- The Washington Times - Monday, July 13, 2009

With more people vying for fewer jobs, applicants who know how to compose a resume and make a strong impression in an interview stand a better chance of finding work.

360jobinterview.com, launched in May, has more than 300 online job coaches to help people with their careers, interviews and resumes by talking to them through a Web cam. The price of the services range from $69 to $325.

Co-founder and CEO Jeff Garber said he and his business partner, Dan Fedrizzi, created the service as a less-expensive, easier way for people to receive in-person career counseling. Mr. Garber said he intended forthe service to help two major groups: people who have been employed for five to 15 years and now have to look for a job again, and graduates entering the job market for the first time.

Mr. Garber said this online option is more helpful than reading a book or doing a mock phone interview because it allows the coach to assess all realms of your hireability — without the price of an in-person job coach.

“You’re asked to show up in the appropriate attire,” he said. “We want to assess the aesthetics, if you’re dressed appropriately, the coaches want to assess the body language.”

An overall problem Mr. Garber notices with interviews is that the candidate doesn’t do enough research on the company and/or position that he is applying for, making it difficult for him to answer questions directly.

“‘Tell me something about you,’ that doesn’t mean you’re going to start discussing your wife and kids — what that means is, ‘I’ve spent the last 20 years as a financial analyst’ and cover maybe a couple of specific tasks you have done in that career and offer, ‘Is there anything specific that you want me to expound on?’” he said.

More specifically, Mr. Garber said that most people looking for a job for the first time in many years often have a hard time marketing their skills to a prospective employer, regardless of their talents, and that a career counselor can help them learn how to do that.

Stuart Larkin of New York City said he has been at his sales job for 30 years, and he “has no idea how to even look for a job today.”

“I can close anybody,” he said. “I can do anything in sales, but I don’t know how to get a job.”

Mr. Larkin said his job coach, Maria White, told him to make better use of the Internet, such as by updating his resume online once a month to move it to the top of the pile. She also suggested he talk to 25 people each day he is traveling for his job to build his network, and insert “buzz words,” such as “closer” into his resume and interview answers.

Ms. White said postings on major job boards are a good place to look for these “buzz words,” and stressed the importance of them on a successful resume. She said successful resumes also include short bullet points that are in headlines that grab attention.

“Realize that the average recruiter probably spends 20 seconds at the most on your resume,” she said.

Mr. Garber said there is another struggle the older group of job seekers face: applying for lower-rank jobs than the ones they recently lost. He said this can subconsciously create an attitude that repels prospective employers.

“[If] you think you’re overqualified when you do go on a job interview, you’re going to have an attitude that you’re sort of beneath yourself,” Mr. Garber said. “They want the candidate to feel it’s the best job and you’re excited to receive it … and also resonate sincerity.”

But older, more experienced people looking for junior jobs hurt another group even more: recent college graduates. Now, graduates must compete with people with years of experience for the same, beginning-level job.

Mr. Garber said job coaches can help graduates find out exactly what things they did in college that translate into job experience, such as specific internships and classes, and also help the graduates present a level of maturity that would attract employers.

“You want recent college grads to reach for the stars, but their feet have to be firmly planted and realistic in what they’re looking for,” he said.

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