldn't want to do business with a company which would reject me over such a minor thing." Sometimes the people who say that to me are very good candidates so I rarely argue. I am from the old school - people should be evaluated on their total package of which their URL is a small piece.

      Delete
  13. misspelled words are worse than aol or hotmail.

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    1. Anonymous: Agreed. Goes without saying.

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  14. Question. Does an email address from your website (assuming it has appropriate content), e.g. "firstname@firstandlastname.com" come across as pretentious?

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    1. I never thought of it as being pretentious. It is always surprising when I see it and it makes for good initial conversation in an interview.

      Delete
  15. OT a bit perhaps but from a new business prospecting perspective, I frequently encounter very senior marketers who have personal AOL or Yahoo addresses. They can and have been a good source of solid leads. They tend to be older, yes, but also more senior, more established, more connected, affluent, etc. So just depends on what one is looking for.

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    1. As I pointed out, many of these people have had their emails for years and don't want to change. And because they are senior and established in their careers they don't need to be "hip" - their resumes speak of their success.

      But for the purposes of job hunting, it may be necessary to migrate to a newer URL. Silly as that may be. Why chance it?

      Delete
  16. I was told to ditch my "outdated" address 2 years ago. Setting up gmail account, and pointing it to original address was easy fix...not unlike fashion, what's old will again be new, and I'm keeping my otherworldly urls!

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  17. What's interesting about this to me is that it really showcases the power of brands / branding. Perception is reality.

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    1. Chris: I have thought the same thing. We all know that AOL has had its troubles. I guess, ditto Yahoo! But who would have thought that they had become such negative brands that hiring managers might reject a candidate who was merely loyal.

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  18. Fascinating conversation. I found myself wondering on occasion about people who still had aol accounts. I sensed this possible "discrimation" several years ago when I was still in the job market. So I got a gmail address just for that purpose (although I hated many of its features at the time). Today it's turned into an efficient system. Gmail, which is efficient and reliable, and my domain email are for business, while my old Yahoo address is for personal correspondence, shopping etc - and it's where most of my junk mail lands.
    Thanks for bringing this up.

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  19. Paul, a word of caution to your readers: If you have a legacy email from AOL or Yahoo!, don't drop it! Spammers can harvest your email if you release it, and then even poach your personal contacts for nefarious enlargement come-ons and schemes by "restoring" it.

    > Use the option in global mail settings on the site (aol.com, yahoo.com) to forward mail to a new email address
    > If you use a program like Apple Mail, ask a knowledgeable friend to add your new email and to adjust settings so that ALL outgoing mail uses the new mail server
    > Protect the privacy of your contacts. Use the "BCC" option to if you choose to broadcast a message that you've adopted a new email address. You may need to do this more than once.

    BR, Alex

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    1. Thanks for this. My only question? why just these two URL's and not others?

      Delete
  20. So interesting. I just changed from yahoo to google. My impetus was Melissa Mayer, though. I'm not a fan.

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  21. Well, if she can make the switch....

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  22. I would like to toss in that as an employee, I make judgments on my employer based on their email address.

    I applied to a blind ad for a teaching position thru a dispatch agency. Once I was in touch with the agency themselves, I was rather surprised to see that the companies emails was xxx@hotmail.com. Having been hired by them, I now contact a different department of the same company via a xxx1@hotmail.com address.

    I suspected at the time that a company that wouldn't upgrade to at least a generic, not silly email provider, such as gmail or mail or perhaps make a company named email would be rather poorly run and inefficient.

    I was correct. Thankfully I get most of what I need directly from the company I am placed at.

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  23. @Anonymous: That is a really good point. I wonder the same things since getting a domain name costs under $100 for five or so years. It is far more professional and communicates a lot about the company. Thanks for sharing your observation.

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  24. really it was very nice blog.Now Hotmail is Very advanced features for Hotmail users it was very good in customer Service .Thanks for sharing the information.

    ReplyDelete
  25. There is a simple rule of thumb for this conversation, Paul:

    For seasoned professionals with established track records, their email address is probably of no consequence.

    For those starting out then yes, take the time to register a professionally personalized domain. It is only ten dollars per year and generally, the registrars provide free email service with each domain registered.

    The usual 'rules' apply- don't pick cute or politically incorrect domains and if your name is 'taken', then add a first, last or middle initial or maybe even a _ to create your own domain.

    Using an industry term such as is acceptable as long as you are 'always' going to be in SCM. So be careful you are not saddling yourself with a domain that will not stand up to your professional growth.

    I continue to cringe when I recruit executives who it turns out have yahoo, aol or rr email addresses but as I said, they all have established track records which far outweigh the details of their domain email address.

    For everyone else, pay the $10.

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    1. Should have read:

      "Using an industry term such as rjones@supplychainpro is acceptable..."

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  26. What's next - are you going to suggest people whose first names make them sound older than they are (e.g. a Millennial woman named Nancy or Susan) legally change it to make them sound younger?

    What about if you object to using gmail because of Google's privacy policy?

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    1. @Anon, I never suggested anything. I simply commented that some people made judgements about job hunters based on their URL's, which I find absurd. I certainly don't think or suggest that anyone should change their name.

      Don't use Gmail. Opt for something else of you don't like their privacy policy. I personally don't care. Establish your own URL.

      Delete
  27. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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