What Color Is Your Parachute? 2010: A Practical Manual for Job-Hunters and Career-Changers

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What Color Is Your Parachute? has been the bestselling job-search book in the world for more than three decades, in good times and bad, and it continues to be a fixture on best-seller lists, from New York Times to BusinessWeek. It has sold more than 10 million copies and has been translated into 20 languages around the world. What Color Is Your Parachute? is streamlined this year to help those struggling to find part-time and full-time employment in these hard economic times acquire the job-search tools they need faster and more efficiently. This classic job-search book is, as always, updated and relevant to today’s job market.   

Career guru Richard N. Bolles leads job-searchers to find meaningful employment. He asks, WHAT skills do you most love to use? Where—in what field—would you most love to use them? And how do you search for such a job without depending on employment agencies and ads? This book is not only about finding a job in hard times. It’s about finding your passion. In the words of Fortune magazine: “What Color Is Your Parachute? remains the gold standard of career guides.”

This New York Times and BusinessWeek bestseller answers such questions as:

• I was just laid off from my current job. What do I do first?
• What are the most helpful job sites on the Internet, out of the thousands that are there?
• What are the five best–and worst–ways to hunt for a job?
• I haven’t a clue how to do salary negotiation. Help!
• In general, what are employers looking for?
• What interview questions can I expect to be asked, and how do I answer them?
• I’m over 50. What special problems do I face when I go job-hunting?
• How do I survive financially while I’m out of work, and how do I find health insurance when I have no employer?

[This is the trade paperback edition.]

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“Forty years after it first was self published...What Color Is Your Parachute? remains a perennial favorite for job hunters.” “(It’s) the old standby, tried and true,” said Birmingham-Southern College’s Director of Career Services Michael Lebeau. “(It’s) the one that started it all.”
—Birmingham News 2010
Starred as essential for all library collections. “A best seller for 40 years, this annual guide gives great advice on choosing a suitable career, as well as how to find a job.”
—Library Journal 2010
“One of the most popular job-hunting guides has been streamlined for 2010. The new edition…tells readers how to find a job more efficiently than ever before.”
—amNew York 2010
“one of the first job hunting books on the market and remains one of the bestselling books of all time.”
—Boston Sunday Globe 2010
“the godfather of all pavement-pounders”
—Mark Lange, a former presidential and Labor Department speechwriter who wrote the 1991 State of the Union address (also a contributing writer for Christian Science Monitor 2010)
“Richard deserves sainthood for all the people he’s helped over the last 27 years. He boils career-searching down to three basic steps: What, Where and How.”
—Bob Rosner, United Features Syndicate’s “Workplace 911” columnist 2010
“one of several books that changed my life. ...it’s been in print for almost four decades for a reason.”
—New Age Retailer 2010
What Color Is Your Parachute? is about job-hunting and career-changing, but it’s also about figuring out who you are as a person and what you want out of life.”
—Barbara Kiviat, Time magazine 2009
Called Dick Bolles: “guru of all things career related.”
—Bob Rosner, United Features Syndicate’s “Workplace 911” columnist 2009
“I read What Color Is Your Parachute? years ago and found it to be a very empowering book.... Now What Color Is Your Parachute? 2010 is being promoted as the ‘Hard Times’ edition, and again I’m impressed with the information it provides to allow its readers to seize the day. ...All useful stuff that’s more about your quality of life and less about just landing a job.”
—Knoxville News Sentinel 2009
A “category killer.”
—Library Journal 2009
“fortified with fresh advice for job hunting in tough times.”
—Content That Work’s Jobweek 2009

“He’s a preacher. He’s a career counselor. He’s a warm washcloth over the eyes of the desperately unemployed.”
—Searcher: The Magazine for Database Professionals 2009
“Job seekers, don’t despair. Richard Bolles is on your side. At 81, his life’s work has been about how to find a job. And not just any job, but the career of your dreams. Even in a recession.” 
—Sacramento Bee 2009
“Chock-full of revisions and tips relevant to today’s circumstances.”
—San Francisco Chronicle 2009
“The newest edition has been rewritten, updated and expanded to offer tools, support and hope to help job-seekers even in the worst of economic times.”
—McClatchy-Tribune News Service 2009
“There’s Parachute, and then there’s all the rest.  . . . Parachute is not just a best-seller, not just a practical manual, and not just a life-changing book. It’s a work of genuine love and compassion.”
—Career Planning and Adult Development Journal 2009. 
“Find success in your job search by picking up a copy of What Color Is Your Parachute?
—Complete Woman 2009
Parachute has been a perennial favorite of the ‘job transition’ genre.  . . . Bolles’ thoughts and website can help a job seeker at any starting point.”
—Sunday Las Vegas Review Journal 2009

