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  • AOL Email Address Brands You As Technologically Obsolete

    Your email is often the first thing an employer sees about you, so it forms part of your personal brand.

    Many job seekers don’t think their email address matters. These are the same job seekers who unknowingly make it difficult to be found by email address for their job search and unknowingly brand themselves unfavorably.

    Your email address can brand you as a sports fan, a car buff, an athlete, an alcoholic or someone who’s, let’s say, sexually adventurous. It can brand you by profession, by school, by hobby, or it can brand you as old and inflexible.

    Wouldn’t it be a good idea to actually learn how your email address brands you?

    Here’s one way your email address can brand you … as old and obsolete.

    Last week, I received these comments on Facebook, responding to a recent article I posted about ageism:


    “I have an AOL e-mail that I have used for years and am not about to change it just for the sake of an employer’s ill conceived ideas that I may be out of touch with the times. I can imagine that someone under the age of 30 came up with that stupid idea.”


    “Has anyone else read this article? It mentions that using an AOL email is a no-no because it will give employers the perception that you are out of touch with the times. I use AOL for my email and am confused as to why your email, whether with the phone service provider, cable company, Yahoo or AOL would make a difference. Thought??”

    My response:

    “You may not like it, but using AOL brands you as out of touch. AOL’s email technology is 17+ years old. Few people under the age of 35 use AOL still … their medium age demographic is in the 50’s. There are other problems with your AOL email.

    1. If you’re still using the same email address you used when you signed up for AOL 10+ years ago, you’re probably using an email that’s not easily searchable in a recruiter’s or HR rep’s inbox. Your email should contain your full first and last name, because that’s how employers will search for you in their email … they won’t search for judyblueeyes@aol.com or smcvey@aol.com. Chances are your current email doesn’t take this into account.
    2. S.M., your very answer amplifies age bias … You’re giving the impression that you refuse to use newer technology because you’re comfortable with the old – the very perception that an AOL email account gives employers. You amplify the perception that you’re unwilling to learn and use new technology.
    3. Why not have a unique email account just for your job search? That way, you can easily forward your job search emails to your AOL account, tag any emails from your job search account to show they’re about your job search and deserve special attention. It’s easy, it’s free, and it works.

    Or, you can complain about all the 30 year olds, while you remain frustrated about your job search.”

    If you want to show employers that you’re not keeping up with the times, use an AOL email address. My 75 year old mom uses AOL and thinks it’s the bee’s knees. When I’ve asked her, then begged her to change … she gets so emotional, almost to the point of tears because she likes AOL. It’s become a comfortable old friend for her.

    And that’s exactly how AOL brands job seekers … like a little old lady, who doesn’t like change.

    This type of branding isn’t well received by employers, who need to adopt new technologies to remain competitive. When employers drop big money on new software, especially software that increases efficiency, they want employees to learn how to use it and make it part of their daily routine. Because once it’s installed, every day that the software isn’t being used, is money being lost.

    How much patience do you think employers have with workers who don’t want to learn how to use new software, because they like the old software? In most cases, very little patience, because employees who won’t transition to new software or procedures cost the employer money.

    Why do you think that an employer would want to hire candidates who brand themselves like the little old lady who won’t change her email from AOL?

    So why are you still sending job search email from littleoldlady@AOL.com?


    Phil Rosenberg is President of http://www.reCareered.com, a leading job search information website and career coaching service. Phil also runs the Career Central group, one of Linkedin’s largest groups for job seekers and has built one of the 20 largest personal networks on Linkedin globally. An active blogger about social media, career advice and job search information, Phil’s articles have been published by The Wall Street Journal, Business Week, CNN, CBS, AOL, FastCompany, CIO, ZDnet, The Examiner, and leading job/career/recruiting publications and sites. Check out one of Phil’s complimentary job search webinars at http://ResumeWebinar.com.


    Phil Rosenberg is President of reCareered (http://www.reCareered.com/newsletter/), a leading job search information website and career coaching service. Phil also runs the Career Central group, one of Linkedin's largest groups for job seekers and has built one of the 20 largest personal networks on Linkedin globally. An active blogger about social media, career advice and job search information, Phil's articles have been published by The Wall Street Journal, Business Week, CNN, CBS, AOL, FastCompany, CIO, ZDnet, The Examiner, and leading job/career/recruiting publications and sites. Check out one of Phil's complimentary job search webinars at http://ResumeWebinar.com .

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    18 comments on “AOL Email Address Brands You As Technologically Obsolete
    1. avatar

      I was tempted to put whitneypannell@aol.com ! You know this is so true. Whenever I hear ….@aol.com I do kind of chuckle to myself and think.. Have they not discovered google yet?

      • avatar

        @Wendy – Exactly!

        Phil Rosenberg
        OlderThanDirt@aol.com (chuckle)

      • avatar
        greg says:

        Hey Whitney and Phil
        I’ve owned my own Construction business for over 30 years so I’m not concerned about potential employers seeing that I use aol. I would say I am as tech savy as most of the people I know, regardless of my 54 years on this earth. The main reasons I use aol is not because I am afraid of change but because I have had the same address on my business cards and letterheads for years and I think it shows experience and stability in my field. I love Google for a search engine and I have a Google email that I had to get for my phone backup but I hate the interface and I hate the way Google wants to force it’s way into my life with useless stuff I don’t need and can’t get rid of. If I am missing out on something by using AOL, as my email, please let me know and if I think it warrants a change for the better I have no problem with good change but I won’t do it just to drink the kool-aid. 😉

    2. avatar

      Your email address absolutely matters in your job search! I agree that using an out-of-date email provider can send a message that you’re not willing to adapt to new technology. While it certainly shouldn’t be a reason for an employer not to hire you, it’s important to consider this during your job search.

