Review: What Colour Is Your Parachute? (2013 Edition)

What Colour Is Your Parachute? (2013 Edition)

What Colour Is Your Parachute? (2013 Edition)

The 2013 version of Richard Bolles’ book, which has sold over 10 million copies, is actually his 41st version. Each year, Bolles claims to not only update but sometimes completely rewrite the book many consider to be the Bible for job hunting and changing careers. Although he does talk about LinkedIn, online job search, and social media, much of Bolles’ advice is still very old school and not as current as I had hoped. While the 1st half regarding finding yourself and the job hunt is gold, the 2nd half dealing with execution left a lot to be desired.

Having known about the book for more than 25 years, with an upcoming summer vacation, I thought it was time I finally gave it a read. As mentioned, the 1st half of the book talks about the job hunt process, self-assessment, and changing careers. The 2nd half deals with execution (i.e. resumes, interviewing, salary negotiation, and starting your own business). While it can be a slow read, Bolles takes you step-by-step with his Flower Petal exercises that will really get you going, if you take the time and are serious about helping yourself.

Chapter 3, “The Best and Worst Ways to Look for a Job”, is very telling and one of the most interesting, with ideas that I also use to surprises my clients. Bolles tries to even add some facts and figures to justify his ideas:

  • Looking for employers’ job-postings on the Internet = 4-10% success rate
  • Answering local newspaper ads = 5-24% success rate
  • Going to private employment agencies or search firms for help = 5-28% success rate
  • Asking for job-leads from family & friends = 33% success rate
  • Knocking on the door of an employer, whether they have a vacancy or not = 47% success rate
  • Doing extensive homework on yourself = 86% success rate

While completing his exercises may sound like a drag, I would highly recommend finishing them. The thought process and your output would be great homework to do before you came to see a career coach like myself, and would make your sessions much more fruitful.

Unfortunately, the rest of the book is a let down for me. The topic of social media is dealt with at a very superficial level. Bolles encourages you to use all platforms, especially LinkedIn, but what’s missing for me are the realities of the online world, and typical faux-pas that job seekers make. For example, only updating your profile or contacting people online when you need something. Or never sending a personal note when trying to connect with someone, my #1 pet peeve and why I have 200+ awaiting invitations on LinkedIn I don’t plan on accepting.

The section on resumes is extremely light, with many points I disagree with (e.g. talking about your responsibilities). The interviewing section is also quite general. I acknowledge that Bolles is trying to address a very broad and global audience, both white and blue collar workers; however, I’m not sure his general tips are good enough, and may still seem very North American-centric.

Finally, the 6 secrets of salary negotiation are definitely worth highlighting. While basic, I find these points to be things that most job seekers do not have a good grasp on, and worth a read.

Overall, the book that’s sold 10 million copies will give those who are lost some instant direction through the exercises and direct self-reflection. The rest is up to you, the way it should be.

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