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781580089876
  • Publisher: Ten Speed Press
  • Publication date: 9/22/2009
  • Pages: 336
  • Product dimensions: 6.06 (w) x 8.98 (h) x 0.77 (d)

Meet the Author

RICHARD N. BOLLES has been a leader in the career development field for more than thirty-five years. He was trained in chemical engineering at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and holds a bachelor’s degree cum laude in physics from Harvard University and a master’s in sacred theology from General Theological (Episcopal) Seminary in New York City. He lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with his wife, Marci.

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Read an Excerpt

Part I
Finding a Job . . .
It was the best of times,
It was the worst of times,
It was the age of wisdom,
It was the age of foolishness,
It was the epoch of belief,
It was the epoch of incredulity,
It was the season of light,
It was the season of darkness,
It was the spring of hope,
It was the winter of despair,
We had everything before us,
We had nothing before us,
We were all going direct to heaven,
We were all going direct the other way . . .

Charles Dickens
A Tale of Two Cities

1. Finding a Job . . . Even in Hard Times: Rejection Shock

Charles Dickens had it right. For some of us, this is the worst of times. Our house has been foreclosed, or seen its value drop dramatically. Fuel costs are killing us. Rice is scarce, and getting scarcer. Food prices are soaring. Businesses are folding. Companies are cutting their work force dramatically. Millions are out of work.

But there are others who are barely touched by any of this. They cannot understand what we are going through. At least 138,000,000 people still have jobs, in the U.S. Some of them, well-paying jobs. They are well off, and in some cases, have money to burn. For them, this is the best of times. They cannot understand our pain.

But we, when we are out of work, go looking for another job; but we, when we are finding it difficult to feed our families, go looking for a better-paying job. And that is when we run into the nature of the job-market, and the nature of the job-hunt. It isn’t as easy as we thought it was going to be.

Tom Jackson has well characterized the nature of the job-hunt as one long process of rejection. In job-interview after job-interview, what some of us hear the employer say is:


Before we get to that final YES–or if we are lucky, two YESES, so that we have a choice–before we get there, the job-hunt is nothing but one long process of rejection. And we, so unprepared for this, go into a kind of Rejection Shock.

Naturally, we have questions.

I just lost my job. How many others are in the same predicament?

Well, you’ve got lots of company. As of June 2009, the number of people out of work totaled at least 14,500,000 individuals. And that’s a government figure. In the U.S. there are always many more people out of work than the government will ever admit–regardless of which party is in power.

Will I need a computer and Internet access, to go about my job-hunt in this twenty-first century?

It’s not mandatory, and if you don’t have a computer, there are non-Internet job-hunting resources, of course. For example, if because you lack a computer you can’t access Job-Postings by employers on the Internet, you can always look at the Help Wanted Ads in your local newspaper, especially the Sunday edition.

There are also regional papers devoted to nothing but job openings, such as JobDig, which, at this writing, publishes fourteen local weekly newspapers in twelve states, mostly midwestern (from Minnesota down to Texas). A subscription for thirteen weeks costs job-hunters $65. Call 877-456-2344 to see whether or not there’s a local paper covering your part of the country.

According to the latest figures, however, at least 74.7 percent of Americans use the Internet, which adds up to 227 million users. Others, of course, usually have a friend who can go on the Internet for them.

Moreover, if you know how to use a computer but just don’t happen to own one at the moment, many public libraries as well as Internet cafés can let you use their computer for a fee. (To locate the Internet café nearest you, have a friend use his or her computer, to input your zip code into the comprehensive directory found at www.cybercaptive.com.)

In view of this virtual omnipresence of the computer in our culture now that we are firmly in the twenty-first century, I have freely listed job-hunting resources that are found only on the Internet throughout the rest of this guide.

What are the most helpful job sites on the Web?

For overall free guides to the entire job-hunt process, in addition to my own website, www.jobhuntersbible.com, there are seven sites you will find are the most comprehensive and helpful:

1. www.job-hunt.org, run by Susan Joyce.

2. www.jobstar.org, run by Mary Ellen Mort.

3. www.rileyguide.com, run by Margaret F. Dikel.

