You've heard about changing the stuff before the "@" in your email address, but what about the words that come afterwards? Are certain email domains preventing you from getting interviews?

You have a perfect, customized resume. You’re diligent about managing your online identity. You’ve submitted many job applications. But somehow despite your best efforts, you still haven’t received a call for an interview.

Could your email address be what’s hurting your job search?

Many of us have heard about changing what’s before the “@” in your email address to something resembling your real name (e.g. petesmith@…com, psmith@…com). This helps recruiters find messages more easily in a search, and it also helps you portray a professional image.

But what about the domain name after the “@?”

A recent DailyWorth article describes a conversation with tech executives who said Hotmail, Yahoo! or AOL email addresses would prevent them from hiring prospective employees. One CEO said candidates with these kinds of email addresses are “immediately eliminated.” The article brings up a good point: those without Gmail or personal domain email accounts may be considered “behind the times,” especially for companies that work in anything related to tech. It could also indicate that the applicant is resistant to change.

Email domain brand is also relevant for those who don’t work directly in tech. In a Chicago Tribune piece, freelance writer Nancy E. Anderson discussed her concerns with giving out an AOL email address. Anderson notes that her publicist sister told her to “get rid of that AOL address” because “it’s bad for your image.” Ultimately Anderson, didn’t take her sister’s advice, opting not to “change something that’s working for me.”

But that’s the wrong move, if you ask me.

Even if you don’t agree with the view that older domains are out of date, why take a chance with your email address? Being current and tech savvy is important to many types of employers these days. Why not just set aside a few minutes to create a new account and forward the old email?

The moral of the story is…

Even the greatest resumes and work experiences can be tarnished by an inappropriate email address. Take control of all the variables you can to give yourself a better chance of attracting potential employers. Don’t inadvertently sabotage a great opportunity by not going through all the possible motions. YourName@gmail.com may be dull, but better to be safe than sorry!

Kristen Creager is a member of the Brazen Contributor Network.

70 Comments

  1. Anonymous

    Kristen, I love this advice and it’s absolutely true.

  2. Chris Hughes

    This is definitely great advice. I’ve found I get more email responses using my own personal domain and people have mentioned it is easier for them to find me in their inboxes. Gmail, Yahoo and Aol are used for many spam accounts and can sometimes cause your messages to get put into the spam inbox. Keep it up Kristen!

  3. Justin Mifsud

    Interesting post indeed and so very true!

  4. ResuMAYDAY

    Too true. I’m a resume writer and always advise my clients to get a gmail or other personalized address. Yahoo doesn’t raise red flags as much but hotmail and aol show that you are out of step. For those clients who resist, I encourage them to get an updated email address and only use it for their job search, rather than completely replacing their beloved address that they’ve had since they owned their first computer.
    On one hand, I found it a bit extreme and punitive that the CEO you quoted immediately eliminated those candidates but on the other hand, I do understand the reasoning behind it. I just eliminated a qualified candidate from our talent pool this morning because her Magic Jack failed and she couldn’t call in to the phone interview.

    • Fruvous

      Her Magic Jack failed, but you’re still doing phone interviews? Who’s more behind the times?

    • Anonymous

      Let’s be honest here. The issue with having an AOL or Hotmail domain on your email red flags you as being OLD, whatever the new definition of old is.

      • Kristen

        I agree. Even if it isn’t a make it or break it deal for the recruiter, I don’t see why you wouldn’t update your address just to round out your application. To me, it isn’t that big of a deal nor does it take a lot of time.

  5. Jrd

    I can see where Kristen is coming from for sure, but I have to say that I disagree. I just don’t believe that most HR pros see a big difference in a gmail account and one from yahoo.

    Interesting post – will continue to ponder…

    • Kristen

      Hey Jrd– I agree that most HR pros may not see a big difference, but some might, especially in the tech industry. Might as well cover all your bases if you think even one picky HR rep may care!

      • Anonymous

        Unless you decide beforehand that this kind of “pickiness” is one of YOUR screening criteria and you don’t want to work with a company like that.

    • Jennifer Tan

      I agree with her point as well, and I also disagree. But it’s not because I don’t think HR pros will see a difference between the choices people make for their email accounts. I just think that an HR pro will understand that it would be petty and unconstructive to nix an otherwise awesome candidate for this ONE reason.

  6. Christi Borden

    I agree comletely. In my profession, residential real estate, home buyers and sellers are my HR departments. I see so many Realtors using personal accounts for their business and it is frankly unprofessional. Why would the consumer want to spend time and money working with a real estate professional who does not even invest in a business email account? I own my domain and have my account there which points automatically to my broker’s email account. My domain will follow me wherever I go, should I ever move or switch brokers, and shows the public that I am in a real business.

