Almost every employer Googles potential employees. Meanwhile, almost every college student lives much of their lives online. Not surprisingly, these two facts can cause problems for young people who have posted drunken party photos or ill-advised tweets over the years. Now, colleges are helping students clean up their “Google profiles” before they embark on their first real job searches.
The AP reports that Syracuse, Rochester, and John Hopkins universities are all offering free online tools to their students to help them clean up their online images. “The first item on our ‘five things to do before you graduate’ list is ‘clean up your online profile,’” the president-elect of the National Career Development Association and director of career services at a university in Colorado said. “We call it the grandma test — if you don’t want her to see it, you probably don’t want an employer to, either.”
It’s possible to go through your own accounts and painstakingly delete or make private anything that doesn’t pass the grandma test. But some Google-able material can’t be deleted, and other students run into trouble because they have common names. One student named Samantha Grossman tells the AP that party photos that weren’t even of her would pop up on search engines before her own accomplishments.
Enter these cutting-edge colleges, which are offering students access to reputation-repair services like BrandYourself. The service helped Grossman promote a positive image online. In fact, I just googled her, and her personal website, complete with resume and professional photo, comes us as the second Google hit; pretty impressive for a very recent college grad with a common name. It may seem extravagant for a college to get involved in its students’ online lives. But what good is a college degree if the “you” online is off in a basement somewhere doing keg stands?