4. www.quintcareers.com, run by Dr. Randall Hansen.

5. www.cacareerzone.org, run by the California Career Resource Network. Once you are on the home page, it gives you a choice between running the site under Text, Graphic, or Flash. Choose Graphic.

6. www.asktheheadhunter.com, run by Nick Corcodilos.

7. www.indeed.com, run by a privately held company founded by Paul Forster and Rony Kahan, with the New York Times Company among its shareholders. This is the answer to a job-hunter’s prayer. There are lots of job-boards out there, thousands in fact; these, if you don’t know, are websites that list employers’ job-postings, i.e., vacancies. Such postings are also to be found on employers’ own company or organization sites. Want to look through every one of them? No, you don’t. What you want is something that sweeps through all of them for you, and summarizes what it finds–in just one place. What you need is a site such as Indeed (URL above). It is the most comprehensive job search service on the Web, as it plucks job listings from thousands of company websites, job boards, newspapers, and associations. It has a UK site, whose URL, not surprisingly, is www.indeed.co.uk.

My picture of the job-hunt during this computer age, is that you call up a search engine, like Indeed, and input the job-title you’re looking for, and the geographical area you’d prefer, and by the next morning or within a few days at most, you’re told there is a match. A match between your experience and skills, on the one hand, and what some employer is looking for, on the other hand, with a vacancy they’re trying to fill.

Ah, you’re exactly right. That’s how it works, these days. There are thousands of testimonials from job-hunters who have used the Internet successfully, to find a match, and thence a job. But this job-matching doesn’t work for every job-hunter. In fact, it doesn’t work for the vast majority of job-hunters.

Why not?

Well, job-matching works by using job-titles, and job-titles are, generally speaking, a big problem for the Internet. Well, not a big problem when you’re looking for a job that has a simple title, such as administrative assistant, or gardener, or nurse, or driver, or waitress, or mechanic, or salesperson. Any of these should turn up a lot of matches.

But, you may be looking for a job that various employers call by differing titles, and that’s an entirely different ballgame. If you guess wrongly what they call the job you’re looking for, then you and those employers will be like two ships passing in the night, on the Internet high seas. Your faithful, hardworking computer will report back to you in the morning: No matches, when in fact there actually are. You just didn’t guess correctly what title those employers are using. Oops!

Another problem: you may be looking for a job-title that essentially has disappeared from the workforce. Over the centuries, our economy has moved from one largely based on agriculture, to one largely based on manufacturing, to one largely based on information and services. As each transition has occurred, certain job-titles have essentially disappeared from the workforce, and in large numbers. Oh, they’re still around, but in such small numbers that no one tells the Internet. Blacksmith is one example that comes to mind. There are blacksmiths, still; I happen to know of one of them. But I wouldn’t count on the Internet turning up many matches, if any, with this title. The same fate generally awaits job-titles with the old words assembly line and manufacturing in them. As Senator John McCain truthfully told Michigan voters back in 2008, Those jobs aren’t coming back.

Finally, job-titles are a problem for an Internet search because a particular search program on the Internet may depend completely on beginning with a prepared list of job-titles that you are required to choose from, and in the interests of space and speed their menu may only offer you a choice between two dozen or so job-titles, which does not come even close to mentioning all the possibilities; i.e., the 20,000 job-titles that are out there in the workforce–including, of course, the one that you are searching for, in particular.

So sure, Internet job-matching works. Sometimes. Beautifully. You must try it, using Indeed, or a general search engine such as Google, or Metacrawler. Input anything or everything you can think of to describe what you are looking for.

But know ahead of time that you can’t count on it necessarily working for You. In the end, it’s a big, fat gamble. And not at all the sure thing that so-called experts would have you think it is.

So, how many job-hunters who try to find a match, fail to find a match, on the Internet?

There are various answers to that question. Take your pick: (1) Lots and lots. (2) 90 percent, studies say. (3) ? Big question mark. Studies are notoriously unreliable, so–in the end–we don’t really know. We’re just left with lots and lots.

So, if you conclude that Internet job-matching is a big, fat gamble, that’s all you really need to know.

Oh, and one more thing. Know this: it doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with you, if the Internet can’t match you with a job. The problem is the system itself.

Well then, given all this, how long should I expect to be out of work?

This varies, hugely, due to a number of variables: what kind of work you’re looking for, what part of the country you live in, the state of the industry, how old you are or how young you are, and–above all else–how you’re going about your job-hunt.

