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on 8 April 2003
Initially, I hesitated about buying WHAT COLOR IS YOUR PARACHUTE? because I thought it would be too American in outlook and not practical enough - but I was wrong!
Now I wish I hadn't wasted money on all the other careers books I've bought over the last couple of years.
WHAT COLOR IS YOUR PARACHUTE? is extremely well-written. You feel as though Richard N. Bolles is writing especially for you. His advice is frank and straightforward, but always encouraging and reassuring - he really seems to understand the jobhunter's 'fragile' state of mind. The author offers spiritual comfort as well, but without ever preaching or becoming bogged down by religion (I found that Covey's 7 Habits of Highly Effective People was sanctimonious, on the other hand).
The book was a real source of comfort and inspiration to me when friends had run out of advice and family had run out patience - and I had run out of ideas.
There are lots of excellent exercises to help you work out exactly what you want from life. They are very effective, and not too time consuming - you probably need a weekend or so to work on them. There are also masses of links to free websites which help analyse your skills and so on.
For me, the best part of the book was the news that recruitment agencies, classifed ads in newspapers and the Internet are among the five WORST ways to look for a job!
This book has changed my attitude to job-hunting and has filled me with enthusiasm, as well as providing me with practical ways to channel my enthusiasm. I'm so glad I've discovered WHAT COLOUR IS YOUR PARACHUTE? The only other books I've found to be as useful are the PERFECT CV/PERFECT INTERVIEW etc. range by Max Eggert which are short but extremely helpful.
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on 27 March 2006
I've known about this book for years, but always disregarded it because I've been fortunate enough to do work that I love. I'm now with an HR consultancy that includes amongst its offerings outplacement programmes. As this is a new area for me I thought I should become familiar with the 'industry standard' - Parachute.
This is a brilliant book, not just for job-hunters; but for anyone who'd like to take stock of their career.
Bolles' 'life-changing job hunt' process is a well thought out, practical and effective methodology for finding a role that you love. It's best summed up using a metaphor he's borrowed from travel writers. They say: lay out all the clothes that you think you'll need and all the money you think you need to take. Now pack half the clothes and take twice the money. Bolles suggests taking all the information you think you'll need about the job market and all the information you think you'll need about yourself, and finding out half that information about the market and twice that information about yourself.
His writing style is homespun wisdom like that of Dale Carnegie. Given that Bolles has revised the book every year since 1970, and has sold over 8 million copies, I think he's entitled to some eccentricities. I think other reviewers' comments about his Christian views and his quirkyness are short-sighted. The conversational writing style reads like advice from a favourite uncle, and as with such advice, you don't have to take all of it.
The front cover says the 2006 edition is "stunningly revised". Not having seen any previous editions, I can't comment on what those revisions are, or whether they are stunning. I can comment on what I liked about the layout. Printed in red and black ink, the red is used for titles, subtitles and highlighting - much like you'd use a highlighter pen. I found much of the red highlights were exactly what I would highlight myself, so useful for future reference.
The book also contains dozens of old pen-and-ink drawings, the subjects of which don't seem to bear any relevance to the surounding text. They do serve to break up the 400-odd pages (which at first can look intimidating) and communicate something of Bolles' unique character, which is quite endearing. Don't take that to mean that this is an old fashioned book - far from it. This seventy-something author (I'm guessing) is perfectly at home writing about Coldplay, Blackberries and recent events like hurricane Katrina and the economic resurgence of China and India.
Whilst Bolles acknowledges his international readership, one slight disappointment is the US focus on all the web references. However, the overall content is excellent.
After some great context setting and research findings about job hunting, Bolles job-hunt methodology starts off, logically enough, by posing the question 'Where on Earth do you want to live?' He then works through the process to identify your favourite interests, people environments, working conditions, values, salary, level of responsibility and skills. Throughout, there are plenty of diagrams, exercises and grids to complete, to help you identify what you need to know (so I don't know what the '...Parachute Workbook' offers in addition to this).
There's a great section on 'Identifying Who Has the Power to Hire You for the Job You're Looking For', along with 'Ten Interviewing Tips' and 'Six Secrets of Salary Negotiation'.
Regardless of whether you're thinking of looking for a job or a career change NOW, this book is valuable for getting you thinking about all the possible career options you have ahead of you. If you are currently looking, I would say this book is far more valuable than all the 'Create a Great CV', 'Great Answers to Difficult Interview Questions' and 'How to do an Internet Job Search' books put together.
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on 7 May 2005
I read this book whilst on the dole in London and on the slippery slope towards being down and out. I found it gave me the inspiration to think outside the obvious and try to find organisations I would fit into, rather than strict job descriptions. Its a very useful book for somebody who is out of work, and potentially excellent if you are considering a redundancy offer.
I disagree with other reviewers about the emphasis on skills. I find, all too often, that employers are very literal about skill requirements and extremely poor at recognising transferable (or even equivalent) skills. The only hitch is of course, if you are out of work you are probably unable to make the financial committment that many skills require, thus leaving you in vicious circle.
My only criticism of this book is the encouragement to search for smaller organisations rather than larger ones. This might be ok for some people but small organisations can be very much dictated by one or two personalities - for worse as well as better, and this can make a very negative working environment that is more difficult to change. On the other hand, large organisations are more change driven and offer far greater opportunity, though as an individual it is much harder to make an impact in a large organisation. Also in my experience in the UK and Ireland, small organisations, often often limited benefits taken for granted in bigger organisations that can have a big effect on your life quality - sick pay, training, health insurance etc. I would definitely advise people to be cautious when talking to smaller companies as its much easier to get into a job you'll end up really unhappy in.
