What Color is Your Parachute?

In the world of job hunting, career changing, or simply looking for some purpose in your life, this book has stood out for decades among the rest as a go-to resource for finding out just what you love to do. I’ve reached a point recently (not that recently, actually, 9+ months isn’t recent anymore…) where I’m ready for some change. So this book was my first stop.

Richard Bolles’ approach is so much more than simply where to look for jobs or how to apply. Bolles first lays out that jobs are, in fact, out there and available, despite the depressing news and reports job hunters might see regularly. But before even thinking about fields or jobs, Bolles walks his readers through a self-inventory, the flower exercise, as he calls it. Each person has seven sides that play important roles in selecting a job that they love and that is meaningful. These sides are: the kinds of people you like to work with, the kind of environment you like to work in, transferable skills/things you can do, your goal/purpose/mission in life, your knowledges/special interests, level of responsibility and salary range, and the place you’d like to work. Through a series of detailed steps, Bolles helps you uncover your individual answers to these questions and map them out. Ultimately, you’ll uncover some ideas about what your dream job looks like.

The rest of the book is filled with information on interviewing–both for the job you want, and informational interviewing, talking with people doing that kind of work so you get a better feel for if it’s the right place for you–tips on resumes and how to increase your online presence so when an employer searches you they see professionalism and excellence.

This book is chock full of information, broken down into easy-to-read bites to make the whole process seem a little less daunting. It can be challenging to sit down and do the self-inventory exercises, but it is worth it, as Bolles says time and again, to both know what you love to do and what you’re good at, and to be able to call up examples of your skills and traits, thanks to the research you’ve done before any interviews come up.

I’ve only gotten so far as the self-inventory in the exercises, and haven’t finished up with the mapping of fields and positions that might match my skills, much less picking out places near me that would fit the bill, but while the process is still overwhelming to a degree, I feel much more confident having read this book. For anyone looking for a career change, or even looking for direction before choosing a college major, Bolles’ book is definitely a resource worth having.

Written in an easy, friendly manner, it reads less like a textbook or lecture, and more like a conversation with a trusted mentor, humorous at times, blunt at others. For me, an added bonus was finding out Bolles is a Christian, which means his discussions of meaning, purpose, and mission in life fit with my own definitions and align with what I’m looking for in this change.

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