is it unprofessional to have an email address with 69 in it?

A reader writes:

HR recently shared an applicant’s email address with me (think “”) and when I saw it, I chuckled a bit and thought it must be someone quite young and immature. HR saw my reaction and told me that he included a note mentioning that he was born in 1969, and that is the reason for number in his email address.

I have to admit, my immediate thought was WHY? If your email address has a somewhat “inappropriate” number (69, 420, 666) and you feel the need to clarify to people when you use it, why on earth are you still using it? It immediately made me think that my applicant was a 12-year-old boy.

So: am I an overreacting prude? Or are people born in 1969 doomed to never use their birth year in email addresses?

You’re overreacting. He was born in 1969. 69 has not become an off-limit number like the way some hotels skip a 13th floor, and we’d all be doing society a favor if we don’t contribute to a culture where another number gets taken out of circulation, especially for a ridiculous reason like this one. 69 is not an inherently scandalous numeral.

If anything, I’d argue that the “12-year-old boy” reaction is to be horrified that it’s in someone’s email address. I’d ask why your first reaction was to assume an email in a professional context was making a crude sexual reference rather than reflecting the far more common practice of referencing a birth year!

I do think it’s awfully odd that the candidate included a note explaining the number. If he feels like he needs to do that, then at that point just choose a different email address for job searching, dude — do not include notes to employers about how you’re not talking about oral sex — but the email address itself is not a big deal.

{ 509 comments… read them below }

  1. Hamish*

    I mean, it sounds like you’re kind of agreeing with OP, when she says if “you feel the need to clarify to people when you use it, why on earth are you still using it?”

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          From context, I don’t think so — but maybe the OP can clarify? (She’s been in the comments and hasn’t corrected that yet, which additionally makes me think it was the applicant’s note.)

      1. Chris K*

        I mostly agree with the OP. This is a situation where person A has almost no control over person B’s reaction (asynchronous communication). Also, person A is trying to impress, or at least stand out to person B (yes I am completely aware that the interview process is a two way assessment). For these reasons person A needs to be aware of “common understanding “ of phrases, or in this case, numbers. To not do so risks exactly the treatment they received, justified or not. If A and B have some sort of relationship then a conversation can ensue, where nuance and back-story can influence. However, a submission to a post is not a conversation, it’s a presentation, and is judged as such. B will naturally judge A for misspelling, grammar, inflammatory or hateful language, or in this case, a number that is fairly often used as a coded reference. I am specifically addressing things that person A CAN control. If there are things about person A that are outside their control, e.g. race, gender, age, etc. then there is every expectation that person B does NOT judge.

        1. Alice's Rabbit*

          Agreed. Yes, there are innocent explanations for the number, but most everyone who sees the number 69 is going to think NSFW thoughts.
          If you want to use that as your personal email, fine. But not for work. Especially not for job applications, when you’re needing to impress.

    1. Kali*

      I took it as, he’s perfectly entitled to have that email address, but if experience has lead him to feel the need to explain it, it’s an odd choice to continue using it with an explanation rather to change it, especially for job applications. Like, he can, he’s not in the wrong, but it’s an interesting hill to die on, and if he’d written in saying “hey, people are reacting negatively to my email” the advice would be to change it.

      1. SheLooksFamiliar*

        Came here to say the same thing. I’m not horrified by this guy’s email, and nor did I snicker like a schoolgirl, but I did roll my eyes.

        The issue I have is that the guy knows his email makes people react in a way that reflects on him – good, bad, whatever – because he’s explaining why he uses the format during a job search. He may want to re-think the format he chose to use because, even with an explanation, he’s calling attention to something that just doesn’t serve him well. He has lots of free email options and could have easily created another address for his job search with a conventional format.

        Firstname dot lastname at domain dot com isn’t creative or clever, but at least it doesn’t give employers a reason to think twice about him. As Kali said, it’s an interesting hill to die on.

        1. Anony-Mouse*

          I assumed this name was really common and that’s why he didn’t have the simple first name last name email. But he could do “1969” in there instead of “69” and that should fix both issues.

          1. TooTiredToThink*

            Exactly, but also – since people born in 1969 are now over 50, I’d be hesitant to be using such an email address in case of age discrimination!

            1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

              I was surprised Alison didn’t mention this. Age discrimination is absolutely a thing (in both directions) so Alison often advises us to avoid stating our exact age in application materials.

              Email addresses aren’t expensive or scarce, so it’s surprising that a person is choosing to expend effort explaining his email address rather than getting a new one, even if only for job hunting.

              1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                I didn’t mention it because I’m not talking to the applicant; I’m advising a hiring manager on whether to judge the candidate for it and she shouldn’t.

            2. Glitsy Gus*

              That was my thought too. While it’s fine to use it, I may not want to call out my age that way. My email is (mmdd of my birthday) for that exact reason. Y’all don’t need to know my birth year, especially now that I’m in the ‘protected class’ range.

              I mean, it is the guy’s prerogative to use it, but were asking about it I would suggest he at least consider that end of the equation.

              1. Lizzo*

                Somewhat off-topic, but it’s worth considering whether including your birth day, month, and/or year in your email address might be opening yourself up to security/privacy risks. Better to pick numbers that are significant to you, but have no significance re: your identity.

                1. Roci*

                  Agreed. You’re sharing too much sensitive information just off the bat. Think of how many things you subscribe to that now have your full name and birthday.

      2. I Herd the Cats*

        Anybody still using an AOL or Yahoo address means 69 as a birth year, IMO. Let’s have a discussion on who still uses AOL and Yahoo as email addresses! To me it’s an immediate signifier of an older person.

        Also email addresses are so easy to set up. I have three (separate from a work email) that I use in different ways. One’s basically a spam account for when I have to order something.

        1. BubbleTea*

          I have a Yahoo email address. It’s not my primary account but I use it for stuff that is likely to spam me. And I’m not yet 30.

          1. I Herd the Cats*

            Thank you! Clarifying: this is my curiosity rather than bias — I wondered if you could even still get an AOL address, for instance. I’m an older person and part of my job includes working with the email addresses of a lot of our board and membership, and the only people I see with Yahoo and AOL are generally my age or older.

            1. Teapot Tía*

              IIRC, when Verizon switched their email handling over to AOL a couple years (?) ago, there was an option to sign up for an AOL account instead of keeping your address.

          2. Kumajiro*

            I have a bellsouth dot net email account (which is now a yahoo account and has been for a long time). It was my baby’s first email account, and I don’t use it for anything but spamy stuff anymore, but I do still have it. And I am years away from being 30

        2. RandomAnon*

          I’m early 40s and I still have a Yahoo email. That’s the email address I give people/companies that I don’t trust not to spam me or send me email chain letters. LOL.

        3. JayLee*

          I’d be wary of vilifying someone with an AOL or Yahoo. People, including Millennials, have all sorts of reasons that they use a non-gmail address and using that as a disqualifier seems silly to me. I realize Gmail is the commone one, but I actually still use (and now pay for) a Microsoft email (.msn) that I got as a child. I almost 30, FWIW, and I don’t think it’s held me back.

        4. coldbrewraktajino*

          Oh god, this all just reminded me of when I first started emailing with my now-husband outside the dating app where we met: the junker email he attached to that account was firstname_initial_80@yahoo, which I decided was his birth year (I didn’t cross-reference with his dating account).

          I definitely spent the first few dates thinking he was only a year or two older than me, until he gave me another address that was firstname_77 (his actual birth year). He’d had the account since HS, and the 80 was his soccer jersey number.

        5. Serenity*

          I still use a Yahoo email address, first email I ever created and I was 13. I have a Gmail but I’ve used the Yahoo one for 20 years and just never wanted or felt the need to fully switch. The Gmail is useful for the fact that you can easily create collaborative documents, but other than that I never saw a huge difference.

        6. JB*

          I have both an AOL and a Yahoo email address, and I’m 29. The Yahoo address is my professional one (outside of my actual work email).

          Someone below suggested that the standard is supposed to be Gmail – really? That seems very silly, considering Google’s history of violating their users’ privacy.

      3. Problem solver*

        Exactly. Change the damn e-mail address. It’s an e-mail address, not an immutable part of your identity. Problem solved.

    2. Springella*

      TBH, if I saw 69 in an email address, I’d think that this was a person born in 1969.

      I don’t even know what’s supposed to be wrong with 420.

      1. RVA Cat*

        It’s about weed.
        My very anti-drug husband was in Denver for a work conference in April 20th a few years and they had a pot parade.

  2. Christmas*

    That was my first impression, as well, that it said more about the letter-writer that he started chuckling immediately.

    Sommelier: “Sir, might I recommend the ‘69 Cabernet…”
    Writer: “”Hee-hee!!”

    1. lyonite*

      IDK, pretty much every moderately immature guy I know defaults to “69” when asked for a random number, and they’re not doing it because it’s their birth year. The included explanation is probably because he’s gotten that reaction several times before, and at that point, yeah, why not just get another email for things like job applications?

      1. Funbud*

        Call me shallow (many have!) but I, too, would have enjoyed a good smutty chuckle over this, and then forgotten it. I certainly wouldn’t have bothered bringing it up to the applicant. But I have to wonder: if this email address solicits questions and unwanted inferences, why use it at all?

        1. Uranus Wars*

          I think this is what I would have done. Laughed at it (because well, I am sorta a 12-year-old boy stuck in a 40-something year old female body) but the proceeded without thinking of it again. Definitely not thought about the candidate.

          I wonder if this is a case where he’s had his email forever and just used it. OR if he reads AAM and saw the OPs original letter and then emailed them!

      2. MCMonkeybean*

        Yeah, I’m gonna have to side with OP here. They clearly know how their email address comes off or else they wouldn’t feel the need to justify it, and getting a different one would cost them $0 so I definitely think they should do so.

        I mean, it doesn’t sound like OP is planning on *doing* anything, they just want to know if other people also think that’s weird. And I agree that it’s weird.

    2. a sound engineer*

      I get the chuckle at least, what I don’t get is the chuckle, then immediately assuming immaturity instead of the the pretty standard birth year in email address format

      1. (insert name here)*

        Standard? I haven’t seen anyone who uses birth year in their email.

        Also I wouldn’t be drawing attention to my age, in general, but especially in this way. The birth year explanation actually causes me to have more concerns.

        How many people are going to think the following? “This guy has made it clear that he knows his email address is causing him problems, but he has not changed it for his job search. Is that because he’s not tech savvy?”

        51 isn’t that old, but there is no need to draw attention to your age while also displaying lack of tech savvy at the same time.

        1. juliebulie*

          Yeah, that was my first thought. I’m at a point in my life/career where it’s better not to draw attention to my age. So, no numbers in my email address.

          Or maybe I should use a higher year, let people assume I’m younger, and then if questioned I can say it’s my lucky number. ;-)

        2. Ana Gram*

          Yeah, exactly. Get an email address that you use only for your job search. It makes him seem like a bit of a twit.

          1. Alice's Rabbit*

            I have an email that is strictly for job searching. It’s wholly professional, based on my name, and easy for interviewers to remember.
            My fun emails are for friends and family.

        3. micklethwaite*

          Yeah, I have no problem personally with the email address but I’d think this was someone uncomfortable with basic tech, because… just register a nice neutral Gmail address. If his address is causing issues, this is far from the most straightforward way to solve them, so what other problems is he going to struggle with solving?

          (I applied for my first jobs using a Hotmail address with my birth year in it. I don’t do that any more because it looks naff and dated.)

        4. Pennyworth*

          My niece used her birth year because her name without a number was already taken. In the case of the 69 guy, I probably would have used 969 instead of 69 or 1969, as it is less of an age indicator and doesn’t have the snigger factor.

      2. Elsie*

        Aside from revealing your age, putting your birth year in your email also reveals other sensitive information about yourself and could be a security risk for identity theft. It would be so easy for someone to combine that with social media birthday info and get your entire birthdate. If you have to put a number in your email, probably best to choose something random that won’t give away too much personal information

      3. Alice's Rabbit*

        I wouldn’t call it standard. Yes, some people use their birth year. Some use the year they graduated. Some use their anniversary. Or any other significant date.
        I tend to see the graduating year most often, honestly.

      4. RebelwithMouseyHair*

        I have a 95 in my pro email address, I do hope people don’t think it’s my age! It’s actually my daughter’s year of birth, so people won’t realise just how much valuable experience they’ll be getting if they send me work assuming it’s my year of birth.

        It was actually meant to be 94, in reference to my postcode, which is very common here in France. But the techie guy setting my laptop and stuff up got it wrong, so now people will think I live north of Paris rather than south. Since I only ever WFH, it really doesn’t matter in the least. If anyone asks, I tell them that it’s the year I started working in my line of business, which it actually was, although I prefer to think of it as the year I gave birth to my daughter, her birth being a true moment of triumph for me for various reasons.

      1. boop the first*

        Heh, I do appreciate the “nice” response every time there’s a 69. Especially because it alone seems to be erasing the old sexual connotations of that number. Now to me, it just means fun, goofy meme number.

        1. Caramel & Cheddar*

          Don’t people reply “nice” specifically because of the sexual connotations? i.e. isn’t that the entire joke?

          1. kristinyc*

            yep. My husband and I both do this really casually and we think it’s funny.

            “What’s the weather like today?”
            “Oh, it’s really *nice* out.”
            “What’s the temperature?”
            “69 degrees…”

            Yes, we’re children, but we like that this is a joke we can do in front of our child and it’ll be way over his head for a long time.

            1. Queer Earthling*

              We do this too. I’ll reset the thermostat to 69 and announce, “I set it to a nicer temperature!” We’re all (ostensibly) adults in the house, but it’s the little things in life.

            2. redflagday701*

              I’m in my mid-forties, and no one will ever convince me the 69/”nice” joke isn’t hilarious. It shot past annoyingly cliché to become an instant classic, and it makes me feel hope for humanity. I smile literally every time I see it.