    • Edward - Entry Level Dilemma

      If a realtor had a personal email address, it could be branded to show that they aren’t interested in fluff and has a mind to keep costs down and save money. Now I realize that a domain name doesn’t cost much, but I like the mentality of someone who cuts costs on things that don’t matter. It says to me that they are going to try to do the same thing for me.

      • Anonymous

        Using a business email address to conduct business is a no brainer and a business like personal address makes sense, however worrying about what domain you use seems a bit far fetched.

    • Jaclyn Schiff

      Thanks for the comment Christi! I don’t think there’s an issue with using a personal account for business as long as the personal account doesn’t sound unprofessional (leave the realtor646@… at home). Owning a domain does make you appear more serious, but I’ve also come across plenty of people who buy the domain, put up a fancy website and then quit their business after a few short months. Often the website stays online. I wouldn’t rule out working with someone because they have not spent money on a domain. But if other things led me to believe he or she was not invested in their service or product, then I’d probably take my business elsewhere.

  7. Ty Unglebower

    There is basically nothing left that some employment guru out there someplace hasn’t lambasted for being destructive to one’s personal brand, and it is as tiring as it is offensive.

    The only term I can think of right away for someone who would instant;y not hire me because I have a hotmail email account is “lazy.” Which is a common descriptor of hiring managers over the last few years. Wrong resume font? Pitch it. Email address I don’t like? Pitch it? I see them get off the bus down the street instead of driving a high end sports car? Indicative of their lack of ambition and hence not material for me. Turning him away at the door. Vegetarian? Obviously this person isn’t cut throat and motivated enough to succeed at my company if she is too timid to consume animals. Ditch her.

    You can laugh all you want, but all of the above examples are really just a half a heart beat away from being realistic. Hell, for all I know, there are managers out there, or even here on Brazen that wouldn’t even laugh, but in fact consider these metrics perfectly acceptable!

    “My job is so hard,” hiring managers like to bitch constantly, “I need something to whittle away the chaff.”

    It doesn’t matter how easy a change is. When you are forced into a 100% fruitless change because of some snot nosed fad in the rat race that dictates you are no longer employable, you are basically announcing to the world that the only thing more important than the number of Twitter followers you have, is how puckered your lips remain for the backsides of anyone and everyone that could give you a job in your chosen industry.

    Think about this long and hard, people. You adults, and yet do you really want to be spending most of your waking hours at a company who chooses to deduce,

    “This guy has a hotmail email. This must mean that he is resistant to change. Which means he won’t take risks. And if he doesn’t take risks there is no way he can possible be competent at tech issues or negotiations. And if he doesn’t know any of those things, we can forget about the department increasing its budget under his administration. Then my own ass will be on the line for taking up company time with an interview of this jerk.”

    I mean really? REALLY people? That sort of twisted logic is what is running the rat race now? I swear the name fits more and more with each passing year…when people who want to advance their career will literally fall over themselves following and stale piece of stale cheese hiring managers start to throw out there. Even if it does lack decency and character.

    • BJP

      Ty, I only “know” you from Brazen, but holy crap, I sure like your style!!

      I couldn’t agree more. This crap is getting insane.

      Can you imagine 20 years ago someone writing an article saying that if you are still using a PO Box instead of a physical address that your resume’s are being shitcanned because you obviously don’t have enough ambition to own your own home?

      Fast forward to one’s death bed. Is this really all we’ve evolved to become? Breeding versions of junior high cliques???

    • Imaginativeone

      I simply MUST have your blog address.

    • Mark @ GameKiq

      Couldn’t agree more!

    • Matthew Everett

      Absolutely agree. I’ve been butting heads with family lately over choosing to build a freelance business instead of a low-wage entry-level “career.” I’m sorry, but I just can’t reconcile what’s seems to be out there with putting in any sort of effort. So instead, I focus on my own little business.

      As for these pieces, they all fit the mold of trendy, filler content. The kind of stuff that you can write with no effort and get paid for without the risk of really generating anything of consequence.

      • Jaclyn Schiff

        Hey Matthew, thanks for your feedback. I’m curious – what other types of content would you prefer to see on this blog?

    • Dave

      (clap clap clap clap) Bravo! Hiring managers… please read this comment – TWICE!