But you need to be prepared for the fact that your job-hunt might last nineteen weeks or more. In fact, as of the date I am writing (June 17, 2009), 3,900,000 people in the U.S. had been looking for work for twenty-seven weeks or more. It’s possible that you’ll find work sooner; but you’ve got to be prepared for the fact that you may not.

Okay, if there’s a chance that my job-hunt may take much longer than I expected, what’s the first thing I should do?

Sleep. Catch up on your sleep. You’re kidding. No, I’m not. Overall, you would be wise to think of your job-hunt as an endurance contest, analogous to running a marathon. Especially if it does last nineteen weeks or longer. You need to start training, before you run this endurance contest.

Experience teaches us that you should begin by drawing down your sleep deficit.You’ve probably got one. Chances are, that up until recently you’ve been working long hours, trying desperately to survive, so now your body and your brain are at the point of exhaustion, without you even noticing.

The last thing you want to do, is to launch yourself into a long job-hunt when you’re this tired. So, let it be your first goal to catch up on your sleep, in order that your body and mind can be working at optimum condition as you set out on your job-hunt. You will think more clearly, and make better decisions, if you’re not so tired. For guidance about how much and how long, see www.medicinenet.com/sleep/article.htm.

But I haven’t time to catch up on my sleep.
Yes, you do. You’ve probably got nineteen weeks ahead of you. Relax. Start sensibly. Begin by catching up.

Many of us are also helped by a fifteen- to thirty-minute nap during midday, after lunch. It helps keep stress down. I had an aunt who started taking naps at the age of thirty-two, and lived ’til she was ninety-seven. Maybe we humans weren’t made to go from wake-up until bedtime, all on one big gulp of sleep. Break the sixteen hours in half. There is wisdom to be learned from countries that have siestas. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Siesta.

The tendency, after you’ve unexpectedly lost your job, is to curl up in a little ball, assume the fetal position, and turn the electric-blanket up to 9. But job-hunting requires that you get out there. So, begin a regular regimen of daily walking, starting now, even if it’s only down to the main road, and back, at first. You can increase the distance, after you’ve increased your stamina a bit.

And, while you’re at it, I know you have enough sense to watch your diet while you’re out of work. Eating your way out of feeling low is a real temptation; but putting on, oh, say, one hundred more pounds won’t make you look so hot when it comes to the job interview. That’s pretty obvious. Not so obvious is your body’s need for water. Not fluids, like coffee, tea, or cola, but actual water. A lot of things can go wrong with the human body if it gets dehydrated without your even noticing. Believe me, you do not want to be sick while you’re job-hunting. If you want to get more guidance about this, see www.watercure.com/faq.html.

Possibly nineteen weeks or more is very bad news for me. I’m in a precarious state financially, right now. Where can I go for help with my expenses during my job-hunt?

Unemployment insurance. You probably know all this, but just in case you don’t: these are cash benefits that run for a certain number of months while you are unemployed, and are available in the U.S. from your state government, if you regularly report in to them, on how your job-hunt is going. To learn how to apply, go to your computer (or to a computer at your local library, if you don’t personally own one) and type the following two pieces of information into your Internet browser (such as Google or Metacrawler): the name of your state, plus the words unemployment insurance benefits. Once on site, look for the words unemployment benefits. Or, go to: www.rileyguide .com/claims.html. Free.

(Naturally, greed being what it is, you will find some enterprising souls have put up websites promising that for a fee they will help you file for unemployment benefits. You picture someone sitting down beside you, and helping you fill out the application form, line by line. And maybe showing you the secret of collecting some big bucks. Right? Unfortunately, their help is just a booklet, for which they’ll charge you around ten bucks, irrevocably [We do not refund payment for any . . . reason]–after they first get you to cough up all your personal information. [On the pretext of tailoring their program to your special needs!] All they will then do is send or let you download that booklet [their program] telling you how to go file, yourself.

Oh, please!! You can get the same information, and better, costing you absolutely nothing, by just using your Internet browser, as I described above.)

Food stamps. To see if you are eligible for help go to: www.fns.usda.gov/fsp/applicant_recipients/10steps.htm. This is from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and is titled: 10 Steps to Help You Fill Your Grocery Bag Through the Food Stamp Program: Learn If You or Someone You Know Might Be Eligible for Food Stamps.

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Table of Contents

The 2010 Table of Contents

Preface: The Diary of a Grateful Man x

Part I
Finding a Job . . .

