Company works to remove digital shadow

TAMPA BAY - 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."

Mark Presnell is the director of the career center at Johns Hopkins University.

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.  Is this the solution to kind of, the concern of students kind of impact their own brand positively," said Presnell

So the university recently became one of the first universities in the country to partner with a site called brandyourself.com , a service now free to Johns Hopkins students that helps clean up and manage their online shadow.

"People are going 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.

JHU just rolled this service out for its students back in the fall semester and they say about 300 of them used it so far, but the goal is to increase that number and get their students to start thinking about their online profiles well before their senior year.

"I though it was a pretty good idea, so I signed up for it, and it seems like a really cool concept."

Simone Weiss is a sophomore economics major at Johns Hopkins and has been poking around brandyourself.com.

She says even though she is already pretty attentive to her online image, the site a useful tool for students thinking about the job or internship search.

"It helps you clean up your online image so stuff that you might not want to be pushed toward the top of your Google search results, it can push it down for you and stuff you would like to appear to the top, it does that for you," Weiss said.

"There's one billion names 'googled' every single day, so like it or not, Google is your first impression," said CEO and co-founder of brandyoursel.com, Patrick Ambron.

Ambron says studies show not only do 75 percent of employers search their job candidates, they're required to.

Today it is all about putting your best digital foot forward and Ambron says his site will help you do that through tips, tools and alerts.

"We're tracking everything for you so we can tell you, hey, your LinkedIn profile fell off your first page, log on and do this.  Or, hey, something weird showed up on your first page of Google, you should come in and take action."

Ambron says his site can also tell you who is searching you.

Digital tools Johns Hopkins is betting will be invaluable to its student body, becoming one of only three universities in the country so far taking this very 21st-century approach to getting a job.

Ambron says Johns Hopkins approached him for this deal making the university just one of three such accounts.

The site says it is mostly a direct to consumer type product but says at least four more universities have contacted them for similar deals.

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