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 or 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