1. Finding a Job . . . Even in Hard Times: Rejection Shock 3
2. Finding a Job . . . Even in Hard Times: Think 13
3. Things School Never Taught Us about Job-Hunting: Five Best Ways to Hunt for a Job 24
4. Things School Never Taught Us about Job-Hunting: How to Deal with Handicaps 37
5. Things School Never Taught Us about Job-Hunting: Resumes and Contacts 49
6. Things School Never Taught Us about Job-Hunting: Interviews 71
7. Things School Never Taught Us about Job-Hunting: Salary Negotiation 99
8. Things School Never Taught Us about Job-Hunting: How to Choose a New Career When You Must 115
9. Things School Never Taught Us about Job-Hunting: How to Start Your Own Business 124
10. Things School Never Taught Us about Job-Hunting: Entering the World of 50+ 143

Finding a Life . . .

11. Finding a Life . . . The Flower Exercise: The Parachute Workbook (Updated 2010) 155

The Green Pages
Appendix A: Finding Your Mission in Life 245
Appendix B: A Guide to Choosing a Career Coach or Counselor 264
Appendix C: Sampler List of Coaches 280

Index 304

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 28 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 30, 2010

    search jobs at hound

    Hound, unlike its competitors, only lists job openings from employer's websites eliminating the middle man of job boards. Their well-trained team spends hours daily browsing the various employer's career pages looking for and categorizing all entries. The team at Hound even searches regional and local employment guides that cannot be found anywhere else on the Internet.

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted April 24, 2010

    I Also Recommend:


    We lost our job in our work industry which came to a screeching halt after Obama bailed out all the banks with no direction on how they should conduct business after being bailed out. Anyway, our industry came to a halt only due to banks not lending & financing projects. This led us on a desparate search for direction after being well into our mid-fifties and back out on the street at this age. Well this all happened in Feb. and today is mid April, and by the grace of god we are back at work in a little bit different job, but still at the surface at what we specialize in...and it happened here in one of the most jobless and depressed states. This book was very motivational, and gave my husband "hope"...but first and foremost, God is what got us through..If you keep in Faith & Attitude, God will touch you too. I'm thankful that books like this exist because you have no idea what its like to have everything taken from you in one sweep; instead of looking forward to retirement, we are back at square 2 in trying to rebuild our retirement...but we do have a roof over our head still and food on the table that's what we are thankful for. But this book is very motivating and will bring new hope and desire to all who are suffering or feel they are to old to start over.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 14, 2010

    Job Search Bible

    Everyone must read this book, even if you are not looking for a job.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted February 22, 2010

    Unemployed? It's time to read this book!

    This edition helped me get through some of the difficult days of looking for work (e.g. when you want to give up looking for work). This book has a little bit of something for everyone if you take the time to read it through and do some of the exercises or really "think" about what it is that you want to do next (or perhaps, let go and don't look back). What you get out of this book is up to you. It won't be the same for everyone, but I recommend this book.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 20, 2010

    Amazing book

    I'm a junior in college and trying to figure out what to do with my life. This book has helped me out tremendously. It has something for everybody looking or interested in a new job or what best suits them. Definitely would recommend this book!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 14, 2010

    Not Sure

    This book seems to say the obvious. Personally, I just like using Hound dot com to look for jobs because it has jobs only from employer websites and far more jobs than you will find on other job boards. It really cuts out the spam you find at the major job hunting sites.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 11, 2009


    ... i sigh because i am skeptical of self-help books. But when i found myself recently laid-off yet standing in line about to unwisely spend a portion of my now-dwindling funds i saw this book & realized that i could use all the help i could get.

    It is not a "fun" read but it is a pleasure to read; in reading it i realized that i was not nearly as alone as i felt, that i might be at float in this giant ocean of unemployment but not now without a tool with which to navigate.

    Buy it, work with it - employed & unhappy, unemployed & searching, just in need of assistance - You simply won't regret it. HEY, You owe it to Yrself!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 5, 2009

    Excellent for anyone trying to decide on school or professional interests.

    Excellent for students trying to decide on professional interests.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 20, 2009

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    Posted December 11, 2009

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    Posted November 22, 2009

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    Posted February 2, 2010

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    Posted January 12, 2010

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    Posted July 27, 2010

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    Posted November 30, 2009

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    Posted October 28, 2009

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    Posted February 6, 2010

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    Posted January 28, 2010

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    Posted February 21, 2010

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