November 11, 2014

Coloring your parachute and finding a job that pays the bills so you can write

The most popular book on job-hunting ever, What Color Is Your Parachute? by Richard Bolles, began because of clerical cutbacks in his church! When he and other pastors lost their pulpits and church staff lost their jobs, Dick Bolles toured the country collecting information to find out what made a job search most effective.

As people talked about bailing out of their jobs, he playfully asked “What color is your parachute?” giving birth to the title of the first edition, published in 1972 by Ten Speed Press. To keep up to speed since then, Rev. Bolles has updated the book every year and revised according to the changing times, technology, and job-hunting techniques.

Years ago, for example, personnel offices, personal connections, and/or job placement agencies helped most people to get a job. Today, “It’s a Whole New World for Job-Hunters” as the title of the first chapter says and explains before closing on this note:

“He or she who gets hired is not necessarily the one who can do that job best, but the one who knows the most about how to get hired.”

That might not be exactly as we expect! Yes, many of us know about social sites, such as LinkedIn, that can help us to make professional connections, but have you recently Googled yourself and considered what you can find from an employer’s perspective? You will be Googled! And, the fact is, almost no one in charge of hiring will be eager to see foul language, sexist remarks, lewd photos, or radical views aired on the Internet!

Potential employers, however, will be glad to find job candidates who show, not only evidence of skills but a well-rounded résumé, including special achievements, volunteer work, community service, recommendations, awards, and, especially, clear evidence of responsibility, reliability, and readiness to do the job for which you’re applying.

We hear a lot about the decline of the current job market, but a better approach, according to Dr. Bolles, is to ask what, where, and how. As he goes on to suggest, ask:

WHAT are your skills that you most love to use?
WHERE would you most love to use these skills?
And finally, HOW do you go about finding such places?

For example, you might:

“Go after new small organizations with twenty or fewer employees, at first, since they create two-thirds of all new jobs.”

Regarding WHO:

“…once you’ve identified a place that interests you, you really need to find out who has the power to hire you there for the position you want…”


“Basically approach them not as a ‘job-beggar’ but humbly as a resource person, able to produce better work for that organization….”

To assess how resourceful you are can be tricky as some have a tendency to over-estimate their abilities while others under-cut themselves to the core! To be fair to yourself, the book suggests doing a worksheet, listing what you know from previous jobs and from areas outside of work.

Also in that chapter on “You Need to Understand More Fully Who You Are,” a page provides a checklist of adjectives to identify your strongest traits, from “Accurate” and “Adaptable” to “Versatile” and “Vigorous.”

In a somewhat surprising turn, another chapter says “You Get to Choose Where You Work,” after you realize “You Need to Learn As Much As You Can About a Place Before Formally Approaching Them.”

You might be wondering, though, why we’re discussing this In a Christian Writer’s Life blog.

For one thing, I requested a review copy of What Color Is Your Parachute?, which Blogging For Books kindly sent in return for an honest review on my blog, so I’m committed to discussing this somewhere. Although I have several blogs, I chose this one because writers often need a job to support their writing habit. At least, that's what occurred to me initially, but as I read the book, I realized that many of the suggestions can be translated into approaching traditional publishing companies or church denominational headquarters about writing assignments and/ or freelance work.

And then I got to “The Blue Pages.”

At the back of the book, several appendixes have been printed, yes, on blue paper, setting them apart for a quick find. For example, Appendix A discusses “Finding Your Mission in Life,” which totally makes sense if you remember Rev. Bolles began his job search when his pastorate ended. Therefore, he knoweth of what he speaks when he says that figuring out your Mission in life “is a learning process that has steps to it, much like the process by which we all learned to eat.”

In the first step, we “seek to stand hour by hour in the conscious presence of God, the One from whom your Mission is derived.”

Second, we do what we can to make the world better by “following the leading and guidance of God’s Spirit within you and around you.

And third, it gets personal. It gets unique. It gets you:

a) to exercise the Talent that you particularly came to Earth to use – your greatest gift, which you most delight to use,

b) in the place(s) or setting(s) that God has caused to appeal to you the most,

c) and for those purposes that God most needs to have done in the world.

©2014, Mary Harwell Sayler, reviewer and poet-author of 27 traditionally published books in all genres is on a mission to help other Christian Poets & Writers through blogs, writing resources, and e-books such as the Christian Writer’ Guide.

What Color Is Your Parachute? 2015: A Practical Manual for Job-Hunters and Career-Changers, paperback

I received this book for review from Blogging For Books.

Post a Comment