Does your email address say you're a rube?

Does your email address say you're a rube?

Summary: Opinions are often formed by many subtle factors. Can your email address sink you in the eyes of the tech glitteratti?

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TOPICS: SMBs
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Let's say you're looking for a job as a social media manager. You've sent out query emails to a bunch of likely companies. Obviously, the subject line of the email is important. Byt what about your email address?

Opinions are often formed by many subtle factors. A social media manager has to be well-connected, and certainly seem current on all the new technologies and trends. You might have a good Klout rating, you might have a lot of Facebook friends, and you might even have four or five digits worth of Twitter followers.

But can your email address sink you in the eyes of the tech glitteratti?

Let's do a simple test. Here are six email addresses. Think fast. What are your first impressions?

  • dloudon22@gmail.com
  • dloudon22@cfl.rr.com
  • dloudon22@aol.com
  • dickloudon@facebook.com
  • dloudon22@greenmtnbb.net
  • dick@dickloudon.com

dloudon22@gmail.com

Let's take them one-by-one. The first email address, dloudon22@gmail.com, seems perfectly normal. The only red flag is the idea that there are 22 other dloudons, and perhaps you weren't creative enough to come up with a unique name. You lose a point, but you still seem reasonably current. On the other hand, if you'd used beerlover@gmail.com or marysdad@gmail.com, it would seem even more unprofessional.

The gmail address is safe enough.

dloudon22@cfl.rr.com and dloudon22@greenmtnbb.net

These are clearly ISP-provided email addresses. These definitely show you as a rube, because you'd have to change your email address if you move. It doesn't demonstrate that you care deeply about your email address. You just took what you were given.

ISP email addresses lose points.

dloudon22@aol.com

This email address says you're a bed and breakfast owner from the eighties, perhaps someone's grandfather, or at the very least an out-of-touch father-in-law. You're someone who's always calling for help with your computer, someone who is terribly excited by MagicJack, and someone who really enjoys posting pictures of your yard tools up on Facebook.

You're completely out of touch. No one will hire you.

dickloudon@facebook.com

You're clearly into this whole Facebook thing, and as a social media manager, that's not a bad idea. But you're probably too into Facebook. You've probably maxed out your Facebook friends, and you probably follow them all, reading every last update. Worse, you're on a first-name basis with every Zynga character, and you spend half your salary on in-game purchases of extra radishes so your farm will grow faster.

You're too risky.

dick@dickloudon.com

If your prospective hiring manager or client can't go to dickloudon.com and see a site that describes you, with examples of your work, and probably a pithy blog, you shouldn't have this email address. But if you've filled out your self-promotional space properly (and that probably also means you're @dickloudon on Twitter), then you're probably quite a good candidate for the gig.

You know how to register a domain, set up a site, promote yourself, and do it tastefully.

Does your email address say you're a rube?

So does your email address say you're a rube? What about dick22@hotmail.com or dickloudon@outlook.com? Or dickloudon23242@yahoo.com?

An email address alone isn't enough to kill your chances, but every little impression matters. Outlook.com is probably going to pick up quite nicely. Yahoo.com means you're just too cheap to get a real email address and not bright enough to get a gmail address. Hotmail.com means you're probably a spammer.

Don't make yourself crazy about your email address, but do keep in mind that it's part of your overall branding as a professional. If you have any questions, you can contact me at cookiemonster@hotasballs.com.

P.S. There really is at least one real-world Dick Loudon. The domain dickloudon.com redirects to a bio page for a real estate agent named Dick Loudon. Leave the nice man alone.

Topic: SMBs

About

David Gewirtz, Distinguished Lecturer at CBS Interactive, is an author, U.S. policy advisor, and computer scientist. He is featured in the History Channel special The President's Book of Secrets and is a member of the National Press Club.

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30 comments
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  • Hotmail.com is an interesting one

    It's as old as aol.com and yahoo.com, and is generally as considered as outdated as those two but in reality it shows the person who thinks this as rather ill informed.

    Hotmail has been able to compete with Gmail for several years now and Outlook.com largely exists to vanquish the poor Hotmail name (similar to Win7 did for Vista) and allow Microsoft to show off the features already part of Hotmail too.

