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Top 5 Tips from What Color is Your Parachute?

Sarah Bartley
Front-end web developer | Moderator for Elphas Can Code | Creator of Disney Codes Challenge
・8 min read

This post was originally published June 8, 2016 on The Original BritishPandaChick. I made changes to this post to work on Code Newbie.

Graduation season is in full swing. Most graduations take place around May-June for high school and college graduates in the US. Graduation isn't just about getting a diploma or degree. It considered an important life event which marks the end of one chapter in a person's life and the start of a new one.

People mark this occasion with celebrations. However graduation isn't just about having a big party for family and friends. Graduates begin to put serious thought into their future plans and what they want to do with their lives.

There are many possibilities and directions people can take which can make it overwhelming and confusing. This is the first of many big decisions people have to make in their lives. If you are one of those people, you aren't alone. There are tons of people who are in the same shoes as you and taken time to figure out what they want to do with their lives.

In the past, I was often undecided about what I wanted to do and often question the direction I was going.

After the tutoring center I worked at closed in 2014, I started to think about the direction I was going. I began doing research on Google when I discovered What Color is Your Parachute?, a career book for job seekers. This book changed my life. Thanks to Parachute, I was able to stop and figure out what I wanted. Today I made a career change from teaching in programming, an industry I am happy and passionate about.

About the Book

Parachute was written by Richard N. Bolles. Bolles is considered an career expert by many publications and organizations. He has done lots of research and consulted with many experts about what works and doesn't work in the job hunting process. Bolles has written several career books, but Parachute is his best know work.

The book was first published in 1970 and was well received by critics and readers. Millions of copies have been sold worldwide and Parachute has been translated into several different languages. By 1975, Bolles started the tradition of revising and releasing new editions each year. These new editions address the job hunting climate job seekers face and provides new resources to help job seekers get the job of their dreams.

Today's post will be looking at tips from last year's edition, but you can get the same tips from any other editions you can find. You can find the book at your local library and at most book retailers. You can also find the book online and audiobook. You can also visit eparachute.com to get lots of resources and advice based on Bolles's book.

==> Click here to learn more about eparachute.com

Bolles, Richard N. What Color is Your Parachute? New York: Ten Speed Press, 2014.

The main content in What Color is Your Parachute? is divided into 11 chapters.

The first chapter primarily describes the job market today and how things have changed since 2008. During this chapter, he describes what both job seekers and employers do in the job hunt. It doesn't matter if it is the amount of time people search for a job or the growing use of the internet. Understanding how to hunt for a job is first thing Bolles wants his readers to understand so they can better find jobs in this new job market. He even compares the job hunting process as playing a game. In order to play the game, job seekers need to understand the rules in order to win.

Bolles then dives into various topics which help job seekers get the job. He discusses the right way to write a resume, interviewing tips, and suggestions about how people can negotiate for the right salary. Other chapters deal with obstacles and challenges job seekers feel that they have to deal with. These chapters discuss career changing, addressing handicaps for a job, and even setting up your own business.

There is something for everyone in this book. As a matter of fact, Bolles uses the first page of the book to outline who this book is for. Although most sections focus on a specific topic, the main purpose of the book is to introduce readers to the Parachute method. The Parachute method focuses on job seekers understanding fully who they are.

In order to do this, he introduces the flower diagram. The diagram helps people visually organize what they know, can do, and what kind of place they want to work at. After introducing the diagram, Bolles guides readers throughout each part of the diagram with various exercises to help readers think about what they want. Once the diagram is complete, he outlines the steps job seekers need to take in order to get the job they want.

5 Great Tips from What Color is Your Parachute?

1. Do the flower diagram exercise!

I know there are people out there who might view the flower diagram as lots of extra work and just want to skip over this exercise. DON'T do it! In order to fully benefit from this book, you have to do the exercise and trust me it does work.

The diagram is a graphic organizer to help you understand how all the information connects with each other to show who you are. That is the entire point of the exercise. It took me a few days to do my flower diagram, but it soon became a very powerful tool I still refer back to today.

2. You are a person, not a role.

Before doing the flower diagram or any inventory about yourself, the first step is actually changing the way you see yourself. When people are asked the question "Who are you?", Bolles mentions people respond with a specific job title. These responses bother Bolles since he thinks a job title keeps some job seekers in the past and it makes job seekers think the job title is the only thing that describes them.

Instead, he suggests people answer this question by using "I am a person who ..." at the start of your response. You are a person with lots of unique knowledges, skills, and experiences. Instead of ignoring this information to fit into a certain job title, Bolles wants you to embrace them since they help define who you are and make you unique.

3. Think about what makes a bad employee.

Interviewing can make anyone nervous. This is especially true for job seekers. However, employers are just as nervous as you are. Employers have to quickly judge if every candidate is the right fit for the company. They are constantly thinking about how much risk each candidate is and if they will bring success or disaster to the organization.

Bolles says you can use this to your advantage by identifying what traits make a terrible employee for the organization you are interviewing for. Does this employee like to do things their own way? Would this employee be the kind of person that shows up late or doesn't come prepared for meetings?

Once you know the qualities that make a bad employee, you can identifying the opposite traits to emphasize in your interview. For example, if a bad candidate is the kind of person who has a negative attitude, you can focus on during your interview showing that you have a positive attitude.

4. Write your own resume!

Every job seeker should try writing their own resume first. There are many services online where they will write your resume for you or have templates you can buy. While this might seem tempting, Bolles isn't too keen on these services. Not only are these services expensive or cost money, writing your resume gives you control and makes it seem more authentic. Employers can tell the difference.

Regardless of what you chose to do, remember there is no such thing as the perfect resume. Every employer is going to have their own opinion of what a good resume looks like. Bolles emphasizes this point by showing readers an example of a resume which got someone a job and describes how employers reacted to the same resume. While employers have different views on a good resume, job seekers must always keep in mind the place and position they are applying for. This information actually determines what your resume should be like.

5. Have a web presence.

The internet has become an important aspect of the job hunting process. Job seekers use it to find jobs while employers use Google to find out more information about potential candidates applying to their organizations. In order to get a job these days, it is becoming important for job seekers to have an active web presence. This will help employers find you and see how passionate you are about the industry you want to work in.

LinkedIn is the most popular way to start developing a web presence. Besides setting up a profile and looking for jobs, you can join groups and follow organizations in the industry. Bolles suggests participating regularly to show you are an expert in your industry. However, job seekers can also use these groups to network with others in the industry and do research on what specific organizations are focused on now.

Another great way to build an web presence is through Facebook. Facebook is still the most popular social media site and you can use this site to join groups related to your interests and industry. It is a great way to meet people in your industry and talk to others about issues related to an industry. You can also follow Facebook pages of organizations you like to stay on top of the latest news for the company and sometimes any potential openings.

The main lesson you should learn from this tip is to get out there and start talking to other people. You never know who you will meet and how that connection can help you on the job hunting process.

Conclusion

What Color is Your Parachute? is a perfect read for graduates and the flower exercise is a great way of helping anyone figure out what they want to do. The advice Bolles offers throughout the book is great for people who are looking for jobs, people making a career change, or just people making a return to the work. I recommend high school students check this book out now so you can get a head start.

If you are interested in reading this book, you can easily find this book online or at your favorite book store. If you like audio books, What Color is Your Parachute? is available on Audible. If you check out the book, you'll find even more content that I didn't discuss such as guides for finding career coaches, tips for returning veterans, and much more.

What does your flower say about you? Describe your results in the comments.

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