Domain Names: E-mail and Personal Branding

21 Jun

E-mail Domain LogosToday I got an e-mail with the subject line “Yahoos and Hotmails Need Not Apply”.   It discussed how hiring managers are using e-mail domain names as a way to weed out job candidates.  And it tied wonderfully into all the thinking — and writing —  that I’ve been doing about online identity and personal branding.

“If an applicant applies for a job with us and is still using Hotmail or Yahoo for email, they’re immediately eliminated,” one successful CEO said. 


A Yahoo, Hotmail, or AOL email address could signal that you’re not exactly tech-savvy—or not comfortable with change. Gmail (or a personal domain) is considered leading edge. 

It’s not about using a paid e-mail address as opposed to a free e-mail address, it’s about using an e-mail service that provides you with a “cool” domain name, a domain name that signals that your aware of Internet culture and on the cutting edge (or at lease not behind) the tech curve.  We all recognize that our Facebook and LinkedIn profiles are part of our personal brands (or I hope we all recognize it!), but many people may not take their domain name into account.  Unfortunately, you ignore the impact that your domain name can have on your personal brand at your own peril.  Your resume is the ultimate document of your personal brand and it displays your e-mail address quite prominently.  Why spend hours creating your personal brand and crafting your resume if it’s just going to be tossed in the trash as soon as the hiring manager sees your e-mail domain name?

Personal Branding StampI wrote about the issue of uncool e-mail addresses (specifically uncool e-mail domain names) and how people see them in April (What does your e-mail address say about you – not the sequel) and talked about my own decision to “upgrade” to Gmail’s e-mail service so as to make my e-mail address (and specifically e-mail domain name) better support my personal brand.

Recently a good friend told me that if I wanted to be taken seriously as someone who writes a social media culture blog, I needed to ditch my e-mail address.  She correctly pointed out that it probably lead a lot of people to thinking that I was nineteen years old and that I had no business talking about anything in culture or social media, let alone the business uses thereof.  I picked for the new one because it seems the most reputable.

I asked readers to answer the following questions about their domain name and their personal brandin (oh, and my personal brand, too!) and opened the post up for comments:

What does your e-mail domain name say about you?  And, did I make the right choice with Gmail?  

Blogging ManEveryone that responded recognized that their e-mail domain name does affect their personal brand and knew that others would be judging them based on theit e-mail domain names.  Although people had different domain names, they all agreed that it was reasonable to assume that you would be judged not on the name of your domain, not on the content of your e-mail.   (I can rip off MLK without offending, right?)

So I was surprised today when I clicked to visit the comments tied to the e-mail and found that the vast majority of commenters didn’t seem to grasp the idea of domain names (like everything else on your resume) are fair game for hiring managers and were outraged my what they saw as “email domain discrimination”.

That CEO ought to be fired if that is how they are choosing between applicants. Please tell me if this is from a public company (and which one it is), so I sell their stock before their boards & public get wind that this is how their leadership makes decisions. No wonder our economy is in the shitter. Maybe corporate leadership ought to pay attention to some thing that matters! 


Personally, if I am automatically eliminated from a job because I have a yahoo account, it really signals that the COMPANY is not tech-savvy and is just jumping on the Google bandwagon, rather than the contrary.

Really?!  Maybe I’m a terrible person, but I judge people based on their e-mail addresses and domain names.  And I expect that everyone else is doing the same thing!  My e-mail address is an extension of my name and one of the most visable parts of my personal brand.  I’d except you to laugh if I asked you to call me Princess Sparkle Pants and I’d expect the same reaction if I told you that my e-mail address was  (Please tell me that someone will find this site by searching for Princess Sparkle Pants!)

Enough thoughts about e-mail addresses, e-mail services, and domain names.  (Have I convinced you all to abandon uncool e-mail addresses at AOL, Hotmail, and Yahoo?)  I’ll leave you here with (part of) a comment that I received last time:

Gmail simply denotes one’s wherewithall of the digital age. Though people may prefer AOL for nostalgic reasons, the notion exists that those who know what’s really going on with the internet world will get over that and assimilate themselves so they can fully participate. Should another provider come along that is deemed by the masses to be better than google, I imagine everyone will migrate over.

And, I’ll leave you with one of the same questions as last time:

What does your e-mail domain name say about you?   And also this one:  Do you expect to be judged by your e-mail address and do you judge others by theirs?  

MaggieCakes is a blog about culture, social media, and what’s new on the Internet culture. Every day (okay, I try for every day) I comb blogs and news outlets for the news about Internet culture and social media to bring them to you (with my commentary, of course) here on MaggieCakes. MaggieCakes is hosted by WordPress and often draws upon Slate, Jezebel, The Hair Pin, and SocialTimes for links and inspiration. My post Social Media and the Art of Storytelling was featured on Freshly Pressed, bringing a whole new readership to my blog. Find anything interesting in the worlds of culture or social media that you’d like to see a post on? Leave a comment or send me an e-mail at

10 Responses to “Domain Names: E-mail and Personal Branding”

  1. georgettesullins June 22, 2011 at 7:15 am #

    Thank goodness my employers don’t judge me on this! I do a lot of contract work and not one has eliminated me…ergo the aol address still works and I know folks can find me. However, my high school listed me among the “lost”…really?…maybe it was the aol address after all.