              1. kristinyc*

                I think it’s like the poster above said – it’s less about the sexual act, and more about “let’s all just collectively decide this number is funny and any appearance of it anywhere is something to joke about.” Like, a universal inside joke.

          2. MCMonkeybean*

            Yes, but I think at some point it sort of just becomes muscle memory and you forget the reason behind why you are responding that way which is I assumed they meant.

    3. Mx*

      When I see the number 69 in this context, my first thought is that it must be their DOB.
      Yes it’s a bit prudish to think it refers to oral sex. It is just the number !

    4. Richard Hershberger*

      In related news, the twelve-year-old in me giggles a little when listening to The Messiah, when the chorus sings about liking sheep.

      1. RabbitRabbit*

        The 16-year-old me in high school choir giggled as we sung it as “Oh we like sheep,” and I’m giggling now having the memory brought back.

    5. Hrodvitnir*

      Eh, the example of the wine isn’t the same because plenty of people do/have made email addresses with 69 in it as a “tee hee” sex thing. So I would think it’s a super weird choice – but then, I’ll bend myself into a pretzel to avoid numbers in an email anyway, let alone one that reads like you’re a kid who’s just learned what 69 is.

  3. Arctic*

    “If your email address has a somewhat “inappropriate” number (69, 420, 666) and you feel the need to clarify to people when you use it, why on earth are you still using it?”

    He probably created it without realizing and now so many applications and important things are linked to this email it is hard to transition.

      1. Kelly L.*

        Yep, I have one just for job searching, because my main email is a book reference that has nothing to do with my name and confuses anyone who hasn’t read the book. Which doesn’t matter at all for getting order confirmations and such, but isn’t what I want to get attention for when I job search.

      2. Elsajeni*

        Right — switching over ALL of your stuff (every subscription, every site you have an account on, etc.) would be a pain, but lots of people have more than one email address that they check regularly. Work + personal, or real name + pseudonymous, or whatever. It wouldn’t be that arduous to set up a second email with no humorous numbers in it and give that one to new contacts in your job search.

      3. Juno*

        You’d be surprised how many people how many people who struggle with tech are applying for jobs online. It wouldn’t shock me at all if tit turned out that it hasn’t occurred to this job applicant that he can make a new email address.

    1. hbc*

      Yeah, but eventually you transition. The note makes me think “barely computer literate,” since he apparently thinks there’s a problem big enough to mention and still hasn’t gotten around to doing the old new-address-and-forwarding thing.

      1. Esmeralda*

        It sounds more to me like people like the LW have smirked at him enough that he feels he needs to include the note.

        1. hbc*

          Yeah, but if you care that people are smirking about you (especially in a business context) and you can easily change the thing that’s causing them to smirk, why not just do it?

          I mean, if your favorite interview tie has a pattern that looks like you dropped mustard on it, you either ignore when their eyes dart there or you go with your second favorite tie. You don’t go around announcing to every interviewer that it’s not mustard.

        2. EventPlannerGal*

          I just think it’s weird to dig in that hard over something like this. IMO this isn’t something that it’s worth getting defensive over people “smirking” about, it’s an email address. If having people smirk over your email address is hurtful then use a different one for job applications – don’t keep using it and include a note drawing even more attention to it. There’s really no need to take it personally.

      2. (insert name here)*

        Yes! He’s changing the reactions but not to something that helps him.

        Slightly immature? meh
        Not computer literate? Problem

        1. ChristmasWitch*

          That’s exactly how I’m feeling.
          Potentially dirty email address? Ok I’ll chuckle but move on, especially in this case since “69” in emails used to be primarily done as a joke.
          But a candidate essentially telling me that they know their email could be construed as inappropriate and either refuses to change it or doesn’t know how to do such a simple, free thing would be concerning to me. It demonstrates awareness of an issue but a refusal to do anything about it. (And for a tech issue as simple as making a new email I think tech illiteracy is no excuse when there are countless simple resources to help)
          It’s just not encouraging imo

          I typically agree with Alison, but I think she missed the mark on this one.

    2. Septembergrrl*

      It’s not hard to set up email forwarding, though. He could have made a new account that didn’t use the number and set the firstname.nickname_69 so it automatically sent messages to the new one, probably in less time than it takes to include the note explaining it’s just his birth year. Not being tech-savvy enough to do that seems like it would be a strike against you for many jobs.

    3. Quill*

      I mean… getting a new gmail for job searching is free…

      Then again I did transfer my mom’s entire email life from her work email to a new, personal one when she changed jobs last year, so it could just be a case of technology familiarity combined with an inability to tell that the note is making it WORSE.

    4. Kella*

      Setting up email forwarding is incredibly easy and free. I used the same email address for a good 10 years and finally recognized that it was unprofessional and I really needed a normal FirstInitialLastName style email address for work. I set it up to forward to my main account and I never had to do any extra work again. I don’t even look at my professional mailbox, I just look at my main account. You can also tag emails that are being forwarded so you know easily at a glance which ones are for work or not.

    5. NYWeasel*

      I have an AOL account from 1993 that I keep using bc it’s been the only contact method that’s remained constant for me over the past 30 years. For a long time it was my professional email as well, but eventually telling people to email me at (silly name) got to be a bit much, so I now have a first.last@domain email for work purposes. It really wasn’t hard to change it. I just updated my resume the next time I was job searching, and I just continue to monitor the old one in case anyone tries to get a hold of me there.

    6. Problem solver*

      “He probably created it without realizing and now so many applications and important things are linked to this email it is hard to transition.”

      Setting an old e-mail address to forward is indeed hard. Like about as hard as getting admitted to Harvard.

    7. Alice's Rabbit*

      It’s really not. He can even create a new account and have it automatically forward to his original address, if he wants.

  4. Veruca*

    I do think the number 69 has already been taken out of circulation. We can blame 12 year old boys all we want, but in fact, everyone of us thought the same thing.

      1. Koalafied*

        Same here. It really doesn’t even occur to my brain to process it as a sexual reference. I work in digital and with databases which means I deal with ID numbers and user handles that contain numbers all day long, so to me it’s purely force of habitual cognitive pathway activation that numbers are just numbers, not shorthand codes for words (tbh, I don’t even like using “4” to mean “for”).

        1. Tired of Covid-and People*

          I’m 65 and immediately thought about sex, a long way from 12 years old of any gender. In a non-birthday relevant context, it’s what I would default to. Not sure what that says about me, but it’s common knowledge and so easy to avoid, so why go there? There’s a chance the person is a very sheltered religious fundie or something and knows nothing of oral sex, let along that is what their birth year represents. Otherwise, not sure what the person is thinking, although it really is a very, very minor thing.

      2. many bells down*

        If the person appears of an age where it could reasonably be their birth year or their graduation year, fine. If it’s a 24 year old…nope. Poor choice.

      3. Esmeralda*

        Or, at my university, email addresses are a combo of last name and initials plus a number if your initials plus name is not unique (smith, lee, nguyen, mohammed…). Email addresses aren’t ever retired, so it’s quite possible to have 69 in your official email address.

      4. Cat Tree*

        I agree. I probably would notice and internally chuckle at the 69, but unless the full address was something like SexyBoi69, I would assume it’s not an intentional reference to sex.

        Luckily I have an uncommon last name and was able to get first.last right out of college with no numbers in it. Having birth year is less than ideal because it could contribute to unconscious bias, but it’s certainly not on the same level as an intentional sex reference.

      5. Birdie*

        I think it would depend on context for me. If it’s something like the person’s full name + 69, I would assume birth year, but if the rest of the handle isn’t very professional, then I’m likely to assume they were referencing something else.

        But even though I wouldn’t care about receiving an email from someone with a professional-sounding email address that happened to include “69,” I personally would’ve left it out. If 1969 wasn’t available, I’d use something else entirely.

      6. Coyote Tango*

        Yeah unless it’s combined with other suggestive phrasing it wouldn’t register to me as an immature reference.

        tedsmith69 = birthyear
        sexxaylady69 = immature

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I really don’t think it has, in most circles. The comment above about a ‘69 Cabernet is a good example – that’s not going to send most people into giggles.

      1. Tired of Covid-and People*

        Because the context is obvious and the year is relevant. If the person had an email address with “bornin69” or something, it would have been entirely different.

      2. Trot*

        It’s more obvious that it’s a reference to a year when you’re talking about wine, though, whereas email addresses used for professional purposes don’t usually have any numbers in them at all.

        At least in my circles, everyone has updated their addresses from the early days when numbers (birth year or otherwise) were more common.

      3. Elenna*

        FWIW I did assume it was a 69 joke upon first reading the letter. Like, I’d probably giggle to myself a little if a waiter recommended a ’69 Cabernet, but it would be more “ha, funny coincidence” because I know wines are organized by year. Whereas with the email address I legitimately thought “wow, really, you’re putting that in a professional email address?” before the letter explained.

        Maybe it’s because in my social life I communicate with people mostly by Facebook Messenger or other non-email formats, and at work of course all emails are, so I don’t think I’ve ever actually seen an email address with a birth year in it? I mean, I kinda knew it was a thing because of this site, but my mind definitely did not go there. It sounds like LW is the hiring manager, and not in, say, HR, so maybe they’re like me and don’t see non-work emails often either.

        That being said, a) I wouldn’t penalize the applicant for it after realizing it was a birth year and b) I’m also confused as to why the applicant doesn’t set up another email with email forwarding instead.

        1. Jennifer Thneed*

          This. I’ve got this set up in gmail, and it even allows me to change the “From” address if someone mails to the wrong address for my purposes. (Example: one time I emailed my mom from my professional address and she replied to it, so for my reply I changed to “From” address to my personal one and the rest of the conversation took place in my personal email.)

        2. Jonquil S*

          Same! I haven’t seen an email with a birth year in it, at least not for a long time. Mostly I see longer numbers or no numbers, and the longer numbers don’t obviously reference anything. I feel like, if I put my birth year in an email, someone might judge me for my age? IDK if that’s a reasonable caution, but I suspect that’s why many people don’t reference their birth year much.

          If I have to pick a random number for something, sometimes I’ll use “2319.” Technically that’s a pop-culture reference, so it’s easy for me to remember, but it’s obscure enough that it just reads as a random number.

          1. Alice's Rabbit*

            I’ll occasionally see graduation year, but usually from folks who are proud alumni of their particular schools. For example: firstname.lastname.USMA93@emailserver

      4. Problem solver*

        It doesn’t matter whether you’re right or wrong. Some people are misinterpreting the e-mail address. Why run that risk in a competitive job market?

        1. Alice's Rabbit*

          ^This^ If it’s been mentioned enough times before that he preemptively corrects the perception of lewdness, he knows that email address is bringing down his chances. It’s an easy change to improve his odds at getting an interview. Why wouldn’t he change it, instead of constantly clarifying?

    2. Caramel & Cheddar*

      Yeah, I agree with this. 69 has been a “thing” for long enough that most people know what it is, and because of that that’s why I’d immediately lean towards the sexual interpretation and not the birth year interpretation. There are other numbers that might give people pause that I don’t think have reached the same level of awareness regarding what they reference where I think you have a lot of interpretational wiggle room (e.g. does 88 mean 1988 as a birth year, a lucky number, or online Nazi shorthand?), but I’m not convinced 69 is one of them in the year 2020.

      [It also just seems like bad cyber security to put your birth year into an email address, but I realise that wasn’t the question at hand here.]

      1. Aquawoman*

        My stepson was just mentioning yesterday someone he knew who had 1488 in their email address/user name and was confused that people kept thinking he was a white supremacist (14 + 88 are both white supremacist dogwhistles).

        1. Elbereth*

          I think this is one of the instances were the US dogwhistle culture gets out of control.
          The email address mentioned in the OP is another.

            1. Not American TF*

              It’s not something I would ever think of, as a non-American. I’m aware of the cheap, tacky approach to this number, but it would never be my first, second, or twelfth assumption. I’m not a sex obsessed yet prudish American, thankfully! I don’t feel the need to snigger like a teenage boy over anything that has a remote connection to sexuality. Some of us are actual adults.

              1. TechWorker*

                I’m also not American but you clearly have some issues here that are nothing to do with the letter. Congrats that you don’t have any association..?

                1. Problem solver*

                  +1. If Not American thinks that only Americans snigger “like a teenage boy” over a sexual innuendo, (1) she doesn’t get outside of Canada (or wherever) enough, (2) she hasn’t met any teenage girls, who snigger too, and (3) she hasn’t met many actual adults. Some of us actually have a sense of humor.

                  Methinks she knows all this and has an axe to grind against U.S. Americans.

            2. Tau*

              To support this – you are actually not allowed to have a license plate featuring 14 or 88 as the two-digit component in the German state of Brandenburg, and 88 is forbidden in a few others. I (German) definitely recognise 88 as having neo-Nazi associations, and 14 rings a vague bell.

              Definitely not just an American thing.

          1. Llama Wrangler*

            @Elbereth – I think 14+88 are different than 69. White supremacists openly and actively use those two numbers as signs of their affiliation. I don’t know that you meant to imply this, but saying “it’s out of control” to read these as dogwhistles to me reads like you’re saying people are being overly sensitive about hate symbols.

            1. boo bot*

              Yes. I commented with a link to the ADL hate symbols database for the curious, I think it’s in moderation (you can also google “adl hate symbols database” and find an explanation of both numbers).

              There also just isn’t really another obvious reason to use that number – it’s not like it’s the birth year of any mortal being alive today, so it’s not ridiculous to be aware that it might be a red flag.

              1. curly sue*

                My father was signing off his emails with “73” “88” for a while – I was deeply weirded out when it began (while I’m Jewish, he isn’t, and we’re not super close…) but did end up asking wtf. Turns out he was using old ham radio code signoffs – 73 used to be used to mean “best regards,” and 88 was “hugs and kisses.” He was totally oblivious to any other meaning.

                Thankfully, he now only uses “73.”

