When the Web first exploded, now known as Web 1.0, a candidate sent me a resume from the following email address: email@example.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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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, email@example.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.