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By Jill Krasny
July 11, 2019
Getty Images

Applying for jobs is stressful enough without worrying about your email. But if you’re using an old-school provider, you may be doing yourself a disservice.

Not only do these dot-com-bubble era accounts look hopelessly dated, they signal to employers that you might not be taking the application process seriously, warns Alexandra Levit, the chairman of DeVry University’s Career Advisory Board. As she puts it, “there’s no reason for people to do it.”

Here’s what else you may want to consider when choosing an email account for your job search.

Use the gold standard

Between 2005 and 2008, anything went when it came to email, Levit recalls. But in recent years, standards have changed. With the advent of G Suite, Google’s brand of productivity and software tools, launched in 2006, employers and their charges began using Gmail, the company’s free email service. A Gmail account came to be regarded as “the gold standard,” says Levit, and Gcal invites the norm. All of which is to say: Get a Gmail or Outlook account. It’s not like you’ll have to pay for it.

Stay classy

“I don’t think an email should make any kind of impression,” says Levit. So ditch the cutesy email handle. And don’t choose a handle that makes any prospective employer do a double take. Vicki Salemi, a career expert for Monster.com, agrees. Choose a simple handle that sounds professional and is easy to spell, she advises. Then, “make sure it’s sparkling—no errors, no typos.”

Don’t leave it out

When applying for jobs, don’t forget to include your email address, says Levit. Always put it on your resume, preferably at the top, and include it in other hiring materials as well. A professional email signature (think: business author) adds a nice touch.

Remember age discrimination is real

It’s a sad fact that many employers still discriminate against applicants based on their age. You’d think they’d know better, given the rise of the #MeToo movement and other powerful reckonings around issues of social misconduct. But unfortunately, advertising you’re a job seeker of a certain age can put you at a disadvantage, says Alison Doyle, a job search expert at the Balance Careers, whose family of sites cover topics such as personal finance, careers, and small business. For this reason alone, it’s a better idea to use a more modern email address, though she admits “Yahoo is not even quite as dated as AOL or Hotmail would be.”

Not ready to give up cupcake2015@hotmail.com? Take heart. You can set up a separate account for job searching, says Doyle. Or take comfort in the fact that the gig economy may be turning the tide in your favor.

“With the increase in remote work, nobody knows how old you are,” she says.

Advertiser Disclosure

The purpose of this disclosure is to explain how we make money without charging you for our content.

Our mission is to help people at any stage of life make smart financial decisions through research, reporting, reviews, recommendations, and tools.

Earning your trust is essential to our success, and we believe transparency is critical to creating that trust. To that end, you should know that many or all of the companies featured here are partners who advertise with us.

Our content is free because our partners pay us a referral fee if you click on links or call any of the phone numbers on our site. If you choose to interact with the content on our site, we will likely receive compensation. If you don't, we will not be compensated. Ultimately the choice is yours.

Opinions are our own and our editors and staff writers are instructed to maintain editorial integrity, but compensation along with in-depth research will determine where, how, and in what order they appear on the page.

To find out more about our editorial process and how we make money, click here.

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