my university requires students to create terrible personal websites for job-searching

A reader writes:

I’d love to get your take on something my university is requiring all of its undergrad business students to do.

As part of a senior-level course, we each have to create our own website — our “Personal Online Profile,” or POP. It must include the following:
• An “attractive home page with a nice photo of you”
• A downloadable resume – no more than one page, regardless of years of experience [I have 27]
• Three products from our academic work (papers / presentations / proposals / projects we’ve done for any class)
• A short video of us introducing ourselves, aka our “personal video pitch.” (“Hi. My name is Fluffernella Pastiwich and I’m an aspiring entrepreneur who likes to take risks.”)
• Three links to websites that are indicative of our personal interests (i.e., a link to the U.S. Parks Department if we love camping, a link to the local art museum if we’re into art, a link to a local animal shelter if we volunteer there, etc.)

The instructions offer this explanation for the assignment:

WHY SHOULD I TAKE THIS SERIOUSLY?
FACT: Potential employers WILL Google your name before bringing you in for an interview. This should matter to you for 2 reasons:

a. You NEED to Avoid Making a Bad Impression
Will you be a ‘Google ghost’ and not even appear in the search results? OR will they see random blog comments, immature photos, or things that make you seem frivolous and unprofessional? Any of these will hurt your chances of making a professional impression.

b. You NEED To Enhance Your Chances
You want the first search result they see to be a professional and attractive statement of your maturity and professional mindset. Employers WANT to see that you 1) are comfortable with new technology, 2) have done interesting things in and out of school, and 3) actually CARE about making being/becoming a professional and making a mark in the world.

And, of course, in class the professors talk about the importance of “branding” ourselves. [Ugh.]

I am an accounting major. I cannot for the life of me imagine any scenario wherein it would be appropriate for me to send a hiring manager the link to my POP. I get that if I were in digital arts, or maybe some areas of IT like game coding, or marketing (or advertising / copy writing, where portfolios are a thing) then a personal “branded” website could be helpful. But, even so, why would I need to tell a potential employer that I love cats, or skydiving, or knitting baby booties for preemies? And why on earth would they care about some random presentation I made for my Organizational Behavior and Human Resources class? [Which, by the way, had nothing to do with either.]

This isn’t a trend, right? This is just my school trying to justify a department, and seem hip and cool, right? RIGHT??

Right.

I’ve seen candidates with this sort of website, and at best they just seem kind of … extraneous. I have your resume and cover letter, which is the info I’ve asked for at this stage because that’s the info I want at this stage, and there’s rarely anything on these sorts of sites that strengthens the person’s candidacy. And that’s at best. At worst, they can seem cheesy and out-of-touch.

Let’s break down what they’ve asked you to include:

* A photo of you — don’t need it, don’t want it.

* A downloadable resume — why?? I already have your resume, because you sent it to me when you applied. (Plus, this is a side point, but many people tailor their resumes based on the job they’re applying for and having one general resume posted will be at odds with that.)

* A one-page resume — this might make sense for your classmates if they’re 22, but it’s not necessary for people with more experience like you.

* Academic papers — dear god, please, no. If we want supplemental material (writing samples or whatever else), we will ask for it, as hiring managers have been doing for eons, and it’s usually not going to be school papers. There’s no need to guess what we might want, and it’s not good to signal that you think academic papers are relevant writing samples for most jobs. (They can be for some, sure, but not usually.)

* A video pitch — nooooo. NO. NO. For the vast majority of hiring managers, these are terrible, cheesy, unnecessary, and unwanted. Most of us will not watch them, and it makes you look like you don’t understand what hiring managers care about.

* Three links to websites about your personal interests — we don’t care.

Do you know what we care about? (Well, I know that you know, but now I’m on a rant.) We care about getting a cover letter that explains who you are and why you’d excel at the job you’re applying for, and a resume that shows a track record of achievement in the areas we’re looking for. That’s it. That’s really, really it. And that’s not a secret — we make it really clear because those are the things we ask for.

We’re not secretly thinking, “Man, I wish applicants would send me a video pitch or an academic paper.” Although if we were thinking that, we would just ask for those things. If we haven’t asked? That’s a good sign we don’t want them and don’t care.

And I love that they’re telling you that this will demonstrate that you’re “comfortable with new technology.” People could create this kind of website with Geocities 15 years ago. It’s not demonstrating comfort with technology. It’s just demonstrating a lack of understanding about what matters in hiring.

And ugh, the “personal branding.” I’ve ranted long enough, so I’ll just link here to cover that.

The saddest thing, though, is that they’re totally misleading college students, most of whom don’t have the experience you have and thus won’t know that this is terrible advice and will think they have to do it — and will carry this misunderstanding forward for who knows how long.

Whoever is in charge of this curriculum has horribly misfired. I hope you’ll show this to them.

{ 301 comments… read them below or add one }

  1. insert pun here

    Yeah, this stuff is useful if you have a portfolio that can’t really be displayed any other way, or if you’re looking for freelance or consulting business. Otherwise, no.

    I would look favorably upon someone who blogs intelligently (that part is key) on industry stuff, but that’s really more a mid-career thing. (And I work in a small and highly reputational industry, so that might not transfer to other fields.)

    Reply
    1. AMT

      This is why I hate it when this advice is given to new grads. If you have the kind of job where it’d be relevant (e.g. artist, private practice therapist), you know you need a web site! You almost certainly already have one! If it’s not standard in your field, you don’t need one, and it might look weird to have one.

      Reply
      1. designbot

        And if you’re in the kind of job where selection is portfolio-based, then photographs of yourself, video statements, and nonsense links to things you’re interested in are even more off-putting, since you should really be focusing on the work.

        Reply
        1. babble mouth aka One Of The Greatest Minds Of The 21st Century

          Did anyone call dibs on that username yet?
          If not, I’m calling dibs.

          Reply
  2. Elsie

    Gosh I hope OP will forward this column to their school immediately – and that students will boycott this activity. What a tremendous, presumptuous invasion of their privacy. I wouldn’t want my school to know my personal business.

    UNLESS… Well, the students could just fulfill the requirements as a learning *exercise* – learn how to build a website, creating these components, but just decline to go “live” with them online (or make them password protected so that literally no one else can see it but the student and instructor. That could work!

    Reply
    1. Becky

      When I was in Tech Writing classes back in 2006/2007, we had a class on designing and providing content for websites. Because online help and forums are A Thing We Need To Know About For Our Jobs. It was quite useful, but I only gave the link to two potential employers who specifically asked for proof of concept in candidates with no industry experience. The other 30 or so places I applied never saw the site (that I know of).

      My current place of employment automatically rejects candidates with e-resumes, video resumes, and website resumes, because it indicates that the candidate cannot follow basic instructions (fill out this electronic form and upload a cover letter and resume). This school is doing a true disservice to its students.

      Reply
      1. Chris

        I have to agree, candidates who can’t or won’t read the job posting to understand what’s being asked for get a red flag in the review process.

        Reply
      1. addlady

        Well, there’s a big difference. You’re a customer for classes. You’re there to learn things. The company pays you to do things for them. So protesting in an academic setting is reasonable, but in the other, not so much.

        Reply
        1. CMT

          I’m going to disagree with you on that customer thing. (See that part of this law professor’s letter http://imgur.com/gallery/dRYBo). An undergraduate class really is not the right context for a boycott. There is a much more professional, respectful, intelligent way to respond to this than to say, “Nah, I’m not going to do that.”

          Reply
        2. Sparrow

          The “I’m paying for this class, I get to call the shots” attitude will get them absolutely nowhere with faculty. If they want out of it, their best bet is to propose an alternative with research that indicates this will be more useful. Still not guaranteed to do anything but it has a better chance of efficacy without pissing anyone off…

          Reply
          1. Susan C.

            I agree with the larger point, but stopped reading when he cited trigger warnings as a sign of the obvious demise of student ethos. Glassbowl. (I wonder if he also berates his dinner guest if they ask whether the dessert has peanuts in it?)

            Reply
    2. A Good Jess

      I strongly disagree with the recommendation to boycott and to forward this column immediately. OP shouldn’t risk raising the professor’s ire. Just suck it up and do this assignment, then provide the column link and feedback in the course evaluation– the professor won’t see that until the grades have been submitted, and it should be anonymous so it won’t hurt the OP for the rest of the program.

      To get around “putting this stupid site out there,” I recommend OP create it in Google Sites and then lock down the viewing to “anyone who has the link.” That way the professor/grader can see it, and so can classmates in case there is some kind of peer review activity around this.

      Get the grade, then take it down. No public harm, no foul.

      [Experience: Finished a grad program that made us do online portfolios, which are generally good for the field, but the school made us do them in a way that satisfied the school’s accreditation requirements, NOT in any way that actually prepared us to seek jobs in the field.]

      Reply
      1. Mallory Janis Ian

        Ooh, the OP could make one of her “interesting personal links” a link to this column. Except the professor probably still wouldn’t read it because no one really gives a hoot about other people’s interesting links.

        Reply
          1. Marcela

            Hahahahahahaha I know it’s somehow on purpose, but I can’t help laughing so hard that my coworkers looked at me like I’m crazy, when I read that somebody has the “drawers” (because that’s what cajones means) to do something.

            Reply
      2. Elsie

        Oh, plenty of harm, plenty of foul—if they’re being made to create a “live” functioning website. Please OP don’t embarrass yourself for future employers with this! Take a stand – in a cordial, concerned way. Don’t put something like this online for everyone to see FOREVER. Even if you were in a professional field that warranted this, you should only do it with advice and research into how that field does it. Not some random general one-size-fits-all college project. Just say no!

        Reply
    3. CrimsonCaller

      There’s nothing forcing the students to put real information on the site, so it’s not necessarily an invasion of privacy. The school isn’t going to follow up and confirm that you’re really interested in the National Parks Service. You aren’t being coerced into discussing sensitive or protected topics.

      It’s just a silly idea that’s very out of touch.

      Reply
    4. Random Citizen

      I had a class that required this, but was in no way okay with putting that information online, so I told my professor I couldn’t do that, and asked if I could do it for a fictitious character instead. It was a web design class, so the concepts were more important than having my information out there, and the professor was fine with it (used a fake name, stock photo, and made up info for a resume. It was pretty fun actually!). I pretty much decided he couldn’t make me put my information out there, so approached it that way – “I can’t put my real name on a public website. What other options do we have?” (Thanks, Alison!!) For this situation, if the real name is absolutely required, students could always make the website live just during the grading period, and take it down immediately after the class ends.

      Reply
      1. OP (but not POP!)

        I can lock down the website, then unlock it for the brief period the professor needs to look at it and grade it. Oh, and to then present the damned thing to the whole class. Yes, not only do we have to create this thing, but then we have to stand there and say, “Here’s my resume. . . [click]. . . Here’s my Personal Interest links. . . [click, click, click]. . . Here’s my Video Intro. . .” Egads.

        Reply
        1. Random Citizen

          Oh wow, I would hate that! Is there any way to tell your professor you’re not comfortable making your personal information public on the internet? So many people would not want to do that for so many different reasons, it seems like they have to have a way to work around it. But locking and unlocking would at least keep it offline, mostly, especially if you’re not applying for jobs in that time frame, and you could take it offline/delete it immediately after the class. Still, ugh! That sucks.

          Reply
        2. Amy

          Is there a version of a portfolio for your work that could tell a professional story instead of a personal one? More of a Linked-In profile style so, instead of the links the prof suggests, actually put links up to relevant work and skip the photo and personal stuff. Although I agree with all the privacy concerns in any format, I work with the public in an area where I’m a minority with safety concerns so I have no online presence or personal information available publically so for this assignment I think I would compromise and suggest that to the professor that I do a website for a program or department I work with that shows what they do and then links to relevant info (PDFs, annual reports, photos that media are permitted to use, brochures, calendars, etc etc) – although honestly I’d be so tempted to speak up and try to stop it before I had to waste any time on the work :)

          Reply
          1. OP (but not POP!)

            Amy – Nope, nope, and nope. We MUST include academic work. We MUST include an intro video of ourselves. We MUST include links to things that embody our personal interests.

            And there’s no stopping it. The prof’s workaround for my privacy concerns is that the work I put up stays private except for when she’s looking at it. (And then I can delete the whole thing).

            Reply
        3. halpful

          in addition to trying to keep your real name off the internet, and the password protection and so on, make sure that copy of your resume doesn’t have your home address on it (or your phone number if you care about that). That way, even if something goes wrong with the security, at least the internet won’t know where you live.

          Reply
          1. Random Citizen

            This. Also, can you slightly anonymize other identifying information? E.g. make the names of companies you’ve worked for more generic (Teapots, Inc. vs. Steve’s Teapot Glazing, Inc.), be vague about accomplishments/awards, don’t list the actual cities where workplaces are, list innocuous hobbies with no links to actual clubs or organizations, etc. Basically, do the assignment, but with as little actual, accurate personal information as possible.

            Reply
          2. Jennifer

            *startled*
            > make sure that copy of your resume doesn’t have your home address on it

            Do people really do this? Put their home addresses on their resumes? I find this kind of alarming. Am I terribly out of step in some way? People can be quite odd, and I don’t like having anything with both my name and my home address on it just out there in public. It’s why I take the mailing labels off magazines that I give away.