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on 27 November 2000
A friend of mine recommended this book. He used it to leave the horrible world of corporate banking and now works as a successful graphic web designer in London. The main key to the book is that you will never find a job in the classifieds--this book helps you to creatively figure out how jobs will shape and transform themselves for you. I've had another friend use this book, to find a suitable day job so that he can be flexible enough to pursue a dance career, and he's now finished a training course to be a sports therapist.
Ultimately, the author of the book has set out exercises and pretty much a proven method to help any jobseeker, no matter what their background or goal is. I've used this book myself once already for one career move and am now buying the 2001 version to start thinking about the next one.
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on 2 July 2006
Note that this is only the workbook to go with the main 'What Color...' book.

If you have access to a photocopier and can write/draw tables on a wordprocessor or blank sheet of paper then you don't really need it at all!
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I am reviewing the 2000 version of this book. I have not read any more recent ones.
I was uncertain how to rate this book. Compared to other job-hunting guides I have read, it is the best. So it didn't seem fair not to give it a five star rating. On the other hand, compared to what is needed, this book is mired in stalled thinking of the past.
Let me talk about the good first. The book is pretty good on goal setting. Its first piece of major advice is to decide what you have to offer the world. Many people fail to self-assess and become stuck in misconceptions about what their job potentials are. Most people can do more than they think they can. In a tight job market like today, chances are you can get some flexible responses if you look for them.
On the other hand, I thought the third major piece of advice was much more relevant: Go after organizations that interest you the most. Companies are increasingly hiring for attitude, and plan to work with you to add the necessary skills. If you find organizations that turn you on, chances are they will turn you on, too. The current thinking is that companies should have exciting purposes that make a job more like a meaningful adventure. I'd start there, if I were you.
In fact, I was surprised to see the emphasis on skills in this book. That's certainly relevant, but it has not been a dominant factor except for certain types of engineers in over five years. Does Bolles do any new research on the job market before writing each volume?
The best part of the book related to encouraging people to find their mission in life. That's something that most people never do. If you just read that section (inexplicably located near the back of the book -- I'd have put it up front) and apply it, you will more than have gotten your benefit from this book. A good related volume on that subject is Awaken the Giant Within by Anthony Robbins.
Now, on the negative side, the book assumes that you are suddenly on the street and have to find a job quickly. Or so it seems, because there is little in the book that suggests how to prepare to be very hireable when you have a job and are not looking. That's when you can do the most good by accomplishing things that will impress future employers, raising your visibility, networking with people who can give you job leads in the future, and so forth.
Also, the book is awfully complacent about having found the best method for getting a new job. But it doesn't mention the idea of being so much in demand that you are always getting feelers so you never have to look for a job. That works 100 percent of the time.
The advice for getting a job is to find people who can hire and demonstrate skills that can help them to meet their goals. That assumes that those hiring can link you and your job to their goals. That's assuming a lot. I think that better advice would be for them to see you as someone who helps them feel more confident they can accomplish something they care about. That might be simply getting home to dinner with the family on time.
Here's a particularly critical point: What is the environment like in the company? This book treats employers like they are undifferentiated in many ways. Actually, they are more different from one another than they are similar. The advice on how to find out more about big companies before pursuing them is very good.
Despite my reservations, there's a lot of value in here. Good luck in finding an irresistible job! But banish your stalled thinking first!
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on 25 February 2003
I've used this to good effect and recommended it to thousands of clients. I've seen people get their ideal job who I thought were unemployable.
Yes it's a big book, though 2003 is slimmer. Yes it's American and that gives us two advantages: 1) He takes such a positive attitude and can be a great comfort to people who are struggling and feeling really depressed; 2) He shows us what the current trends are in the USA, which are sure to come here eventually.
Please don't work through it slavishly page by page. Read the encouraging chapters at the beginning then CHOOSE. Some people are clear about their talents and goals, but need help with methodology. Some folk are so burnt out they think they have no talents. Some people want a new path and have no idea what's possible.
There are short how to books out there, but none with this comprehensive, cheerful, common sense approach.
If I'd had shares in the book/Ten Speed Press, I'd be rich.
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on 9 April 2002
Everybody needs somewhere to start when they are beginning to work out what they want to do and how to get to that point, and the more interactive the better. This book had strong evangelical and American elements to it which not everybody will find to their taste. An alternative - very practical, less American and very useful book I have just read (which is new I think): Be Your Own Career Consultant by Stuart Neath and Gary Pyke.
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on 15 May 2005
I've used parachute off and on since 1990. I wonder if any of the negative reviewers made any serious attempt to put into practice the techniques and advice in the book...seems that most of the reviewers were more preoccupied with bashing Americans and Christianity. It's amazing how intolerant we've become. Richard Nelson Bolles long running career change "how to" manual is extremely usefull, though not without its flaws. Only the intolerant would find it overly religious and those with an agnostic or atheist bent could easily ignore what are really small indications of what Mr. Bolles world view amounts to. Parachute is fun, quite user friendly and with a little imagination its advice could be adapted and used in may parts of the world.
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on 15 January 2002
Being not quite sure what kind of job I want to move to from being an I.T. Consultant I bought this book in the hope that it would guide me. It has done that and has encouraged me to go out and do... ...not to wait for the jobs to come to me. I haven't finished reading it yet but am already ordering another copy for a friend having a bad time in their career.
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