              2. Jacqueline*

                My first piano teacher had 88 on her license plate; it’s the number of keys on the piano keyboard.

            2. Ada*

              Right, after all, the whole point of dog whistles is the plausible deniability angle. Otherwise it’s not a dog whistle. I get stumbling into them accidentally (I know I’m not up-to-date on all of them, and by their nature they tend to change quickly), but once you’ve been made aware, you can’t be surprised when people make those kinds of conclusions anymore.

          2. boo bot*

            I don’t think this is an issue of people overreacting or imagining things – 1488 is a white supremacist symbol, they’re the ones who made it up and choose to use it. The explanation is here:

            I’m sure people use it without knowing the white supremacist connotation, and they deserve to know that they may be signaling something they don’t intend – if people could interpret my email address to mean I was a white supremacist, I would rather err on the side of caution and change it!

          3. Hrodvitnir*

            I’m not sure you understand the meaning of the concept of a dogwhistle. It’s not “dogwhistle culture” where people recognising them are creating a problem – white supremacists have deliberately made a dogwhistle for each other that’s easy to hide. It sucks for people who don’t know and get mistaken for while supremacists, but it’s not the fault of people who have learned to recognise dogwhistles that they exist.

        2. Anononon*

          Yeah, I was born in 1988, and it’s a bummer that it’s something I need to keep in the back of my mind. (At least ’69 is funny/not linked to actual Nazis.)

    3. Ann O'Nemity*

      I’m on the fence about this one.

      I wouldn’t use “69” in an email address, even if I had a legitimate reason for doing it. There’s just too much risk that readers would interpret it the wrong way. I do not want to be associated with a sex act, and there’s countless other email options.

      But I also wouldn’t assume the worst about someone else doing it, unless their moniker was something like “hotbabe69.”

        1. DuskPunkZebra*

          Maybe so, but it’s enough like the general advice of how to build an appropriate email address to job search that you should ASSUME you’ll be judged because it reads very much the same way as someone’s high school email from their emo days – young and with questionable judgement. Especially since the email’s structure also included a nickname. It’s not the format generally used.

          On the fence, but avoid the appearance of impropriety whenever possible. If you have to start explaining things, you’re in a bad position and should adjust accordingly. You’re submitting yourself for judgement, one should not be surprised when one is judged.

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            Again, that’s fine if that’s the advice you want to give an applicant. If I had a hiring manager working under me who was judging candidates on this basis, I’d take real issue with that.

        2. Hrodvitnir*

          I certainly agree with this! I just think it’s to be expected that people will side-eye an email address with a number like that in it, and not something that reflects negatively on the LW like some people think.

      1. Drew*

        My (very mild) concern here would not be that the applicant has the humor of a 12-year-old boy, but that they don’t have the judgement to see how their email address might come across, pick something new, and find the very simple solution that is email forwarding. That is relevant to hiring!

        1. Something Something Whomp Whomp*

          Exactly – either a judgement issue alone, or a combination of that and not being tech-savvy enough to figure out email forwarding (or even know that email forwarding exists).

          1. Marie*

            I remember teaching my high school students the importance of a professional email address. 69 doesn’t cut it. I’ve giggled too many times while reading these comments. It’s a poor choice. That’s the thing: it’s a choice: the person chose this questionable email and knows that it is questionable and even calls attention to it in application. It’s so easy to choose and use and get a new email : I don’t get the attachment to this one.

    4. Weekend Please*

      I think you may be projecting. I definitely think of birth year before assuming that it is a sexual reference. I makes me think of the movie “On the Basis of Sex” where they debated whether using the work “sex” instead of “gender” was inappropriate. Some people have dirty minds but we don’t need to change normal word usage to cater to that.

    5. MsClaw*

      Agreed. First of all, why would anyone put their birth year in their email address? That seems like a really bad idea, especially when using it to apply for jobs. I am well into my 40s and would absolutely have the same sort of reaction if I saw that in someone’s email address, like great what sort of overgrown bro bud has sent in his resume? I wouldn’t trash the resume or anything like that, but realistically it’s probably going to color my reading of it.

      1. Aquawoman*

        People put their birthyears in their email addresses because Their Name.Their Name at gmail was already taken and they needed to add something so they decided to use a number they’d remember.

        1. Ashley*

          I get adding a number you remember but I really hate birth years in emails used for anything outside of a circle of friends because you are unnecessarily advertising your age which can create its own set of problems.

          1. Formerly Ella Vader*

            Yes. Advertising your age plus telling people something that might be used in your passwords seems naive to me, and I probably judge on that naivete more than on the person’s assumed age.

            1. Tinker*

              Yikes: if someone’s birth year might be a component of their password, I’m a lot more alarmed by that than by them making references to the year they were born in.

          2. Urt*

            It’s typically the default suggestion the email creation form coughs up when it comes back with “this email already exists, trying something else, like adding your birth year”.

        2. Anononon*

          As a purely personal preference/I really don’t care what other people do, I think birth years make a lot more sense/look “nicer” than, say, “1” or “123” or any other combo like that because the base email is taken.

      2. Mockingjay*

        Because 30 years ago we weren’t worried about cybersecurity. Everyone was doing some version of their name with birthdate/birthyear for their NEW EMAIL ADDRESS on AOL! (Those were the days.)

        Most people have kept their original email handle through various providers, just changing the “”

      3. Junior Assistant Peon*

        That’s my reaction when a resume says someone was president of their frat. I have a mental picture of some over-the-top dudebro type.

      4. nonegiven*

        It was pretty common in the 90s for people add their birth year when their chosen nickname or birth name was already taken.

    6. CatPerson*

      The only reason you thought the same thing was because of the LW’s reaction. If I received an email from someone with that number in it my first thought would be that the person was born in 1969.

      1. Elenna*

        I guess I can’t prove what I would have thought without seeing the title, but it didn’t even occur to me that it might be a birth year until the letter explained, so I’m sure I would have had the same immediate reaction as the LW. Probably because I’ve never seen an email address with a birth year in it outside this website.

        That being said, I wouldn’t penalize the applicant for it, unless maybe it was a very small penalty for choosing to send a note instead of creating a new email address for applications.

      2. Alice's Rabbit*

        Nope. I have seen 69 included in email addresses before, and my first assumption was never birth year. Because anyone actually born in 69 would be sick and tired of 69 jokes, and I can’t see them deliberately setting themselves up like that.
        The fact that this guy not only has 69 in his email address, but is aware enough of the connotation to preemptively bring it up, and yet still refuses to change it? That speaks to a personality type I wouldn’t want to hire.

    7. Observer*

      but in fact, everyone of us thought the same thing.

      Call me culturally illiterate, but I certainly didn’t. It wasn’t till I started reading the comments that I realized what the number is supposed to be talking about.

      Yeah, I would change the address. On the other hand, this may be a good filter for him – do you REALLY want to work for someone who is actually going to ding you for having an “inappropriate” number in their address?

      1. RabbitRabbit*

        Apparently he’s having enough issues finding a job that he feels the need to explain it, so maybe he does want to work for one of those places, or any place.

        1. Observer*

          You don’t really know that he’s having issues finding a job.

          But, yes, I do agree that perhaps this is not the best filter in terms of practicality.

          1. RabbitRabbit*

            I mean, he feels the need to explain the number so it’s not a wild jump to assume either there are shortages (email, pandemic, or otherwise) or the job seeker is A-OK with working for that kind of place.

    8. JM60*

      I frequently think of sex when I see the number 69, but I don’t automatically assume that someone picking 69 is doing so for that reason. I think we shouldn’t take it out of circulation for this reason, and that hiring managers should default to assuming SFW reasons for having 69 in an applicant’s email address (such as birthday, their jersey number when playing sports, etc.).

      1. KateM*

        Except when the applicant himself points it out in a separate note that he is aware that people think of sex when they see it, but he is either too stupid to do something about that, doesn’t care enough to do something about it, or likes to gaslight.

  5. bunniferous*

    This kinda reminds me of the year my state issued us a new license plate that just happened to contain the letters WTF……(they did eventually wind up recalling the plates btw. But it was funny how it broke down over generational lines. People my generation for the most part had no idea what the acronym meant. While my kids’ generation totally lost it laughing at first sight)….I have to agree with Alison. Privately snicker if you must but the proper thing to do is “not notice. “

    1. The Rural Juror*

      The big bank in my hometown merged with another bank years ago, so they changed their name from being “Specific Town Bank and Trust” to something more general and would still work for branches in other cities. However, the new initials were “F.U.”

      They had some marketing materials pulled back once they realized their new logo might seem rude to some folks!

      1. Junior Assistant Peon*

        When First Union gobbled up CoreStates, the Flyers/Sixers arena in Philly got changed from the CoreStates Center to the First Union Center. The name was quickly changed again to the First Union National Center or FUN Center, but the nickname “the FU Center” stuck!

      2. I edit everything*

        Edits Nothing has a sweatshirt from his job with the initials FUPC on it. *Every time* I see it, I don’t think “First United,” which is what it stands for.

      3. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

        The Franklin University Charging Knights salute the bank’s new merged name.

    2. Oh so very anonymous*

      I once had the ‘fun’ of explaining the acronym to a product manager who was planning to use it as a prominent part of a product name. Another time I derailed ‘FML’. And then there is the one that got through to production before anyone checked with employees in other countries…

      1. Tara R.*

        When I was a teenager, I was interning in an office type environment and the assistant manager kept shortening “Analysis” to “Anal” in her email subjects. As a 17-year-old at my first job, I didn’t want to be the one to point it out, so as far as I know she’s still doing it….

        1. PT*

          My husband worked somewhere where they’d use the term “suck off” when discussing some sort of statistical effect. (It was super complicated but in effect went along the lines of, “Do you think the teapots sale is sucking off some of the demand from the coffeepots market?”)

          Some people just don’t think.

        2. Elsajeni*

          I work at a college, and we have a class titled Statistical Analysis for Such-And-Such Majors that is always, always abbreviated in the course schedule as “Statistical Anal.” I think someone’s doing it on purpose (“Stat Analysis” is even fewer characters!)

      2. Sooda Nym*

        There is a high school in my home state where students from three very small communities attend. one community name starts with T, one with E, one with G. Why they opted for G.E.T. High…I can’t even guess.

      3. Alice's Rabbit*

        The state standardized test in Virginia is called the Standards of Learning, or SOL. Still not sure how that slipped by.

    3. Can't Sit Still*

      Oh, that reminds me of the time my mother got a license plate with CAD in it. She was extremely upset because she didn’t want my father to have to drive a car with CAD on it. I think they ended up pulling all the plates with CAD in them. Definitely a generational divide there!

        1. Observer*

          According to “a man who behaves dishonorably, especially toward a woman.

          DEFINITELY generational.

          1. Koalafied*

            Interesting that it’s generational – I always categorized this word as a Britishism, because my British peers my own age use it. I had no idea it was common with Americans of another generation.

            1. Kali*

              Really? I’ve never heard anyone seriously use it. Which bit of Britain? I’ve lived in the Midlands and the north east.

              1. micklethwaite*

                Yeah, Brit in my 30s here, and ‘cad’ is a word I’d expect to read in an Agatha Christie or something, not to hear from one of my peers. My dad uses it jokingly because it’s dated even to him.

            2. BubbleTea*

              Are you in Britain? Or are these British peers living abroad? I think sometimes migrants maybe play up the stereotypical patois from their country of origin, so I can see some British people abroad using cad as a slightly self-mocking term, but I’ve never heard anyone use it in the UK in any other context than a joke.

              1. UKDancer*

                Agreed. The only place I would expect to hear cad is in historical romances or discussions of period films. So if I’m discussing Austen I would call Wickham a cad.

                I don’t know anyone who would use it now in the UK to describe a real person. It’s incredibly old fashioned.

              2. Kali*

                I know I can definitely play up the Britishness around Americans, even just online, if the topic of the conversation is differences between us. For example, I, and most of the people around me are comfortable saying the c-word if in an appropriate environment (which this comment section is not!) but the only time I’ve ever actually used it in the last decade or so is in demonstrating to Americans that, yes, I am comfortable saying it.

        2. Adereterial*

          Not CAD as the acronym but cad as the word for a man who behaves dishonestly, particularly towards women, I suspect.

        3. Iconic Bloomingdale*

          I’m thinking that mom objected to the “old school” definition of the word cad, which is a disreputable or dishonorable man – particularly when it comes to his treatment of women.

          1. UKDancer*

            Yes but it’s incredibly old fashioned. It’s how you’d describe the villain in an historical romance or a Jane Austen book. Or the sort of character played by Terry-Thomas in films. I would never use it to describe someone now in real life because it’s just not a term in general use.

      1. EvilQueenRegina*

        A family friend has CAD in his registration, but that’s because those are his wife’s initials. I have to admit I never thought of that interpretation.

      2. Hrodvitnir*

        Haha, that’s cute. I sometimes will call friends cads as a joke, it’s a word I’m familiar with, but I’m unlikely to parse a number plate that way unless the numbers are something that would work with it.

    4. anonymouser for this*

      We have a number of budget codes that start with FAP. Think FAPENG, FAPLIN, etc.

      There’s a generational/reddit user/non-user divide there.

      1. Sarah*

        In my work, FAP is used in two totally separate applications: freight audit & pay (FA&P) and financial analysis & planning (FA&P). Both regularly get shortened to FAP by some people… I definitely have a nerd/Reddit connotation when I see it, as well, but at least it’s a fairly harmless and obscure one.

    5. HailRobonia*

      This reminds me of the saga of someone with the last name Dougal who wanted DOUGAL as their vanity plate but it got rejected because the registration office thought it was obscene… “Do u (you) gal” which isn’t even a saying! I think if you google “Dougal vanity plate” you can find the story online.

