If you’re a job seeker and haven’t got a copy of the book, ‘what color is your parachute?’, then I strongly recommend that you get one today ( or as soon as possible). The author Richard Bolles who has sold 10 million copies of the book took time out of his busy schedule to answer questions exclusively for a selection of members of my exclusive members’ list.
What you’re about to read is not a transcript, no! Richard kindly wrote the answers to a variety of questions posed by my members and in his answers provides bite-sized advice on how to figure out if you’ve blown an interview, why more than 50% of job seekers abandon their job search, and exactly which kinds of companies ‘yield the most opportunities.’
What drives you and how do you keep motivated?
This is a good question, put in a form popular in our culture, but not a form I’m comfortable with. “Drives you” implies you need a push, an energy —otherwise you’ll fall into lassitude or worse. I have no sense of that in my life. I started out with a firm faith in
— Dick Bolles (@ParachuteGuy) May 6, 2014
Our Creator, and a great love for Jesus Christ. I have given my life to Him, and just watch what naturally unfolds, day by day, week by week, year by year, in the world, in our culture, and in my life.
I’m going along, minding my own business, and then suddenly something will catch my eye. And I follow it. I was all set in my teens to be a newspaperman, like my Dad and his Dad, when chemistry caught my eye; I loved the magic of it: combining two colorless liquids that then explode into royal blue. So I followed that, went to MIT, majoring in chemical engineering. Then the fact that the Church of which I had been a lifelong member thus far (the Episcopal/Anglican Church) was closing 900 churches (small churches, but still, churches) that year, for lack of anyone offering themselves to the sacred ministry, caught my eye. So, deciding that if you weren’t part of the solution, you were clearly part of the problem, I switched to seminary, and got ordained. Then along the way the fact that so many ministers had no clue what to do if their church no longer wanted them or needed them, clergy career change caught my eye. So I followed it, researched better ways to job hunt and change careers, and a whole new life, vocation, and mission, unfolded for me. What drives me? Love of life, love of our Lord, love of the unpredictable, love of the unexpected, a vast desire to help others, and a love of using my own gifts in service to them, and to Him.
Was there ever a time in your life when you were at a low ebb in your professional career and if so, what did you do to get back on track?
It would be lovely if i could truthfully say there was, but I seem to have glided effortlessly from one task to the next, from one job to the next, and from one career to the next. The only semi-low ebb that I can recall was when I was canon pastor of Grace Cathedral in San Francisco, and was let go, due to a budget crunch. (They had five other clergy.) But I never doubted I would find a more meaningful work than the time before. i play music all day long while I’m writing—Berlioz, Schubert, Mama Mia—and I sing much of the day. Old favorites from my youth—”Lazybones, sleepin’ in the Sun”— including hymns. “He leadeth me, Oh blessed thought!” is one of them. That’s how I get back on track.
— Dick Bolles (@ParachuteGuy) November 26, 2015
How did you know that you’d found your niche and how does one go about finding their niche in life?
Again, a good question, but not language that I ever use. A “niche” to me is a recess in a wall, holding a statue or flowers. I prefer to speak of one’s true vocation, or one’s mission, or one’s purpose in life. I think, broadly speaking, one slips into it by accident, not design. At least that’s true for the majority of mankind. “I just love this job, I feel I was born to do this.” “How’d you find that out?” “Oh, I heard this job was vacant, and it sounded intriguing, so I applied for it; and got it.” That’s how most people do it. For those who are more actively, thoughtfully, seeking their true vocation, mission, or purpose, it seems to be found by doing a thorough self-inventory (there’s one in chapter 7 of my book, What Color Is Your Parachute? A Practical Manual for Job-Hunters and Career-changers, 2015 edition (orange cover)). When done carefully, this often turns out to be the doorway to the discovery of that vocation, mission, or purpose.
Have I found mine? Absolutely. Did I do that inventory? You bet. But over, under, beneath, and on top of it all, my vocation, mission and purpose is to serve our Creator. How I do that, where I do that, may vary, as I delight in using one gift He gave me this year, and a completely different one, five years from now. I may move from researching, to teaching, to healing, to counseling, to writing. In that sense, life to me is like a kaldescope: ever beautiful, ever fascinating, ever changing, ever filled with wonder.
Have job search tactics changed in the last few years?
Yes, and no. When I first entered this field (1970) there were no iPhones, iPads, blogs on job-hunting or even the Internet. Now these things are omnipresent in our lives, and that is bound to make a difference in our job-hunting. It has made a difference especially in two particulars.
The first is expectations. Everyone knew, back then, that the job-hunt was a long grind, and might take a long time. Now people expect it will go more quickly. The average time that job-less college grads who have to temporarily move back home are spending on their job-hunt is one hour per week, according ao a survey not long ago. Then there are a multitude of websites that encourage you to post your resume with the expectation they will match it quickly, while you sleep, with some vacancy. People who don’t quickly find a job conclude there are no jobs out there. That’s why in a study of 100 job-hunters who used but one method for their job-hunt, 51 of them abandoned their search by the second month. There is less and less understanding today that the job-hunt may be a long process, and that job-vacancies may be out there that you just can’t find with your present approach.
