What Color Is Your Parachute? - Critical summary review - Richard N. Bolles

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What Color Is Your Parachute? - critical summary review

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Career & Business

This microbook is a summary/original review based on the book: What Color Is Your Parachute? 2021: Your Guide to a Lifetime of Meaningful Work and Career Success

Available for: Read online, read in our mobile apps for iPhone/Android and send in PDF/EPUB/MOBI to Amazon Kindle.

ISBN: 1984857878

Publisher: Ten Speed Press

Critical summary review

Since Richard N. Bolles first published ‘’What Color Is Your Parachute’’ in 1970, it has gained a reputation as one of the top 100 best nonfiction books of all time. Not to mention, it is the bestselling job hunting book in the world. What is the reason behind this book’s success? First of all, it revolutionized the approach to job hunting. Unlike traditional career guides, ‘’What Color Is Your Parachute’’ helps job seekers evaluate themselves first before looking for employment. Additionally, since it is updated annually with information on the latest trends in the job market, it is always relevant for new generations of job seekers. If you are looking for a job, get ready to learn how to land efficiently and happily in the job market’s fickle landscape!

Understanding the current job market

    Before getting to know the revolutionary job-seeking system that will make the process of finding a job easier, let’s explore current trends in the world of work. 

The first thing you should be aware of is that the job market is prone to constant change due to rapid technological developments that affect industries and jobs. With the rise of AI and robotics, numerous jobs previously performed by people, such as cashiers, bank tellers, telemarketers, receptionists, and assembly line workers, have been replaced by machines, robots, and online technology. At the same time, technology does not just reduce but also opens the opportunity for more interesting and innovative jobs, as the Pew Research Center report on robotics shows.

    Furthermore, recent consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic have left numerous positions vacant, making the job market even more volatile. Fortunately, the rising number of work-from-home opportunities may indicate an increase in virtual workplaces. 

    You must also bear in mind that you likely will not stay in one job for a long time. You may know that staying with the same job or at one company for many years was common in the age of your grandparents and parents. However, statistics now reveal a different situation - the average lifespan of a job is now less than five years, regardless of the worker’s age.

    Research also reveals a rising number of part-time jobs. Currently, 17.2% of all employees in the U.S. are freelancers. This is not only because employers nowadays prefer hiring workers only on short-term projects, but also due to an increasing number of people, such as independent contractors, consultants, freelancers, contract workers, who exclusively seek temporary employment. 

    So, since the world of work is constantly evolving, you need to keep up with all the changes happening in the job search world if you want to succeed in it. ‘’In today’s world,’’ Brooks writes, ‘’the person who gets hired is not necessarily the one who can do that job best; rather, it’s the one who knows the most about how to get hired.’’

Keep your spirits up while looking for a job

    If you are unemployed or feel disconnected from your work for a long time, you probably feel a lack of fulfillment. Don’t worry too much because of it - unemployment often takes a toll on people’s happiness. One study conducted on 6,000 job hunters found that the longer someone is jobless, the more their life satisfaction decreases, while their levels of anxiety and sadness rise. 

    While looking for another job, you must ensure that the job hunting process, however challenging, does not dishearten you. Therefore, you must find ways to promote your well-being, and Bolles says there are several ways to do that.

  1. Sleep well. Getting adequate sleep can decrease depression and turn us into happier and more upbeat people.
  2. Keep yourself fit and healthy. Regular exercise and eating healthy food can substantially improve your mood.
  3. Treat yourself kindly. Don’t be harsh to yourself in moments of sadness or anxiety. Along with self-esteem and confidence, self-compassion is the key factor in a successful job search. 
  4. Believe that your behavior matters. Your actions can change your mindset. Therefore, to overcome the feeling of helplessness, recognize the challenges you are facing and then take action to overcome them.
  5. Develop a flexible mindset. Don’t despair over your situation. Remember the positive aspects of your past and learn to appreciate your present situation more.
  6. Be optimistic about your future. Bolles says, ‘’Images inspire action.’’ So, if you envision a positive future, you are more likely to move toward it.
  7. Set meaningful goals. Think of the steps you could take to improve your situation, and set some goals that are relatively easy to accomplish. For example, your goal could be to read one chapter of the book ‘’What Color Is Your Parachute’’ each day. Reaching these small goals will give you a sense of accomplishment and self-satisfaction. 
  8. Do not procrastinate. We often resist making steps toward finding a job out of fear of rejection or failure. Think about what is distracting you from your progress and what you can do to lessen those distractions.
  9. Learn something new. Explore subjects that have always interested you. Listen to podcasts, watch videos and join free online courses.
  10. Channel your negativity. Intensive exercise can be a great way to eliminate excess energy and anxiety. 

What issues prevent me from getting hired?

Have you already had any job interviews? If you are reading this book, it could mean that their outcome was not good. Do you, therefore, think that you have some issues that are keeping you from getting hired? You might, for example, think that you were turned down because you did not graduate from college, or because you are overweight, too young, or have been unemployed for a long time.   

