Job hunting is starting to feel hopeless. You spend whole days tailoring your resume and cover letter, re-writing your salutation ("Dear hiring manager," or "To whom it may concern"?) and you've even started asking your friends and family for help. Even with all of that, no one at the cool tech startups you admire is getting back to you. What's wrong?

If you're one of the millions of people who still uses AOL, or Yahoo, or even Hotmail as your primary email address, then the problem might not be your resume at all.

It's probably your email.

You Remember To Put Your Pants On In The Morning, Right?

There's nothing morally wrong with using an AOL email address. There's nothing wrong with listening to CDs either, just don't expect to get a job at a recording studio if you show up to your interview rocking a Walkman.

When Gmail was first released in 2004, it was met by a rush of hype and pandemonium the likes of which have not been replicated by any tech product since. That sounds like hyperbole--it's not. Whole websites and IRC chat rooms turned into marketplaces for invites to the beta-only release. Digital goods and even money exchanged hands as thousands rushed to get early access to a product that everyone knew was going to change the world.

Then it did change the world. Gigabytes of storage free, an email system you could search through rather than clear up for space:

In 2004, it was still alright to apply to tech jobs with an AOL email address. Today, using your @AOL.com address while applying to a job at a tech startup is like walking into your interview without pants on.

Nothing morally wrong with that either.

But do you really expect to get that job after you get escorted out of the building by security?

Why The Email You Use Matters

When you apply to a job, you're not just being judged based on a line-by-line read of your resume. You're not just being judged on the quality of the prose you write or the level of intelligence you show. You're being judged on intangible factors.

Writing in with an outdated email address sends a highly suspect signal to the hiring committee. It says, frankly, "I don't know what I'm doing."

It's kind of like making a small typo in your cover letter .Like that, just now. The out-of-place period is the kind of tiny mistake you might not even notice making, but hiring committees will notice it. You might not think it says anything about your personality, either--and perhaps it doesn't--but it's going to make them wonder. "If he messed that up and didn't fix it," they'll think, "Then what else is he going to mess up when he works here?"

You can have a totally solid resume and cover letter, but sending it in using a Yahoo or AOL email address is going to elicit a similar impression.

Tech startups aren't just looking for people with the right skills on paper. They're looking for people who "get it." It's not about trends or being hip--it's about knowing you have, at least, the basic modicum of computer fluency required to get through a single day of work. It's about knowing that you're aware of the technology around you and excited about how it changes over time. And using a Hotmail address in 2016 is not going to promote that perception of you as a candidate.

The 1 Industry Where Your AOL Address Might Come In Handy

Disregard all this advice if you're looking to get a job in the government. There, according to Politico reporter Ben Smith, an AOL email address is something of a status symbol.

So, yeah. There's somewhere for you recalcitrant AOL users.