    6. EvilQueenRegina*

      I sometimes wonder how the registration of a car in my home town that resembles “boob boob” got past the UK censors, but the person I feel sorry for currently is the driver who passed me recently with a plate that would have meant nothing when created last year, but is as close as a regular UK registration can get to spelling out Covid 19.

    7. Smithy*

      I actually think this is the best place to allow for private snickering while also assuming polite intentions. I remember when a non-English speaking country changed the acronym of one of their international facing agencies to an acronym that if you wanted to be immature/crude you may find funny. There’s also no denying that choosing to ready the acronym that way is commenting on your own maturity level.

      That being said, if was talking to someone who was born on April 20th or in 1969….I just can’t see the advice to list either number as part of an email address they’d use for work. That being said, my personal email address is one that I’ve had since I was 17 – and in some ways life would just be nicer if all my personal/professional correspondence could go to that one, and then just have a separate email for shopping, bills and that. So I understand the resistance, particularly if it feels like people should “just grow up”.

    8. Sarah*

      Washington State plates are three letters, four numbers, issued in order, so AAA1111, AAA1112, etc. This started in the late ’00s, when they finally ran out of issuable plates under the old six-character schema. Some plates started with ABC, etc.
      At one point I started seeing plates starting with ANU… so ANU1***, ANU2***, etc. to ANU4***. All the time I’m assuming surely they’ll skip ANU5***, because we all know the numeral “5” resembles an “S.” Even made a friendly bet with a coworker over it, because she was sure the DOL would be ahead of that one based on all their rules on what number/letter combos could be issued on vanity plates.
      Nope. I clearly remember sometime in 2013 pulling into a parking lot and gleefully observing a plate starting with “ANU5”. I took a picture for posterity and coworker had to buy me a coffee.

  6. Detective Amy Santiago*

    For me, I think if the email address is something like firstname.lastname.69 I’d assume it was a birth year or otherwise relevant to the person. If it was missvajayjay69 or hotstud69 then I’d have a very different reaction.

    1. A.N. O'Nyme*

      Same. The rest of the e-mail address is very innocuous here so I’d just assume birth year and move on.

      1. A.N. O'Nyme*

        (Hit submit too soon)
        Admittedly I sometimes see things that look weird to me (such as the words “lul” and “teef”) which make me do a double take, but then I remember if the rest of the text is in English, it’s probably not the thing I’m thinking of (I would probably get caught by the filter explaining what I mean by that, but just run those words through Google translate Dutch to English and you’ll see what I mean).

      2. Marie*

        I guess I have a culturally smutty mind. I would never in a million years be able to guess birth year. And frankly as a woman seeing 69 in an email from a male applicant, I might even think “ugh, no.” No way does ‘69 the birth year overcome the cultural knowledge/use of 69 the act. That’s just fact. And 69 in an email is an unnecessary and imprudent choice in an email address.

        1. BubbleTea*

          I don’t think it is accurate to say that’s a fact, I think it really depends on the person and the context. I doubt my mum would even know the sexual implications of 69, and her parents certainly wouldn’t. I know the meaning but wouldn’t assume that was what was being referenced. I agree it isn’t a good email choice and clearly the applicant knows that because he included the note, so why he doesn’t use a different address I don’t know, but I don’t think you can say that your assumptions are universal.

          1. nonegiven*

            A while back I saw Samuel L Jackson on The Graham Norton Show, trying to explain 69 to John Malkovich.

        2. A.N. O'Nyme*

          Different people have different experiences, so while that may be a fact for you it isn’t for everyone. For me it is a fact that “lul” means something quite different from “lol”, but I can overcome that initial impression.
          Also, out of curiosity, what would your reaction be if a woman had that in her e-mail address?

        3. Courageous cat*

          Man, I completely agree. It’s just too strong a connotation that is still so widely used. I know we may be alone in this and that’s fine (and maybe it’s my experience from having worked at a sex toy store for so long speaking) but I would immediately shudder at it.

        4. Akcipitrokulo*

          It was ages after watching bogus journey that I realised why it was Bill & Ted’s favourite number!

        5. Alice's Rabbit*

          I agree. Especially when the candidate is aware enough of the fact to preemptively explain that it’s his birth year. If he knows it might be an issue, and still refuses to change it, that’s valid information about his personality.

    2. Retail Not Retail*

      I think with firstname.lastname as the bulk of the email address it makes it weirder to have the note than not! Most people would assume he was born in 1969 and leave it at that.

      I run in circles where people know that bad people use 88 to signify things. My professional email includes other numbers but some accounts that i can’t change are 88!

      I think any 2 digit number is legit, but 420 – come on.

        1. AnonForThis*

          Ugh, yeah. A few years back a colleague and I had to go to a work conference in Denver on 4/20 and I audibly laughed when the date was mentioned in combination with the location (as few other places had legalized recreational marijuana at the time). Confused looks ensued – fortunately this was an informal group of close coworkers – so I had to explain the pothead connotation of the number, and that no, I did not know that from experience, then I kind of mentioned the whole ‘oh yeah and NeoNazis think it’s cool too because of the birthday so yeah’ thing.

          It’s probably good that my coworker was forewarned because there was quite the party going on in downtown Denver that day!

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        I know someone who used their house number in their email address, and someone who used their area code.
        At least give them a pass if their name is Czech, because 420 is the country code.

      1. Detective Amy Santiago*

        So glad I wasn’t drinking anything when I read this comment!

        True story: I did not make up missvajayjay wholesale. I had a student when I worked in higher ed whose name was Virginia and that was the base of her email address.

    3. Ophelia*

      Yes, this exactly!! I would probably also recommend they use the full year if they’re really committed, but honestly it’s just an email address; I don’t even notice those 95% of the time anyway?

    4. Batgirl*

      This is so true. I think people don’t realise how immaturely they come across when they laugh at a word’s second meaning when it’s*the wrong context*. My friend brought her new boyfriend to our sports club and he laughed like a drain whenever we said “balls”. We were completely baffled, and it wasn’t because we were so innocent that we’d never heard of testicles being called balls, as he fondly believed. It was because we were on a tennis court. Balls mean balls on a tennis court.

      1. Quill*

        See also shuttlecock, and really every single piece of sports equipment has been a euphemism at some point.

  7. Construction Safety*

    We had an employee who, having got tired of gmail rejecting several of his attempts of a new email addy, came up with Josephf***ingJones. While certainly a unique handle, “professional” was nowhere to be found on his resume.

  8. Get another email*

    Might just be the millennial in me talking – but how easy is it to sign up for an email address that’s just your firstname.lastname? Firstname.middleinitial.lastname? Seems like there are a lot of variants here before you have to go to your birth year – which in itself is unprofessional to me. Why are you advertising your age in your job search?

    OP – for the record, I agree with you. I think it’s weird and my mind would also go straight to the gutter.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      It’s not inherently unprofessional to include your birth year in your email address. Loads of people do it, often because when they first created the address they were at an age where age mattered more (some variation of “young”) and then they’ve kept it for years/decades. If we were starting all cultural practices from scatch, yeah I’d say “don’t put your birth year in your email address” but people do it, it’s not a big deal and when you’re hiring you just cannot hold that kind of thing against people or even judge it in any way. It’s super common and it doesn’t say anything about the person.

      1. The Rural Juror*

        I can attest to that! My name is just common enough that it was very difficult for me to get an address without numbers, even 15 years ago! I’m still using a Hotmail account because it’s the only one I’ve ever had with just my name and no added characters.

        1. Caramel & Cheddar*

          I remember when Gmail first came out and was still invite only, I was really sad to see my first name had already been taken (i.e. when I tried to sign up after getting my invite. It just takes one other person with the same idea before you’re entirely out of luck.

          1. aunt bop*

            Although I learned the hard way that if you get sansa@whatever, all the other Sansas out there will get confused and give out your email address instead of their own. I was getting so many “wrong” emails that I just gave up. I also have an old sansa123@gmail account and some lady in Texas is constantly giving out that address too…

            1. RemingtonTypeType*

              I agree about the “mistaken” addresses. I also signed up for gmail during the beta and while I couldn’t get my first name (boooooo) I was able to get my (not common but not unique) last name. I get more email than I would like from other people messing up their email addresses. Most of the time I try to reply to the sender and correct the problem, but Ford Motor Credit can go jump in a lake. I’ve now started marking them spam.

            2. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

              I got a Twitter account early enough that my handle is just my five-letter first name. I get lots of “click here to reset your password” emails because someone either hoped that would get them access to the account, or meant to type something like name3 and hit “enter” too soon.

            3. Media Monkey*

              so much this! i have firstname.surname@gmail (common-ish name but not Smith/ Brown/ Jones level of common), and gmail also gives you other variants of your name – firstname_surname, firstnamesurname etc. sadly the american woman who thinks her email is firstnamesurname must wonder why no one ever emails her. i have emailed her friends countless times telling them that the email is incorrect but it has been happening for at least 10 years. now i just block and mark as spam. if i was a more criminally minded person, there’s probably a lot i could do with her tax returns…

        2. NotAnotherManager!*

          Heck, I have a fairly UNCOMMON name and can’t get my name without something extra in it (and have no middle initial, so numbers it is).

          I do not use my birth year, though, because I’m mid-career and getting to the point where I should start being concerned about age discrimination. (My 70-something mother has her year of birth in her personal email, but we removed it from her resume email.)

      2. Louise*

        No joke email availability did play a minor role in choosing my name when I got married. Discussing the possibilities we did try a few email addresses to see what was available. Thanks to middle initials that many people have skipped I have learned a lot about someone with my name that lives on the other coast who has a sibling the same name as my partner.

        1. Popcorn Burner*

          I got Gmail as soon as it was released for Beta. There’s a woman in an entirely different country whose full name happens to equal MyFirstName.LastInitial@gmail. Because Gmail, no one realizes that HerFirstNameHerLastName@gmail is *also* my email address.

          Thanks to some typos, I’ve gotten her travel credits, tickets from a major ticketing site, you name it. It’s kind of funny. At least she’s nice when I forward her emails to her.

      3. turquoisecow*


        I don’t have a super common first or last name but I had to include my middle initial when I signed up for a gmail account (in order to job search, since my previous account was less professional sounding).

        After I got married and created a new email account I was looking forward to not having to include my middle initial…but FirstName MarriedName was taken also!

      4. EchoGirl*

        I’ve never needed one for my real name (extremely uncommon first name+hyphenated last name that literally only two people in the world have), but when I was a kid and had email addresses that had nothing to do with my name, I’d put my birth year in them if the name I liked was already taken. I actually only officially retired the last of those this year, although it hadn’t really been used for anything except “if I MUST sign up for this mailing list to access this page…” and one or two low-significance online accounts for at least half a decade.

      5. char*

        Exactly. My name isn’t even that common, but I still had to resort to using my last name followed by my first and middle initials. I couldn’t find any variants available at all that would let me use my first name or initial at the beginning with my last name at the end.

        It’s possible that this guy wouldn’t be able to get an email with any reasonable combination of his first and last name without it being followed by numbers – in which case, why should he bother changing from 69 to some other random number?

    2. DarthVelma*

      Gen X-er here, and back in the day it wasn’t all that difficult to get an email with some variation of your name and/or initials, but you did often need to add something a bit extra, like your birth year, to get an email address someone else didn’t already have.

      1. Ophelia*

        Obviously this is a distinct YMMV issue, but another thing people may have access to is “legacy” email addresses from wherever they went to college. I can still “use” mine, though it just routes to a gmail address. If people are struggling to come up with something reasonably professional because most variations on their names/initials are taken, that could potentially be an option.

        1. Junior Assistant Peon*

          My college promised us lifetime email forwarding on graduation 20 years ago. It went away when social media came along and made it much easier to track down lost friends.

    3. Paris Geller*

      Interesting that as a millennial you say that, when as a millennial I have the opposite reaction–that it’s generally very difficult to get an email that’s just your name. I have an unusual first name and a very common last name (within the top 100 in the US), and even with my unique first name I couldn’t get my firstlast @ gmail or anything like that when I was 14/15. My email address is first name middle name last initial.

      1. Emily S*

        I have a reasonably common first and last name and did manage to get because I was an early adopter back when you needed an invitation to join. But I dread any time a service makes me create a login handle that isn’t just my email address because anything simple related to my name is probably already taken and I’ll probably never remember what weird thing I added to try to find something unique.

        The downside of being first to the draw with a common name email address: I also get TONS of email meant for other people who share my initials and last name. I’ve gotten weekly announcements from a prayer club, Redbox receipts, insurance plan documents, unemployment benefit documents, responses to requests for more information from businesses in a different country, been set up as the owner of a small business’s website, all kinds of things where you expect someone would be careful about putting in the right email! I have no idea where the mix-up happens – are they writing down my email address because they forgot that they’re instead of, or did they forget there are numbers on the end of their email address?

        1. HerdingCatsWouldBeEasier*

          I was on eBay back when your user id was your email. As soon as they offered the option to change it to a login handle (not required when they first offered it). I jumped on the chance to use just my first (not particularly common) name for anonymity’s sake. 20+ years later, I have an email address just for eBay because of all the password reset emails generated by people who can’t remember their eBay handle. Especially in December. And that’s ignoring the time that someone in Europe convinced someone in customer service that ‘their’ eBay account had been hacked… although I got that one straightened out blessedly quickly.

        2. hbc*

          Same for me! There’s an hbc___ in Alabama who signed up for his retirement accounts with my gmail. I might feel bad and try to get it straightened out, but seeing that he also gets his confederate memorabilia and hunting licenses through the address of a SJW vegetarian, he’s just lucky I haven’t actively screwed with him.

        3. turquoisecow*

          Yeah my husband is firstinitial lastname at Gmail and he gets so many things for other people. He was on a list of rotating deacons at a church!

      2. Kali*

        I’ve never had issues not getting my name, and I think the trick there is, I’m mixed race so it’s the combination of Indian first name French last name that’s unusual.