The thing is, everyone could potentially have an ‘’issue’’ that prevents them from finding employment. The authors say you must remember: ‘’You can’t possibly have an issue that will keep all employers from hiring you. You can only have an issue that will keep some employers from hiring you.’’ In other words, regardless of the issues you have or think you have, they cannot keep you from getting a job forever. There is at least one employer out there who is looking for your skills and talents.

If you believe categories such as race, gender, or sexual orientation might keep you from getting hired, keep in mind that the law does not allow employers to discriminate candidates on the basis of race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy, sexual orientation, or gender identity), national origin, age (40 or older), disability, or genetic information (including family medical history). In case you believe you have been a victim of discrimination, consult a lawyer to see whether you have the basis to proceed with a legal case.

    Some job seekers think that because they have been out of work for a long time, it can be an issue. If you are one of them, prepare a story that will present your unemployment time in a positive light. Tell your potential employer what you have learned, skills you developed, or volunteer activities you did in your time off. 

    Without being aware, employers often tend to be unfair by hiring people similar to others in the workplace. A possible way to avoid this scenario is to focus on what you can add to the work environment. Think about how you can help an employer see the benefit in hiring you, with all your traits and skills.

Your online resume

Gone are the days when the information on your resume was everything the employers could find out about you before meeting you. Now, thanks to the internet and social media networks, they can quickly learn many things about your lifestyle. The figures vary depending on different studies, but it is safe to say that nearly all recruiters will look at your social media presence. Furthermore, studies also say that more than 60% of them have rejected some applicants because of inappropriate social media content.

Be aware that bad grammar or gross misspellings on your Facebook or LinkedIn profile might also be the reason potential employers are not considering your application. Also, expressions of racism, prejudice, strong inflammatory opinions, or anything else indicating alcohol or drug abuse could put recruiters off from contacting you.

Avoiding activity on social media is not a solution, though. According to the survey Harris Poll conducted for Career Builder in 2018, about 47% of employers do not call people for interviews if they are not present on social media sites. 

So, to increase the chances of getting hired, use social media sites to showcase your qualities. First of all, make a list of adjectives you believe describe you well and that are, at the same time, valuable from the employer’s perspective. Some of these adjectives include: professional, experienced, inventive, hardworking, disciplined, honest, trustworthy, and kind. Then, go over your posts on social media platforms and erase anything that contradicts the impression you would like to leave. Post content that indicates you are a valuable potential employee.

Next, work on your LinkedIn profile because it is the most important site for job seekers and employers. Use it to highlight your experience and expertise, connect with people from the industry you would like to work in, and search for available positions. You can also get skill endorsements from your former colleagues, supervisors, and others who have worked with you. Also, to increase your chances of finding a job or being contacted by recruiters, join LinkedIn groups related to your expertise and interests.

Prepare for a job interview

    Job interviews help you find out more about the position you applied for so that you can determine if you are still interested in it. Moreover, they help employers further evaluate you and decide if they want to work with you. For this reason, you need to learn how to behave in the interview to convince the employer to hire you. 

    Your necessary preparation step should be learning more about the company. Search for information on the internet and, if you have a chance, try and learn some inside stories from someone who worked or is currently employed there. Also, read the job description carefully, and make sure you know the latest news about the company or industry. 

    Second, use the opportunity to tell the interviewers stories related to your previous workplace or professional behavior. Talk about your accomplished goals, how you overcame obstacles, solved problems and include any good decisions you made. Even if you applied for a job that is not related to the one you previously had, find a story that can reflect skills that the current position requires. For example, if you are a teacher being interviewed for a customer service representative position, you can say this: “You could argue that customer service is built into a teacher’s DNA. We have a lot of people to please, including parents, students, and administrators. I received consistently positive feedback in my annual reviews.” Then, you can tell about the challenging problems you solved while being a teacher.

    The first question you will probably hear in the interview is this one: ‘’What can you tell me about yourself?’’ Remember, never answer this one with the question: ‘’What do you want to know?’’ Employers might think you have no idea how to answer and are stalling for time. Instead, prepare a response that shows experience, skills, or knowledge relevant to the job you are applying for. 

    Finally, if you want to stand out from the rest of the candidates, send thank-you notes or emails to everyone who was present at the interview that day. This way you will show good interpersonal skills, help them remember you, and correct any wrong impressions you left unintentionally. 

Final Notes

    ‘’What Color Is Your Parachute’’ is a perfect read for anyone who is unemployed or intends to change career paths. Moreover, this groundbreaking book will make job searches significantly easier for recent graduates, as schools often do not provide career advice. Finally, since it teaches how to deal with obstacles and challenges on the lifepath, this book can be helpful for anyone who wants to live their lives more successfully.

12min Tip

    What are the skills required for the job positions you normally apply for? Prepare engaging stories in advance that show those skills in action.

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Who wrote the book?

Katharine Brooks is an award-winning career counselor, coach, and writer. She is currently the executive director of the Career Center for Vanderbilt University. B... (Read more)

Richard N. Bolles was an author, speaker, and member of Mensa. His field of expertise was career counseling, and many consider him a founder of the modern career counseling field. With mo... (Read more)

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