    • Hayley S

      AMEN. This is what I tried to convey on the actual DailyWorth Article, which led to my comment being mis-used in another blog post all in favor of switching to Gmail “just in case”. I’m sorry, but WTF? Google is not BETTER, it is more POPULAR. Sorry that not all of us are sheep! Shouldn’t that be a good thing? Glad I’m not the only one who sees this for the bullshit that it is.

  8. Anonymous

    I get teased about my hotmail account ALL the time!! I keep it for personal emails because I’ve had it forever and kinda don’t want to get rid of it. I’m bad about handing it out, though; this article reminds me that I need to get better about using my domain name address more.

  9. Anonymous

    Another day, another “personal branding” load of bollocks. Move on, nothing to see here…

    Personally, if I’m being rejected for what email domain I choose to use that says volumes more about the quality of the employer than it does about me. Lemme get that @microsft.com after my name…

  10. Amanda Abella

    My co-workers and I were literally just talking about this. We cringe when we see some of the emails that come with the resumes we look through. If I have to see one more “babygrlxxx” or “flyboii82” im going to scream.

    • Kristen

      People can definitely have any email address they want… Just create another one for job applications!

    • Dave

      I totally agree… but that’s a separate point.

      It is indeed truly mind-boggling that people send resumes with email addresses like sexygirl69@ or toostudly4you@ and expect to be taken seriously.

      Have an AOL or Yahoo email address all you want… that means as much to me regarding your ability to do the job as the color of the car you drive… it’s irrelevant. But if you don’t have the miniscule level of common sense to have a professional-sounding email address… do I really want you representing me in my department, or my company as a whole?

      No thank you.

  11. London Wedding Photographer

    Even better – sign up for a cheap domain name and have your own name after the @

    • Dean

      Another advantage of getting your own domain name is that regardless of where you live or who your service provider is, you’ll always have a professionally appropriate email address that won’t change. I’ve had firstname@lastname.net for about 10 years for that reason. I don’t need to tell people to change my email address when I change service providers. And it’s a lot easier for people to remember than firstname1793579blue@aol.com or even a gmail account.

  12. Anonymous

    So keeping the same email address for years, or preferring Yahoo to Google, somehow means I’m not Technologically sophisticated? Am I supposed to change email addresses every year to remain fashionable? The laziness, and shallowness of today’s hiring managers is amusing. If I recall correctly, Google tosses the resumes of poor souls who happened to graduate from certain Ivy League schools, never mind that it could be a family alma mater, or the one school that offered a scholarship. For supposedly leading edge companies, you’d think they could come up with something other than personal prejudices as they make employee choices that literally bet the company’s future.

    • Gina

      I agree that it’s ridiculous, but I’m willing to create a Gmail account for professionalism’s sake (in fact, I did after reading this article).

      I have been using AOL since I was 10 years old (I am now 21). AOL has changed greatly since I was 10 years old and I kept up with the changes just fine. However, I understand that AOL can’t make too drastic of changes because it is an old company with, very likely, much older users. As such, AOL will probably be behind the times compared to Gmail, but isn’t it really just a mode of communication? Will I be useless if I don’t access my Gmail on my iPhone every half hour?

      Like you, I hope that employers would pay more attention to things of greater importance on a resume, yet if there are 300 applicants for one or a few positions, I think I would start to thin out the stack by difinitive and measurable terms, too (e.g. e-mail domains, color or colorless, Ivy League or state university system, typos or typo-free, etc.).

  13. Anonymous

    So everyone ought to patronize Google?

  14. Anonymous

    Unfortunately, having an aol, hotmail or even a comcast.net address may set off some subconscious signals that may result in subtle age discrimination (any of those scream “boomer” to the Under 40 crowd). If you are looking for a job, why take that chance, when this is an easy fix.

    FWIW, anecdotally, for one of my clients we tracked the customer requests coming in by emails (for completely other reasons – i.e. setting up a better FAQ) and were surprised to find that 80% of the tech-related questions came from aol/comcast addresses. This did parallel an unexpected upward shift of the website’s age demographics.

  15. kaleigh somers

    When I read the title, I assumed it was about the same advice as always: make your email address professional with your first/last name or something equally simple. But this is upsetting. I have wanted a gmail account for a while, but my provider works (it’s not one of those mentioned) so I just haven’t switched. But now I’m more inclined.

    • Tanya RDT

      Instead you should take the advice from Melissa above and just create a gmail and forward to your current — if you like your stuff, don’t change it, just find a way to please both parties :o)

  16. awilensky

    Insanity posing as advice. So, there is a hiring distinction in the cleavage points between gmail, hotmail, and AOL? Hmmm. ok.

