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Shake off the Blahs. Find a New Career

Land a new job with help from an online counseling service -- and complete your career makeover with a new suit or briefcase.

Todd Smiler was unemployed for nine months in 2003 after he abandoned day trading when the market went sour. He wasn't sure how his talents would transfer to a new job, so he sought advice from ReadyMinds, a career-counseling service. Smiler, 29, liked the idea of using an objective counselor and maintaining a little anonymity -- all contact was via the Web and by phone -- so he signed up for a $450 package.

After completing an online assessment of his skills, values and interests, Smiler was matched to a nationally certified counselor. In their two hours of phone time, Smiler's counselor worked with him on revising his reacute;sumeacute; to best showcase his abilities. Also included: help in mapping a strategy for getting a new job.

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At first, says Smiler, he was "kind of lost." But, he says, the counselor "allowed me to focus on the skills that would ultimately help me market myself." He's now a mortgage lender with Homebridge Mortgage Bankers.

A ReadyMinds makeover can take from two to six weeks, depending on your schedule and needs. When it's finished, you'll have a personal Web page (where all documents and links to resources are stored) and access to help from a counselor (via e-mail) for a year. To find a career counselor you can meet with face to face, check the National Career Development Association's listings.

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That leaves about $500 to complete your career makeover with a new suit or a briefcase. We suggest Tyler Brief ($498) from Coach.

--Jessica Anderson

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