Job Hunt and Career Change Guide: ‘Parachute’ is Still the Bible

Job Hunt and Career Change Guide: ‘Parachute’ is Still the Bible

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by Ed Weirauch, Career Transition Coach

I thought about limiting this blog to What Color Is Your Parachute, A Practical Manual for Job-Hunters & Career Changers – get it, read it, do it. End of blog.

But that doesn’t do justice to this outstanding resource that was first published in 1970 (hard to believe)! The 2014 edition makes plenty of references to LinkedIn, social media in general, and Twitter in particular — so “Parachute” is definitely still current and timely. More importantly, if you fully embrace it, this book has the power to have lasting impact.

Author Richard N. Bolles (and surely his team of experts) covers every aspect of a job search from just plain changing employers to a more dramatic change of careers paths entirely. He starts off setting the tone for today’s job market by sharing “eight forces we are up against.” Listing them here could be discouraging but I’ll share a few just for a reality check:

  • Globally, we’re in a conservative mindset with “concerns about deficits rather than jobs and governments opting for austerity rather than growth.”
  • Length of the average job hunt has increased dramatically.
  • Employers are holding out for the dream employee.
  • Many search methods that worked before 2008 no longer do.

On a more positive note comes Chapter Three: There Are Seven Million Vacancies This Month. So if there are so many job opportunities out there, why aren’t more people getting them? I suspect its because they haven’t read What Color Is Your Parachute?

In the first half of the book, Bolles provides readers with a host of job search strategies starting with the Internet and in particular, Google searches. Use Google searches to learn about companies, hiring trends, necessary experience for many job roles, the list is endless and likely overwhelming. Narrow your search to start and the quantity and quality of information you find will likely be more on-target.

Bolles points out that you should expect to be the source of potential employers’ Google searches as well. That’s what he means when he says “Google is your new resumé”. So clean up your social media sites while you’re on a job search and fill in information that will help you. Post your job search progress on social media sites and of course use LinkedIn as much as possible. At least you are in control here, Bolles points out, you have the ability to edit, add, and delete information to help you make public your best profile.

Bolles then offers 16 tips about job interviews and another six secrets of salary negotiation. Who doesn’t want to learn these secrets?

Then comes the book’s second half – intended to spark thought that’s a lot different from scurrying around for the right resumé, LinkedIn site, contacts, leads and job search tips. Chapter title: You Need to Understand More Fully Who You Are. What do you really want to do with your life? What fulfills you? What motivates you? Who do you want to work with? In the past (before 2008), many of us may have rolled our eyes at these questions and thought, “maybe when I retire…”

But I agree with Bolles, if the work that you doesn’t excite you, even a little bit, you may be the next worker who is restructured out of a job. If you don’t like what you’re doing and don’t enjoy it, that will show, at times not obviously but certainly in subtle ways. Then if/when your employer looks to cut costs, work smarter but leaner, or go in a different direction, unhappy workers are likely to fall. If you love what you’re doing, you’re more likely to be a positive, contributing team member.

Getting to that better spot takes a lot of self evaluation and determination. Bolles offers an in-depth approach that guides you through this process and takes you to a better understanding of yourself and therefore the kinds of professions and jobs that would turn you on and ultimately make you a more valuable employee. One thought: an objective second person can help keep you focused through this process because its not easy. Keep an eye out for a close friend, former manager, or a career coach to play that role. A book, no matter how proven and practical, won’t answer you back.

Personally, this “self-thought/evaluation” had its greatest impact on me many years ago when I was between jobs. I had the time to pursue the “Parachute” steps and guess what? In a few weeks I got a great job offering challenging and (really) fun work with some of the greatest people I have ever known, with a good salary that improved. Looking back, Parachute landed me the best job I ever had.

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