            I can’t imagine giving someone my home address when I’ve never met them. It feels as unsafe as putting my SSN into an application form. And I work with recruiting agencies a lot, so any resumes I send to them go into their employers’ databases and who knows where that all ends up. My resume has my name, mobile phone, professional email address, and general location, which is “San Francisco Bay Area”. I just figure that’s all anyone needs to know at the resume-and-cover-letter stage of the relationship. But I’m mid-job-hunt right now, so I’m extra curious about this. Am I creating a barrier for myself?

            Reply
              1. Jennifer

                Wow. Thank you, Alison. Real-world feedback is so useful.

                Do you think my concerns have any merit? I see that bleepbloop below does something similar. Could this be a major metro area thing? I have only worked in Los Angeles and in the SF Bay Area.

                And do you think that hiring managers would throw out my resume because of this? I know that part of why I’m leaving my city out is because people have assumptions/stereotypes about it and people who live here, and I’m trying to avoid that issue. Plus the creeper thing.

                Reply
                1. Ask a Manager Post author

                  I occasionally do get resumes with no address, and my only concern is whether the candidate isn’t local and is trying to hide it. So I’d at least put your city/state for that reason.

                2. Formica Dinette

                  I share your concerns. Although I didn’t get it for that reason, I rent a PO box and put that on my resume.

                  I once interviewed an up-and-coming DJ for an unrelated temp position and I kept thinking, “You’re semi-famous and now I know you live three blocks from me. Take your home address off your resume!” I decided it would come off as creepy to tell them that.

            1. bleepbloop

              I usually put city (well, borough…New Yorker here) and zip code, so people can tell where I am (e.g. that it’s reasonable for me to travel to the work location every day) but no one creepy can find me.

              Reply
        4. Formica Dinette

          If you don’t want to unlock it at all, Carbonmade offers inexpensive password-protected portfolio sites. I’m sure there are others out there too. I’m not affiliated with Carbonmade; I just have friends who have used them and been happy with them.

          Reply
    5. disconnect

      Sure, the students could do that very thing and meet the letter of the requirement, and people do that frequently. One time I made a business plan for a fake business and populated some of the sections with obvious filler and fluff, because I actually didn’t care enough about database servicing to research the specifics sufficiently to be able to write a fully-detailed proposal. But the objective there was sound, and I walked away from that exercise with the ability to write a business plan. This exercise is literally a waste of students’ time, and the school is doing a disservice to both themselves and their students.

      Reply
  3. Recruit-o-rama

    Dear college career centers,

    Either ask recruiters and hiring managers what they need or shut up, you are hurting your students.

    Sincerely,

    Life long recruiter

    Reply
    1. AMT

      This makes me wonder where they’re getting these people. Wouldn’t you want to hire someone who, y’know, hired at some point?

      Reply
      1. Lizketeer

        My professor who taught these classes had been in HR for years and has his own consulting firm, and everything he taught went against pretty much everything on this site. Including having us make our own website that is very similar to the OPs assignment.

        But despite all of his poor career advice, he was really successful. No matter where you went or wanted to go, he had connections (that led to some pretty nice jobs/internships). He was a wonderful person who genuinely cared about people, just consistently gave out not-so-stellar advice.

        Reply
    2. AMG

      So when you show this to your advisor, please make sure they have access to the comments too. Copy the Dean because this is Stupid and they need to know that people like Recruit-o-Rama (and me) will not hire someone who does this because they will look like Ridiculous Ninnyhammers.

      Reply
    3. Willow

      I’m still irritated at the career center guy who advised us to call the hiring manager, complete with tips for getting past an assistant. To prove this strategy works, he gave an example of a student who e-mailed someone whose work she admired, and he eventually hired her an an intern. This was not a job vacancy with instructions to apply, the internship was created for her. Not analogous to applying for a job.

      Reply
      1. Pineapple Incident

        That’s horrifying. Tips to get past an assistant??? I’m an admin in a clinical area- we get calls pretty often for people who’ve managed to get past the operator to inquire about jobs, even though they’re all on the hospital system’s website. That’s exactly what I tell people who ask to speak to my boss, because she is IN MEETINGS and has THINGS TO DO.

        Reply
      2. Allison

        And having an internship “created” for you isn’t that hard in some fields, you literally tell someone you admire the work the organization is doing and they find something for you to do for 20 hours a week. It’s free labor for them, and all they have to do is *maybe* fill out a form so the school has record of you doing it. But it’s nearly impossible to turn it into a paid, full-time job.

        Reply
      3. Jadelyn

        You know how to “get past an assistant?” Be qualified, follow the instructions, provide your materials in accessible format (.doc or .pdf PLEASE do not send .pages files!), have a strong resume and cover letter, and voila! You’re past the assistant and can now be potentially rejected by someone else!

        The whole function of an assistant in that kind of process is to be a gatekeeper and filter to keep out the obviously unqualified or obvious problem applicants. To get past the assistant, don’t be one of those, and you should do fine.

        Reply
      4. T3k

        This guy obviously can’t tell an exception from the rule. I know a girl that did something similar where she emailed this one guy about her interest in working for the company (she wanted to write children’s books) and I guess her interest really showed through because he invited her in for an interview and she landed a job there when there weren’t any available. Now if I tried to do that, I’d probably be blacklisted. *sigh*

        Reply
    4. College Career Counselor

      Hold on–this is not (necessarily) the career center. This is a “senior-level course” for undergraduate business students. As I read that, it’s a business school requirement (or an academic dept. requirement in the case of this course), not something the career center is involved with.

      The only thing I see that is somewhat accurate in that “justification” piece is that employers will google candidates. As for part a), avoid making a bad impression by doing this in the first place. By all means, clean up your digital presence, lock down your facebook account, etc. But you don’t have to put in some obviously ridiculous online branding place holder instead.

      And for part b), make that professional and attractive statement your LINKEDIN profile–that’s what it’s for. No need to reinvent the wheel here, people.

      Good God, this is a wrong-headed, busy-work approach to “managing” students’ digital presence that is actually actively detrimental to their reputation.

      Reply
      1. I@W

        +1 — Yes, I find that at least when you’re consulting, many people will at the very least look at your LinkedIn profile and will often Google you. The website is really out of touch, but a good LinkedIn profile might be helpful. Honestly, I’ve seen quite a bit of puffery to outright lies on LinkedIn, but some recruiters I’ve spoken to want a nice professional picture along with a description of what you do. Honestly, I’m a being a bit of a hypocrite because I refuse to put my picture up and right now my LinkedIn description is beyond paltry….and still the cover letter and resume are what get me in the door and my skills are what get me the job.

        I balk at all of the branding crap…because what I’m seeing more and more of are people who seem to have the most amazing LinkedIn profiles are not so dazzling IRL. (For example, I’m working with someone who says that they are leading the project I’m working on in their profile…IRL they are not, and are performing at a minimum level. The FT people on the project–who are leading it–are just dealing with it until their time ends, since they don’t want to out and out fire this person, and some people think he adds some value. Oh, and I have so many other examples.)

        Reply
      2. Jadelyn

        Re LinkedIn, that was my first though. Why bother with all this BS, when you can just…have a really nice LI profile? In fact, one of my classes right now has a smaller assignment to review and update your LI profile with certain things and explain why you added the bits you did. Because that’s reasonable, telling business students to have a good LI profile – make your entire own silly website, not so much.

        Reply
        1. Lance

          Pretty much this. Have a (clean and accurate) LinkedIn profile, and don’t be an idiot on social media. If they do google you, they’re likely enough to find those (depending on their search parameters, and how common your name might be), and as long as they see no red flags, job done.

          Reply
    5. Stan

      I think the problem with college career courses/centers is that the people involved in planning curriculum, setting goals, dispensing advice, etc. are entrenched in academia which has it’s own quirky hiring process that doesn’t seem to really match up with many (most?) other fields.

      Reply
    6. WorkingMom

      Seriously! I’m sorry, but to be completely honest, if I googled a potential employee and found their website with photos, videos, academic papers, etc. I would laugh so hard, and then cross them off my list. Being completely honest. I feel terrible for these students getting this horrible advice! Yes, I do google potential employees; but I am mainly looking for any glaring signs of bad judgement.

      Reply
      1. halpful

        ooh, I just remembered an argument over my highschool resume, where the teacher insisted acronyms were not allowed. I had to go look up what Perl actually stands for. She wasn’t happy with “C++” either. :)

        sadly, that was the last time I got advice on my resume… I probably get hired in *spite* of it, not because of it. If I’m job-searching again, I’ll be making use of all the resources on this site and then some.

        Reply
        1. Zowayix

          …I’ve been programming for like a decade and I didn’t know Perl was an acronym until literally now. That’s like saying “scuba” and “radar” count as acronyms – what would your teacher have said about those?!

          Reply
    7. Feo Takahari

      My college career center had recruiters come in and tell us what they were looking for, and it was still different from AAM. (For instance, they wanted us to begin our cover letters by stating our names.)

      Reply
    8. OP (but not POP!)

      I think the professors, and the people who head the business school, are caught in a feedback loop / echo chamber. The school is very involved with [some of] the local business community. So there’s a lot of recruiting on campus, a lot of co-projects, and a ton of our graduates get hired into a dozen-ish big companies.

      Which means that when the latest batch of graduates includes a link to their personal website on their resume / LinkedIn profile, the people in those companies go, “Oh, yes, I remember creating one of these in Advanced BCOM,” and therefore don’t find anything weird about it. HOWEVER, not everybody wants to work for one of those few big companies. And these websites are a *horrible* idea for the rest of us. [Put me in the camp of “Doesn’t want to work for a huge multi-national company.”]

      Reply
  4. Myrin

    I am surprised by them saying being a “Google Ghost” (I’ll give it to them, though, that name is quite nice) will actively hurt someone. Is that a thing? I know we’ve talked before about misconceptions around someone who appears online because of various questionable things sharing your name and how you may want to get a web presence of yourself going to counter-act possible employers thinking that’s you, but I don’t think not being google-able at all “will hurt your chances of making a professional impression”, or will it?

    Also, I hope you’ll show this to them. – are you being tongue-in-cheek or serious here? Because so often I think that I wish Weird Person An OP Writes In About just had the chance to read your answer, but the one time it actually did happen – where an OP printed it out – it was actually pretty misguided. But I do wonder if there aren’t situations where that would not only be a satisfying but also an okay thing to do?

    Reply
    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      In a case like this — where it’s a school providing terrible advice — I think it would be great to print this out and show it to them, and I hope the OP will.

      Remind me what the time was that it went badly?

      On being a Google ghost, it’s not going to matter for the vast majority of jobs in the vast majority of fields. It could matter if you’re going into social media marketing or something like that, but otherwise hiring managers aren’t likely to care.

      Reply
      1. Jennie

        I’ve never worked on SEO or personal websites, so out of curiosity would one small personal website really improve your google recognition much? I’ve always imagined it would take a more cohesive plan including any social media accounts

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        1. Naomi

          It would largely depend on things like how common your name was and whether your personal url contained that name. If you have a relatively uncommon name and produce a personal website at firstnamelastname.com it’s going to come top in a search for that name, really regardless of quality of content. If it’s a more common name it’s going to take a more cohesive plan, yes.

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          1. Kiryn

            It doesn’t even matter how common your name is. Even just one single other person in the world who has your name and a more visible online presence is enough to wipe you off the map completely. My husband has a very uncommon name, but just happens to share it with an australian filmmaker.

            Finding myself on a google search, on the other hand, is utterly impossible because my last name is very short, is a common word in English, and is also a common professional abbreviation. Most of the search results aren’t even people who share my full name. (Of course, I also tend to ghost on purpose and use a pseudonym everywhere but LinkedIn, but I don’t really think it’s necessary.)

            Reply
            1. sam

              I have a pretty decent social media presence, and my own website (although not using my name as the domain name), and when I google myself, some of my stuff comes up (including, obviously, my own website), but it’s mixed together with at least two other ladies with the same name.

              Who are both MUCH fonder of selfies than I am). At least one of them has a twitter handle that uses “our” actual name (unlike myself). Given that the “image” results that pop up on the third line down show at least three VERY obviously different people just on the preview, it’s likely to just confuse people more than anything.

              At least one of these ladies also appears to have been a somewhat accomplished high school track and field runner, so there are just pages and pages of times/results. If anyone wants to assume that’s me, that’s on them.

              Reply
            2. Joan Callamezzo

              Heh, your first paragraph is me. I share an unusual name (first, middle, last) with only one other person. She is a Senior VP-level exec for a very large corporation on the east coast of the US. I am a mid-level manager for a very large corporation in a completely different industry on the west coast. All but two entries in the first 4 pages of Google results are her, and the 2 that are me are pretty innocuous (and I also use a pseudonym everywhere but LI).

              Reply
        2. Stef

          SEO specialist here. You are correct, something like that is probably going to be buried down the search engine results anyway. Your Facebook, Twitter or Linkedin profiles are easy to find because they are… duh, on Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin. Huge websites with huge ranking value.
          You really need to be a Google Ghost (starting to use this one) with no social presence and with an utterly unique name for it to appear at the top, or do some SEO work for it to be more visible.

