Times Have Changed: Colleges Pay to Improve Students’ Google Results

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Once again, I’m grateful to have glided through college at a time when everyone wasn’t constantly documenting every dumb thing I did/said/wore for the entire internet to see. Today’s students aren’t so lucky, which is why some colleges — Johns Hopkins included — are hiring firms to clean up students’ online images before they go out into the professional world.

There’s something disheartening about colleges employing branding firms to ensure that students’ Google results are pristine and prestigious, but maybe it’s just akin to a 21st-century version of career counseling? In any case, BrandYourself.com helps people (or schools) figure out how to use search engine optimization to tweak what results will appear at the top of the list. Since a quick Googling prospective employees is now de rigeur, it’s important that students not only hide the embarrassing stuff, but also promote their most impressive achievements. “We wanted students to focus on positive content, not just think about hiding the negative information they don’t want anyone to see,” Mark Presnell, Hopkins’ head of career services, told the Wall Street Journal.

BrandYourself was founded by three recent Syracuse grads after one of them realized that he had been passed over for jobs because there was someone who shared his name — and who had a less-than-attractive internet presence. (Kind of like my feud with the OTHER Rachel Monroe!)

The idea behind the service is simple:  pick a few links that you want optimized in search results, and BrandYourself will help move them up the list. But even if you don’t feel like paying $10 a month for their services (there’s also a free option), the site offers some good advice:  start a blog devoted to your professional interests, and make sure you have a LinkedIn page.



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