Book Review: ‘What Color is Your Parachute’

What Color is Your Parachute touts alarming facts and figures regarding the “workquake” that is shaking up the job market around the world. For example: In the last four years, the United States has lost 2.3 million jobs, the most in any four year period since the Depression.

Discussion regarding the state of the economy isn’t all this book has to offer though. As anyone familiar with the Parachute books knows, they are legendary in the realm of job-hunting texts. For more than three decades, they have been hailed as one of the best-selling job books of all time and they were chosen by the Library of Congress as one of the 25 books that have shaped readers’ lives. The books are perfect for college students, career changers, and anyone looking to learn the basics of job-hunting.

The 2005 version, published by Ten Speed Press, is no different. Author Richard Nelson Bolles, a leader in the career field for over forty years and the former director of the National Career Development Program, offers a variety of new techniques to help job seekers find work in what seems to be a jobless environment. Featuring strategies, fresh ideas, and explanations of old concepts, the book lays out a simple step by step plan that offers hope to millions of unemployed workers.

Bolles writes in a down to earth, non-academic style, making the book easy to read. Like many other book of this type, there are different exposition exercises to complete. Completing all of the exercises takes time, but the few hours of work will help you get more out of the book. Shortcuts are available throughout, in case you feel like you already have the “answers”.

To get an idea of what the book is really about, let’s take a closer look at some of the more valuable chapters.

Chapter One focuses on what it is you would like to do for a living. It will help you identify your skills and interests and you will also learn to make the important distinction between skills and traits.

Chapter Three hammers home the most important point of the book: persistence. The job hunt may take a long time. If you encounter failure after failure, keep in mind that persistence always pays off in the end. Try a new strategy and don’t stop trying.

Chapter Four offers explanations on how employers search for employees. What are they looking for? What do they want to see? This section will offer you a different view point in regards to the job-hunting experience.

Chapter Five is simple, straightforward, and incredibly useful. Bolles makes a list of 23 tips for a successful job-hunt. Read it carefully and refer to it often.

Chapter Six takes the job-hunt to a whole new realm by discussing how to start your own business. If you can’t find a job or if you are unhappy working for others, it may be worth it to you to explore the possibility of becoming your own boss.

Chapter Eleven features the all important interview tips. If you’re lucky enough to get your foot in the door, you better know what to do next. This chapter will supply you with an arsenal of confidence for your next interview.

Chapter Twelve will help you get the salary you deserve by teaching you the seven secrets of salary negotiation. Filled with valuable pointers, this chapter redefines the art of negotiation. Try applying these tips and philosophies in every aspect of your life. Start getting what you deserve.

There are twelve chapters in all, but those shown above are the best. You will also find illustrations, a preface, an epilogue, a three section appendix, and a helpful index.

As lovely as this book is, there are a few issues that could have been improved upon. Many of the internet links provided are outdated, either because the links are dead or because the “free” services are now “fee” services. Plus, the author enjoys discussing religion and spirituality, which could be a problem for anyone who isn’t religious or spiritual.

Overall, What Color is Your Parachute offers simple, but useful, advice for any job-hunter. If you are looking for a basic text that will give you tips on career, lifestyles, and the like, buy this book. You’ll be happy that you did.

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