          Reply
          1. Slippy

            Just because I have a devious mind, I’m wondering if the student sites are all made to link back to the university’s site to boost their search ranking.

            Reply
            1. OP (but not POP!)

              Nope. They’re usually just “weebly.com/StudentName” or “wix.com/StudentName” or “WordPress.com/StudentName”. No link back to the school, unless the student makes a hyperlink out of the school’s name in their written intro.

              Reply
        3. Thermal Teapot Researcher

          I have a website that is http://www.MYNAME.com, and it comes up as the first site on google. I did this because I have a super common name. All of my past and current employers (3) have admited to googleing my name and have complimented me on my site.
          Having said that. I don’t have a video introduction or such; just enough to make sure that I’m not mistaken for a seedy person with the same name.

          Reply
          1. Student

            Google adjusts results to your personal preferences and common choices. (disclaimer – under some circumstances and some common default browser settings, etc.)

            Go to some public computer you’ve never used and try the same search. You may get different results, more indicative of what a random searcher would see. You probably get it first all the time because you go look at it on purpose and possibly update it. You have to have other people linking to it, or additional search terms that get more specific (like info on your resume), to actually get a page like this in good google ranking.

            Reply
      2. Myrin

        Remind me what the time was that it went badly?

        Gosh, now you got me, I honestly can’t remember. My brain suggests either food or gossip as the letter’s topic, but don’t hold me to that. I do remember that the OP sent a lengthy update, though, where she said she’d printed out your advice plus the whole comment thread (!) and left it on the desk of the person the original letter was about. The commentariat then agreed that this was unkind and over-the-top – does anyone know what I’m talking about?

        Reply
        1. OhNo

          Oh, that does sound familiar, but I can’t recall which letter it was. I hope somebody can scrounge the archives and figure it out!

          Reply
          1. Ask a Manager Post author

            Ah yes! And this was my take on that in the comments there:

            http://www.askamanager.org/2011/12/update-from-the-reader-whose-coworker-appointed-herself-the-food-police.html#comment-50449

            (Basically, not a fan of doing it in that specific case but also maybe better than saying nothing at all.)

            More broadly, whether or not to do that really depends on the circumstances. When it’s to show an authority figure an objective outside assessment, it can make sense. When it’s to show your coworker they’re being a jerk, probably not.

            Reply
      3. JessaB

        Not to mention some smallish, silly, made in college website that’s maybe one page with links on it, it not at all likely to show up on Google in the first place. I have friends who have personal blogs/websites, and if I Google them, those usually don’t even show up. So unless you load it with all kinds of searchable stuff AND enough people actually search for it that it shows up in rankings, not so much.

        Reply
      4. babblemouth aka One Of The Greatest Minds Of The 21st Century

        It won’t matter even then. I work in digital marketing, and I couldn’t care less about your lack of personal brand. I care if you have a terrible online reputation, for sure, but beyond that, show me what you’ve done for the reputation of the previous companies/organisations you worked for – that’s what I care about. I’ve seen people who don’t care about being seen too much do wonders on social media, while others spent so much time building their own reputation, they forgot to do anything for the brand they actually worked for.

        Reply
      5. Marisol

        Was the time it went badly when the OP left your advice on her coworker’s chair, and the coworker, who had been annoying the OP previously, spent the next couple of weeks in a subdued affect until she left for a better job? Something like that? But I don’t think you advised the OP to leave your advice on the coworker’s chair in the first place. So Coworker getting her feelings hurt was the unfortunate result…if memory serves.

        Reply
    2. kac

      I know!! I’ve worked hard to be a ‘Google ghost,’ and I’m still annoyed that a unlucky Pinterest board shares my name and is covered in pics of tacky wreaths.

      Reply
    3. all aboard the anon train

      I can see how being a Google Ghost would hurt if you were looking for a job in media or for a job that required you to use social network sites. I’ve definitely come across some marketing positions that ask for a strong social media presence.

      Otherwise, I think people place too much weight on Google results. Whether it’s looking up a prospective employee, a date, a friend, not having an online presence – or even an easy to find one – isn’t always a red flag.

      Reply
    4. Kyrielle

      Even if being a Google Ghost will hurt you (which I think it won’t in most industries), the first step is to Google yourself. If you don’t like what does or doesn’t turn up, only then do you take steps. And I’d argue a *public LinkedIn profile* is the best way to counter being a complete ghost if you want to. No cheesy stuff the hiring managers/recruiters don’t want, but expansion on things you may leave out of a carefully tailored resume (just the ones you want to expand on, in case anyone cares about them, not the ones you don’t!).

      Or, *if* you have the time and thoughts to invest in it, a well-written professional blog. However, that’s only if you really can maintain it for a reasonable length of time (not necessarily indefinitely) and have relevant, insightful things to say. The vast majority of us would be better-served to not try that route, I suspect.

      Reply
    5. J

      I have been privy to conversations in which a candidate who cannot be easily searched for online is viewed with some degree of suspicion/negativity. However, it’s unlikely that anyone is bothering to “Google” you if you aren’t already a somewhat viable candidate.

      A lack of online presence wouldn’t be enough to sink a ship, but if you could be found online in a positive fashion–say, a Twitter presence in which you are engaged with other professionals in the field–that would certainly give you a leg up.

      Reply
      1. matcha123

        That’s too bad. Ever since I started getting online in middle school, I have made it a point to never. ever. use my real name. Being a “Google Ghost” is my goal.

        Reply
    6. Joseph

      This came up in a post last week, but for most careers, being a “Google ghost” is actually a goal to strive for. Why?
      1.) There’s rarely a “good” outcome for having information about you online. Most of what people post online is stuff that employers either won’t care about at all or will go “hey, that’s cool” and then immediately discount. Frankly, even if there was actually something worth getting out, it’s often easy enough to find a way to work in the information.
      2.) Even the (few) rare items that would strengthen your candidacy are things that most students either don’t have and/or cannot develop. A successful blog about Teapot Making might impress me, but let’s be real here: As an undergraduate in the field, by definition, you probably do not have experience in the field (no judgment, all of us were new once!). Am I really going to care about your thoughts on Teapot Design, knowing that you’ve never actually sold a teapot in your life?

      Reply
  5. Bibliovore

    And if there is a concern about web presence, create a positive one. A blog with links to interesting professional articles , commentary and links to relevant blogs. Consistent postings will be enough. Have friends and family click on those to bury irrelevant/embarrassing results to a second page.

    Reply
  6. Nick

    Perhaps they are thinking these students will continue with academia-based jobs?

    I myself, when I am not at my 8-5 job (which is non-academic), I am an independent scholar, where I write for books, work on editing anthologies, present at conferences and everything. I maintain a page, it has a picture, it has my academic CV (which is different than my “real world” resume), but most importantly, I have a bibliography with links to all my writing and projects. It acts as a hub of sorts for all my projects because when I have other scholars seeking me out, I want those things. I know when I am reaching out to other scholars, this stuff is important to me as well.

    However, I don’t use this as my 8-5 world where I do my bread-and-butter job. So perhaps what these folks are trying to do is for you to get an academic presence. If that is the case, then all of this stuff make sense.

    However, if they are using this as their generic advice for any and all types of job hunting, then yes – it’s not really relevant.

    Reply
    1. Becky

      Depending on the type of business a Business major wants to enter, familiarity with web content is a good thing. Appropriate classes from, say, the Computer Science department would be a much better idea than creating a website with content irrelevant to an employer.

      At a former place of employment, two just-out-of-college accountants and at least one marketing rep were hired because they took at least two computer science classes that dealt with Software as a Service (SAAS) concerns and could speak intelligently on how their jobs would impact the product the employer made. This is a better way for the school to handle “modern” ideas like websites.

      Reply
    2. Kira

      Even then, their advice would be misguided for an academic page. If that was their goal, they should be sharing examples of pages like yours, not having the students include links to websites related to their hobbies, or samples of school projects, or an elevator pitch video.

      Reply
    3. Always Anon

      As Alison indicated, it’s for business students and so the vast majority of them wouldn’t be continuing in academia.

      But, even in other departments, the majority of students will not be working in academia. Apart from some of the more ridiculous items requested (links, photos, etc.), I actually think encouraging students to link to academic papers is damaging. Writing a 10-20 page paper for a class is wildly different than the type of writing needed in the work place, and all it can do is highlight how the student has managed to please a professor.

      Reply
    4. Today's anon

      The other thing with these websites, is that they live forever, so you graduate and move on with your life, forget about it, becasue it’s ridiculous and useless, and in 20 years, it will still show up on a google search and we’ll all be like wow that was OP in their youth.

      And, at my job, we are not allowed to google candidates during searches because we don’t want to learn information that would bias.

      Reply
      1. Today's anon

        To address the academic aspect, but when you apply to your academic job, your CV will or should list all your publications etc, and I can find them pretty easily via the library if I need to read them. It’s better than presenting a website that will usually be out of date or not top notch design worthy. That is not who we are looking for (unless it’s in the arts broadly understood). We want someone who can teach and research and be a colleague. Having a website doesn’t answer that question. Can this person get tenure is on our mind, not can this person design a website?

        Reply
    5. OP (but not POP!)

      It’s definitely used as generic advice for any and all types of job hunting. In fact, we’re supposed to not only upload three examples of stuff we’ve worked on in school, but we’re supposed to say *what we learned from it that would be of interest to a hiring manager*. As in, “Putting together the XYZ project in a group setting taught me how to work effectively as part of a team.” Or, “Giving a presentation on ABC in front of my classmates was crucial in honing my ability to communicate my ideas to a large audience.”

      Reply
      1. Tangerina Warbleworth

        Well, okay then: “Sending a question to Ask A Manager confirmed that I should not blind trust one authority figure, but rather figure out an appropriate path myself.”

        Reply
  7. GigglyPuff

    Best part of these, if you’re forced to make them, make sites like WordPress, have that lovely check box so your site doesn’t come up in any web searches, or even to the point where it’s only visible by direct link.

    There, you showed you’re comfortable with technology.

    Reply
  8. UX Designer

    I work in digital strategy/design where this kind of thing is pretty normal and expected. But this is just taking it WAY over the top. Currently my website features my work (5 portfolio pieces), an About Me page and contact information (because it’s not uncommon to be recruited from web searches). For someone who works in tech, I’d say this is pretty standard. But I can’t imagine any of my friends who work in finance or are teachers or lawyers or anything else would ever need this!

    Reply
    1. Michaela

      Ditto; I’m in web development where my personal website has actually landed me an interview (which I nailed and got hired from, thanks), but that’s an industry-specific thing and candidates don’t get points knocked even if they don’t have one. If they don’t have one with a portfolio of their code, I’ll ask for a few more work samples, but assume they have a perfectly good reason for not having a site. (If they have a site that hasn’t been touched/updated in years, when they come to us, i.e., they’re actively jobhunting and haven’t done that cleanup/updating …that’s a demerit, I admit.)

      Reply
      1. Kyrielle

        In which case, creating this for school is a potential demerit for them also, because are they going to remember this little assignment in a year or two? And go back to take it down, or update it? (Are they allowed to pick where it’s hosted, or is it on a school server? Will their account be kept active forever so they can update it? Etc….)

        Reply
        1. OP (but not POP!)

          We can use WordPress, Weebly, Wix, or whatever. If someone is proficient in coding and has a home server, they can create it from the bottom up and host it themselves.

          No matter what, once the class ends, we can kill the website. I also posted above that we can set it for “private” and the professor will text right before she looks at it for grading, so we can open it up for a few minutes; then she’ll text when she’s done, so we can close it up again.

          Reply
  9. Beth

    My library science program required something very much like this five years ago, and I was dismayed to see that they STILL require such an “online portfolio.” They gave us similar justification for it, but weren’t quite as.. extreme as this description in their justification. And considering most students were already in the work force (I want to say the average age of people in the program was 27?) we all knew that it was a waste of time.

    And the more I think about it, it’s so ridiculous to make the assumption that this would be one of the first things to show up in a Google Search. Are these courses also teaching students about SEO and page rank (or whatever affects your website views now..)?

    Reply
    1. Jax

      My library science program required it too. I gave fake information because I was still considering jobs in the government. Also, I have relatives I have cut out of my life for good reason and want them to know nothing about me. There are very legitimate reasons to be “Google Ghosts.”

      Reply
    2. Jax

      My library science program required it also. I gave fake information because I was still considering a job with a government. I also have family members I have cut out of my life for very good reason and don’t want them knowing anything about me. What if students have a stalker? There are very legitimate reasons to want to keep this type of information off the internet.

      Reply
      1. Cassandra

        On behalf of LIS/iSchool programs everywhere, I apologize. The only mild defense I have is that this nonsense is being imposed on us from above…

        … namely, the ALA accreditation process, which has an insect up its posterior just now about “direct measures of program-level learning outcomes.” What that means is, we’re supposed to test every student on everything we claim we teach you… and in-class assignments and tests pretty much don’t count unless every student in the program does the same one! (This can happen — where I am we have “common assignments” in core courses — but it never covers everything.)

