Domain Discrimination

More and more it has become hard for people to differentiate themselves when applying for a job, school, or any other position. Sometimes the smallest details can make a big difference. I have had some conversations recently with people who have had to go through job applicants to a online job posting and the first point of contact they have with someone is their email address and subject line. They may not do it consciously, but snap judgments can occur very early on in the process – especially when you have hundreds of applicants.

This brings up an issue which is becoming more and more important – how you appear to someone before you reach the in person interview.

As HR people and interviewers are becoming more web savvy, your online persona will most likely reach the company before you do. It may not be in the policy books to “Google a candidate” before they come in – but it is certainly happening all the time.

This brings up a new and I feel common trend – domain discrimination. This is the act of judging someone based on the email system they use as a benchmark for their aptitude in other areas. For example – can you make any inferences from two identical candidates where the only difference is that one uses gmail and the other uses aol? What comes to mind? I believe the words used to describe this trend are in fact correct because this is certainly a negative thing to do to someone with only knowing their email address – yet it is very widespread.

The days are now gone where you can get away with putting “partygurl847″ as a reply address on your resume – yet people still do this all the time. Instead of just criticizing I am going to provide a few tips to avoid domain discrimination.

1. Get a professional email address that you can openly share with anyone
2. use a reputable service – or better yet, your own customized domain
3. Use a name or screen name that you can share with a potential boss
4. Avoid using crass or slang in your email adress – an excess of numbers can easily confuse things too
5. Assume people will search for this “handle” on other services

1. Get a professional email address that you can openly share with anyone
Having a professional email address lets you lead your correspondence and resume with a clear communication point. Setting up your email to reflect your address and name in the settings area provide a clear line of communication for someone you will be dealing with. Not sure about your settings now? Send a message to someone using Outlook, Gmail, Hotmail, and other services to see how it comes out.

2. use a reputable service – or better yet, your own customized domain
Having a reputable service behind your email can provide additional information about you before you get a chance to do so. As the NYTimes bits blog recently asked; Who uses AOL.com and why?

Using a customized domain shows that you own a website. Deal breaker? Probably not, but it gives another breadcrumb to your online identity before you have had a chance to plead your case. It also allows someone to see what you are all about and how you view the world if say your domain leads back to an active blog or web presence.

3. Use a name or screen name that you can share with a potential boss
Instant messaging has become a major part of business communications. Having an email address or screen name that you can easily share around the office can provide a seamless way to integrate into a group project from a distant location, or a simplified way for people to reach you. As more services allow an outside login to their walled gardens, a shareable email address is key to joining an IM integrated work environment.

4. Avoid using crass or slang in your email adress – an excess of numbers can easily confuse things too
Is your name taken on the service you want to use? Avoid throwing 6 digits on the end to “make it work” having something like EricFriedman99 is much better than EricFriedman96397635. If that does not work then perhaps a middle initial, shortened version of your name, or simply a simpler number would work better.

5. Assume people will search for this “handle” on other services
This is one of the most important points on my list. Assume people will Google your handle. Not worried? Great – then move along. Do you use this name on all services including social networks, photo sharing sites, video sites, and other networks? Think about a potential employer discovering your group of photos or videos under the same Screen Name you use in correspondence. Again, this may not be a written HR tactic, or even allowed – but people are doing it anyways.

So my point in all this is not to condone domain discrimination, but rather help people not fall victim to judgment before you have had a chance to tell your own story. Tell your own story online and be proud of what is out there. I have spoken on this blog before about Personal SEO and its importance which is more true today.

Think about what information you are putting out there for a potential employer and hopefully you can avoid some of the pitfalls described above.

  • http://thefuturebuzz.com Adam Singer

    Agreed with this – I actually wrote about the part you mentioned re: using Gmail vs. AOL…I was a bit harsher than you ;)

    http://thefuturebuzz.com/2008/09/15/look-smart-

  • http://thefuturebuzz.com Adam Singer

    Agreed with this – I actually wrote about the part you mentioned re: using Gmail vs. AOL…I was a bit harsher than you ;)

    http://thefuturebuzz.com/2008/09/15/look-smart-

  • http://www.vrempire.com/ vrempire

    That's a really nice and true article on the branding of our identity rite? Cool…

  • http://www.vrempire.com/ vrempire

    That's a really nice and true article on the branding of our identity rite? Cool…

  • http://www.marketing.fm EricFriedman

    Basically its worth it to brand your identity…so yes.

  • http://www.marketing.fm EricFriedman

    Basically its worth it to brand your identity…so yes.

  • http://thefuturebuzz.com AdamSinger

    Agreed with this – I actually wrote about the part you mentioned re: using Gmail vs. AOL…I was a bit harsher than you ;)

    http://thefuturebuzz.com/2008/09/15/look-smart-

  • http://www.vrempire.com/ vrempire

    That's a really nice and true article on the branding of our identity rite? Cool…

  • http://www.marketing.fm EricFriedman

    Basically its worth it to brand your identity…so yes.

  • http://sugod.com/ sugod

    Great article.

  • http://kidintheback.blogspot.com/ JApril

    I just read the following Tumblr post and immediately thought of what you said:
    http://tylercoates.tumblr.com/

    “Oh, and you know, the red flag goes up when I’m directed to email anything to an AOL address.”

    He's not really talking about AOL v Gmail (more about how he shouldn't reply to a interview invitation from an aol account and not company owned email domain) — but it's still the idea that we can judge people and even companies based on what comes after the @ symbol.

  • http://www.marketing.fm EricFriedman

    I think the two way interview is a strong analogy. People should consider
    who the potential employer is at the same time a potential employer is
    judging them. If a potential employer has an offer to work at a company
    using an @aol address (assuming its not AOL) I would definitely be cautious
    as to what they are offering.

  • http://kidintheback.blogspot.com/ JApril

    I just read the following Tumblr post and immediately thought of what you said:
    http://tylercoates.tumblr.com/

    “Oh, and you know, the red flag goes up when I’m directed to email anything to an AOL address.”

    He's not really talking about AOL v Gmail (more about how he shouldn't reply to a interview invitation from an aol account and not company owned email domain) — but it's still the idea that we can judge people and even companies based on what comes after the @ symbol.

  • http://www.marketing.fm EricFriedman

    I think the two way interview is a strong analogy. People should consider
    who the potential employer is at the same time a potential employer is
    judging them. If a potential employer has an offer to work at a company
    using an @aol address (assuming its not AOL) I would definitely be cautious
    as to what they are offering.

  • http://kidintheback.blogspot.com/ JApril

    I just read the following Tumblr post and immediately thought of what you said:
    http://tylercoates.tumblr.com/

    “Oh, and you know, the red flag goes up when I’m directed to email anything to an AOL address.”

    He's not really talking about AOL v Gmail (more about how he shouldn't reply to a interview invitation from an aol account and not company owned email domain) — but it's still the idea that we can judge people and even companies based on what comes after the @ symbol.

  • http://www.marketing.fm EricFriedman

    I think the two way interview is a strong analogy. People should consider
    who the potential employer is at the same time a potential employer is
    judging them. If a potential employer has an offer to work at a company
    using an @aol address (assuming its not AOL) I would definitely be cautious
    as to what they are offering.

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  • http://mostplays.com games

    This article I so true, keep on writing like this, enjoyment to read :) 197

  • Frank C. Tannehill

    There are so many such disputes… I think I prefer the first come, first served method rather than seeing all these problems generated by trademarked names. I wanted to buy a domain for a friend who has quite a common name. Surprisingly the .com was already bought. There isn't much he can do now.

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