Richard Nelson Bolles and Ten Speed Press have been offering annual editions of What Color Is Your Parachute? since 1970. Many of us are already familiar with it, having used it over the years. So why buy it again? Because the world is changing faster than ever, and Bolles has worked hard to change the guide right along with it. The 2009 edition is filled with Internet references (printed in red, which makes them a snap to find!) and advice for standing out in a crowd when times are hard and everyone is looking for work.
“He or she who gets hired is not necessarily the one who can do the job best; but the one who knows the most about how to get hired,” said Richard Lathrop in his classic Who’s Hiring Who? This wonderful quote appears at the beginning of Bolles’s chapter on the importance of thinking long and hard before you begin your job search. He guides you through thinking about jobs related to those you’ve held or want, technologies you know, or should, former customers who may be helpful, organizations you belong to, how to tap hobbies, libraries, stores, and magazines, and then how to search the web for possibilities.
He has chapters on what employers are looking for, salary negotiations, vocational tests, home businesses, and baby boomers. But one of the things I like best about the book are his lists. I love a list. Bolles offers:
- 16 ways to find a job, and why using only 4 is ideal
- 5 worst ways to look for a job
- 5 best ways to look for a job
- 46 questions to ask yourself while preparing your resume
- 5 things employers really want to know
- 5 things that will kill your interview in the first two minutes
- 10 commandments that sum up the whole job-hunting process.
What does this book have to do with continuing education? The most helpful tip in this regard is to know that there are always, always exceptions to the education requirements for job openings. If you are told you don’t have the right degree, don’t take it as a final answer. What it means is that you’ve got homework to do.
If there is one shortcoming of the book, for me, it is the lack of a chapter on going back to school. The good thing is that Bolles includes a form in the back of his book for suggestions for the 2010 edition. How many authors do you know who do that?
Huge pluses for me about the book are the very helpful exercises and worksheets available to help you figure out exactly who you are, who you want to be, what turns you on, what you’re good at, and not, what your mission is, and how to go about realizing it. He has a wonderful exercise called The Flower that people say have helped them through thick and thin. The time is certainly ripe for a tool like that.
Pink Pages in the back of the book include wonderful worksheets to help you identify skills, info on right and left brain psychology, and tips for recognizing the Safekeeping Self and the Experimental Self. A surprise for me in this section was the importance of listening to classical music to encourage your job hunt. I’ve used music for a lot of things, but never associated it with pursuing the job I wanted.
From new advice about using the web when jobs are hard to find, to the ageless advice about the absolute importance of sending thank you notes, this book is once again a winner.
About the Author
Richard Nelson Bolles is the best-selling author of What Color Is Your Parachute? and has been a leader in the career development field for more than 35 years. He lives in the San Francisco Bay Area. You can find him at www.JobHuntersBible.com.