        So. What else can we use as “direct measures” to satisfy accreditation teams? Capstone experiences, practicums, comprehensive exams, and portfolios, pretty much. Capstones and practicums, while they can be (and often are) required of all students, never touch every single learning outcome in the program. That leaves us with two unappetizing options: comps and portfolios.

        Schools that don’t already do comps are mostly choosing portfolios. Trust me, we dislike it as much as you do, but we’re stuck unless we care to give up accreditation, which we don’t. As for the job-relevance hype, where I am we quit it, for all the reasons this thread cites — we explain the portfolio with specific reference to accreditation now.

        If this irks you, now is actually a GREAT time to speak up, because ALA accreditation processes are being revamped somewhat. Some details in the latest PRISM: http://www.ala.org/offices/accreditation/prp/prism/prism_current and scroll down to Joan Howland’s piece.

        Reply
        1. JustAnotherLibrarian

          This is all true. Accreditation is super complex and super important to Library Schools (all schools, actually). Everyone who is in the field should care about ALA’s accreditation requirements.

          As a librarian who has been on library hiring committees, I will say that I have looked at online portfolios of candidates who link them in their resumes if they are a finalist. I also Google all finalists, just to make sure they aren’t saying horrible things on Social Media that would make my library look bad. I’ve never hired someone based on their portfolio, but I have NOT hired someone based on theirs.

          Thank goodness my library school did not require this. And I do worry about library students being told this is a good thing.

          Reply
        2. OhNo

          This is great info! Thank you for sharing. I graduated from my LIS program about a year and a half ago, and they made us do one of these silly portfolios, too. It felt like such a waste of time, especially given that it was lumped into our capstone course along with a major project. I hope the ALA is cooperative so every school can drop this requirement!

          Reply
  10. TLake

    I’m taking a ENG400 class that wants me to do the same thing, and like you I’m an Accounting major. I just decided this is my assignment and as stupid as I think it is I’ll do it anyway, but I’ll host the entire thing with WIX, because it has a Delete Website feature, so after I’m done with the class I can take it down.

    Reply
    1. OP (but not POP!)

      That’s my take on it, too, TLake. But I worry about my 20-something classmates who don’t know any better because they’ve never worked in the “real world”, and so don’t know how weird this is.

      Reply
  11. LawCat

    I once had a class where a student asked the teacher about something we were doing in the class, “Why do I need to do this? How will I use it in life?”

    Answer: “In your life, you will need to do this to pass this class.”

    I think that applies here!!

    This isn’t about getting a job (even if the professor thinks that it is the case). It is just about passing the class. I’d make the site, not make it “live” or take it down immediately after grades are done, and let the school know what I think via a course survey (if they do that kind of thing at your school).

    Reply
    1. Myrin

      I was thinking that. As ridiculous and annoying as I find this whole thing, there’s no way the professor can force the students to actually use this POP thing when they start job searching; I’d just do the thing to pass the class and then take it down afterwards. Although the bigger problem here is probably that this will leave some students thinking that this is How It’s Done.

      Reply
      1. Bad Candidate

        I had something like that in a class I took. I don’t remember exactly what I had to do, it wasn’t this profile thing, but I knew I was never going to use it to apply for a job. I even said so in the assignment. But whatever. Done.

        Reply
    2. Manderley

      Yes, this. We had to create a resume with a horrible format (objectives, etc). I did it for the grade and never used it for job hunting. Also, seconding using a site that will allow you to make it non-searchable.

      Reply
  12. Snarkus Aurelius

    The only other thing I’d add to AAM’s advice is this: do NOT overwhelm me/hiring managers/whoever with more information than we ask.

    I’ve already taken great pains to craft a job description, get approval, secure a salary range, and then get it posted.  If I wanted information beyond the application requirements, I’d tell you what specifics I want.  Plus, even if I did have all the time in the world to watch 200+ introductory videos, I wouldn’t be spending it on that.  I have a zillion other things to do.

    As for the Google ghost concern, what if your name is Bob Smith or Sarah Taylor or Raj Patel?  A good chunk of names I try to Google are a lot more common than I think.  Even with qualifying details, I’m still not entirely sure if I have the right person so until I meet him/her, I can’t make any judgments.

    I also assume that if you’re applying for jobs online and corresponding via email, then you already have a good grasp of technology.  

    No, this is very much an academic department trying to justify its existence with what they think is a substantive exercise.  Complete it for sure but don’t use it.

    If you “CARE” about becoming a professional and making a mark in the world, then you won’t overwhelm and bug the crap out of employers.

    Reply
    1. SarahTheEntwife

      “As for the Google ghost concern, what if your name is Bob Smith or Sarah Taylor or Raj Patel? A good chunk of names I try to Google are a lot more common than I think. Even with qualifying details, I’m still not entirely sure if I have the right person so until I meet him/her, I can’t make any judgments.”

      Yep. If you search my moderately-common first and last name, you mostly get a psychiatrist in New York, plus a bunch of random Facebook pages and genealogy sites. If you add my much-less-common middle name, you get…that same psychiatrist in New York. I’ve always been kind of glad I have such an innocuous Google twin; she has a boringly-professional web presence and as my profession doesn’t really need one, I don’t need to worry about outranking anything really embarrassing.

      Reply
      1. Evan Þ

        My Google twin is a lot more notorious, I’m afraid: He’s an eighteenth-century pirate.

        Fortunately, he’s also pretty readily-distinguishable from me.

        Reply
          1. SL #2

            Whoa! That’s pretty intense. My Google twin is a recruiter in Hong Kong for a global business firm. I get people’s resumes from time to time…………..

            Reply
      2. Blurgle

        I am reminded of Dr. Sanjay Gupta, whose name upon his appointment to a US government position was Googled by a Congressman and found to have a conflict of interest – except that it was the wrong Sanjay Gupta.

        I’m also reminded of my mother, who had an unlisted phone number and who changed her name because of an abusive family background and who, had she been faced with a class like this, would have had to fail it because she would never have allowed a word about herself to appear online, let alone a PHOTO. That I cannot fathom a university forcing. There oughta be a federal law.

        Reply
        1. KellyK

          I would *really* hope that a professor would grant an exception to this. If nothing else, developing the pages and not actually posting them anywhere should fulfill the requirements of the assignment, and it’s easy enough to send the instructor a zipped folder of HTML files.

          Reply
        2. OP (but not POP!)

          I have a not-so-nice ex who pops up in my life whenever anything about me is put online. ESPECIALLY pictures. Those really seem to set him off. I told my professor, and her answer was to tell me to keep the website private until she needed to look at it for grading purposes. Then she’ll text me so I can open it up for a few minutes.

          I still worry since anything on the Internet is basically there forever. So I’m sure some data crawler somewhere will capture my website in the 5-10 minutes it’s “live”. Gah. Now I’m getting even more freaked out about it.

          Reply
          1. Ask a Manager Post author

            Honestly, that’s reason to say no. You should tell her, “I’m not able to risk setting off another chain of harassment and stalking, and even opening up for a few minutes could do that because of data crawlers. I don’t think I should have to put my safety at risk for this assignment. What other options are there?”

            Reply
              1. Random Citizen

                Oh my gosh, yes – that’s awful. I was thinking run-of-the-mill privacy concerns, which I share! But this is really serious and there’s no way she should be able to force you to endanger yourself. At the very least, a fake name instead of your real one, but, yeah, no reasonable person would force this.

                Reply
              2. pony tailed wonder

                Also, the dean of students at the university I work at will go to bat for students. Do you have a resource person like this at your university who will take your personal security seriously?

                Reply
                1. OP (but not POP!)

                  I have no idea, pony tailed wonder, but I will certainly call the Dean of Students’ office tomorrow and ask. Thank you!

              3. Rana

                One option you might offer – if she is unwilling for you to do a fake version – is to create the webpage and then not upload it. Most page construction software has a preview function so you can see what the website would look like live, without having to upload it.

                But really, she should have anticipated problems of this sort and offered options at the outset.

                Reply
        3. Elizabeth West

          In her case, I would have gone to the professor and explained the situation and asked if I could fulfill the assignment with fake information. It doesn’t hurt to ask. If the professor said no way, then the next visit would have been to my adviser to see if there were some other way I could complete the academic requirement without taking that class.

          Reply
          1. Random Citizen

            I don’t have any type of stalker situation, but I’m super private in general (a Google ghost! I love that term), and AFAIK am the only person in the world with my first name/last name combination, and no way am I attaching it to a amateur 90s style website, so I just told the professor I couldn’t put my information out there. I think he was actually the one who said to just do a fictitious person if I wasn’t comfortable putting _any_ information online. No professor should be forcing students to put personal information online, ever, but even a rigid professor should understand your reasons. Good luck!

            Reply
            1. Random Citizen

              Ack, missing context on here – previously had to do a site like this for a class, but ended up using entirely fictitious information for name/resume/hobbies (investigative tours! extreme ironing!). Hopefully, your professor is understanding of your situation, because it’s pretty black and white.

              Reply
    2. Joseph

      “The only other thing I’d add to AAM’s advice is this: do NOT overwhelm me/hiring managers/whoever with more information than we ask. […] I have a zillion other things to do.”
      Yeah, the amount of information makes it pretty obvious that the guy making this assignment has never hired for a business in his life. I haven’t seen actual statistics, but in my experience, hiring managers typically spend 1-2 minutes during the initial resume review.
      It’s a pure numbers thing – it’s not uncommon to have 20, 40, or 100 candidates for each open position. If I spend even a short 5-6 minutes reading all sorts of supplementary information, I would burn hours or even days doing nothing but comparing you against candidates.

      Reply
    3. Jessen

      I was thinking the same thing! I have an extremely common first and last name. I’m a young professional, and there are a number of people on google with my same name that have many more accomplishments than my entry-level 20-something self. A website with my name would simply not register until very far down.

      Reply
    4. Anonymous Educator

      I have a friend named Eugene Kim. I feel totally comfortable typing his name here, because you’ll never find him in a Google search. Also try Jennifer Lee or David Park. There are a whole host of names that doom you to obscurity (or bless you with obscurity, depending on what you’re looking for).

      Reply
  13. Old Grumpy Guy

    This “website” advice is also terrible because it includes (or offers to include) all sorts of demographic information about candidates as a first impression for which it is ILLEGAL to make hiring decisions based on, like race, age, and disability (to name a few).

    If cheesy and out-of-touch is not a good enough reason to be concerned, maybe you can point this out as well…

    Reply
    1. SarahTheEntwife

      Yeah, the picture especially — there are all sorts of really depressing studies on how more conventionally-attractive people get rated as more intelligent and otherwise hireable, and here you’re giving a hiring manager the opportunity to pass you by before they even get invested enough to offer you an interview. Is the school also offering professional photography, or are they expecting everyone to just have on hand a really slick professional-looking portrait?

      Reply
      1. JessaB

        Yeh, unless you’re in a country that routinely wants pictures on resumes (and that is very much not a North American country – I know US and Canada don’t and I’m pretty sure Mexico doesn’t either,) you’re going to get into issues just having the picture there. It can absolutely influence people.

        Heck they did tests where resumes were submitted (identically) with some labelled as women and some as men and some with names like Sam Smith and some with names like Shaniqua Shah. And they found out that with absolutely identical resumes, ones with names that appeared to be White Men, got hired above White Women, and anyone with an ethnic name regardless of gender.

        They even did a test with blind auditions at an orchestra and could not understand why they kept getting man after man when they were actively trying to diversify, and choose by actual skill. They found out that because of the semi formal dress, women were wearing heels, and they heard them on the floor. They had everyone audition without shoes, and lo and behold they got a tonne of women qualified candidates, the bias was that unconscious.

        So no, I would not like to present a website that gave out any information that could be used even in unconscious bias against me.

        Reply
        1. Old Grumpy Guy

          Exactly. We know bias – conscious and unconscious – is very real. Having your name on your resume is bad enough if it codes you. Now add: skin color, speech style or accent, gender expression, visible disabilities, age and more!

          If I am a hiring manager who actually cares to reduce or minimize bias from creeping into my process, I *don’t* want our initial encounter for sorting through candidates to add this info.

          Reply
      2. Myrin

        Yeah, that’s what I dislike about the hiring process in my country where providing a photo is normal and required. And I’ve honestly never found anyone who could give me a (good) reason for this convention – its negative effects do seem to outweigh the positive ones, if you ask me. I mean, it doesn’t even have to go into illegal or attractiveness territory, someone might just resemble the hiring manager’s horrible aunt Hermione and they’re already down in chances just because of how they look.

        Reply
      3. Jadelyn

        When I was first asked to start reviewing resumes, I was told point-blank to reject out of hand any resume that had a photo attached, regardless of qualifications. Because if we hired one person who had a photo attached, but don’t hire another who also attached a photo, then the one we didn’t hire can come back and say it was due to XYZ protected characteristics that were visible in their photo, and then it’s on us to demonstrate the actual job-based reasoning for rejection, which is a time-suck and a huge hassle. By treating it as a blanket disqualifier applied equally in all circumstances, we avoid appearance of bias, even though it might mean we miss out on otherwise-qualified candidates. It sucks, but there you go.