    Personally I think "Hotmail", you're either A: on the ball and know Hotmail is a first rate e-mail provider or B: Don't have a clue and flipped a coin over choosing Yahoo or Hotmail a decade ago.

    People who still use ISP locked e-mail addresses, definitely give me a negative reaction. The same goes for Yahoo. At least AOL offers IMAP.

    p.s - No one uses @facebook.com. I've never seen them used once, despite Facebook still trying to push them.
    bradavon
    • Re: Hotmail

      That was the one running on BSD servers. Then, when Microsoft acquired them, they made a big noise about converting to use Windows servers. That project went mysteriously quiet after a short while. The current feeling is that all public-facing servers are (claiming to be) running Windows, while all the heavy lifting continues to be done by BSD.
      ldo17
    • I chose HoTMaiL...

      because it was a free and independent service and ran on Linux... Then Microsoft bought it...

      That said, it is still a good service, if a little tainted by its middle years.
      wright_is
      • Oops

        Yes, I meant BSD, not Linux. Sinks head in shame.
        wright_is
  • Yahoo! gets a bad rap

    First of all, it has the best interface of the big three (Hotmail, Yahoo!, gmail); it is like Outlook in a browser, which I like. But it is admittedly low-tech in terms of features, notably security, which is its major shortcoming. However, it offers a feature the other two can't match, and one that makes it my email of choice: unlimited storage.

    I have had my Yahoo! email address since about 1994, if memory serves. I did accidentally clean it all out using Eudora around 2002, but I have every email I've ever sent or received (just about), in [i]every[/i] account I have, consolidated in that Yahoo! mailbox. I generate about 500 MB of email every three months nowadays, and that number is going up; my mailbox is approximately 25 gigs at this point. That makes Yahoo! mail a fantastic archive. And it's free.

    Neither gmail nor Hotmail can touch that. Besides, it does everything email should do (that is, send and receive messages). What more does anyone need?
    x I'm tc
    • spam

      I too used Yahoo! for many years, including paying for the Plus, but they have a real problem with spam. How many years did it take them to realize that V!AGR@ and all it's variations are spam? I still occasionally log into my old Yahoo! account only to find a bunch of spam. Don't know about Hotmail but gmail is really good at blocking spam.
      oneleft
      • Spam vs. greymail

        Yahoo! is now pretty good at blocking spam, but it needs a *lot* of work blocking greymail. My spam folder fills up at a rate of ~1,000 per day (I've had this address a long time), and maybe two or three real spam messages (Viagra, phishing attempts, etc.) get through. But I do get a lot of emails (maybe a dozen a day) from 'legitimate' companies trying to ply actual wares through their actual Web sites.

        Totally manageable, though, and definitely not worth giving up an address I've had for almost two decades.
        x I'm tc
        • Yahoo mail

          I pay for Yahoo's premium service (no, not too cheap to pay for e-mail). Its spam filter works much better than my ISP's. As well as being very convenient for me to download to Outlook, it has a very usable online interface.

          On the other hand, I despise Gmail's online interface. I do have a Gmail address because I was forced into using one for GooglePlay--and I only use it for GooglePlay.

          Perhaps, the rube is the one who assumes that using something popular (Gmail) connotes technical savvy. The only person in my circle who bothers with Gmail for their main account is my (very non-technical) mother-in-law (who only got it because her best friend was using it).
          Valerie M.
  • Who sold me?

    Since that Dropbox spamming incident, where it looked like a Dropbox insider was maybe selling the users' emails, I've taken to creating a new one every time I sign up for something that requires an email. Papa John's Pizza wants an email? papajohn@watchforspammers.com (I made up the domain but you get the idea). That way, if I suddenly start getting spammed, I know who leaked my address.
    Robert Hahn
    • GMail makes this really easy

      http://lifehacker.com/144397/instant-disposable-gmail-addresses

      Give papajohn your roberthahn+papajohn@gmail.com address. No fiddling around creating new email addresses each time you want to do this.

      Caveat: Very rarely, some systems don't accept '+' in an email address.
      toddbottom3
  • Says more about the commentator

    that Hotmail should be viewed as anything but a very good email interface. It's like saying windows is a bit basic because you're referring to the older 3.1 versions. Surely anyone in the tech business would have at least heard about the improvements to hotmail?