    4. Lou*

      As another millennial (who got a gmail address when they were first available) really freaking difficult if you have a common name. I tried every variant of firstname/middle initial or full name/lastname with ., _, or no separator and still had to go with a nickname, so I can definitely understand being frustrated enough to just go with including a birth year.
      But yeah, the point still stands- keep the snickering about 69 to yourself, dude!

    5. nnn*

      I’d imagine it depends on the name. My mother recently had to get a new email address and ended up having to include her birth year (or something other than her name) because all variants on her name were taken. She has an uncommon spelling of an uncommon first name, an averagely-common middle name, and a very common surname.

    6. bkanon*

      Judging by the number of emails I get to cmlastname that aren’t for me, people think it’s much easier than it is. cmlastname, c.m.lastname, cm.lastname – they still come to me because the dot doesn’t actually matter.

      1. Nanani*

        And then there are still those websites with forms that think the only dot an email address can have is at the end in the dot com bit. My Firstname dot middle initial gmail gets rejected every so often even now.

    7. Esmeralda*

      I have what I thought was a not too common combo of first and last name. Nope! There are a couple hundred of me out there! Even with the middle initial. I’d think with a very name (John Smith, for instance) it would be harder than you think

    8. Quill*

      I’ve never had this problem but that’s because my parents gave me one of those terribly rare names.

      That said I also grew up when “never tell anyone on the internet your age” was drilled into our heads so I would be far less likely to include a year than a number that didn’t mean anything.

      But I think James John Smith has probably had every variant of his name taken, and birth year might seem public knowledge enough that it’s better than jamesjohnsmithanalyst@whatever or jamesjohnsmithcardinalsfan@whatever

    9. Observer*

      Going to the gutter is one thing. Staying there is another.

      I’m not a “deeply sheltered fundie” as someone put in higher up, but I didn’t know that this number had those connotations.

      On the other hand, the fact that you are unaware just how common added numbers, including birth years, are in email addresses shocks me.

    10. Elenna*

      Yeah, I’m also a millenial, and I haven’t tried but my impression is that it’s pretty hard unless you have a ridiculously unusual name. Heck, the main reason I still use yahoo mail is because I signed up for in 2004, and I guarantee you nothing near that simple is available anymore on Gmail.

    11. Batgirl*

      My old email address, generated when few people had one, didn’t have a number because my last name is very unusual. My newer one required a number because more people with my name have an email address now. It’s not a birth year, it’s the year I started using the new email, but numbers do help with email availability. They even generate random numbers to help you with that.

      1. LavaLamp*

        I got lucky, when I got my hotmail ages ago, I was able to use my weird ten letter first name only. I only have to explain to people that the reason it’s @live instead of @ hotmail is because I set it up on an xbox back in the day. Because it’s just my name it’s my nice email that I use for things I care about. Everything else gets the gmail I made in 8th grade.

    12. HBJ*

      Yea, it’s a lot harder than you think. When I signed up for my gmail five or six years ago, I tried every combination of my initials and names possible. I tried janedoe, Jane.doe, doejane, doe.jane, jdoe, J.doe, doej, doe.j, and all of those iterations including a middle initial! And my name isn’t even all that common.

      I still wouldn’t add a birth year though. I used my birth month.

    13. Tin Cormorant*

      I gave my daughter a first name that as far as I know is totally unique. It was taken from a minor side character in a single forgettable episode of a science-fiction TV show. It doesn’t even show up (even on the bottom) on lists of baby names, and I’ve never seen any evidence that anyone else uses it. On top of that, her last name is very uncommon in the culture it comes from.

      I tried to set up a gmail address for her, so I could claim the name for her early and hand it over to her later when she’s old enough. Firstname@gmail is taken. FirstnameLastname@gmail is taken. I had to settle for before I found something that was available.

  9. Red5*

    I feel like it’s a bad idea after hearing the explanation; calling attention to his age could lead to being screened out due to age discrimination.

    1. Astoria*

      Exactly. It’s not difficult to have a second Gmail address just for a job search. Use some combination of your name and/or initials and an innocuous number.

    2. cat lady*

      Yeah, I think this is essentially the same as not putting a headshot on a resume! It’s just best practice to not advertise your age, whatever it is.

  10. Partly Cloudy*

    But using your birth year in this context is problematic too because of the potential for discrimination. For that reason, I’d create another email address for job hunting.

    1. In my shell*

      I was thinking the same! I used to have an email address that had my birth year, but changed it for this very reason!

    2. Banker chick*

      Yes. The problem is the person feels the need to justify it by saying it is his birth year. And by doing so, points out that he is over 50. I am looking for ways to not show my age (at least until I am sure an employer really wants me). I most definitely wouldn’t point it out. Age discrimination is alive and well.

  11. Pickaduck*

    I work in employment services for people with barriers to employment. I would 100% advise our clients to not use that number in their email address.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I mean, I think it’s fine to tell applicants to avoid it, but that’s a different thing than it being reasonable or ok for a hiring manager to take issue with it. The latter is really misplaced.

      1. Ann O'Nemity*

        I think this right here is the important distinction.

        Is it a good idea to use “69” in your email? Probably not. If asked for advice from someone using that email address, we’d probably tell them not to use it. But the applicant didn’t write it, the hiring manager did. And the advice to the hiring manager is to not reject an otherwise good candidate over it.

        1. tiny cactus*

          Yeah, as a hiring manager it’s probably best to reserve judgment about a candidate’s email address unless it’s something pretty unambiguously inappropriate. If the rest of the application is normal, I think it would be a real reach to assume that the applicant is really immature on the strength of the number 69 in their email. I do agree with the letter writer that it is extremely awkward of the applicant to include a note drawing attention to the number, though.

          1. JM60*

            I totally agree with reserving judgement on a candidate’s email address. There are many reasons why someone might use an “inappropriate” number. I myself often use 60 in aliases for personal reasons (not birthday).

            More broadly, I think it’s a bad idea to make numbers off limit. Between 13, 14, 69, 88, 420, 666, 911, 1488, 8814 and whatever other numbers may be perceived as inappropriate, each individual random number is unlikely to be on this list, but numbers on this list are likely to randomly pop up all the time. The likelihood goes up as we keep adding to this list.

            BTW, the ADL lists 1-11, 100%, 109/110, 12, 13, 13/52, 13/90, 14, 14/23, 14/88, 18, 21-2-12, 23/16, 28, 311, 318, 33/6, 38, 43, 511, 737, 83, 88, 9% as potential hate numbers. That would be quiet a lot of numbers to take out of circulation! I think a much better (and more sustainable) approach is to default to assuming the number is being used for an innocuous reason unless there’s some specific context that suggests otherwise.

  12. Hypnotist Collector*

    I agree with the OP. Why even put your birth year in your email address, especially if there’s ambiguity about another meaning that we obviously all know about and think of? It also seems like putting your birth year in your email address caters to ageism, whether it’s a signifier of being younger or older.

    1. Batgirl*

      Not everyone…. it’s just a number! I’m aware of it having another meaning, if the meaning is implied somehow, but I wouldn’t think of it just from seeing it on a door, or phone number or in an email address.

      1. Courageous cat*

        Right, because on a door or phone number it’s completely random – but on an email address, someone purposely chose that. For as many people who use 69 as their birthyear or a significant number to them personally, there’s just as many (and more) who use 69 for the exact purpose of implying sex in some way.

        Signed, a former manager at an online sex toy store who would not automatically think that the email address was innocuous.

  13. a sound engineer*

    I find it strange that your immediate reaction would be to assume your applicant is a 12 year old over simply reading the number as a birth year, especially when the email handle format seems pretty standard from what you’ve described (name.birthyear).

    Adding a note in makes it weird, sure, and I agree that if the person is that self-conscious about it then maybe they should make a different email specifically for job-searching. But that’s kind of besides the point.

    Really, this says much more about you than the applicant.

  14. squidproquo*

    I would automatically think the same thing. Why not put 1969 then?!

    As a fun aside, we had a guy apply whose email address was BigBlackSnake at hotmail or yahoo or something. A shame we weren’t hiring for a herpetologist.

    1. Quill*

      Hey, at least it’s better than some of the email addresses I have to remember, which are legitimate strings of acronyms that render the emails unsearchable. For example, I want to email the Department of Llama Vaccinations of the state of Hawaii, but the actual email address is SBMSHIPH (submissions hawaii public health), and relevant replies are handled by DOCHIPH.

      I’d take the snake over that in terms of actually using my email archive, lol.

  15. Johanne*

    Oh how interesting. I completely disagree with Alison. Maybe I have encountered too many immature men but I would be put off by an email that included 69 and assume it was a crude reference. I would strongly discourage someone from using such an address professionally. To me it is off limits.

    1. Charlotte Lucas*

      Totally agree, I think Alison is off base here and this would give me pause. I would judge him for the bad optics and the lack of common sense to, at the very least, set up a forwarding email address in a professional context.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      I have encountered too many immature men also. But maybe it’s because of being female that I had it drilled into my head from childhood that I should remove any ambiguity in all that I say/write.

      Years ago, I found that people who rely on sexual innuendo as basis for their humor were exhausting to talk with. They interrupt with their joke and dilute, even lose, the point of the conversation.

      So rather than reacting with a chuckle or in horror, I probably would react with the thought, “Sigh. Okay what else is going on here?” Just the email address alone does not give me a strong reaction either way, but it does make me want to see if everything else is in order and the address is just that, an address. Lacking any other ambiguity I doubt I would have mentioned it to anyone.

      I see a lot of people saying they would have chuckled at the address. I think that is to be expected, people can have a variety of reactions to almost anything. Oddly, the thing about 1969 was a discussion in our house, as my husband’s school chose NOT to write ” ’69 ” on anything that year because of the reference to sex. Up to then the school had consistently formatted years with the apostrophe and then the last two digits. So even back then it brought about discussion.

      As far as reacting in “horror”, maybe “startled” is more the reaction? In places I have worked, you don’t let this stuff go by you. You can’t. I guess I have worked in some difficult places, where ignoring little things like this becomes a bigger problem later on. It could be that OP’s past experience has taught them to pay close attention at work. I think HR would have done better to tell OP that it was not considered a problem in their setting, rather than making OP feel like the problem. It COULD be that OP was justifiably wary of such things on past jobs.

    3. Alice's Rabbit*

      Same here. Especially since he’s clearly aware of the euphemism, given his clarification about birth year. He knows, but he still refuses to change to a more work appropriate email? Nope! Don’t want to touch that CV.

  16. employment lawyah*

    Is “” unprofessional?

    Yes, a bit, if you really want to know.

    But it’s unprofessional because it’s an ugly kludge (nickname? Birth year? What the heck is going on here?) not because it contains the number “69” in it. At least it isn’t AOL, though….

    Seriously, folks, if you’re a professional, BUY A DOMAIN!! it’s like $30/year; set up your own email address, and get what you want.

    1. London Lass*

      No. There is absolutely nothing wrong with applying for jobs, as a private individual, from a free domain email address. My professional email address is provided by my employer and reflects the organisation I am working for at the time. Unless I am a freelancer, why would I pay for a second one? Just pick a name that makes you look like a grown-up.

      1. EchoGirl*

        Yeah, I think there’s a big difference between a contractor/freelancer conducting business over email (in that scenario, it’s good to have something personalized), and a run-of-the-mill would-be employee applying for a job over email. Heck, I HAVE a personalized domain and an email address to go with it, and I still use my gmail to apply to regular jobs, because the business email is something that could be mistaken for spam if you don’t already know what it is (and because the gmail uses an amalgamation of my real name while my website and personal email use a nickname, because I don’t want to use my extremely uncommon full name on a public website).

    2. Ursula*

      The problem with this is that many places will reject unusual domains as “not real domains”. For a long time I had an address that was, and because people don’t see the .name domain much (despite it being created specifically for this purpose) I’ve had websites reject it.

    3. HelloHello*

      Many people – I’d argue the vast majority – do not have the technical knowledge to get their own domain name and set up an email address through it. I’ve done it before, and even as someone who grew up tech literate and has hobbyists amount of coding experience under my belt, it required a fairly significant time investment to research and complete the process. A personal domain also raises the issue of what happens if you hit a point where you can’t actually afford an extra $30 a year and you lose the domain and, consequently, access to your email. It may seem easy to you, but someone whose job has nothing to do with technology would have to invest a possibly significant amount of time in learning how to do this, just so they could use a custom domain instead of a perfectly professional gmail account?

      1. Koalafied*

        Yeah, if someone lists their email address with a vanity domain, I assume they’re a small business owner and the domain is where their professional website lives, because why else would you go to all that trouble and expense just for personal emails?

        1. Quill*

          Also, having worked for a small business owner with his own domain… budget domains are potential email security nightmares and are NOT always compatible with the recipient’s email system. I had enough problems with the recipient stripping out attachments at random, bouncing the email because it didn’t like the domain, and the one time we got hacked and I had to learn how to turn our site off in 20 minutes because someone had filled it with disturbing videos, which coincidentally took our email down until we could get the site restored.

          1. tiny cactus*

            This occurred to me as well. My employer’s email server does not play well with personal domains like this, so if someone applied from one, there is a chance they might not receive any replies from us. Obviously this isn’t ideal and we are fixing it, but in addition to just generally being a pain, having a personal domain just for job searching could backfire.

            1. Quill*

              Yeah. The problem is that small email systems that come with personal domains are always going to be a casualty in the arms race between spam / phishing emails and modern, large email applications and domains. Because by the time technology comes with a budget website, either a lack of backwards compatibility or it being too easy to use for scams has killed some of it’s functionality.

        2. emmelemm*

          Same. If you own your “name” domain, I assume it must be because you wanted a website of your own for business/self-promotion reasons (and an email in the domain just comes along for the ride).

    4. NotAnotherManager!*

      There is absolutely no need for the average person to go out and buy a personalized domain. (We have one because my spouse is very anti-big-tech right now, and it makes him happy, and he’s in IT and can easily manage setup/administration/troubleshooting. It’s not a walk in the park, especially when problems arise.)