    My gmail account was granted rather early, I traded a @world.std.com addresses for my gmail address (abmadw@) Now, I am self employed, and I dont get screened by the hiring drones, but I am selected by clients every year or two, and one looked at my email and said. “what are you so mad about?”, I had no idea what they were talking about – “Your email has the word ‘mad’ in it?” I now knew I had a quirky client on my hands so I explained, “My gmail account is my english and hebrew initials – abmadw – not the word “mad”. How she picked that out.

    But maybe it’s time to get a real domain, after being in business as a freelancer for decades.

  17. Jrandom42

    This soumds like an old Dilbert comic strip.
    And here it is:

    http://dilbert.com/strips/comic/1996-10-21/

    • Nick - IT Jobs

      That there is some good work. Nice find. I changed from Yahoo to Gmail without even thinking about it. Does that make me a sheep or a Dilbert?

  18. Melissa Langeman

    I have to admit, I’m soo guilty of teasing my fiance about his Yahoo address. Yahoo?! And he’s a Software Engineer.

    I’d like to play devil’s advocate…

    Let’s apply some proper analysis to these ‘other’ email domains. First, he got his Yahoo address as an early adopter. Early adopter… sounds like a risk taking, tech savvy person to me.

    You’ll know an early adopter because their Yahoo, Hotmail or AOL addresses are their names, or close to them. No numbers or added punctuation as a differentiation. These guys were there early.

    Secondly, his older address allows him to keep connected to his network. He was also really early with a GMail address too, but didn’t use it because his network had his Yahoo. No matter what the field, a person with a good network is a great asset for the company.

    Lastly – I’d have to agree with a few other comments here. A hiring manager who rejects based on email domain is seriously lazy. Seriously. And that CEO, has no idea what he’s talking about. If he can’t think up this rudimentary analysis, he’s saying things he thinks sound cutting edge.

    To banish the devil – I agree that any extra step is worth the bit of trouble. We’re in a buyer’s market, unfortunately, so job seekers need to do that extra little bit. If we believe in market cycles, the tides will change, and employees will be able to extract that extra song-and-dance out of companies eventually.

    Ways around it? You can forward mails to one address, and no one will know. Check your fancy new email from time to time to catch offers. Or.. use an email client to manage your multiple email addresses.

  19. BrandonDane

    This was in COSMO years ago –about dating — but the same rules apply. (I’m a guy btw, and YES, I read COSMO if for nothing else to complain about the blatant misinfo)…*joke*– Their point was, which I think was valid, just as you suggest…if you are JSmith 2010@ whoever, then who will you be in 2011?”

  20. Tracy Brisson

    I recruit and I admit I will judge you by your email address if I am deciding between a group of similar candidates. It’s based on 10 years of receiving real emails from these domains. Plus I have had so many college emails bounce back to me because the person graduated and didn’t do what they had to do to keep the address active so I will always choose someone with a gmail address over an .edu email. I think that The Oatmeal’s take on email addresses is spot-on: http://theoatmeal.com/comics/email_address.

  21. A Week In The Life of A Redhea

    The reason I use a Yahoo email (with my name) for resumes is because Yahoo has a great spam and virus filter. I’ve had the address for a long time and my name was already taken in gmail — you don’t mention what to do if you have a common name. It would be better to have a professional yahoo email full name then to have to go with (first initial)_(part of last name)_year@gmail.com.

  22. Cath

    All you have to do is Google “gmail hacked” to see why I don’t want a gmail account. I could just see porn going out to the HR Mgrs I’ve sent resumes to because my email was hacked. And personal domains are often taken if you have a common name, so you are left with buying something difficult for people to type correctly when trying to email you. I’m glad I don’t work for that CEO. I think his answer reflects that his personal admin handles all his email for him, and he is equally clueless about prospective applicants. How about hiring someone with an entrepreneurial spirit who understand why the company does things in a certain way and shift gears when needed. And the Magic Jack comment … REALLY? Like cell calls don’t get dropped? I think these hiring managers are equally out of touch as to what someones financial situation might be while job hunting and they are doing everything in their power to survive. I think if they knew the trouble their struggling applicants were going through (and handling) just to show up they’d hire them over the perfect email candidate who lives at home with his or her parents and has no overhead.

    • Edward - Entry Level Dilemma

      My gmail has been hacked twice in the almost 7 years I’ve had it. Really the only reason I switched to the gmail account I set up when it was an invite-only beta from my hotmail account because Microsoft was doing something funky with MSN Passport and I started having trouble logging in.