        Reply
    2. akcipitrokulo

      This is one of the reasons my company’s IT policy spacifically bans any searches for candidates (Linkedin excepted.)

      Reply
  14. writer

    Even if you were in an industry where a personal website was needed, the site your class wants you to create is horrible. A video? Academic writing? Personal interests? Nobody cares!

    Reply
    1. JessaB

      Exactly, you want your website to be relevant to the industry, and the way to do that, presuming you have the requisite experience to do so, you check the sites of people in your industry and you do something in that area. If they blog about things, you blog, if they do long drawn out reviews of various tempered vs un tempered chocolates by % of cacao beans from each location, then you do your own in depth testing of chocolate. You want to do whatever your industry norm is, including no site if that’s the norm (unless you actually have something amazing that would make you being an outlier a good thing.)

      Reply
  15. Mike C.

    * Three links to websites about your personal interests — we don’t care.

    Seriously, no one hiring me wants to hear what I have to say about fast cars or fountain pens.

    Reply
    1. Anna the Accounting Grad

      Or in my case, knitting and yarn. I’ve mentioned in passing “someone in my knitting group” to answer a behavioral question when I didn’t have a suitable work anecdote, but that’s it. If an employer wants to know more, all they have to do is ask!

      Reply
      1. J

        I once forced a co-worker to take a tour of Ravelry because it’s just a gorgeous hobby-based site. Really, I am hard-pressed to think of another hobby site that could outperform Rav.

        Now I wonder if I should put my Rav username on my resume…

        Reply
        1. Violet Fox

          Ravelry is an amazing site, but unless I am applying to work at a yarn store, yarn company, something related to spinning wheels or similar, I really doubt a future employer wants to know about all of the socks, shawls, gloves, mittens, and various stuffed toys I have made.

          Reply
    2. Kyrielle

      My incredible barrage of enthusiastic-amateur camera advice/information! (Or just links to my favorite sites.)

      When I am, professionally, a software engineer.

      Links to the cat rescue, or the local Japanese Garden, or poetry sites.

      Or, you know, go the other way and lie – links to all sorts of open-source projects (that I haven’t contributed to, but totally would, really, honestly, if only it weren’t *even more important* to me that I work for you…).

      …yeah, no.

      Reply
    3. akcipitrokulo

      Breastfeeding support, making wedding cakes and pretending to be a vampire at the weekend… all relevant to how I perform as a QA Analyst ;)

      Reply
  16. BBBizAnalyst

    I hate advice like this because it’s dangerous to students who aren’t familiar with hiring practices and don’t come from privileged backgrounds. My alma mater does the same with antiquated ideas like calling the hiring manager after submitting an application to show persistence. I feel so terribly for the kids who are looking to get jobs with this misguided advice.

    Reply
  17. Amber

    As a professional artist, I have an online portfolio which includes my resume. But if I wasn’t an artist, I couldn’t have one, that’s what LinkedIn is for. However on my portfolio, I don’t have my picture (since people are often unconsciously biased, my pic doesn’t add anything. I don’t have a downloadable resume because at best the person looking will skim my resume page and if they want one and don’t already have one then they will simply ask for me to send them one.

    Reply
  18. Andrea

    LinkedIn is already a thing. The class could encourage the students to set up a decent profile there rather than create a site that will not be useful at all.

    Reply
    1. Kira

      Maybe the professor doesn’t like LinkedIn because it’s an evil social media site? It’s unlikely, I know, but I really have met people who think all these “new social media” sites are horrible and only good for bullying.

      Reply
    2. KR

      That’s what my tech school did and I think they did it really well. They had a class that you had to take your first semester where people in the field that hired in our state would come present on what they did, what their job was like, and what they look for in new hires. They had us build a resume, interview someone who was in our field and present it to our group (which we had to dress nicely for like we were going to an interview), and go tour a business that hired people with our degree. They also strongly encouraged everyone to make a Linked-In profile, join the networking group for the degree program and follow/connect with companies that we encountered. It was really cool because all of the businesses that presented or we toured were businesses that actively offered internships or hired people with our degree and major and we heard from actual people that were doing the hiring versus the college career center.

      Reply
      1. animaniactoo

        This is actually the reason I have a LinkedIn profile at all (it needs serious work if I were to start jobhunting). A co-worker was taking a tech/programming/web class, and one of the things that she had to do was create a LinkedIn profile. She needed real-life connections for it to be considered “complete”, so she had to get people who knew her to create an account so that she could connect with them. IIRC she had to get 20 connections.

        Reply
    3. Interplanet Janet

      This this this! Establish a good profile on the site, and use it as a baseline for continuing updates as one’s career progresses.

      Reply
    4. Naomi

      Exactly. This is also how you demonstrate you are ‘comfortable with new technology’ – you know how LinkedIn works, and you can use it.

      Having a good LinkedIn profile, some guest posts on industry blogs, and if you have the time a twitter profile with updates about your work and industry goes much further to show comfort with technology than a personal website or blog. My old boss used to say this was taking the party to where the people are already, don’t try and start your own party off down the street.

      Reply
    5. JohnJ

      Just what I was going to say. Far better to inform student how to create/maintain a good LinkedIn presence. Include advice on profile building, suggestions for groups to follow, and etiquette for making connections.

      I’d add to that a lesson on how to lock down non-professional social media accounts (facebook, etc.) to restrict what potential employers who do search you out might find. Stress the potential for discrimination to occur, both intentional and unintentional.

      As a hiring manager I review candidate LI profiles but don’t otherwise search them out. I’m not sure what HR is doing.

      Reply
    6. Beckie

      I agree that making a good LinkedIn profile is probably the best use of the students’ time. That said, I have a relatively uncommon name, and for a long time a google search of my name turned up a very unflattering news story featuring someone else with the same name (and close in age, too, so it wasn’t immediately obvious that it wasn’t me). Creating a firstnamelastname.com webpage, at which I did some minor blogging and made sure to link to with my name from elsewhere, really made a huge difference in my search results. (And I’ve had multiple interviews at which someone confirmed that they did a google search on me beforehand.)

      Reply
      1. Kyrielle

        And yours is the circumstance in which that sort of personal website makes total sense. Not a “Google Ghost” (who’s basically fine, as long as they don’t mind it), or someone like me (so many hits it’s ridiculous, but the top one is a furniture company, and there’s also a public relations specialist and an author, and it’s obvious from the images that there are at least 8 different people being hit just in the first blush of search results). We’re fine; someone will Google us, and either find nothing interesting, or find such a mish-mash that it’s clear they can’t assume any one of those is us.

        But yeah, if it’s going to pull down a top or main story, among a relative few, that’s unflattering, and especially if it’s possible that someone might believe it actually is about you – then it’s worth the effort to shove that down a bit in the results, IMO.

        Reply
    7. OP (but not POP!)

      We had to create a LinkedIn profile in a “Professional Development” course that also included such gems as “Always wear clean clothes to work,” and “Shower every day.” Seriously.

      We were required to upload a photo of ourselves to our LinkedIn profile, but I have an ex who can turn mean whenever a photo of me shows up on the internet. In this case, the professor let me use a personal logo I created. She decided that “uploading a photo” was the real requirement of the assignment, not “photo of yourself”.

      But, so, yeah. . . we already have a LinkedIn profile. We also already have a resume, and we’ve written at least one targeted cover letter in previous classes. (And, btw, the advice on the resume* and cover letters matches AAM’s perfectly. Which is why this online website thing is so out of left field).

      *Up until now, I’ve been told it’s OK to have a resume longer than one page if you’re someone like me with decades of work experience. This current website assignment is the only time a professor has refused to let the resume be anything but a standard one-pager. . . with academic stuff (class work plus campus org involvement) being featured over actual work experience. AAUUGGHHH!!!

      Reply
  19. EddieSherbert

    Maybe it’s one of those “the slightly out-of-touch people running the school decided this is important for everyone” things?

    At my university, everyone had to do a big research project (the senior thesis or capstone) senior year. For my major, the professors flat out told us wasn’t really relevant since not a single one of us was planning on more school or going into research… but that it was expected for all students in all areas at our university (which had a high number of medical students continuing on for more school) so we could all present them at this big event at the end of the year and the university would look good.

    Reply
  20. Petri Dish

    I did an online portfolio that was something like this 15+ years ago as an undergrad, however it was in an elective class where we were learning HTML (HTML was a THING back then, in in we were actually writing HTML and making pages from scratch), which was the main point of the exercise. Also most people at my school are going into a very specific range of fields where having such a portfolio wouldn’t be out of line (think academia for some). There were no accounting or business majors at my undergrad school and almost none of the alums has an office job, so yeah I agree with OP that this is ridiculous for their situation.

    Reply
  21. Lora

    Minus the video pitch, my undergrad had us do this…in 1995. Because we had to learn how to write in HTML, because that was the cool thing to do in Clinton’s first term. *eyeroll*

    Things have changed a bit since then. I’m just saying. Although I would be highly, highly tempted to make a page offline that you can delete, and Blingee the crap out of it with sparkles, butterflies, etc. and links to Twilight fanfic. Make sure you have a MIDI song playing incessantly in the background. Have some Photoshop fun with your own picture, make yourself riding a dinosaur with your celebrity of choice, post some original LOLcats. Link to some archived Usenet posts…

    I was going to say, the only thing I want to see EVER is a synopsis on LinkedIn, and really students should work on scrubbing their social media profiles to remove any shenanigans, but then I realized that no, if I forget in a few years who Brock Turner is, and he (or someone like him, sadly there are lots) applies for a job at my company, I want a convenient reminder why we don’t want to hire him. See: Martin Shkreli. Whoever hired that guy didn’t look at the dude’s Twitter.

    Reply
      1. halpful

        I actually saved the midi music from my favourite websites somewhere in a backup of a backup… but last time I tried to play them, I ran into a big pile of trouble; it seems this was a hardware/driver thing back then, and now it’d have to be emulated in software, but there were multiple standards or something and hardly anyone cares any more, so I think I eventually forgot about it…

        I miss those songs. I still remember large fragments of several of them. :)

        Reply
    1. Nanani

      Twilight is too recent. If you go this route, go for something 90s, like Buffy :D
      (I made those sites too. At age 15. On Geocities.)

      Reply
  22. Master Bean Counter

    OP, well you have your first link now….

    If I squint and turn my head sideways I can see how this might be relevant if it’s directed towards people that have really bad judgement, post multiple drunken videos and pictures of themselves, and have never ever worked.

    Honestly, just do the assignment, then take it down. But please make your links come back to this page!

    Reply
    1. JMegan

      You should *absolutely* make one of your “personal interest” links go to this letter, and the comments.

      I mean, it’s probably really bad advice. (Okay, it’s definitely really bad advice. But then the assignment itself is also giving bad advice, so there’s that.) But it’s fun to imagine!

      Reply
      1. Master Bean Counter

        At the very least link the site itself, if not this post.
        It shows the OP is very interested in professional development.
        Maybe the professor will learn something while they check out the link.

        Reply
    2. OP (but not POP!)

      I think I can just about promise that I will, indeed, do this. If not to this very page, then to the site in general. But my explanation for why I included it will include something about how this site is very relevant to soon-to-be graduates, especially in regards to what information hiring managers want to see. ;-)

      Reply
  23. LadyCop

    OP…I can’t describe the disgusted, painful moan at the acronym POP. And, “Fluffernella Pastiwich” omfg you’re awesome! My 22 year old self would have been physically angry at an assignment like this… let alone my 30 year old self. Lol

    Reply
    1. OP (but not POP!)

      LOL! Thank you, LadyCop, motherofdragons, and Ginger HR. I have no idea where that name came from. I was ranting and on a roll, and it just appeared on the screen. :-)

      I may have to change the alias I normally use here to it.

      Reply
  24. Always Anon

    This is a huge problem with academia in general.

    It’s the blind leading the blind. I know too many academics who have never held a professional job outside of academia (or not a professional job outside of academia for a solid decade or two), and who have decided how hiring and professional world should operate, but don’t actually know how that world operates. I think it’s in large part why so many new graduates struggle with navigating the work world. They’ve been set-up to fail. Not only about how to approach employment, but how to deal with issue that occur while employed.

    Reply
    1. Kai

      Yep!

      My dad has been in academia basically his entire career. When I started working full time at 9-to-5 type jobs, there were aspects of it that bewildered him. No, Dad, I don’t get a month off in the winter and possibly several months in the summer anymore. Sorry :)

      Reply
  25. Former Computer Professional

    There used to be a website that hosted resumes. (There may still be one, but I’m thinking of the one I used. :-) I liked it because it let you input the resume in whatever format and then download it in a bunch of other formats — text, PDF, Word, etc.

    I -always- sent in the resume in whatever format was requested, but at the bottom, my resume said, “This resume is available in different formats at [URL].”

    I don’t think it hurt, and IIRC it was useful in cases where HR wanted Word but the hiring manager preferred PDF.

    Reply
    1. Jadelyn

      As long as you don’t send it in .pages format (unless you know for 110% sure that the person receiving is using a Mac of some kind!) – I get so annoyed at candidates who did their resume in Apple Pages app and then send me that. I’m on Windows, I can’t open it unless I mess around with converting it and whatnot, and when you’re up against several dozen other resumes I can open without any fuss…this does not improve your odds of even having your resume seen, much less moved forward.