    Ultimately, all you're saying is people have found a new way to look down on people. My email is better than your email. Great, I'm so glad we've progressed this far!
    Little Old Man
    • Don't call me Shirley

      I used to have a Hotmail account, long long ago. IIRC, Microsoft would lock me out if I hadn't accessed it for more than a month or somesuch. I found that to be annoying, and instead got a Yahoo account for spam bucket purposes. I have no idea what improvements Hotmail made over the years nor do I care...they lost me as a customer back then, and since Gmail does a fabulous job at spam control, I don't even need alternate email addresses (I got rid of Yahoo as well).

      But it doesn't matter if Hotmail or AOL or even Yahoo have the slickest interface ever. The point of the article is what sort of connotation it might have in the eyes of one who might have opinions of such things. Once upon a time, ISP email address probably got the most favored response since it indicated you were more savvy than customers of mass-market providers and had enough regard for your email than to trust it with a cheesy web provider. Google pretty much changed this, and early this year, I switch ISPs for the first time in a dozen years and experienced the pain of moving (but having a long-standing gmail account, it wasn't a terribly difficult transition).

      I do own my own domain (mylastname.org) but I never developed it. If I was going for the kind of job the article suggests, I would probably do so. Otherwise, firstname@lastname.org is a mailbox I rarely check, and never give out...too much of a "vanity" address to be of practical use.
      jvitous
  • Filters work both ways

    I view my email address the same as I do my long hair, if its going to be an issue, I don't want the job.
    wally_333
    • Reminds me of The Five Man Electrical Band

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D59ZWa8ehgI
      Ludovit
  • Email address

    Is there anyone under the age of 30 years old who still uses the name Dick? That tends to be an older man's name. These assumption people make about email address names are dumb. My primary email address is an AOL address, I graduate this in 3 years with my B.S. degree in Cisco Network Systems so I don't think I fit your description for an AOL email user??? If you're in position to hire an IT person an you are basing your decision just mostly on them having an AOL acct not there degree or cert then you really are not a good person to work for! I been getting this same crap from my class mates about having an AOL address, but I've had that address since 97 and anyone who known since then can reach me at the address.
    RDJr
    • I have some bad news for you Dick...

      The manager hiring you is likely to have been around during an era when AOL users were rightfully mocked and scorned as the technical simpletons they were. AOL at the time was far and away the most ubiquitous ISP, and was the entry point for many clueless people dipping their toes into the internet waters for the first time. They inundated newsgroups, forums, and other places with long traditions of etiquette with bad behavior and outright stupidity. While certainly not every user was like that, enough were to give it a very negative reputation. Hell, I know some AOL users who have learned nothing in 20 years and are still like that.

      So like it or not, your address WILL evoke a negative reaction to one sensitive to such details, even if it is subconscious. This does not mean they are someone you wouldn't want to work for, but it does mean you are potentially throwing away some credibility and offering your competitors (and the job market is very competitive) an advantage. If I were you, I'd strongly suggest using a gmail account for professional purposes if nothing else.
      jvitous
    • I must say...

      Given how bad of a reputation AOL and it's users have, I find it hilarious that you are trying to defend AOL users with a post that is almost incomprehensible. Your spelling is terrible and your grammar is even worse.

      So yes, I think it's entirely appropriate that you still use an AOL account.
      iloving
      • That was my first thought

        I am far from being a member of the spelling or grammar police but if I was the person thinking about hiring you the email address would be the least of my issues.
        non-biased
    • I agree!

      I've had my AOL email address since 1994 or 1995 when I was in high school and I've had quite a few classmates try that "old" AOL address and reconnect with me. It just works. As an earlier post said, if someone is going to judge me by my email address, then I don't want to work for them. It really makes a statement about how that person thinks or better yet.......doesn't think.
      quadwind
  • AOL

    No fair, many years ago I did not want to change my email address but wanted the benefits of gmail so all my mail is redirected to my gmail account and I set my Mail client (gmail account) with a fixed "Reply to" to my old AOL address. I have no use for AOL but the address still works.
    yangzone