      My best friend still has his hotmail account and it didn’t seem to hurt him getting a very presitgous internship with the Department of Justice.

      And I agree about Magic Jack. I have a friend with one and the calls are clearer than from his cell phone. Broadband is spreading through the rural parts of the country faster than cell towers, it seems.

      • Kristen

        I had no idea that Gmail accounts have been hacked so many times!

        • Pwassonne

          I did some research, and apparently the “hacks” were actually phishing. As in, it is not related to Gmail’s security. Someone tricked people into giving their passwords. I think you don’t need to worry.

  23. mdack10

    Kristen, this topic has come up in other places, but I don’t really see any evidence that hiring managers are in fact discriminating against people because of their email address. Paraphrasing one CEO, or getting advice from someone’s sister, is not evidence that it’s widespread.

    Having been a hiring manager, I saw colleagues refuse to hire people for incredibly stupid reasons – for example, they didn’t like a candidate’s shoes or hair. Which is ridiculous. The email seems to fit in the same category.

    Everyone should have a professional email address on their resume. Read any advice on job searching, and you’ll see that. But if you are knocked out in the first round because your ISP is not “cool,” do you really want to work for that company? Focus on showing your skills, not worrying about stupid things like this. If you are talented, professional and have good experience, the employer won’t worry about your AOL email.

    BTW, my resume lists my hotmail account, which I have had since 1998. To me, that says I’m reliable and have longevity, rather than being wishy-washy and flighty. And I’ll take the chance with it because my experience speaks for itself. 🙂

  24. Morana Medved

    I have both a personalized domain and a Yahoo account. I’ve had them for years and won’t be changing them. I tried getting gmail account while it was still in Beta but decided I like my Yahoo account better. I really don’t think domain matters or should matter, do we all really have to jump on the latest bandwagon? And does that really reflect well on us? To me a gmail account might brand you as a young person or someone always chasing the latest trend – not necessarily positive traits.

  25. BrandonDane

    That’s BS…that you buy your domain and never have to change it — get your head out of the clouds. I am brandondane@gmail.com and at Yahoo! and @brandondane on Twitter and on Facebook…/brandondane…because, well, I am brandon dane. And, as a journalist, no editor ever snubbed me because of my email address. As a reporter — cops, robbers and those in between, will ALL reply if they need what you got (incorrect grammar; I know). AND, this article did not seem to be about the domain at all, but rather the stupid crap that people create like sexxxygirl69@ WHEREVER. You can’t put that on a resume and if you ACTUALLY reside at that address then you shouldn’t be given a job anyway because you are a moron.

  26. Khaled Business

    It’s really important to know that every little thing matters, and you can’t afford being ignorant to those
    Best of luck every one and thanks for the post

  27. Ellen Bremen

    College is a good place to start this practice! Our college only recently assigned institution accounts. Before that, profs perpetually complained that students were using e-mails like “bootielicious776@gmail.com.” What’s worse? No signature on the email and then you don’t know who “Bootielicious” is! Grab your professional e-mail in college and then keep it as you transition into the workforce. Ellen Bremen, M.A. @chattyprof http://chattyprof.blogspot.com

  28. Oleg Malenkov

    Interesting, what about facebook e-mail accounts? how do employers like this after @?
    as for me, i’m using yahoo, gmail, hotmail accounts in a row.
    Above-listed advice that u may forward your messages to other boxes looks great. Why not? Let’s create a “convenient”mail in zone A, for example.
    and keep on creating in other domains, like B,C and D. Than, all new messages you are receiveng forward to A.
    Take into account: any address can’t help, if you are unskilled applicant. Better work on it.

  29. Diana Antholis

    This is fascinating and I will admit I haven’t thought of the domain name before. I will admit that when I see an aol email, I wonder if that person is “with it.” Sometimes I wonder about .edu emails but usually you can keep them forever now. I want to believe that people won’t judge resumes based on the domains…key word WANT. But as you said, unfortunately, people do judge. I use gmail.com and me.com. So if someone sees my @me.com account, do they assume I’m an Apple snob?

  30. Pittsburgh Personal Injury

    I never had any problems of such types. I use gmail and yahoo mail, so far so good. Cant complain.

  31. Erica Finley

    I’m surprised to see so many people disagreeing with the author of this article. It may sound tacky, but people in general absolutely pay attention to the email service provider behind the @ sign; why should hiring managers be any different? I refuse to believe that you don’t chuckle or make a snap judgment about someone who has an AOL email address. Keep it current, keep it clean, and make sure you’re putting your best foot forward.

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