Online reputation; Grand Rapids man helps new college grads look good to potential employers

According to a 2010 Microsoft-commissioned study, some 79 percent of employers research job candidates online and 70 percent of those employers reject candidates based on what they find.

A Grand Rapids man hopes to help recent college graduates and other job seekers establish their best online reputations, or, if negative information is already out there, to minimize the damage.

Brent Swisher launched The Web Counts in October to help job seekers market their education, skills and experience online. In addition, users can post college research, reports and writing samples that might impress potential employers and tip the scale in the grad's favor.

"Online reputation is becoming a bigger part of our overall reputation," says Swisher. "Human resources people and recruiters look for information online about you before they hire you. If you have a friend who has a blog and was fighting with you five years ago, or if people post photos of you that you don't want out there, all that comes up on Google. You can't make people delete things they've written, it's just out there. Employers make a judgment about you based on that."

Swisher, 25, a full-time network administrator and web developer, helps job seekers create personal web sites and hosts them for a monthly fee. Costs range from $3.99/mo. for a one-page résumé-based site to $12.99 for a full web site.

"It's all about getting the positive stuff to bubble up (on search engines) and pushing the negative down in the search results," Swisher says. "A lot of people just don't think about their online reputation when they're looking for jobs. You spend time optimizing your résumé and cover letter, but why not get a personal web site?"

Source: Brent Swisher, The Web Counts
Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor
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