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TESS VIGELAND: Cutting expenses is one way to improve your finances. An even better way? Boost your take-home pay. Get a better job. Of course, in these days of 10 percent unemployment, competition for jobs is extreme. So you need to consider everything a potential employer may think about you, especially when you're giving them your e-mail address.
Marketplace's Stacey Vanek-Smith reports.
Stacey Vanek-Smith: A few months ago I started getting e-mails from friends and colleagues saying they were switching their e-mail from Yahoo! or Hotmail to Gmail -- that's Google. I have a Yahoo! address. Do they know something I don't? Is my e-mail address sending its own message about me?
Duke University marketing professor Ken Wilbur says yes.
Ken Wilbur: It's like your haircut or the designer of the shirt that you're wearing. It's something that people notice, and it's part of the package.
I needed to know more, so I turned to Dalaise Michaelis. He's Marketplace's web developer, and he thinks about these kinds of things.
Dalaise Michaelis: As soon as somebody says they are email@example.com or hotmail.com, really it's an "oh my God" moment. "Do you know what the Internet is?" Yahoo is OK. And then if you're Gmail, you're like, "OK, I can take you seriously."
Vanek-Smith: What about AOL?
Michaelis: You said AOL? Um... Wow... Is it still around? I can't believe it's still around.
Burt Flickinger: Had my AOL e-mail account for a little over 15 years.
Burt Flickinger is the managing director of the Strategic Resource Group. He tells retailers how to market things to young shoppers. What do clients say when he gives them his e-mail?
Flickinger: When I give them an AOL e-mail address, they say, I can't believe you're still on AOL. I say, "Well, it's simple. I have one of the original addresses with no numbers so it's easier for you to type."
There are 50 million Flickingers out there. Hotmail has 200 million users. Yahoo 260 million. Gmail is gaining on them, but 500 million people can't be uncool.
Still, it's not about numbers says Duke University's Ken Wilbur. He says an e-mail address is part of your brand. And if you're looking for a job or networking, the wrong address can make you look out of touch.
Ken Wilbur: I really like to think about it as the card stock that you print your business cards on. You know, if you are out there looking for a job, then it certainly is something you might want to think about in terms of what kind of image you're projecting.
So if you think your e-mail address needs to send a new message, might be time to tell the old one...
AOL voice: Good-bye.
In Los Angeles, at gmail.com, I'm Stacey Vanek-Smith for Marketplace Money.