      Reply
  26. Anon367

    I have a really common name. So common that TSA needs my age and/or middle name to let me print out a flight ticket. Until I do something absolutely amazing, in which case I won’t be job searching again ever, my name won’t appear on search results. Does that make a “google ghost” according to this LW’s college? I can only hope that employers will guess that the inappropriate photos and arrests that show up aren’t me, but there’s really no way around it.

    Reply
  27. Trout 'Waver

    Two comments. As a hiring manager, I would have a worse impression of a candidate that did this type of website than one who did not. It just seems unprofessional. To any curriculum designers reading these comments, add me to that pile.

    Second, I would view being a ‘google ghost’ a positive thing. We work trade secrets every day and meet with vendors and customers who try to pry those trade secrets out. Being a ‘google ghost’ would be an asset because it shows discretion and professionalism.

    Reply
    1. Heather Collier

      I’d add a third (as someone who is a hiring manager). I don’t freaking Google people! I 100% do not care what you do on your weekends and I don’t have that kind of time. Good lord, how many hiring managers are actually out there Googling everyone they get a resume from?!

      Reply
      1. Anon law firm hiring

        Anon for this one. Law firm hiring committee. Everyone who gets an interview (staff and attorneys) is googled before getting the interview call. They consider it basic due diligence. They really just want to make sure you haven’t made the news for something embarrassing. We still hire people even if they aren’t 100% discreet online. One of our best assistants had a Twitter photo of herself splayed out in a biking on a sports racing motorcycle. She still got the job. (And no, the photo did not help. We decided not to let it hurt though.)

        Reply
    2. Anxa

      That’s so great to hear. I don’t have an active linkedin for a myriad of reasons and I worry it’s why I don’t have a full-time job yet.

      I’ve worked on several successful social media campaigns and studied policy regarding it (which by now is completely outdated), but I’m not personally a fan.

      You’d be amazed at how many people assume that being good at social media is all about how many people follow you. I suppose the eyes are the most important thing for many roles, but in some cases it takes more skill or insight to keep a lower profile than a higher one.

      Reply
  28. Maria

    This advice reads like it was written by someone with a lot of book knowledge but no common sense. There are plenty of good reasons for someone to want to avoid creating an online presence. I’m too old to have been asked to do this during college, but I’d love to know what this university would have said to me if I were in this position.

    “I’m engaged to someone who works in law enforcement. Being a Google Ghost, as you call it, is essential to our safety.”

    Reply
  29. JMegan

    I feel obliged to point out that if your prospective employer is the government, they WILL NOT Google your name, as they are not allowed to make interviewing decisions on anything other than your cover letter and resume.

    I know this class is targeting business students, so many of them may not be applying for government jobs, but you never know. You can’t just make blanket statements like that, because there are too many variables in the process.

    Reply
  30. BananaPants

    I agree that this is super-bad advice. When I’m helping with hiring, this sort of portfolio is laughably silly for a new grad who isn’t in a creative field where a portfolio of work is essential.

    I had to create a website for grad school (at my previous institution) where a specific professor required students to create a page for each course and post project reports and things of that nature. 99% of students killed the site as soon as they graduated, myself included.

    That said, I’d suck it up and make the stupid site to get the grade, then delete it once the semester is over or the day you graduate – whichever is more appropriate. There are ways to prevent Google and other search engines from indexing a website, which should help avoid it showing up if one’s name is Googled.

    Reply
  31. Drama Llama's Mama

    This project seems very off to me. If I google my (relatively uncommon, I think) name, I get links to a Canadian professor and a bunch of genealogy sites/obituaries. If you are super careful, you can see a link on page 4 to an amalgamation of my 5K/10K road race results, but it’s just the one link. For all intents and purposes, I am a “google ghost”, which is fine by me. I have a FaceBook page, which is pretty locked down, and a LinkedIn profile, which is more public when I am job searching and more private when I am not.

    In my job, anything I might post in a “portfolio of work examples” belongs to my current or past employers, I would not be within my rights to publish it anyway, and I can’t see how any hiring manager would need to know that I’ve run 9 marathons or that I enjoy musical theater. If they are truly interested, my LinkedIn profile is updated with “Causes you care about” and “Organizations you support”. If I ever published anything substantial, I’d include that there as well. Nobody cares about papers I wrote for Grad School (15+ years ago), I was young and had immature, grandiose, black-and-white views of concepts that I’d treat with more nuance now.

    Even for a recent college graduate looking to beef up or back up a resume, this seems like a poor way to go about it. The entry-level positions I applied for never wanted or needed anything more than the cover letter, resume, and interview.

    Reply
  32. Ruthie

    If you’re uncomfortable with this potentially appearing in the Google results for your name, there are ways to ensure your page is ignored by search engines. Without knowing how you plan to create the page, I unfortunately can’t give much useful advice on how to do it within that specific platform, but what you’ll want to do is look for how to set your “robots” to “noindex” and “nofollow.” Or just search something like “Squarespace no index” or “WordPress no index.” Hope this helps!

    Reply
      1. OP (but not POP!)

        Thank you, both Ruthie and Cat Steals Keyboard! That helps allay my fears that for the few minutes my site is “live” some robot will capture it. Nice to know there’s a fix for that.

        Reply
  33. Chalupa Batman

    I had an assignment where we had to create a live Blogspot page on the subject of our course with a group, and the course name, number, and institution were included in the header (it’s nothing I’m embarrassed to have as part of my internet footprint, but only marginally relevant to what I actually do for paid work). If you’re required to leave this ridiculousness live for a length of time, maybe adding that info in a way that makes it more clear that this is an assignment until you can shut it down?

    Reply
  34. Artemesia

    Please dear god, no video — there is nothing worse than having to sit through something in real time that contains info I could skim in 30 seconds. I didn’t even sit through a two hour video a grad student did of me in an international consulting situation — me interviewing, presenting, facilitating. It was ME — the most interesting person on earth to ME — and I couldn’t sit through this carp in real time. Never video unless it is specifically requested for something where it is a way to screen for presentation skills or something.

    Reply
  35. Meg Murry

    I noticed the OP said she has 20+ years of experience. OP, are you currently employed while taking classes toward your degree, or are you a full-time student? If you are currently employed, that sounds like a great way to (partially) get out of this. Doubly so if your employer is paying for any part of your degree. Go to office hours, and explain to the professor that you are a non-traditional student who is currently employed, and you don’t want to make a publicly accessible site that could lead your employer to think you are job searching when you are not. Then offer to turn the assignment in on a flash drive instead of making a live website.

    Honestly, if you don’t already have a social media presence, I think you could also make the case that actually, you *want* to be a “Google Ghost” and you aren’t comfortable putting out a website with your full name, photo and other personal information like your address or email address. I don’t see how a college could force a student to do that if they aren’t comfortable with it.

    Does it seem like your professors were the ones that actually developed this assignment, or is this something that was created at one point and then whoever is assigned to teach this course is stuck with this assignment? I think it would make a big difference in how you approach this if this is the professor’s personal “brilliant idea” or if this is something that was just on the syllabus that the instructor is required to teach.

    Reply
    1. Anxa

      You would think that a similar argument could also help more traditional students? One of my college jobs required a lot of communication work and group promotion and advertising and the other required being pretty stealthy. I would not have wanted this posted before graduation! It would have seriously affected my jobs.

      Reply
    2. OP (but not POP!)

      I’m a full-time student. But, as I said above, I have an ex who gets riled up whenever anything about me shows up on the internet, especially if pictures of me are involved. (Holy h*ll, I can’t imagine what he’d do if he found the intro video I have to create!). But the professor’s workaround is for me to keep the site set to “private” until the very moment she grades it, then I’ll unlock it for a few minutes.

      And it’s something that came from higher up than this one professor. I don’t know if all the BCOM profs got together and created it, or it’s something the Dean thought would be a fabulously hip idea, or what. But I do know that all the Advanced BCOM classes have this component, regardless of who is teaching it.

      I’m thrilled with being a Google Ghost. I do have a LinkedIn profile, but it doesn’t include a photo of me.

      Reply
      1. Random Citizen

        Could you build the website (with video and what-all) and send it to your professor in a zip file or flash drive, etc., and then create one or two pages of innocuous fictional content to demonstrate uploading to a server, if that part matters to your professor? The video freaks me out on your behalf, even with the locking and unlocking – at the very least, can you tell her you can’t put your real name on the live version, no matter how locked down it is?

        Reply
        1. OP (but not POP!)

          I will definitely ask. She already knows I plan to delete the site as soon as she grades it, so she knows I’ll never use it in real life. Hopefully it won’t matter if I use a fictitious name. Because that’s a great way to do the assignment in its entirety, yet still keep me safe.

          Reply
          1. Random Citizen

            Yeah, if it’s not your name, and you’re not naming anyone/thing your ex might search for, then anyone looking for you would have to somehow find a site that was up for a couple of hours at the most, without your name on it, which seems reasonably safe. If your video and picture could not be on the actual site as well, that would be even better, obviously, but putting a fake name on it is a really reasonable request. Hopefully she’ll be understanding about the situation once you explain it so that you can protect yourself.

            Reply
  36. Thermal Teapot Researcher

    I have a website like that, and it has been very helpful to me in my carrier (physics). The reason why is a bit subjective: I have a VERY common name, and having a website that is essentially http://www.MYNAME.com has helped insure that I don’t get mistaken for someone else. When you google my name, which all of my past employers have admitted to doing, my website is the top site listed.
    Having said that, I don’t have a video introduction, but I do have a copy of my CV, links to papers that I wrote, and some information about my current research. The site was never really meant to be something that employers would use as a deciding factor, but more to ensure that I’m not mistaken for someone who, say, was in the news for grand theft auto and also happens to live in the same city as I do.

    Reply
  37. MommaTRex

    I like to think that accountants aren’t the stereotype: all stuffy and unwilling to roll with the times. However, in this instance I’m happy to say that every accountant I know wants to see a regular resume and cover letter, telling us why your experience would be great for the job you are applying for. That’s pretty much it. End of story. Well, might get wild and crazy and Google you (more likely do a real background check) to make sure you aren’t wanted for embezzlement somewhere. Hopefully, most who come across your personal webpage (is this the 80s/90s?) will say, “I bet the OP had to do this as an assignment. But their experience is good enough that we don’t care.”

    Reply
  38. Callie

    I’m in education and I hate this.

    It’s the trend now for ed schools to make their students purchase an account on a service like tk20, LiveText, Chalk & Wire, etc. so that the school can keep track of licensure requirements and things like edTPA. These services try to market themselves to students by telling them they can create a portfoilo for job searching, and they can put video of themselves teaching to show future employers, etc. This is bull. First of all, many states have common applications for the whole state and all the districts in the state use this application, and there’s nowhere to submit a portfolio link. Second, you can’t put up video on the internet/publicly accesible of yourself teaching kids–it violates the kids’ privacy rights! If the districts want a demo of your teaching, they’ll have you teach THEIR kids during the interview process, or ask you to submit a video privately. This website stuff is annoying. Should you have a professional website? Yeah, sure. Should it be what universities think it should be? No.

    Reply
    1. Stan

      I was finishing my ed degree just as these things were emerging. It cost a small fortune and was only good for 5 years (which gave most people of 1 semester post-graduation of accessibility w/o having to pay again). It was also difficult to use and was not (at the time) web-based. The idea was that you would burn it on a disc or hand out flash drives with your portfolio on it. At least a quarter of my cohort “completed” all of the requirements by uploading documents full of gibberish and blaming it on the technology. Since no one in administration actually understood the technology, it led to a quick death of the requirement for a digital portfolio.

      Reply
  39. I'm not a lawyer, but ...

    Sort of reminds me of a friends mother (who is afraid of computers) who told her granddaughter that she only had to use her computer once to write something like “that something-book thing on the internet” and then she wouldn’t have to work again. You know, because it must be easy. Maybe grandma works in academia. Smh.

    Reply
  40. Norman

    Both the letter and the response ignore the school’s main argument: this is better than whatever they think a google search will turn up for their students. This argument has its own flaws–those include one point AAM makes (it’s really not that good), but ignores the main point: this will probably not be anywhere near your top Google hit unless you do some pretty good SEO work on it.

    Reply
    1. OP (but not POP!)

      Alas, our instructors encourage us to put the link to our personal website on both our resume and our LinkedIn profile. And, heck, it couldn’t hurt to email it to the hiring manager, too!

      So, yeah, the Google Ghost comment is illogical because the site wouldn’t show up in a search, but we are actively encouraged to share the site with potential employers.

      Reply
  41. Katie

    LW, if this is a requirement for graduation or is graded in any way, this could be violating FERPA (the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act). As a student, you have the right to decide who gets to see your educational records, and a university forcing you to make them public is against federal law. Maybe as a compromise you could ask to create a website that is not indexed by search engines and/or is password protected – you can tell them that you will share the password with potential employers and then… just never do that.

    Reply
  42. Katie the Senual Wristed Fed

    And for the love of pete, do NOT include a freaking QR link to your personal webpage.

