Deliverability. Every email provider has problems with receiving and sending mail. Mostly this is because of spam and how filters work. Some providers, like Comcast, block emails that come from a particular server. Note that I didn’t say domain, which would be bad enough. This is much worse! I had an email account from a computer shop I worked in – there were only a handful of accounts on this domain, and email volume was very low (outbound, we got plenty of spam inbound). I can’t send email from that account to anybody at Comcast – the email is just rejected. The ISP that we used at the shop has a machine that serves hundreds, or perhaps thousands of customers.
The first time this happened, I called the provider and asked for help, and since he wasn’t a very good provider, he told me to fix it myself. It seems that he bought the IP address for his server from somebody who was a spammer. No spam from that machine recently, but the IP address was still on black lists. I contacted a couple of the list owners and convinced them to remove the IP address, but at some point, it fell back on the black lists.
If you don’t know about email black lists, you might want to look at spamhaus.org. This is the best known anti-spam service, and here’s what they say about their business:
WORKING TO PROTECT INTERNET NETWORKS WORLDWIDE
Spamhaus tracks the Internet’s Spammers, Spam Gangs and Spam Services, provides dependable realtime anti-spam protection for Internet networks, and works with Law Enforcement to identify and pursue spammers worldwide.
Most people think spam is detected from content, and indeed with software like Outlook, that’s true. But the email has to get to you before your software can determine if it’s legitimate content.
GMail is considered a trusted source by most email services, and there’s even been speculation that GMail gets preference with some sites like Yahoo. That means your email is more likely to get to your recipient if you use GMail.
Service levels. This is hardly statistically valid information, but from my own observations Yahoo email tends to move in and out very slowly. Like sometimes a day or two later. I’ve watched this on my own account many times – send myself an email (like an article I’m reading), and watch it get to GMail instantly and Yahoo the next day. Likewise, outbound email is often delayed. Hey, this is better than it used to be when PacBell, SBC, and then ATT (wish they’d decide on their name already) ran the email servers. I first noticed this about 10 years ago when I found that some of my emails weren’t going out at all. A little research on the Internet showed that the PacBell email servers were frequently overloaded to the point of simply losing email. I’ve never seen or heard about this happening at GMail.
Your brand. You can believe this or not, but I’ve heard two recruiters say that candidates using GMail accounts were generally better than candidates using other email services. I can tell you that as a hiring manager, if I got an application sent from AOL, I wouldn’t even read it. I’m in high tech, and if you use AOL, you simply don’t get it.
Other Google services. If you’ve been to one of my workshops or seen one of my presentations, you know how important I think Google Reader is. You will need a Google account to use it or any other service at Google. I have a website parked there – my first try – http://wfeigenson.googlepages.com. I also use Google Analytics (tracks web traffic) and recently I created a Google AdWords campaign.
The Evil Empire? I have to bring this up… Google has frequently been draconian in their service terms, and they clearly have more information about everyone than almost anybody wants them to have. But believe me, dear reader, they are not interested in you or me. There are too many people in the world for Google to target people who aren’t famous, and they don’t even target those people. Your anonymity lies in sheer numbers.
Email from your domain or GMail? Many people say true professionals should use their own domain for email (e.g. firstname.lastname@example.org). While I agree with this in principal, I don’t suggest it – for the very reasons I mentioned above. You cannot be sure that your domain is hosted on a server that’s “clean.”
Keep your old email account! But don’t use it for your job search – just use it for your personal correspondence. If you’re like me, you’ll probably drop the old account after a while.
Final point: being an old fart, I hate GMail’s interface, so I use it in Outlook. It’s really very simple to set up, and the Outlook interface is much better for me – and I use an indexing program (Copernic), which indexes all my files and email. Then I have a fighting chance to track what I promised you two weeks ago. You can also use the Google servers with other email programs: Outlook Express, Thunderbird, probably many others. If you want to do this, remember Google is your best friend (I should trademark that, but I’m sure Google would object). Look up “set up GMail for Outlook” or equivalent. There are some really good instructions available on the Net.