Forty-four years ago one of the most inspirational and practical books ever first saw publication. Inspirational because it helped you discover who you really are, and practical because it showed you how to take that knowledge so you could find your dream job.
The book is What Color is Your Parachute? by Richard Nelson Bolles, and there’s a new edition available for 2015. Considered by Time as one of the 100 best all-time non-fiction books, this new edition of Parachute still blends the inspiration with practicality while also maintaining pace with the new realities of the job search.
What’s new with this edition? A thorough discussion on how to create your two resumes (yes, you have two now: the paper one that gets passed around to hiring managers and the one online, which includes your LinkedIn profile, any blogs you have, and, yes, anything you’ve posted to Facebook), plus tips on how to handle yourself during the many types of interviews that are now common (you not only meet with people face-to-face, but you’ll also talk with the on the phone – individually or in teams – and you’ll probably also encounter online video interviews with such services as Skype or Adobe Connect), and how to negotiate a good salary in this age of finding the person who will do all the work for less money.
What has stayed the same? All the Victorian-era clip art and illustrations in the chapters is still there, The Blue Pages – the section on finding your mission in life and lists of career counselors – still takes up the final fourth of the book, and all of the hard-nosed facts about finding your dream job. Those have not changed in more than 40 years.
For instance, Parachute insists that there are jobs available, that the people who get these jobs aren’t necessarily the most qualified for them, but they are the ones who know the most about getting hired. But part of knowing how to get hired is knowing exactly who you are. And that is the core of all the editions What Color is Your Parachute.
Chapter 7, “You Need to Understand More Fully Who You Are” contains extensive exercises to help you do just that. There’s a lot of homework involved, a lot of filling in charts, writing down stories about yourself and your accomplishments. It requires some effort to work through, but once you finish, you’ll be able to completely and honestly answer the two phrases that are in every job interview: “Tell us about yourself” and “Why should we hire you?”
With all the noise made now about striving for a work/life balance, Richard Nelson Bolles hit on the secret with the first edition of What Color is Your Parachute 44 years ago. It’s not about finding a balance between the two, but instead about finding a mission that incorporates both. Knowing yourself is key to that mission.
This 2015 edition is no different. And that’s what still makes it the best job-hunting handbook available.
UPDATE: If you want to know how NOT to get hired, take a look at these missteps.