    It looks like you’re trying way too hard to be hip/modern/technologically advanced with no thought to whether or not it’s appropriate.

    Reply
      1. animaniactoo

        THEN WHY AM I NOT ALLOWED TO TAKE THEM OFF MY PACKAGING YET?

        (pardon me, irrelevant rant against wasting the real estate…)

        Reply
          1. animaniactoo

            Thank you. I cannot begin to describe how hard I just laughed at that. I’ll have to share it with my product line manager who just had to go through the last round of regulation changes with me and update all the templates again. I’m sure she’ll laugh her ass off.

            Reply
      2. LBK

        It’s weird to me how they’ve sort of maintained a lukewarm presence in the tech world for so long. They never totally caught on, and yet for some reason they haven’t completely died off yet either. I still see posters and packaging with them all the time, but I can’t tell you the last time I scanned one, and I’d bet money that not a single one of my friends has a QR scanner app installed on their phone right now.

        Reply
        1. Rana

          I mostly see them on real estate signs and window ads. There, it sort of makes sense to me, because you encounter them only when you are out wandering around with your phone, and you want access to the website right at that moment. But they are stupid to me unless those two conditions are met.

          Reply
  43. Sibley

    There is actually an old porn star that has a very similar name to me. As in, if you google my name, 1-2 links on the page will be that porn star. Hasn’t hurt me yet, and no one has ever asked about it.

    Then there’s the soccer player on the other side of the world with the same name as me. I do not play soccer. Again, no one has asked.

    Reply
  44. Cat Steals Keyboard

    Since getting married I’m a Google ghost and it’s a good thing. Search for me and all you find that’s actually me is my LinkedIn page – no irrelevant clutter.

    Reply
  45. James

    I’m going to run against the stream here: I think this is a good thing, and probably only going to become more necessary. I don’t think it’s implemented well, but I think the concept isn’t bad.

    We are becoming increasingly present on the web, and that runs risks. A 12 year old can create a website, and many do. Think back on yourself at 12. Do you REALLY want someone to put your name into Google and have THAT pop up? Or, do you want a Facebook/Twitter/Tumbler/blog you made being the first result, including all the pictures of your 21st birthday, that trip to Vegas, or the argument you had with your sister about who got invited to your cousin’s wedding? Worse, do you want a FRIEND’S blog/Tumbler/whatever–which you have no control over–to be the first hit? These are college students. I remember college. While I’m not ashamed of anything I did, I still don’t want the photos of my friends’ 21st birthday parties featuring prominently in any web search for my name.

    A certain amount of web hygiene is a good thing. Creating a professional website that lists accomplishments, some interests, and a few well-chosen photos demonstrates that you can produce good work and take care of yourself without sacrificing your humanity. It presents an opportunity for you to show the business side of yourself, and not just (as the web tends to do) the worst side of yourself.

    The point isn’t–or at least shouldn’t be–to present this to hiring managers and say “Instead of what you asked for, here’s this.” Rather, the point should be to recognize that any manager not running a Google search for you this day and age isn’t doing their due diligence, and acknowledging that YOU want to be in control of your web presence. The point isn’t to make it stellar; the point is to not suck–to give them something that is truthful but oriented specifically towards business.

    We are at a weird time with the web. It’s a vast communications network that we have not yet figured out as a society how to handle. Social norms are in flux. A lot of people put too much out there, and get burned badly for it. But in their defense, no one knew that it was a bad idea 20 years ago, and frankly kids do stupid things (out of ignorance–they’re trying to figure things out, and errors are inevitable), and we haven’t fully figured out how to handle that stuff yet. This looks like an attempt to do just that.

    Again, the implementation is horrible, yes. But the IDEA, I think, is a very good step towards developing a set of cultural norms for using the web. It helps set up the expectation that people will have a professional website for business purposes, and then some stuff for private purposes, just like they have resumes for business purposes and private correspondence for private purposes. I’m not sure if it’ll take or not, but it’s definitely an interesting idea worth considering. And even if it fails, it gives these kids a place to store this information that they’re comfortable with. Have a master resume you update periodically, a place to put publications in case someone asks for them (not an uncommon thing if you publish in peer-reviewed literature), and teach them how to discuss hobbies as professionals.

    So while I agree the concept needs to be developed to actually work in the real world, I do think they’re onto something very good for these kids here. Definitely not something to be dismissed out of hand.

    Reply
    1. animaniactoo

      I disagree that they’re onto *anything* good for the students.

      Here’s why – they’re brute forcing a tool to fix something when it may not be the best way or even a good way *at all* to address the issue, rather than creating the critical thinking path to figuring out what needs to be done to resolve what is actually happening.

      Business-side presentation? As others have mentioned, there’s already LinkedIn for that.

      But to address your point about web presence, a far better exercise would be forcing them to figure out what their web presence *is*, and how to clean it up. Towards that, step one would be “Google yourself and show screen captures of what your Google presence looks like”. Step 2 would be “which of these things do you think is a problem for a potential employer to be seeing? Why?. Step 3 would be addressing ways in which you can remediate that. Is it privacy settings? Removing tags? Is it disabling that first website from when you were 12? Is it creating a personal business site now? How about a blog where you discuss profession-relevant stuff? Is it making a point to comment on certain kinds of articles? Is it using aliases when commenting or posting elsewhere?

      There are a myriad of tools to address one’s online presence. Trying to force one that can leave those party pictures on page 2 or 3 and easily findable is not a useful exercise at all. It’s actually a very bad step imo in terms of thinking realistically about what the problem actually is and how to solve it.

      Reply
    2. Trout 'Waver

      “Rather, the point should be to recognize that any manager not running a Google search for you this day and age isn’t doing their due diligence”

      What??? An actual background check and everify will pick up any red flags. And due diligence is done in the interview stage. With Google, it can be difficult to be sure you even have the right person, let alone that the information is accurate and unbiased.

      Reply
      1. James

        A web search, then; sorry, I used a colloquialism. Still, I’ve heard of people doing web searches often enough that I’ve come to expect it. We may work in different industries, which is a factor.

        I get that it can be hard to find the right person–I have a family name, and we’ve gotten in trouble repeatedly for people not reading middle initials. But those same issues apply to any background check you want to name outside of those that involve social security numbers.

        Reply
      2. Beckie

        Many places do a quick google search before a background check, or instead of a background check. A typical strategy is to do the google search before the interviews, and the background check right before making the offer. Other positions don’t require a background check (e.g. my workplace only requires a background check if you’ll be handling sensitive data such as SSNs), and so they do a web search instead.

        This has been my experience in both higher ed and in the biotech sector.

        Reply
    3. LBK

      The web really isn’t that new anymore. Facebook has been open to non-college students for a decade now, LiveJournal’s been around for a decade and a half, and so on. There’s been plenty of time for people’s potentially embarrassing early web presence to circle around and hurt their professional reputation and it doesn’t seem to be happening with any sort of worrisome frequency – if anything, I think people are much more likely to be harmed by what they’re actively posting today than by anything sitting around on a defunct MySpace page.

      If you have specific concerns about the way you show up on Google (like the letter writer who shared a name with a porn star), then taking active steps to adjust your web presence is worthwhile. In my case there’s a bajillion other people with my name and you get a random assortment of them if you Google me, so there’s really no reason for me to put time or energy into this when no hiring manager is ever going to find me.

      Reply
      1. James

        “New” in terms of communication. What was the last communication revolution? Movies? Multiple generations ago. Same with TV. Radio? It started even further back. And none of those were open to individuals (outside of HAM radio and CB, which have developed their own social norms over the past three or four generations). The printing press is a better analogy, and the cost of entry was still higher. It’s somewhat amusing to read what Virgil, Cicero, Francis Bacon, and the like said about technological changes in their day–and then what later generations said about the changes.

        Facebook has been open to non-college students for a decade. That’s ten years. People can’t do much with them until they can read/write, so say six years old (this will be abnormally early, but it’s the earliest possible). That means that the generation that grew up with Facebook is 16. Plus or minus a bit, sure, but still–mid to late teens. Older people simply didn’t have access to that technology earlier in life. And that matters, sociologically and anthropologically speaking.

        From an anthropological perspective, and from the perspective of developing social norms, until a technology has been around for a generation or two it’s still new. The people who grew up immersed in the technology are the ones who are going to make the final norms, ones stable in the long-term. Those of us who spent much (most) of our lives without these technologies will make rules that will, in retrospect, be seen as ad-hoc ways of trying to make the new technology operate like the old. I don’t say this as an insult to anyone here; it’s what’s seen again and again in history. We don’t make the same assumptions as people who grew up immersed in this technology.

        I’ll grant I’m not taking this from the perspective of “How would a manager view things today?” but I think this is something important to keep in mind. We’re in the middle of a massive change. And that means that we don’t know what we’re doing yet.

        Reply
        1. LBK

          I think technology moves and changes far more rapidly these days than the timelines you’re assigning here; it’s more likely that in another generation or two, Facebook and Twitter will have completely died off and no one will even care what was posted there anymore, just like I don’t think anyone is looking at anyone’s MySpace anymore. Indeed, Facebook has already lost a lot of steam with the teenage demographic you cite as a lot of them see it as something their parents do. I think your methodology for determining who “grew up with” Facebook is too literal, as I would say the age range that’s most comfortable with it and sees it as most ubiquitous are the people who were already teenagers when it came out – so people who are now in their 20s and 30s and are therefore an excellent test case for seeing how social media presence affects your ability to establish a professional reputation.

          I really don’t think you can analyze this the same way you’d analyze previous anthropological trends because, as I said, it just moves too fast. If you’d tried to determine how MySpace would play a role in the future of communication 15 years ago in its heyday, you’d likely have been completely wrong. All this to say, I think the days of older generations trying to design new social norms around these technologies are dead, because all too often they’re too late to the party. I just can’t see any way that the generation that’s closer to exiting the workplace will be the ones who shape the future of what social media and web presence look like as they relate to your career – it will be the people who have lived in these technologies for the majority of their lives who organically create the expectations, and thus far there doesn’t seem to be any evidence that those expectations will be changing. All signs point to the trend remaining “keep your web presence as locked down as possible”.

          Reply
  46. akcipitrokulo

    Which is one of the reasons my company, in its IT policy, specifically bans any online searches if any job candidate. (Linkedin is excepted as it is designed to support careers, and people post there with the expecation it will be used in jov searches.)

    Mainly, they don’t think its ethical, but there is also a strong desire to remove any suggestion of having been influenced inappropriately.

    Reply
  47. Marcia Wiesner

    I remember working in a University admissions office where they removed the pictures applying students sent so there was less chance that racial or ethnic bias would enter into decisions. Wouldn’t requiring students to put up pictures and videos get into the same territory?

    Reply
  48. A Good Jess

    I have been there done that– my degree was in a field where a portfolio site is generally a good thing, but the way this school did it was tied to some sort of accreditation standards for the school itself as opposed to what would actually be useful for students seeking jobs in the field.

    OP, I doubt forwarding this column or boycotting will accomplish your immediate goals of passing this class while also not putting a stupid site out there… here is Plan B.

    Create your site using Google Sites. You can then lock down privacy to “anyone who has the link.” That way you’re covered for your professor/grader, and also covered if you’re required to peer review your classmates’ sites.
    I think you can also keep the site out of searches as well.

    (If your school is on Google Apps you can lock it down to “anyone in my organization” but that backfired against me when the professor wasn’t signed into her school Google account and couldn’t get to my site.)

    Submit your link, get your grade, then take it down as soon as the course is over.

    I strongly advise you to NOT forward this column or any other negative feedback about this assignment until the course is over. Don’t risk your grade. Save your objections for the course evaluation.

    Reply
  49. art_ticulate

    Stuff like this is why students sue their schools later because they can’t find a job.

    Hyperbole, but you get what I mean. Bad advice is so harmful, especially for students who don’t know any better. Then they wonder why no one’s giving them a second look.

    Also, you’re not going to attract good students to your program if word gets out that it’s out of touch.

    Reply
  50. Student

    Tell your HR class person that this material perpetuates and encourages discrimination based on protected classes – because it does. Go look up one or two of the studies on sending out resumes with photos and the terrible return rate on identical resumes when associated with women/minorities/people less “classically aesthetic”. The video, the head shots – you don’t want those at the resume stage because they will get you screened out more often if you are not an attractive young white man. That’s not even getting around to age discrimination or disability discrimination.

    Suggest instead that the class practice writing good, targeted resumes to job ads and compelling cover letters.

    Reply
  51. Stranger than fiction

    Hey Op, I can one-up you here. My coworker was recently telling me their junior in high school son had to create his own website for applying to colleges! The same general theory, so they can stand out and the colleges cn see who they really are. So the “branding” is being encouraged much earlier in some places. Ugh.

    Reply
  52. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)

    Setting aside that this particular website is going to be bad — the picture, the video, the hobby links, whatever — do we think that having a personal professional website is inherently silly?

