We live in a ruthlessly rapidly evolving world, and few industries evolve quicker than the IT/technology industry. With employers and recruiters often bombarded by hundreds and even thousands of job applications, could something as minuscule as your email address provider be a potential tool used by recruiters, consciously or subconsciously, to filter your application?
Hotmail, AOL and Yahoo were founded 1996, 1993 and 1997 respectively. Whilst AOL have since deactivated their service, Yahoo and Hotmail continue to provide email servers to millions of people around the world. Compared with Gmail and iCloud (2004 and 2011), these email service providers have the potential to seem outdated and as ‘not with the times’, a fact seemingly recognized by Microsoft themselves as they essentially rebranded their Hotmail service in 2012, introducing the Outlook.com email address.
One might argue that Hotmail/Outlook, Yahoo etc still function perfectly well as email service providers, and that therefore there is no reason to consider switching account providers. Fair enough, good point. However, the more modern providers such as Gmail and iCloud provide more than just an email address, simultaneously giving users access to file/document storage, data back up options and lots of other applications. Thus, use of these providers can make it appear that a candidate has got his all round personal tech game in order. “Obviously IT leaders and those in a hiring capacity for IT, want technologically advanced people,” says Mike Clements from Robert Half Technology. An “outdated” email address could occasionally play a “very, very small” role in rating a candidate. So perhaps from this, we can glean that subconsciously your service provider is very mildly significant when being screened during an application. However, Mike goes on to say “It hasn’t played a factor in whether any candidates were eliminated for consideration.”
Moreover, Thomas Wilburn (News Developer, Seattle Times) says “It’s something I would probably notice eventually. These days having a Hotmail address … there’s a degree of old-schoolness and I would be intrigued by that. And it’s something I would probably ask someone about,” he said. “People who do take it as a signal, I wouldn’t want to work for,” he said.” I think people who see it as a meaningful signal, it says more about them than people who are using them.”
So, whilst your email service provider clearly isn’t a major factor and very arguably shouldn’t be a factor at all in assessing a job application, there is clearly often a subconscious noting by recruiters and employers when presented with one of the older named services. Despite it not being a swing factor in whether your application is successful or not, the saying ‘every little helps’ springs to mind here, and it’s perhaps worth considering switching to one of the more modern providers, even if this only serves to prevent a tiny negative subconscious signal to a potential employer or recruiter.