      And, if you get to a point you no longer want to (or can’t) pay the $30/year, etc., you’re stuck trying to archive or port all your mail somewhere else and change all your contacts.

    5. LalaPants*

      My husband is a techy guy and has had his own domain since the early days of the internet – but because someone else got there first, he has instead of It’s such a hassle to keep up with because his emails get blocked or he gives out his address and people assume he forgot the m at the end of .com and he honestly ends up using his free email address more.

    6. AngryOwl*

      What? No. I work in tech and even here plenty of people don’t buy their own domains. What an odd thing to state as a must have.

  17. This is Jeopardy!*

    I wouldn’t use my birth year regardless, as it gives away your age. Some of that might be given away based on someone’s employment and educational history, that’s generally more implied and not “hey I’m 51!”. I wouldn’t be comfortable giving ammo to some possibly subconscious age discrimination.

    That said, I wouldn’t use 69, 420, or 666 no matter what the “real” reason was, because right or wrong OP’s reaction is going to be super common. Those numbers shouldn’t be taken out of circulation by any means. But some things have connotations. I, for one, still have giggle-worthy associations with green M&M’s. I keep that to myself, but it will pop into my head at random times. To be safe, basically, I would quote my teenagers and “I would simply not.”

  18. redwinemom*

    When I read “he included a note mentioning that he was born in 1969″, I took it to mean that HE (the HR rep) included a note that HE (the applicant) was born in 1969.
    But it certainly could have been interpreted as Alison commented (where BOTH of the ‘he’s” referred to the candidate.

    1. Daffy Duck*

      I thought the note was from the HR rep also. Which would mean he expects OP to have an issue with the email address or the HR rep has an issue with the email address. Somewhere an employee is not acting professional and is acting like a 12-year-old boy (to use OPs example). Yeah, the applicant may be ignorant of societal slang or not tech-savvy which wouldn’t be an issue for me unless I was hiring for in-person marketing or IT.

    2. OP here*

      Both “HEs” refer to the candidate. The candidate included a note that he was born in 1969, as an explanation for his email.

      1. Daffy Duck*

        Thanks for the clarification! The note from the candidate is weird – I would assume he had very limited computer skills. There are lots of jobs where this wouldn’t matter, but it is getting more unusual. Folks born in 1969 hit the very beginning of personal computer use during their early 20s, mostly used by businesses or in higher education/income areas.

  19. Leeloo*

    Yeah, I get the other reference but wouldn’t have thought much of it because the rest of the email address is normal.
    Now, when I was student teaching, I got more than one email from parents whose email addresses were something like or that made me stop and go hmmm… I might consider using a more generic email address when sending a professional email to my kid’s teacher, but to each their own! In those cases, the 69 and 420 were pretty obviously not birth years. :P

    1. NoviceManagerGuy*

      As the guy doing the data entry for the PTA, it’s amazing how many parents are still using email addresses from when they were kids.

      1. PT*

        They’re probably giving the PTA their junk email. I downgraded my “kid” email to my shopping and mailing list email account for awhile, before I made a new one for that purpose entirely.

      2. Peg*

        If you get a yahoo email address from me it means I don’t plan to see your emails more than once a month or so when I log in to delete hundreds of emails at a time. If I give you an aol address, it means I will never log in to check your email for the rest of time. Giving out old email addresses from the 90s (I’m 41 now) is completely intentional. Anything important you get my name at

  20. Square Root of Minus One*

    I laughed. I live in the French department that is numbered 69. As do another million people, a number of which include that in their e-mail address when the simple combination of NameSurname is taken already. It’s not rare to include your department in an e-mail address here. Our professional, general work address even includes 69, to differentiate it from its homologues elsewhere in France.
    I would bet money the applicant has been burned before by a recruiter thinking like LW and that’s why he included it.
    (Btw, foreign/naive/ignorant me has absolutely no idea why 420 is inappropriate…)

      1. Ferret*

        It’s a weed reference although until I just searched I had no idea why – apparently it started off as based on a group of California stoners who would meet at 4:20 after school in the 70’s and just sort of spread from there (according to Wikipedia)

        1. Please keep your monkeys from my circus*

          420 is also a dog whistle in neonazi/white supemacist circles. Hitler’s birthday was April 20. (That’s the fun kind of knowledge I get to keep in my brain professionally…)

          1. Square Root of Minus One*

            That’s… expert. I would have thought of another number for this particular context. Which, coincidentally, happens to be my birth year.
            Oh dear.
            I’ll never put ANY number in my e-mail address.

        2. London Lass*

          Yes! Thank-you for the reminder. I did listen to a podcast episode of Criminal which dug into the origin story. Obviously the number didn’t stick for me though, because I’d never heard it anywhere else.

    1. RosyGlasses*

      420 refers to the optimal time to smoke some weed :-) It’s based on (if memory serves) some songs in the 90’s and has become part of our slang.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        The original lore is that it was the L.A. police code for marijuana crimes (“we have a 420 on East 2nd Street” or whatever) — which might not even have been true but that’s what the original story was — and then it rose to prominence as a code for marijuana in general.

        1. Junior Assistant Peon*

          There was a push to standardize police radio codes after 9/11 to facilitate communication between different agencies. Prior to that, each department had their own internal codes, so it’s entirely possible that some department somewhere might have used 420 for marijuana or drugs.

      2. The Rural Juror*

        Right. And it’s not uncommon for people to be asked if they’re “420 friendly,” which means do you smoke weed and/or are you ok with others smoking weed? It’s sometimes used as a reference to more than just the time of day.

    2. Rach*

      420 is about smoking pot. Erroneously some thought it was a police code for smoking pot and for decades now (in the US) 4:20 pm and the date April 20th are significant for some people who imbibe pot.

    3. kristinyc*

      My office’s street address is 420 [street].

      When we were going through an office remodel and they sent out email updates about it, the subject lines were also “420 Update” or “420 Status” or similar. The person sending them had NO idea it was a drug reference.

  21. Daffy Duck*

    Ever heard the old saying “If you understand the reference you can’t claim to be innocent enough to be offended, and if you are innocent you won’t recognize that you should be offended.”

    This is a non-issue.

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      A couple of performers at the renaissance faire I used to work at included, in their pre-show spiel, a line along the lines of “This is not a family show. So if your kids get the jokes, that’s YOUR fault.”

    2. Junior Assistant Peon*

      That’s my thinking on most of the potentially offensive stuff other posters have mentioned – if you aren’t a Highly Online Person, the references will go right over your head.

    3. Alice's Rabbit*

      That doesn’t make sexual innuendo okay in a work setting, though. Some things are just NSFW, and this is one of them.

    4. KateM*

      Exactly, and he knows it, too. So, why would one want an employee whose style of humour is “what?? this is my birth year! what did YOU think, wink-wink?”

  22. BT*

    Speaking from my own experience, I think a lot of today’s managers would rather hire a younger person who seems immature than a mature person who’s over 50.

    1. Something Something Whomp Whomp*

      As much as that’s sadly the case, I’m not sure that this letter’s is about ageism so much as it is about someone who’s giving some low-key hints that they might be a bit out of step from professional norms, as well as not tech-savvy. There are lots of mature 50+ job seekers who aren’t waving both of those yellow flags, so there’s that.

  23. Radford*

    I think this might be a generational divide. While I agree that in many contexts 69 wouldn’t raise any eyebrows (such as the ’69 cabernet mentioned above), in the context of logins, usernames, and email addresses 69 has become pretty thoroughly sexualized in many (most?) younger people’s minds. This slang interpretation is made even clearer when the login/email is informal in any way, like when it includes a nickname as the OP seems to suggest.

    Clearly it has become enough of a problem that the applicant feels the need to clarify it. If he wants to fight against the widespread, if not mainstream, perception of his email address being juvenile, then more power to him. But I feel he would be much better served to just change the email address on his resume and avoid the issue altogether.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I don’t think it’s generational. I’m middle aged and was giggling about 69 from about seventh grade on. It’s been around forever. I still think we can handle it in a birth year reference.

      1. Elle by the sea*

        I’m pretty young and the first time I heard about it when I was in grad school and I was older than your usual American graduate student.

    2. ImOnlyHereForThePoetry*

      I am in the same generation as the guy (born in late sixties) and the 69 reference is well known in our generation. My own opinion is that he may have picked it because it was the year he was born but fully knew about the reference and decided to use it anyway.

      I also look a little side-eyed at anyone who still uses their date of birth in their email address nowadays.

  24. CS*

    I don’t think I’d chuckle at it out loud, but I understand why LW thought that way. But if you feel have to write a note about it, just use a different email and number combination or just skip the note & people will figure it out. Assuming the applicant listed graduation dates, it would be pretty easy to confirm.

  25. Salad Daisy*

    I graduated from high school in 1969 and our school sweatshirts, t-shirts, etc. all ha ’60 prominently displayed on the front. Class of 69. Sounds like an SNL skit, maybe starring the Kids from Boston?

  26. Dust Bunny*

    My aunt’s email is [first initial][lastname] I assume she was the 69th person to have that first initial + that last name. She is definitely not the kind of person to have an off-color email address. If somebody snickered at that I’d think they were completely juvenile, not that my aunt had a dirty mind.

  27. President Porpoise*

    Oddly, this is the first time I’ve ever really heard about birth years in email addresses as a thing. I would jump straight to the inappropriate interpretation, personally, and it wouldn’t help any application I was reviewing. If I were this dude, I’d set up a completely tame business email address.

    1. Elle by the sea*

      Most people can’t put their name bare in their email ID, as there are many others around with the exact same name. So, what’s the most professional option you are left with? Your birth year or your birthday. Or your favourite number.

      1. President Porpoise*

        Or, you know, some random number – which is generally what I see. I’m of the opinion that giving random people more personal information about yourself than strictly necessary is unwise – including birth information or potential password hints.

        1. Kali*

          How do you know they’re random rather than related to date of birth? If you didn’t know putting anything related to your date of birth in emails is a thing, is it possible you’re seeing that but not realising it and assuming the numbers are random? Or do you have reason to believe that’s not what’s happening, like you normally view emails and dates of births together on forms or something, or the numbers couldn’t possibly refer to that? Though, with the latter, I’m not sure what numbers would 100% rule out a reference to date of birth.

      2. Alice's Rabbit*

        Or you could try a different domain. If every single safe-for-work variation of your name is taken in every publicly available domain, then you still have the option of using a different number without sexual connotations, or registering your own domain name. It costs somewhere between $20 and $30 a year.

    2. MissDisplaced*

      I don’t think it’s a thing so much as easy to remember and somewhat more personalized than some rando number set.

  28. Holy Carp*

    I used to volunteer with an online group where we saw a LOT of usernames and email addresses with that number, and the intent of the senders was crystal clear.
    Making a new email address is so very easy nowadays, no one has an excuse to use a questionable one. I have several email addresses – a straightforward one with my first and last name for family and work, and an old one that’s “cute” for ordering stuff online.

  29. Panda*

    My hubs’ personal email is His name is very common (we recently bought a house and there were over 100 judgements for people with a similar name as him in the title search). We found out he’s being laid off in January and I insisted that he get a new email address for job searching.

  30. Throwaway*

    On the subject of unintentionally awkward email addresses: my dad went ahead and created a standard firstnamelastname email address when email first became a thing….and now he has to regularly warn people to check their spam folder when he sends an email for the first time, because our last name is Stiff. OOps!

      1. Quill*

        That seems to be a common problem, especially when an email is first initial + a specific number of last name letters.

        Even last names nobody has thought twice about can get funny with that format.

        1. Alice's Rabbit*

          Bzurcher was one I recall. Then there was the company that did firstnamelastinitial, so we ended up with ChrisT.

      2. Third or Nothing!*

        One of the previous co-owners of our company has the first initial P and the last name Ennis. He did NOT follow the standard FirstInitialLastName email address. Pretty sure he would have been caught by a ton of spam filters if he had!

      3. EchoGirl*

        I think there’s a Dilbert comic featuring a comparable situation (I don’t remember it super clearly — if anyone else knows feel free to link it), so clearly this is a problem that’s cropped up enough to be culturally familiar.

    1. Temperance*

      I have occasional professional contact with a guy whose email ends up being And I giggle every time.

      I don’t know why IT hasn’t added his middle initial to break that up.

      1. Third or Nothing!*

        HAHAHA I posted my comment before I read yours and I can’t believe there’s more than one P. Ennis out there!

  31. Sea Witch*

    My email address has a number in it because 5 other people with the same name decided to make the same pun out of it. So, I’m
    I imagine there are a lot of people with very common names who have had to do the same.

  32. Sea Witch*

    Try again.
    My email address has a number in it because 5 other people with the same name decided to make the same pun out of it. So, I’m namepun6(at)emailprovider(dot)com.
    I imagine there are a lot of people with very common names who have had to do the same.

    1. Week old sourdough*

      I have a common first name and thanks to marriage a very common last name. Even with my maiden name there’s a dozen others with my name. I don’t know what people expect us to do with email anymore.

      1. allathian*

        Yeah, it’s not easy. My first name is very common but my last name is a bit less so. Still, I have at least one namesake who signed up for a gmail account before me, because I had to use my middle initial to do so. Thank goodness I managed to avoid using numbers, though…

  33. cleo*

    I mean, I was born in 1969 and it just now occurred to me that someone might snicker at that. And I have a pretty juvenile sense of humor.

    That said, I also hadn’t heard of using your birth year in an email address. And I usually do not go out of my way to tell prospective employers when I was born. I think that any employer would be lucky to get the benefit of my years of experience but age discrimination is a thing so I usually don’t start with my age or birth year. So the whole thing strikes me as weird.

  34. Everdene*

    My email address has my favourite number in it, let’s say 47. Will people presume I was born in 1947?!

    1. Phony Genius*

      That means all of us Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy fans must look like elderly in the eyes of many!

