What Color is Your Parachute 2018: A Practical Manual for Job-Hunters and Career- Changers (Ten Speed Press/Crown Publishing Group, 2018) by Richard Bolles. Reviewed by Steve Gladis.
Overview: Updated annually since 1972, this classic stands up to the challenges of modern-day job seekers and career changers. In fact, it’s got so much information that it could overwhelm some readers. So, think of it as a reference book. The author enlightens us about how job seekers and organizations approach filling positions in exactly opposite ways; how the market has radically changed since the 2008 recession; how to interview for jobs; how to negotiate salaries; how to handle the psychological ups and downs of the job-hunting process; how to conduct a self-inventory; how to take charge of your career; and, even how to start your own business. There’s a reason that this book has been updated annually for decades—it works. A terrific manual with many useful PDFs available.
1. Things Have Changed: Since the 2008 recession, employers shifted from focusing on employees to focusing on profit. However, job seekers never got the message and continued to submit resumes and post on job boards, which don’t work well anymore. Today, employers want more certainty; so, they search on a hierarchy that starts with hiring known employees from within; next, with people who either have consulted for them or have been recommended by an insider—both which mitigate risk. Bad hires cost about $50K! So, HR folks are not looking at online lists, and when they do, their job is to eliminate you from a huge pile—to get from 250 resumes to the 5 top candidates. Also, the length of time to find a job has increased dramatically. So, what previously took one month, now can take six months to land a job. And the higher the salary, the longer the time it takes. We’re turning over our jobs faster—in some job-seeker age brackets 32% of their jobs lasted less than a year, and 69%, lasted less than 5 years. Thus, part-time work is becoming far more prevalent, and roughly 50% of Fortune 500 employees will be part-timers. The best jobs today are in finance, sales and healthcare. Job hunting has become a normal way of life—people will go job hunting 17 times in their lives. And while online hunting is not as effective as it used to be, here’s a very good site for doing so: www.livecareer.com/quintessential. The winners in this market are people who know how to get hired.
2. How to Get Hired: The author offers 17 Principles for getting hired. Here are just a few.
a. Find a job that fits you. Don’t just try to force fit yourself into a job.
b. Conduct a “Self Inventory.” He uses the “flower experiment” which looks at your interests, personality as various petals of the flower. He claims that this approach results in success 84% of the time.
c. Search for what you love: It’s not just about what you’re good at, but also what you love to do.
d. Job hunts are also potential career changes. This is a great time to scan your history and rethink what you really want to do, not just what you can do.
e. Target companies and organizations, not just jobs. Regardless of whether a company you admire has a job opening, pursue the organization.
f. Especially target smaller companies of 100 people or less. These companies tend to be more flexible and open to discussion and options.
g. Try to avoid HR. As mentioned, HR’s job is to be a gatekeeper. So, if you can find a way to get to the hiring manager, your chances increase.
h. Submitting resumes is a necessary evil. However, conducting a self-inventory, working in association with people and coaches, and knocking on doors of companies you interested in are all more effective ways to tackle the search.
3. The Interview: One of the 17 Principles, the Interview, is critical.
a. Practice interviewing with friends, fellow seekers.
b. Conduct informational interviews of people who actually do the work you’re interested in—this serves as a reality check.
c. Interview for jobs—this is the ultimate goal that all activities should focus on. In job interviews, here are the only 5 questions they care about:
i. Why are you here? Explain your research—about what you know about our company and how your talents are a fit.
ii. What can you do for us? Explain how you can solve our specific problems and tell stories about how you did it in the past.
iii. What kind of person are you? Explain how you play well with others!
iv. What are your distinguishing talents? Explain why you’re different.
v. Can we afford you? Explain parameters, flexibility, and don’t let money get in the way.
d. Watch the time in an interview.
i. Half and Half: Don’t overtalk the interview. As best you can, try to make the interview a conversation. And research on effective conversations shows that when both get a chance to talk about the same amount, it feels like it’s been a good exchange.
ii. 20 to 2: Answers should take between 20 seconds to 2 minutes depending on the complexity of the question. But droning on can be a turn off. However, answering in machine-gun fashion can feel awkward and unsatisfying as well.
iii. Ask for the job. At the end of the interview you may want to ask: “Considering all that we have discussed here, can you offer me this job?” The author swears by this technique. I’m on the fence about it.
Stick with it! It’s easy to get discouraged as the process takes more time than we ever wanted. The key is Don’t Stop—keep the process going. It’s really a full-time job.
5. Job Hunting Links: Finally, here’s a link to some pretty cool PDFs on job hunting--http://content.randomhouse.com/assets/97803