Career Advice Career Books Recommendations

Gold standard

The feted jobhunter’s almanac is back – and better than ever

It is the ultimate golden oldie for job-hunters and those looking to move forward in their careers.

First published in 1972, What Color is Your Parachute? has been thoroughly updated and revised with up-to-the-minute information and cutting-edge tips, ensuring that it is as useful to this generation’s ambitious, career-minded youngsters as it was to previous ones.

There’s also a wealth of new insights for white-collar workers who have read previous editions of this classic – and are possibly doing all the better today as a result.

Published in 22 languages and with 10 million copies sold in over 26 countries, What Color is Your Parachute? is one of the most influential books ever penned on professional development. Its straightforward aims assist the reader in discovering their unique gifts, skills and interests, and, ultimately, land a job.

Naturally, this 2014 edition has been refreshed with the latest statistics, job-field analyses, and advice on social-media and internet search methods, crucially including Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Skype, and YouTube.

However, it has retained its core questions for the reader who has survived the vicissitudes of the post-war years, the explosive economic growth of the Asia-Pacific region and the digital revolution. What do you most love to do? Where do you most love to do it? And how do you find such a job and persuade those employers to hire you? These are basic questions, but they are addressed by Richard Bolles with warmth, intuition and tremendous utility.

What Color is Your Parachute? has always been more than just a standard guide to finding a job; it also helps its readers think outside the box. Bolles duly shines his trusty light on networking, salary negotiation and the business of start-ups – both in getting one going and succeeding.

Embedded in Bolles’ overall strategy of hope is one principle to live by: don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Instead, you should always have alternatives – at least two ways to pitch yourself, or several roadmaps to a job you’d like.

The book gives advice on how to positively use and think of the time you have when you’re looking for a job, an issue not often addressed in similar titles. Bolles’ concept of drawing up an inventory of what you have to offer the world – as an alternative to seeing yourself as a passive jobseeker – is especially powerful and inspirational. In today’s global economy, it’s possible to do this, but it requires you to think differently about who you are and how jobs are presented.

Looking for a job when you don’t have one is always a painful process. This was something fresh graduates once had to go through only once in their lifetime, if they were lucky. However, the digital revolution has not only shifted the paradigm, it has also shifted the paradigms within.

To adapt to all this “baffling newness”, working people of all ages have to look at working life differently. Bolles excels at explaining this.

One chapter, “It’s a Whole New World for Job-Hunters”, answers the uppermost question on many a job-hunter’s mind: how do I adapt to the new Web 2.0 approach of job hunting? The author then analyses the hiring process in detail and gets to the crux of how you should use social media networks.

Another chapter stresses that Google is the new résumé and how hiring managers can no longer resist looking you up online. This chapter offers suggestions on how to manage and enhance your online presence.

Later, in a section titled “There Are Seven Million Vacancies This Month”, Bolles discusses unemployment data and points out the flaws in how the media represent it. He argues that although the ways and means of finding jobs have evolved, the job-hunting process is essentially unchanged. The section stresses that there are no set rules, and that job-hunters should observe, learn and adopt different approaches if the current one does not yield results fast enough.

The book is altogether an excellent resource for new graduates, or indeed any other kind of job-hunter. Job-hunting is, for the large part, a vexing and joyless experience. Perhaps mindful of this, Bolles has ensured that this update is as peppered with humour and levity as previous editions. He uses his famous wit to lift the reader’s spirits, but without diminishing the importance of the onerous and complex tasks that lie ahead. Good job, Mr Bolles, who, incidentally, has only ever had one job – writing and revising Parachute since 1972.  



Bangkok recording-studio owner Guru Irfan Hendrix is a Thai national who studied in the US. He read Parachute and then applied the lessons when he returned to the Thai capital. He has bought several editions over the years and cites what he finds to be its most useful messages.

Be prepared “Always have a back-up plan. And then a back-up plan for that too.”
Spread your skills “Present yourself as a ‘menu’ of options and resources for any prospective employer.”
Advertise your talents “Don’t be ashamed to be the gofer buying the pizza for the session musicians at that minimum-wage recording-studio job. Your boss is observing you, and the time will come when he asks you what else you can do. Be ready to provide answers.”
Never despair “Be personable, even in adversity. It’s not just your competencies that got the job; the guy who interviewed you wants his colleagues around you.”