  35. boop the first*

    Yeah, I have a random year in my job search email address, but it’s been so long since I’ve made it, that it’s now old enough to look like an applicant’s birth date.

    But unfortunately back then, the email host didn’t allow swears, so if you were a Hancock or a Dickenson, you were outta luck.

  36. Elle by the sea*

    I honestly never had thought of that meaning of 69 unless that person goes and clarifies it. Even then, I wouldn’t have understood the inappropriateness immediately – I really had to flex my brain to finally realise why it is potentially inappropriate. I would just think that the job candidate is exceedingly weird and immature, despite their age. Skipping the 13th floors in hotels sounds ridiculous, too.

  37. bluephone*

    I know people who graduated high school in 1969 who constantly get the “lol, nice” reaction. I can’t blame OP for having their initial reaction. Gmail addresses are free, it would take far less energy than constantly having to explain “I was born in 1969 so that’s why it’s in my email address.”
    Also, way to set yourself up for possible age discrimination, dude! And admitting that you’re pretty computer-not-literate in this day and age (or at least giving off that impression). AND making it just a teensy bit easier to get targeted for ID theft.
    How is any of that easier/better than just getting a free “” or whatever variation (that isn’t “john.smith666” or “john.smith420”) for your job applications?
    Team OP on this one.

  38. Greg*

    First of all, it would really take a lot for me to judge a candidate solely by his or her email address.

    That said, this letter reminded me of when I was working on grad-school essays, and a friend advised me to remove the word “niggling” from one of my submissions. She knew the word had zero connection to the n-word, but her point was, why even risk anyone making that association when there were plenty of other words you could use? (This conversation took place not long a semi-famous incident where a DC public official resigned after using the word “niggardly”, which similarly is unrelated to the n-word).

    I think it was ridiculous that person lost their job, just as I think it would be ridiculous for the OP to reject a candidate based on his email address. But just as I would advise public officials to to avoid words that might evoke negative responses, I would also advise the job seeker to find a new email address, since it’s a wholly unnecessary risk.

  39. Student*

    Context is everything.

    There are places where the number 69 can be presumed harmless. However, in any type of pseudonym internet handle – email address, user name, etc. I will assume it is a sexual reference unless someone demonstrates otherwise. And I will question their judgement in using that number in work-related correspondence.

    My litmus test is – would I assume a 420 in the same place is a drug reference? In an email address, the clear answer is yes.

    I also have to say that no one I have ever corresponded with has put their age/birth year in their email address, across several generations. Maybe it’s a regional or industry-specific thing? I have, however, seen people put clear references to sex, drug use, and more benign hobbies in their email addresses.

    1. Zona the Great*

      Yes indeed. I once had a creep of a client reach out to let me know he changed his email address to include _69 at the end and because he was already a creep, and because he couldn’t have been born in 1969, he was deemed even more of a creep because he seemed to randomly add the number one day. Context matters.

  40. HerdingCatsWouldBeEasier*

    I’m shocked to hear that using birth year in a personal email address is a ‘common practice’. It would never occur to me that anyone would use their birth year in an email address. Why would you want everyone you come into contact with to have that data point? I’m racking my brain and can’t think of ever seeing this. To be fair, I work in IT and run with a pretty computer literate crowd outside of work, so that may be it. But with no context, 69 in an email address would make me think immature, and if I saw what looked like a birth year (like 1968) I would think they were naïve and/or not computer savvy. This guy needs a new email address.

    1. Filosofickle*

      It is verrrry common practice. Since I know a bunch of IT and security folks I know it’s not a good practice because it gives away data that can be used for social engineering, but I don’t think most people have ever been told that. I also avoid middle name (and even initial). My partner’s gmail has first initial, middle initial, last name and birth year. I cringe every time I see it.

    2. Thankful for AAM*

      I’m surprised ppl put their birth year in theor email. Ppl here are saying it is common but I have not seen it much. It is just a cybersecurity issue and should be avoided.

      I’d giggle immaturely at the email address and would not explicitly judge the candidate but I think there would be some implicit bias. However, depending on the job requirements, the explainer/note would make me judge the candidate for lacking the technical skills to get a new address and use forwarding or otherwise solve the problem.

    3. allathian*

      Yeah, I don’t think I’ve seen a birth year in an email address more than a handful of times. Sometimes it happens, but not all that often.

    4. Penny*

      I routinely have to ask clients for email addresses and people putting birthdays or birth years in their email is a very common practice. I estimate at least 20% of personal emails I get have some form of a birthday in there. I have a personal email that I made when I was 16 and it has “123” at the end of it and people routinely ask me if my birthday is 12/3(its not).

  41. Cthulhu's Librarian*

    I mean… from an information security view point, I’d argue no one should have the year of their birth in their email address…

    But I wouldn’t dismiss a job candidate over it.

    Maybe if the email address was entirely inappropriate, sure. But would you dismiss a job candidate over their license plate number, or personal phone number?

  42. Anon in Canada*

    I find it ridiculous to read into this as anything more than a birth year, but yeah, if you’re going to include it, making it the full year solves the problem. I do have my abbreviated birth year (89) in my email, and this makes me glad I was not born in 1988! Kids born in 2014 better pay attention to that when they start creating emails too…

    1. London Lass*

      Is there something special about the numbers 88 and 14 in Canada? They seem entirely unremarkable to my British eyes.

      1. Anon in Canada*

        As discussed by some others above, the numbers 14 and 88 (usually in that order) are dog-whistle for white supremacists and neo-Nazis.

  43. Basic Witch*

    I think the note from the applicant is weird – if you’re aware that there may be a perception of unprofessionalism, why not just change it? Old street address, or a longer number combo for your birthday (mine is month day, because every variation of basic.witch was taken by the time I needed email).

    That being said, if I see numbers in an email, I assume it’s something birthday related. But really, unless there’s something outlandish about the email address anyway, I don’t give them much thought. Most people I know made an email when they were seventeen and applying to schools, and just never changed it.

  44. OP here*

    OP here! I see there are people on both sides and I will gladly accept my verdict of prude. But wanted to add a bit more context! His email was “firstname.NICKname69” and the nickname … wasn’t great. Think “big guy” or something along those lines. The effect was a bit eyebrow-raising!

    (Although TBH if his email was “first name.lastname69” I probably still would have smiled internally, so I’m probably still immature haha! I would have assumed birth year in that case.)

    1. Des*

      I don’t think the verdict is prudishness, Alison’s point is that the number isn’t actually weird and commonly refers to a birth year.

    2. ZSD*

      Oh, thank you for clarifying that that’s the kind of nickname you meant! I was thinking it was like nicholas.nick69 or phillip.phil69, which I thought was rather strange but believable for someone over 50 who’s trying to come up with an email address.

    3. Kali*

      Oh, while you’re here, I noticed some ambiguity in the wording. Did HR say “he included a note explaining his date of birth” and you concluded that’s why it was in the email? Or did HR tell you he included a note explaining “he was born in 1969 and that’s why it’s in his email?”. I’m using quote marks to illustrate where information came from, not for literal quotes.

      From what you’ve commented here, it sounds like it probably was the second, but I still wanted to check.

    4. LGC*

      …does this man not have children? Does he not have a wife? Does he not have a husband? Does he not have ANYONE IN HIS LIFE that would have stood up and said, “Uh…no. You cannot. YOU CANNOT.” while desperately trying to stifle a laugh?

      If he has no one else, I will be that person in his life. My mind is poisoned enough by slang and memes that I think I can pick up on 99.9% of possibly inappropriate combinations.

      1. Filosofickle*

        Barely tangential, but this was my reaction to the name of Olympic diver Steele Johnson. Did those parents not have ANYONE whatsoever to clue them in they were giving their kid an adult film name? Dad was never, ever teased for his last name? And FWIW I am the person who innocently misses innuendo frequently.

    5. A.N. O'Nyme*

      Yes, that changes things. I think that like most people I assumed the name was just a shortened version of his name (though I suppose if his name is Richard it may be both).

    6. Batgirl*

      That does kind of make a difference, but I’d still assume benign intent. Honestly if his nickname is something like Big Phil, that’s a bit off-judgement without the number. Nicknames like that are a bit too informal.

    7. NN*

      That definitely weighs it heavier towards question-raising if the nickname also has potential innuendo! (Or if somehow he decided “you know what, GrimSlayer is a great nickname…”)

      I wonder if part of the reason he’d rather keep and explain his email is if the nickname is also a part of his working identity, in a folksy-ish kind of way?

    8. Thankful for AAM*

      I was originally on the side of, don’t judge but he should not use that email since he clearly feels the need to explain it. Now I’m even er, harder on the side of the email is a no. And I’m judging him for lack of haed tech skills and soft ppl skills.

    9. SummerBreeze*

      Don’t worry — your initial instinct was on point, even without this additional info. He should change his email, and if it were me receiving it from an applicant, I’d absolutely raise my eyebrows and reconsider moving forward with him.

    10. Courageous cat*

      lol if his nickname is anything along the lines of “big guy” then I would 100% not be into this combination at all.

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        I’d be looking for other signs that he’s a creep, which is probably not how you want your hiring committee to think about you.

    11. Brad Fitt*

      Seriously can’t believe I had to go this far down the comments before found anyone discussing the nickname. It was my very first thought I spent a not-insignificant amount of time trying to think of one that didn’t make the number choice worse. The mere inclusion of 69 turns any nickname into a weird innuendo oroburos.


      No good options.

  45. Mannheim Steamroller*

    What if it’s not birth years but sequential email addresses? If 68 other people with my name got their email addresses ahead of me, then should I use “MannheimSteamroller69” or skip to “MannheimSteamroller70”?

    1. KateM*

      How you know you would even be offered “MannheimSteamroller70”? You don’t know how many people have skipped the 69 version before you. ;)

  46. learnedthehardway*

    I wouldn’t put my birth year on my email address, simply because it’s not a good idea to put more of your personal information out there than absolutely necessary. Also, why open yourself up to age discrimination if you don’t have to?

    That’s totally beside the point of whether to use an address with 69 in it, but just another reason not to.

  47. Week old sourdough*

    This is absolutely not something I would care about.

    But now I’ll have Ariana Grande’s “34+35” stuck in my head all day.

  48. IfYouCanRememberTheSixties*

    I don’t know, when I see 69 the first thing I think of is Apollo 11, but then again, I do remember bits and pieces of the sixties.

  49. LGC*

    Oh, LW. I sincerely hope you never end up in Melber, Kentucky.

    (…and I just realized that given the state abbreviation for Kentucky, this one is a triple whammy. Let’s just say that the zip code lookup was a…slippery slope.)

    I’m…actually going to differ slightly, just because I think using your birth year in an email address you put on a job application is slightly gauche to begin with. Aside from the possible legal issue – that the applicant is immediately clocked at over 50, and while age discrimination is illegal, it is still a thing – I kind of think that using your birthday (or numbers in general) in your email strikes me as a bit informal. But then again, that’s my hangup, and honestly I’ve seen enough “babygurlxo” or “bonecrusher” type emails at my job to not be too fazed by it other than a “really, dawg, this is the email address you’re gonna show to me?” (And I’ll usually keep that to myself!)

    1. EvilQueenRegina*

      The postcode for my university town in the UK was the same as the abbreviation for Kentucky. Yes, I used to hear the jokes, although I do remember one of my friends having to explain it to another mutual friend.

      1. London Lass*

        I just went and Googled that because I couldn’t think of a university town that has those letters… Quite entertained to discover that Royal Mail regards St Andrews as a suburb of Kirkcaldy! Though to be fair there isn’t much in St Andrews other than the university and some golf courses, even if both have very good reputations. I have learned something new today :-)

  50. Heidi*

    I’m a 20-something hiring manager and I’m with OP on this one. I, too, would’ve assumed that the applicant was younger.

    Personally, I wouldn’t have been put off by the email address. However, I would’ve clocked it as not being the best number to use…and maybe given it a quiet chuckle.

    Why not use 1969 instead of 69? I’m assuming the applicant has had an issue in the past using said email address (hence the “I’m 69 years old” note). But, the applicant is obviously free to use whatever email address he wants.

  51. Shstophl*

    I have the same type of email. I was also born in 1969, so it’s that plus my favorite cookie and the age I was when I created the email. Never crossed my mind that it would be weird.

  52. HailRobonia*

    In my current organization, new hires can pick their own email address (as opposed to some places that assign or something like that). I didn’t put much thought into it and used my full first name and last initial… and if you have a REALLY immature mind you can make it sound sort of like a somewhat inappropriate word.

    But more importantly I don’t normally go by my full name, I go by a shortened nickname so I really should have used that instead. And it’s basically impossible to change email addresses here.

  53. Volunteer Enforcer*

    FWIW I used an email address ending in 69 to job search, I’m not old enough for it to be my birth year, and I never got any trouble. I’m UK based. I only created a different email to job search to reduce my anxiety once I realised.

  54. Jessica Fletcher*

    I disagree. When you apply for a job, the hiring manager doesn’t know anything about you other than how you present yourself. We have no idea if this guy legit only used that because it’s his birth year, or because he wanted to make a crude reference. He obviously is familiar with the crude interpretation, and thinks it’s likely enough to be inferred that way that he includes a note to call it out. Is he also the kind of coworker who makes crude “jokes” and then pretends he didn’t mean it that way? Who knows! But why should you have to take the chance?

    If he really wants to put his birth year in his email, use the full four digits. It’s really not that hard to simply create a new email. Tons of people have multiple emails, including one that’s more professional.

    1. Thankful for AAM*

      Exactly, this is part of how he is presenting himself. AND he knows there is some problem with it for some ppl and has not fixed it. Id be asking about his tech skills and maybe his cybersecurity awareness to make sure he was not likely to be easily phished (bc he gives out PII in his email).

    2. KateM*

      “Is he also the kind of coworker who makes crude “jokes” and then pretends he didn’t mean it that way? Who knows! But why should you have to take the chance?”