      • avatar

        @Heather, Why shouldn’t it be a reason for an employer to not hire you? Technology is an increasingly important part of just about every job on the planet, and technology is changing every 3-5 years. If you give the impression that you can’t adapt, then employers can easily find others who clearly will.

    3. avatar

      Thanks a lot for the post! I am sure many entrepreneurs will get useful information about how to advertise or do marketing of their product and services. Entrepreneurs should have a leadership quality, And email address also matter in searching for job, only then can they succeed in future.

    4. avatar
      John West says:

      What other email providers belong on this list? AOL, Earthlink, other? I use my Yahoo account for nearly everything and am perfectly satisfied with it, and I am by no means a technophobe.

    5. avatar
      Lin Wormley says:

      I asked a question once and people got mad. If AOL’s mail servers crash, would anybody notice? It happened once before and you could not find a trace of it on Twitter or Facebook. Glad I stuck with my Prodigy account!

    6. avatar
      Lacey says:

      I am under 30 and use AOL. And it usually comes up as a question during a job interview. My answer is simple – I’ve had the email account since I was 12 and it is how everyone knows how to reach me. I work in the technology industry. Of course I know how to use Google and every other email client out there. I choose not to make everyone else change their address book and risk people no longer being able to reach me. Is gmail better? Absolutely. AOL’s technology is grossly out of date. But when it’s through Outlook or my cell phone, I don’t see the difference.

      I have tried using a dedicated job search email address – it isn’t quite the conversation piece my @aol.com address is. 🙂

      • avatar
        Peach says:

        @Lacey – the conversation piece point is valid, and if it works for you, great. That said, my first reaction was “If she’s so tech savvy, why is she worried that getting a new account would mean people could no longer reach her – it’s so easy to just set up forwarding from her AOL account!”

    7. avatar

      Wait, AOL still exists? LOL!
      Great article by the way, so true.

    8. avatar
      Larry says:

      I wonder about an extension of this: the area code of your phone number. For a long time people fought to get 212 area codes in NYC when the 718 code started. It showed you as a true New Yorker. By the logic of the email address, wouldn’t a 212 area code bias you in the same way? Surely only a young person with fresh ideas has a 718 area code. The same is true for other major cities as well.

      What about the bias working the other way? If you have an AOL address sure you have a long history of being involved with the internet? I had also heard that recently AOL and other early email addresses are considered cool because they’re retro.

      I wonder how much this is actually true, versus a self fulfilling prophesy for people who are involved in the personal branding community.

      What are all of your thoughts?

    9. avatar
      Cheryl Rayl says:

      I keep my aol address because people I have known for years have it. I have had a home pc and been online since the early 80’s. I was an avid user of Compuserve and played role-playing computer games when we used bulletin boards to post our moves. The thirty year olds at work come to me to help them with technology. I have other email addresses that I use for business but if you think my having an aol address means I am technologically challenged you would be gravely mistaken.

      • avatar
        Tamre McGinnis says:

        I’m with you Cheryl. I have had it since the 80s and have never had an issue with it. Over the years with different companies I’ve used other email technology and I dont really find a big difference. I have people come to me all the time with technology questions and have always been tech savvy and eager to learn anything new. An email address is no different than a street address – just an address. If an employer is looking at just your email address as a way to see if you are up on technology then I wouldn’t want to work for them anyway.

    10. avatar

      I certainly do appreciate this information. And I agree that keeping up with change is important. I will make an adjustment to my email address today.

    11. avatar
      Kina says:

      An AOL address most defnitely paints you as antiquated and obsolete. I see an AOL address and I assume you are old and unable to grasp new technology. You’re Ok with something that is exponentially less efficient than everything else out there. You are afraid of change or unable to learn new things, and whatever you are trying to sell me must be as outdated as you are.
      Maybe you think it is absurd, but I would never do business with someone who had an AOL address because I would not be confident in them. You may not be technologically challenged, but your AOL address speaks otherwise.

    12. avatar
      Wendy says:

      I have 4 different email addresses all with different services but my favored and most used is AOL because my email address is literally 4 characters. Other services require 6 characters minimum. My spam filters are intact and running…I have no problem being so-called “branded” if it is something I like I will keep it and not worry about the “Jones’s”.

    13. avatar
      hitechceo says:

      I own a business and have for 25 years. I cringe when I tell someone my Email address ends in aol.com. Problem is everything, web sites, stationary, business cards, business contacts from my 25 years in business all have my aol.com address. I have several Email addresses but nothing as short as my aol.com. My other problem is my Email starts out with a (q) and everyone thinks it’s a (g). Where I have a problem is with AOL in general. The obsolete browser, locks up frequently, shuts down all the time. I do have it (hotrodded) at the office so I don’t get all the videos shoved down my throat every time I want to view something. I assume part of my problem is the “adjustments” to AOL I’ve made at the office. At home it take 5 times longer to pursue the Internet due to the videos AOL makes you watch.

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