Last week I wrote about several of the great email newsletters that offer job search and career advice. While researching, it struck me that so much information on job search and careers is immediately available. This abundance is a sharp contrast to the pre-digital age when there was only one definitive book on job search, Richard Nelson Bolles' What Color is Your Parachute? A Practical Guide for Job-Hunters and Career-Changers. For decades Parachute had the monopoly on job search reference books. It wasn't a book about job search; it was THE BOOK about job search. Often the first piece of advice given to new college graduates was to buy WCIYP.
Easy to read, harder to practice
While the book is easy to read, it isn't easy to put into practice. It doesn't come in the form of ephemeral feel good tips or breezy listicles. It requires introspection, self-inventory and a lot of hard work. But people get results. By asking difficult questions, the book demands that readers take a deep look at themselves, discover what they want, what they are really good at and how to turn that into a career.
One of my big questions is how does Parachute compete in a multi-platform, on demand world? With so many websites, twitter feeds, apps and newsletters constantly dispensing weekly, daily and hourly career advice and job search tips, can one book remain definitive and relevant?
Parachute has been around since 1970 because it's damn good. As Mr. Bolles puts it, the book provides "a practical bridge between what [students] learn and the real world awaiting them out there." The enduring truths and practical knowledge provided within its pages resonate for anyone who needs advice on job search, resumes, starting a business, networking and more. This is the blocking and tackling that doesn't get taught in schools.
So what's new for 2014? It's incredible to think that this book has been updated every year since 1975. It's the same book I read all those years ago, but it is entirely different. The fundamentals are still embedded from beginning to end, but it also reflects the realities, opportunities and challenges of today's job market. It's not just a fresh coat of paint; the changes are evident throughout the book.
Online reputation management
A big point Bolles makes is "Google is Your New Resume." Our careers were once represented by a single piece of paper. Today we can no longer control what employers discover about our professional and personal lives. With a few keystrokes any hiring manager of HR professional can dig up a lot more information than ever before. Parachute gives great advice on how to manage and edit our online reputations.
This edition takes a deep dive into social and digital media and how to make all platforms and services part of your arsenal. Covering everything from LinkedIn to online universities, the book provides practical knowledge for even those most unfamiliar with social networking and the powerful online tools that can jumpstart your job search.
The Flower Exercise has long been a signature part of WCIYP. This year, the exercise has been improved and updated to help users more accurately take an intense inventory of themselves. This is one of the key pieces of Bolles' approach and successful self-assessment is critical to discovering the optimum career path. The Flower Exercise is also available as a great iPad/Nook app.
If you need a more constant stream of insights, Richard Bolles is very active on Facebook and you can also follow him on Twitter and find him on LinkedIn.
So in response to my earlier question, "Is Parachute still relevant today?" The simple answer is...YES. I purchased the 2014 edition to skim and compare it to my ragged 20th century copy. What surprised me was how quickly this perusal became complete immersion. I am already a few chapters in and ready to do the hard work once again. Job search and career change require a battery of tools, What Color is Your Parachute? is still one of the finest out there.