      That’s what I would be suspecting, too.

      1. KateM*

        Maybe because the only time I have seen 69 as a part of internet ID was by someone who used the fact they had 69 for a whatever-number to sneak it in and pretend innocence “what? 69? but this is my whatever-number!! what did YOU think?”.

  55. Georgina Fredrika*

    I’m wondering if maybe the person doesn’t realize they could create a new email while routing all mail to prior address, to the new email – after 5+ years of having my current address I’d never want to change it, but I could see how that could contribute to “keep the weird email.”

    I disagree a little w. the advice, if only because it’s specifically in the context of an email – having 69 in an email handle feels more sexual than if it were, say, the floor of a building because so many people do use that sort of language really intentionally digitally, whereas a floor # is incidental.

    On the other hand, I had NO IDEA until today the numbers in people’s emails corresponded to their birth year! I thought we all just picked them b/c other people had our names! So mine is 23….. whoops not a 1923 baby

    1. Filosofickle*

      It doesn’t always correspond to a birthday! People use any number they think they can remember. So often a birth year, but also graduation year, lucky number, etc.

      That said, this guy is exactly the right age to have done so — everyone I know who uses their birth year in their email is in their 40s or early 50s. (Since that’s my age group of course that’s who I’d know that does it lol.)

  56. MicroManagered*

    One of my auto-assigned work accounts is First-Initial-Lastname69, so like “MManagered69.” I did not create it and I can’t change it. OP is overreacting.

    1. Alice's Rabbit*

      OP has added that the nickname in the email address also had potential for innuendo. And it’s a personal email, not one he was assigned. He could get a different one whenever he likes.

      1. KateM*

        Where do people get assigned emails without any say themselves, anyway? Work? Is it really a good idea to use your work email as the contact when searching for a new job?

  57. ImNotGivingMyNameToARobot*

    I once received an application for a job (in a very straight-laced professional field) that had the email address: ***_the_skank69@****. From the resume it was clear this person was applying for their first professional job, so when I responded to the application I included a polite suggestion that they might want to consider a different email address for job applications in the future. I have no idea if they took my suggestion, but I still giggle at this to this day.

  58. Maeve*

    I would never rule out an applicant for having 69 in their email address but I will absolutely comment every single time the number 69 comes up in non-work life because honestly what other joys do we have left? (Got 69 points before the bonus three times in Yahtzee three times yesterday, said NOICE and high fived each time.)

  59. judyjudyjudy*

    I think the nick name part of the email is more problematic than the 69. But if he’s a good candidate and interviews well, maybe it’s just one of those weird things that signifys nothing at all.

    1. Queer Earthling*

      Eh, it might be a way to make sure people have the right person. My legal name is Theresa but I exclusively go by Tessa; people looking into me could have trouble using only my legal name OR my nickname, for different reasons. It’s a bit of a clumsy email address, I grant you.

      1. Alice's Rabbit*

        Nope. OP commented that the nickname also had innuendo. Something along the lines of “big guy.” Not Something derived from his name.

  60. marpesia*

    When I was working at a law firm, we received an application with an email address that started out with eeyores_b**ch_69. Turns out there was an attorney for our firm who ran a BDSM club, and in a mailing mixup we started receiving applications for his club (a lot of applications). I could not help myself and read these applications (to be fair, it was also my job to read this attorney’s mail). They were very, uh, thorough. At least one quarter of the email addresses had 69 in them. Just, sayin’. Pretty sure, in this case, it wasn’t the year. Context is everything.

  61. Former Retail Lifer*

    I go straight to Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure.

    Current Ted: “If you guys are really us, what number are we thinking of?”

    Future Bill and Ted, in unison: “69 DUDES!”

    Current Bill and Ted: “WHOA.”

    1. New Jack Karyn*

      THANK YOU! It was a not-obscure joke in a movie that is now 30 years old. Not really a generational thing.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        It way pre-dates Bill and Ted! It was around in the 1800s!

        Oxford English Dictionary

        soixante-neuf, n.

        Simultaneous cunnilingus and fellatio. Cf. sixty-nine n. at sixty adj. 2c.
        1888 P. Perret Tableaux Vivants xiii. 109 In familiar language this divine variant of pleasure is called: faire soixante neuf (literally, to do ‘69’).
        1970 E. M. Brecher Sex Researchers iv. 98 By a delicate turn of phrase, van de Velde awards his post-Victorian nihil obstat to the practice of soixante-neuf.
        1973 M. Amis Rachel Papers 53 The other couple were writhing about still, now seemingly poised for a session of fully robed soixante-neuf.

  62. Tibs*

    I don’t consider myself a 12yo, but I also have never seen 69 in an email or username where the intent WASN’T a sexual reference, so I, like the OP, would have automatically been turned off by it in a candidate’s email. Not enough to discount them, but it would give me a certain sense of them unfortunately.

  63. Jenny*

    I was born in 1988. I had that in some usernames and similar when I was a kid. Thank goodness I don’t now or I would change them. I don’t want any chance that someone thinks I associate with white supremacists.

  64. mreasy*

    Maybe this depends on your field. Because I’m in media and client facing, I would have no issue hiring someone who is 51…but I would think twice about hiring someone that didn’t have it together enough to make a new email address upon recognizing the issue, as the applicant clearly does. In what other areas is this applicant not going to be concerned with putting their best foot forward? I’d be worried that this means they’d rather “explain the issue” than just resolving it in other areas. Maybe overthinking, but I am a hiring manager and it would stick in my mind.

  65. Jennifer*

    Scratching my head here. Obviously he knows it’s a problem or he wouldn’t send a note ahead of time. It’s an unprofessional email address. I highly doubt the OP is the only person to have that reaction. Why continue using it if there’s a simple fix? I don’t get it. Secondly, he may be opening himself up to ageism by continuing to have his birth year in his email address.

    If he’s otherwise qualified, of course, meet with him or do whatever the next step in the process would be, but this is odd. I understand your reaction.

  66. Cathie*

    So happy with this advice. My husband has as his email, and I’m always embarrassed to tell it to people. But I tend to have a more immature sense of humor (or have more friends that do), because I’m younger than him.
    I’m glad to hear that not everyone instantly makes the “dirty” assumption. Apparently it was the number gmail randomly generated for him when his name was taken, and thats why he chose it. Thanks Gmail

  67. HailRobonia*

    Long-term solution: invent a titillating meaning to all numbers 1-100. “OMG this guy has 17 in his email address!”

    1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

      XVII*, which can be rearranged into VIXI, which means “I lived.” Therefore, Mr. must be a ghost!

      *I’ve read that 17 occupies the same superstitious place in Italian culture as 13 does in American culture for this reason. I’m not wholly sure I believe it.

  68. Camellia*

    I have, I thought, a somewhat unusual first name. When I got married 16 years ago and decided to take my new husband’s last name, I thought it was a somewhat unusual last name. However, if you google my ‘firstname lastname’ you get the results of a least a dozen different individuals, just in the US alone. I was honestly floored at that, and still have a bit of trouble wrapping my head around it.

    Plus my husband and I share the same first-name-initial. So, we use our first initial, last name, and the last four digits of our own phone numbers for our email addresses. Works a treat!

    1. EvilQueenRegina*

      I have to admit I wasn’t familiar with that one. Although where I live, a 20th April birthdate being used in an email address wouldn’t mean anything – I’m in the UK and we’d write that date as 20/4 instead of 4/20, so it would take away from that meaning.

  69. lilsheba*

    Personally I hate having numbers in my email address and avoid it whenever possible. But that being said I see no problem with this one, or with 666 either. Who cares really. They’re just numbers.

  70. AngryOwl*

    I would find it weird and judgy to screen a candidate out for having numbers in their email because *you* have assumed it’s meant in some subversive way.

    That said, adding in an odd nickname is strange. If everything else clicked, though, I would still advance them.

  71. KC*

    Some of you might find this article interesting:

    I helped consult on this study, and it seemed like most of the time, a 69 reference was about birth year… though there were certainly a few that were clearly sexual, based on other words in the address. In my experience, though, there are certainly some examples that were truly unprofessional. Took a hard pass on the email address noted as as a candidate!

  72. Dignity, always dignity*

    Personally, I don’t think I would have given the number in the email a second thought. Also, when I review resumes I don’t really look at the email address until the point that it’s time to arrange an interview. Again, I don’t think I would have given the number a second thought. As long as it’s not a cutesy or controversial name like those mentioned above, I wouldn’t even notice.

  73. anon for this*

    If I saw 69 in a email address, I’d assume it was a homestuck reference before it was a lewd reference.

    1. retrowaveRecluse*

      Which would give me a different set of reactions to bypass. Or multiple sets, to be honest.

    2. Juno*

      I mean, I’d still be judgy. Just for different reasons. (Not like anyone cares about my opinion of a job applicant’s email address lol)

  74. Tin Cormorant*

    I had a 2-digit number in my email address, representing my first and last initials in a system where A is 1, B is 2, and so on, for 15 years before anyone pointed out that it could be interpreted as being my birth year and people might think I’m twice my age because of it. I just like the number. People shouldn’t be assuming they know what it stands for.

  75. Courageous cat*

    I dunno, I said this in a reply comment and I’ll say it again here: for every person who’s using 69 innocuously in an email, there are twice as many using it for the purpose of denoting sex. Obviously, it isn’t fair to judge based on that for that reason, but like – do you really want your employer’s first impression of you to be wondering about your email address’s intentions, rather than skirting right on past it and looking at your resume?

    Ultimately, I would feel embarrassed applying to jobs with 69 in there, just as I would 420 if that were my birthday. They’re just numbers, sure, but we don’t live in a vacuum, and if a recruiter has to think about my email’s potential salacious meaning for even 3 seconds, I don’t consider that a win.

    OP, I understand where you’re coming from for the most part.

  76. Dr Rat*

    My initial concern about this guy would be that he doesn’t seem to realize that it is generally going to be safer to leave certain things off your email address: as noted, things like 69, 420, the word sexy, etc. While not every hiring manager is going to make assumptions, some are.
    For instance, let us take the case of the woman whose mother named her Marijuana Pepsi Jackson, now Dr. Marijuana Pepsi Vandyck. I strongly suspect that the email Dr. Vandyck uses when job hunting does not contain the word ‘marijuana’, just because she does not want to be incorrectly judged at a glance…even though it is her legal name.
    My second concern would be the fact that the guy sent a note saying 69 was the year he was born, rather than getting a new email to use for job hunting. What this would say to me as a manager is this: “I realize the email I am using is likely to be misinterpreted. However, rather than trying to CORRECT the issue, I am going to try to find a way to CIRCUMVENT the problem.” This would be a huge red flag for me as a hiring manager. If you can’t fix a problem which exists prior to you being hired, one that could easily be changed in five minutes, how am I going to trust you to fix any problems I point out in your work performance?

    1. e271828*

      Exactly. If he expects the world to accommodate him on this, rather than typing for five minutes and setting up a neutral email address, which is extremely easy to do, what else is he not going to be arsed to do?

      1. Z*

        I mean, is it foolish of me to think maybe he’s still waiting on feedback from earlier job searching in which this email was used? I wouldn’t necessarily want to juggle two emails for job searching after inadvertently choosing poorly with the first one when the only mistake I made was to use my birthday.

        1. Alice's Rabbit*

          You can easily set up any email address to automatically forward to another one. It takes two minutes (four, if you need to look up and watch a YouTube tutorial first).
          That’s no excuse.

  77. Boots*

    I remember once getting an application with a crazy email address… In their cover letter concluded with something like “When you want to follow up with me for an interview, you can contact me at (unprofessional I know, haha!).” They didn’t make it to the interview stage.

    1. Alice's Rabbit*

      They don’t even have to be sexual innuendo to be off-putting. I’ve seen rabidbunny, sweatywookie, and even angryhornet all as email addresses. None of them advanced to interviews, because if your email is that unprofessional, it says a lot about you as a potential employee.

  78. MeTwoToo*

    Reminds me of the interview with Don Glover where he talked about using his email for years without realizing that it could be read another way. He said ‘I was an adult, I paid bills using this address!’

    1. KateM*

      But I’m guessing that either the email or bill contained his name as well, so even if people read it wrong first time, they understood at once (without having him to specify) what the correct way was.

  79. Juno*

    Part of my job is seeing thousands upon thousands of job applicant’s email addresses. There’s plenty of people who use 69 as part of their email because they were born in 1969. However, I’ve also seen email addresses that use 69 the exact way LW was thinking. Ditto for 420. Based on how the applicant decided to include a note with it, I’m going to guess that they’re tech illiterate enough that it hasn’t occurred to them they can make a new email. But um…. if they’re feeling the need to include that note, it’s time for a new email.

  80. Gina Rosar*

    My email has the number 3 and then the numbers 69. Three for me and my two daughters and 69 because it’s the year of my birth. There is nothing wrong with using numbers in your email. For those that think 69 is “dirty” I would say get your head out of the gutter. And for the record this is the only time I have ever explained what the numbers in my email address stand for.

  81. Donkey Hotey*

    Read through every single comment on this thread as I find Pop Culture Numerology fascinating.
    What does it mean? What does it mean?

  82. Tony*

    As someone born in 1969 whose son was born on 4/20, I’d like it if we could use our birthdays without people assuming the worst.

  83. HSolly*

    I think there is a huge implicit bias in saying “everyone knows what 69 really means” – sure, that may be true if you grew up in the US. If you were raised in a different culture, that may not be true. Would you want to be judged for a number in your email address that is considered inappropriate/unlucky by other cultures?

  84. Debbie Bieber*

    Haven’t read all the comments, but this is apparently a 51 year old applicant. Something I would not want to reveal in an employment application.

  85. Bill Johnson*

    My thought is that if you feel the need to justify something as mundane as an e-mail address, you should have changed it a long time ago. It’s not like it’s a difficult ask.

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