    • Maggie June 29, 2011 at 7:40 pm #

      Hi Georgette, are you on Facebook? That’s how my high school now communicated with alumni about reunions. I think the people who aren’t on there really might not find out about them.

  2. hswinson June 22, 2011 at 9:45 am #

    Hello Maggie, thank you for quoting my comment from the DailyWorth article [Personally, If I am automatically eliminated…] , but I have to say that you took it out of context. I agree that your email HANDLE (and I apologize for the all caps, but without italics, what can you do?) is important – yes, you’re going to be judged if you are, but what I was trying (I suppose unsuccessfully) to explain in my previous comment, is that just because Gmail is the most POPULAR service, does not mean that it is the best. It’s like eliminating someone because they prefer to listen to 80s rock instead of Lady Gaga. Is one better than the other? No. Is one more popular than the other? Well, obviously.

    I will concede that Google in general is an extremely progressive company with tons of advances in technology. HOWEVER, that does not mean that everything Google is automatically BETTER. Especially in free Email service – Yahoo and Gmail are virtually the same aside from layout. I have used both, and I prefer Yahoo. It’s as simple as that. I’m not going to switch my domain name because of some ill-advised notion that some CEOs who don’t truly understand the LACK OF DIFFERENCE between these services are going to kick me to the curb. Besides, I wouldn’t want to work for someone so close-minded and downright stupid.

    PS and, yes, I did compare Google to Lady Gaga

    • Maggie June 29, 2011 at 7:39 pm #

      Hello Hayley, I’m sorry to be so slow on the response; it’s been a busy week. I’m sorry that you feel that I took your comment out of context. And, I do agree that your handle is a much bigger deal than your domain name. I really hope that there isn’t someone who’s e-mail address is, because if there is, she’s going to be getting all kids of spam because of this post.

      You’re right that a lot of people just like Google because it’s popular. But it’s not just that it’s popular; it has a certain cache, as well. I think the point that I was (perhaps unsuccessfully) trying to make is that if you know that people think something because of your e-mail domain name, but choose to ignore it, it’s the same as making an other choice upon which you know you will be judged. There’s nothing wrong with having a mullet, but if you choose to cut your hair that way, you should be aware that it might the outcome of your interview for a job as a bank VP. And, yes, I did compare having a Yahoo to a mullet. (I was inspired by your awesome comparison to Lady Gaga!)

      • hswinson June 30, 2011 at 1:04 am #

        lol @ Yahoo=having a mullet…not sure what you mean by Gmail having a certain “cache (An auxiliary memory from which high-speed retrieval is possible…? thanks google search)”.

        I guess it’s also important to note that there is two-way judgment going on here. Maybe I have a mullet, and my potential employer is judging me for having a mullet, but I, in turn, am judging him/her for judging me. If my employer marks me lower than my competition because of my mullet, then I, in turn, mark my employer lower for judging me for my mullet. Everyone needs a little bit of party in the back!

        Let’s not forget that I am not desperate to take any job offered me, but would like to choose that which is most suitable to my needs and personality. If I like to wear my hair in a mullet, chances are I’m not going to mesh well with the potential employer who dislikes my mullet, you see what I mean?

        Moving on to an entirely different debate, I think we, as job-seekers, give way too much power to those offering the jobs. If we just showed a little balls every so often and stood up for the things we believed in – be it mullets or Yahoo mail – we might actually earn a little bit of respect in the work world instead of earning the right to be someone’s lackey.

      • Maggie June 30, 2011 at 8:58 pm #

        Urgh, my French is failing me. That was supposed to be cachet as in mark of distinction, like a certain je ne sais quoi or type of cultural currency.

  3. Lauren June 28, 2011 at 12:46 pm #

    We had a Communications Director at my company whose personal email address was My younger colleagues and I thought that she was way behind the times before we even met her in the first interview. She got the job anyway.

    Turns out we were right. Less than a year later she gave her resignation, and she never did figure out why our company needed a facebook presence.

    Of course, this is not “proof” that domain name discrimination works, but I do think that your domain name indicates your level of technological prowess. If you are a communications director, or applying for a communications job, do yourself a favor and get an up-to-date email address.

    • Maggie June 29, 2011 at 7:42 pm #

      Hello Lauren, Communications @ Really? That’s a shame. I wonder if someone’s done a study of what percentage of people with various domain names are on different social networking sites. Like, are 5% of AOL users on Facebook and 75% of Google users? I’d just be interested to know.


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