    I’ve seen some (for non-design, non-communications folks) that I thought were useful, and I’ve wondered about making one for myself (I actually did, two job searches ago, but I never made it public because I was too lazy to do much with it). The good ones I’ve seen have worked in the sense that they told the story of who the person is and what the work is more completely than their resume alone did. So, I’ve seen them include things like: preferred pronouns; links to examples of existing work (a conference talk, the website of a program the person ran, etc.); a couple of paragraphs describing the arc of a person’s career; links to a blog or twitter (in cases where one’s twitter is work-relevant or appropriate); etc.

    Thoughts?

    Reply
    1. OP (but not POP!)

      I’ve only worked in tech sales, and now I’m in school to be an accountant. I can’t see a personal professional website working for a sales career, because all the things you’d want to highlight are all things that should be on a resume and LinkedIn anyway.

      I guess I could only see it working for independent consultants and the like. Because a public accountant / auditor at the Big Four would pretty much be regurgitating their resume, as would an internal accountant. (“Started at X position, promoted to Y, coordinated a big project with Z. . .”). But a CPA who wanted to hang out their own shingle would need a website *because they’re promoting their small business*. I don’t really see a website working for regular employees.

      Reply
  53. JoJo

    I had to do a similar thing three years ago when I decided to finish up a degree. It was the main portion of my grade. I felt it was ridiculous and intrusive to put so much information on the internet. I took off everything but the resume when the class was over.

    Reply
  54. Newbie Librarian

    I had to take a course like this for grad school, as a required part of finishing my degree. Honestly, it’s the only setting I’ve seen something like this in, and most students know it’s not actually for future jobs, it’s more for a summary of your grad school career and how you’ve grown as a professional over the course of your time there.

    Reply
    1. OP (but not POP!)

      Maybe at the grad level it’s known that it’s ridiculous. But I’ve talked to a couple of my fellow undergrads tonight, and they thought the professors were the “experts” who knew what they were doing when it comes to getting recent graduates hired on somewhere.

      Reply
      1. Newbie Librarian

        Yes, I can completely understand the confusion from an undergraduate. I know I would have been had I been required to make it then.
        Pretty much every graduate school I applied to had something like this advertised as a part of their program. Most called it something along the lines of “professional portfolio”. Mine is currently buried in a hosting site run my my graduate Alma matter so it probably wouldn’t take too long to find by an employer, but I don’t exactly advertise it exists.
        When it comes to Web presence all anyone should really tell undergraduates is to check your privacy settings on any social media. Employers will generally check for it as a first impression (my boss certainly does for interviewees both as a way to put a face with a name after reading a resume and seeing what sort of things they make availble to view).

        Reply
    2. Definitely Not a Pigeon

      Yeah, that was pretty much the point when electronic portfolios were the Big Thing, 10+ years ago. I worked on an eportfolio implementation back then (there were at least two turnkey systems for producing these things, IIRC; we chose the one that was cheapest and worked best with the server setup IT allowed us to use), and most of the literature on it at the time emphasized “reflection”: the eportfolio was supposed to get students to think about what they had learned in their program and prepare them for applying and interviewing for jobs. The education program also included components to track the professional requirements for getting certified by the state. Students could upload files and then “reflect” on what they had learned from a paper, project, etc. There was a private link they could give potential employers if they wanted–I vaguely remember trying to work out how they could keep their portfolios “live” after they graduated and their university IT access went away, but I don’t remember how we solved that (from your comment below, it sounds like your institution had problems solving that one too; maybe it’s the same one. :-) ). In any event, the only students who ever used it were the ones whose professors made them–education majors, mostly, but it does seem like the LIS department was on board too.

      But all of that was before LinkedIn, WIX, WordPress (well, WP was around, but it was new and meant mostly for blogging), and all the other ways that people present themselves professionally online now. What the OP is describing seems pretty outdated to me now. My employer at the time quit using it after just a few years, because by then Facebook and LinkedIn had taken over. The faculty seemed relieved not to have to use some weird proprietary system that never worked that well in the first place.

      Reply
  55. FelineFine

    As I’m reading this, I’m thinking that maybe this is an arts program or something similar where the students can showcase their portfolio. Business School???!!

    I currently manage a career centre at a business school. This advice is absolutely 100% terrible. As an accounting major you need to attend company information sessions and start networking with potential employers. Your résumé should include relevant, quantifiable examples of things that you have accomplished. I regularly speak with campus recruiters from public accounting firms. They receive literally hundreds of applications per posting. They do not have the time to Google every single one.

    No wonder some campus career centres get such a bad rap.

    Reply
    1. OP (but not POP!)

      Amazingly, our career center is pretty darned good, all things considered. Their advice about tailoring resumes and cover letters to each individual job and company is spot-on. Their interviewing tips are also great. But I haven’t asked them what they think of the personal-brand website. I’ll have to swing by there when I’m back on campus Wednesday and ask.

      Reply
  56. Violet Fox

    How does an assignment like this work for someone who does not want to have a web presence tied to their real name and picture for personal safety reasons, or well for many other legit reasons to not want to have that information online?

    Failing stalking victims because they don’t want their personal information online seems a bit well.. harsh.

    Reply
  57. designbot

    you know, I just realized that I’ve actually seen the ‘required website’ done fairly well. At the grad program I was in, both grad and undergrad students were required to participate in an end-of-year show that included an exhibit, promotional materials, and yes a website. It did include our pictures (which I still hate, but oh well), but otherwise got several things right that could be learning opportunities if people at LW’s school do in fact read this:
    * It was centered around actual content. There was none of this fluff about links to 3 different sites, video letters, etc. because the point was to display actual relevant work that we had created. Each student got to choose which projects they wanted to display on their specific page.
    * Adjacent to the first point, portfolio websites were actually relevant to all of the students in those majors.
    * Since there were more components to the end-of-year activities than just a website, the students who worked on the website had opted in and therefor actually cared. We don’t all have to care about the same things.
    * The project in itself was actually a great learning experience, again since there were different teams working on different components of the show, the web team had to coordinate with the identity team and the exhibit team, which more closely simulated a real world project than any other school project I’ve seen.

    Basically, if the school wants students’ work on the web, that might be fine, but find a way that the creation of the website(s) dovetails into something that it actually enhances, and make it required only for those it’s actually relevant to. Don’t just make busywork for them that they’ll be trying to scrub from the internet ASAP.

    Reply
  58. dear liza dear liza

    Higher ed is under a huge amount of pressure to focus on career training. This assignment smells like a desperate attempt to justify the department’s contributions to job success: See! We help our students get jobs by doing these e-portfolio Websites that no employer actually cares about but maybe you, trustee/legislator, will!

    Reply
  59. vanBOOM

    Yeah, I could sniff this one out from a mile away: This is a small e-portfolio assessment project crafted for academic program assessment purposes. Everything other than the student name and the samples of student work portion has been artificially inserted post-hoc to make the task seem beneficial to students.

    I mean, come on. Young people “comfortable with new technology”? It is true that this may not apply to every young person, but the young person = techie stereotype is so strong these days that these skills are taken for granted, not fawned over. (Yes, I know that not all college students are “young people”, but that’s beside the point here.)

    OP, you may know this already, but just in case: There are services like Google Sites that allow your website to only be visible to people who have the URL; it won’t show up in search engines if you don’t want it to. I’d do the assignment, handle the accessibility/web visibility issue this way, and then be done with it.

    Reply
    1. OP (but not POP!)

      Thanks for the tip about Google Sites. If it’s a “Web Sites for Dummies” then I ought to be able to use it for this assignment.

      Oh, and this assignment was brought to you by the department that told us that we should put “Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest User” under the Technical Skills section of our resume because, and I quote, “There might be older people at the company you’re interviewing with who could use help navigating those sites.”

      I. . . I. . . I don’t even know where to begin.

      (And, no, they weren’t saying that if we knew how to *code* to/on those sites, to put that down. They specifically said that if we USED them. . . like posted photos, status updates, tweeted, or pinned things. . . we should list it as a Technical Skill. Seriously.)

      Reply
      1. Rana

        Dayum. That is seriously bizarre. What are these people smoking? Or have they been talking to themselves for so long that they have genuinely no clue about how the rest of the world operates now?

        Reply
      2. Tangerina Warbleworth

        Oh, good Lord. You know, I am OLD, okay; and I don’t Twitter or Facebook because me and all of my friends like to use a phone as, well, a phone. For, like, talking to each in real time, with no typing? And even *I* know that Twitter is not a technical skill. I can’t help thinking that if you asked your professor the question, he/she would say, “Why, yes, I DO live under a rock! How did you know?”

        Reply
      3. vanBOOM

        Ha! I could maybe understand that recommendation if (1) social media work was relevant to your career pursuits, and (2) if you had knowledge AND additional social media skills (i.e., data analytics) that tend to differ across various platforms…but otherwise, that comes across as somewhat offensive to both older and younger workers alike. Not all workers are clueless when it comes to social media, and not all young people want to do social media work!

        Oh, and by the way, Google Sites is very much the vein of a “websites for dummies” resource. You can select from various layouts and types of sites that have already been built for you, select the one you like, and just edit the content. I think it’s in the Settings menu where you can limit the page’s accessibility to people who have the URL only.

        Reply
  60. Nanani

    Another thing worth mentioning to the prof is that *Google results are highly personalized* so it’s extremely difficult to guarantee any specific site will show up anywhere near the top.

    There are ways to google things without the “hlepy” customization but unless your prospective employer happens to know them and bother to use them, they’re going to see results entirely different from you or anyone else. Making this sort of tiny personal website Entirely Pointless.

    SEO is a big business for a reason, is my point.

    Reply
  61. Nanani

    Oh and if anyone is under the impression that “public record of embarrassing things done while young” is still a barrier to getting a job look up Canadian PM Justin Trudeau sometime.

    Reply
  62. Wheezy Weasel

    So glad this topic came up, because I just went to a class to demonstrate our University’s make-your-own-website tool. Paraphrasing what many have said here, I make certain to tell the students that this portfolio only serves a purpose if they think it serves one, and we offered a few situations on things to put on it, and things not to do. The instructor and I even told them they could do a minimal effort and delete it later, decline to have it search-indexed, put a photo of something other than their face, etc.

    Many thanks to the AAM team for widening my perspective on this issue in a timely fashion!

    Reply
  63. Jess

    Ha! When you google my name the first person to come up is a woman who lives on the other side of the country and claims she can cure cancer with reiki over Skype for a mere $200 an hour. The second person to come up is another woman wkrh my same name who drove drunk into a crowd of people, broke a guy’s leg, and went to prison. I’m somewhere around page two or three. It’s never stopped me from getting a job, since I’m obviously not Reiki woman or in a Texan prison.

    Reply
  64. Natalie

    I think the professor has the right sentiment (clean up your online presence and make it look like you have a sense of decorum there) but unless if they’re prepared to delve deeply into what goes into making a GOOD and FUNCTIONING website then this is an absolute waste of time. OP has enough sense to know that this is a bad idea, but there are some who will take this to heart and send around a probably poorly designed website which in my mind would hurt more than help. Also unless if you know what you’re doing with SEO there is absolutely no guarantee this website will even show up in the top results.

    Why not focus efforts on cleaning up the web presence one DOES have and focus effort into making a well-written LinkedIn profile and a professional resume that doesn’t use a slew of pointless infographics? That seems far more feasible than trying to jam in an entirely different skillset into one project.

    Reply
  65. emma2

    This is hilarious!

    In my last year of college, I started my own blog website because I kept hearing that it was important for employers to be able to find stuff about you when they Googled your name, and I didn’t have anything published on the web. That being said, I didn’t include the link anywhere on my application – it was just something on the internet for employers to look at if they were interested.

    On another note, my experience so far tells me that college career counselors are – for the most part – VERY out of touch with the real world when it comes to job advice. I recommend reaching out to people who actually work in your desired industry for job advice rather than go to the career “experts” on college campuses.

    Reply
  66. JaysonHFI

    I take LinkedIn profiles as a grain of salt, not to mention personal website or what not.

    The positive the reader should take out of this experience is to learn how to present their candidacy to potential hiring manager. The bads, well, Alison pretty much sums it up: “I have your resume and cover letter, which is the info I’ve asked for at this stage because that’s the info I want at this stage”. Can’t agree with this more.

    Aside from some specific Asian countries, I don’t think Photo is mandatory on resume and job application package, so I have no clue why they would even mislead student to do such things. Second, Why they want to limit your resume to one page baffles the heck out of me. Thirdly, paper, that’s just way too much info, probably irrelevant info might I add. Finally, they sure know how to save the best for last…personal interest link?

    SMH

    This business school course is horrible, and at best, misleading for bright candidates like your reader. Are they trying to get all the students to run their own political campaign? Become a used car salesman? I’m just horrified to see what they put students thru nowadays, especially in business schools.

    Reply
  67. SomeoneLikeAnon

    I actually do have personal website and email account that goes along with it. I have had a few potential employers state they went to the site to take a peek, only because they saw the email account wasn’t the traditional gmail.com. My website is only an expansion of my resume and a compilation/portfolio of some projects I have worked on. Even though my resume is 2 pages, the site allows me to expand on more things that aren’t as tailored to that specific job I was applying for.

    However, there is nothing on my site that would not be allowable on a resume, like no pictures, in fact it’s more toned down in some areas, like there is no email address or phone number, but there is a contact form.

    Reply

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