EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA


March 3, 2013

Universities aim to help students clean up online profiles

Who needs references when you have Google?

Getting a job is no longer just about the cover letter and resume, it’s about search results.

“Google will find you. And Google will find both the positive and negative things. The key really for students to know and to kind of determine is that you want that first page on Google in particular to be very clean,” said Mark Presnell, director of the career center at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore.

He says studies show more and more employers are adapting to social media and traditional references are often couched for a quick Internet search of an applicant.

It is a trend prompting Johns Hopkins to raise the bar on its career services from simply counseling its students to be wary of their Twitter and Facebook presence to offering them a service to manage it.

“I think that’s really the next step,” Presnell said.

The university recently became a partner with a site called brandyourself.com, a service free to Johns Hopkins students that helps clean up and manage their online shadow.

“People are going to use sites to find people, they’re going to use sites to network, they’re going to use sites to secure opportunities so we want to make sure what they have online is a good representation of their qualifications and skills,” Presnell said.

Johns Hopkins rolled the service out for students in the fall semester and says about 300 of them have used it so far. The goal is to increase that number and get students to start thinking about their online profiles well before their senior year.

“I thought it was a pretty good idea so I signed up for it and it seems like a really cool concept,” said Simone Weiss, a sophomore economics major at Johns Hopkins who has been poking around brandyourself.com.

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