In today’s challenging job-market, as recent grads face a shifting economic landscape and seek work that pays and inspires, as workers are laid off mid-career, and as people search for an inspiring work-life change, the time-tested advice of What Color Is Your Parachute? is needed more than ever. This completely updated edition features the latest resources, strategies, and perspectives on today’s job market, revealing surprising advice on what works—and what doesn’t—so you can focus your efforts on tactics that yield results.
This practical manual has been fully revised for 2021 by Vanderbilt University Career Center Director Katharine Brooks, EdD, with modern advice on the job hunt strategies that are working today, such as building an online resume, making the most of social media tools to network effectively, interviewing virtually with confidence, and negotiating the best salary possible.
At its core is Richard N. Bolles’s famed Flower Exercise, a unique self-inventory that helps you design your career—and your life—around your key passions, transferable skills, traits, and more.
With the unique and authoritative guidance of What Color Is Your Parachute?, job-hunters and career changers will have all the tools they need to discover—and land—their dream job.
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About the Author
Read an Excerpt
Introduction to the 2021 Edition
Why are you reading this book?
Maybe someone recommended it to you. Lots of people do that. While working on this latest edition, I lost count of the number of people who told me “my mother bought it for me” or “a friend used that book—and it worked!”
Maybe you’re hoping to change your career, or you’re seeking your first job, or you’re returning to the workplace after some time away. Maybe recent changes in the economy have forced you to seek a new job—or even a new career field. Whatever your job or career challenge, the highly successful system in What Color Is Your Parachute? is your solution. And this new edition has much to offer:
• Updated career advice and information
• Specific guidance on changing careers, no matter your age
• Techniques for winning the mind game of the job search
• Employer-based advice for all aspects of the job search
• Advice for dealing with challenges you fear are holding you back
• Suggestions on how to connect with advocacy groups and others who can support you
• Special tips for job seekers who are introverts
• Updated social media advice, especially for job-search powerhouse LinkedIn
• Helpful rubrics to quickly analyze and improve your resume, cover letter, and LinkedIn profile
• Tips for creating powerful interview stories
• Internet-based job-search techniques and resources that actually work
• Salary and benefits negotiation guidance
• And, of course, the highly popular, successful, and classic Flower Exercise, which has been revised and updated
When What Color Is Your Parachute? was first published in 1970, it revolutionized the concept of job hunting. Unlike traditional guides to the job market, it helped job seekers understand themselves first, then find the jobs that fit, using a mix of good-humored advice and practical strategy. Richard N. Bolles also went against conventional wisdom to update the book annually, keeping it constantly relevant to new generations of job hunters facing changing times. By the time Richard passed away, it had become the bestselling job-hunting book in the world, with numerous awards and more than ten million copies published in twenty-two languages.
I have used his books throughout my own career; whether working in human resources at a department store, studying for my master’s degree in rehabilitation counseling (where this book was required reading), or providing career counseling and coaching to a broad range of individuals through good and bad economic times. It was an honor to be asked to work on this edition and continue the important tradition of yearly revision.
Much of What Color Is Your Parachute? is written in the first person, so throughout this book you will see the word “I.” Sometimes it will refer to Richard Bolles; sometimes to me. Most of the time it doesn’t matter. Where the ownership of the statement is significant, you’ll see (RB) after statements attributable to Richard Bolles and (KB) after statements attributable to Katharine Brooks.
What I love about the Parachute system is the level playing field it provides for all job seekers in every employment sector. In Richard’s writings, you see his timeless advice and wisdom in action. His compassion and respect for all workers. His emphasis on the importance of choosing your career and not letting the job market choose it for you. His encouragement to take the time to do a thorough self-evaluation before hitting the job market. And his belief in the importance of all careers, from pipe fitters to harp builders to doctors. With his usual aplomb, he deconstructed the holy grail of every job seeker: a job that fits your passions and fulfills your life mission. And he was quite transparent, practical, and honest in his approach to that search.
On the top of my computer, I have a sticker that reads “This Isn’t Career Development. This Is Rocket Fuel.” Well, Richard and I don’t have a rocket, but we do have a parachute to offer you. A way to land efficiently and happily in this crazy, messy landscape we call the job market. Safe and fulfilling journeys to you all.
—Katharine “Kate” Brooks