The second one is form. The job-hunt never alters in its essence, but it does alter in its form. Its essence is two people looking at each other trying to make up their mind whether to go steady—to borrow a phrase from dating. It’s all about human nature, with all its vagaries and eccentricities, and human nature never changes. But the form of this encounter and search does change, and has changed—dramatically over the past few years Job-vacancies used to be found by scouring ads in the Sunday papers; now we look predominantly to the Internet for these. Resumes or c.v.’s used to be hand mailed; now we tend to send them to prospective employers by email. Resumes or c.v.’s used to be mailed to employers one by one; now we can use the Internet to do the equivalent of nailing our resume or c.v. to a post in the town square, for everyone to see. Resumes or c.v.’s used to be individual documents we composed; now employers often make Google our resume, searching for your name and seeing what they can find when you first apply. In former days, if you wanted to get in to see some employer, and wanted an introduction, you usually had to scour your networking list, or list of contacts; now you can search on LinkedIn to find someone you know to make that introduction. Lots of changes in the form of the job-hunt; little change in the essence.
What are the 3 biggest mistakes job seekers make on a resume/cv?
First of all, using one before approaching an employer, rather than saving it for after the interview, so you can tailor it more pointedly to the needs of that employer.
Second, thinking it’s purpose is to sell yourself, rather than simply to gain an invitation to come in for an interview.
Third, keeping the resume focussed on your needs and your wants, as job-hunter, rather than focussing it on the needs of the employer. It is said there are two different kinds of people who come into a room. The first says, “Here I am!!!!” The second says, “Ah, there you are.” Guess which one gets hired.
What steps must a job seeker take in order to find a job that’s suitable because there seem to be few jobs nowadays?
Well, I don’t know how it is in the U.K. but here in the U.S. our government publishes a survey each month called “Job Openings and Labor Turnover.” That report reveals, typically, that around 4.3 million people found jobs the month of the survey, and 3.7 million vacancies remained, unfilled. So, the key word in your question here is “seem”. What steps, therefore, should a job-hunter take? a. Review your choice of job-hunting methods. There are seventeen of them; most job-hunters use only one or two. b. Do research on yourself before you do research on the job market. Inventory all the gifts, knowledges, and experiences that you have to offer to an employer. There is a form for doing that in chapter five of the current (2013) American edition of my book, What Color Is Your Parachute? available on amazon and similar, even int he U.K.
c. Then approach companies or organizations that interest you, whether or not they have a known vacancy. Smaller companies, with 50 or less employees, and newer companies, five years or younger, yield the most opportunities.
What are the fundamental cultural differences to job hunting in the UK as against the USA?
Over the years, dozens of career counselors from the U.K. came over to the U.S. to be trained by me, and they didn’t seem to think there were many differences. But if you want details, you probably ought to ask this question of my friends there, such as: John Lees of Knutsford (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Pete Hawkins of Liverpool (email@example.com) They know the answer far better than I.
What inspired you to write what colour is your parachute and did you envisage that it’d be so successful?
Back in 1969 I had a bunch of friends who were losing their job, right and left. They asked me for counsel and advice. I had none to give. Tired of being an ignoramus, I decided to research the whole field of job-hunting. I self-published the result of my travels and research, in December of 1970. A commercial publisher, Ten Speed Press, asked permission to publish it in 1972, and I said Yes, provided I could revise, update, or even rewrite it, each year. We agreed. And the rest if history. 10 million copies sold to date, and designated by TIME magazine as one of the 100 best and most influential non-fiction works of the past 90 years. Did I see that coming? No, of course not.
Can you ever tell how well you performed in an interview?
If you are observant, you can. Watch to see what time the questions are pointing to. If the employer asks questions like, “Tell me about your work at x corporation, which I see here on your resume,” the time is The Past. If the employer is asking you things like, “What skills do you like to use?: or “How do you get along with other workers?” the time is The Present. If the employer asks questions like, “Where do you see yourself five years from now?” the time pointed to is The Future. If the employer’s questions are moving from the past, to the present, and then to the future, the interview is probably going very well. If it gets stuck back in the past, you’re probably “toast” there. But in that case, always ask the employer at the end, “Could you let me know if you see any other employer looking for someone with my knowledge and my experience.” And write a thank you note that night, reiterating that plea for a referral.
What are the signs to look for if the interviewer is being honest when replying to the interviewee, for example when the interviewee asks the question: Just how did this position become available?
I would not ask that question, but if you’re braver than I am, you had better be able to feel if the employer is being frank or not. Inasmuch as many departures have a bad story behind them, using this kind of question as a test of the employer’s frankness may end up in being a test of the employer’s tolerance for enduring embarrassment. That doesn’t usually get you the job.
What strategies can be used to help an older applicant (such as myself, who enjoys a challenge, using diverse skills and developing new ones) compete in job market?
Thorough, thorough, thorough inventory of yourself. Use the exercises in chapter 5 of the current 2013 American edition of my book for aid and comfort. Then, go look for appropriate work.
How do senior workers remain viable in the workforce without losing the level of responsibility they enjoy?
A lot depends on how much you see work as a chance to use your God-given favorite skills, or how much you see work rather as a reward and certificate of your worthiness.
I’m one of those senior workers you’re talking about. I see nothing wrong with losing the level of responsibility we once had, if the work is still meaningful and useful to society. But my view is shaped by my faith, which prizes St. Paul’s example, cited in his letter to the Philippians: ” I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.”
Dick Bolles—formally known as Richard Nelson Bolles—is the author of What Color Is Your Parachute? A Practical Guide For Job-Hunters and Career Changers, the most popular job-hunting book in the world. TIME Magazine chose it as one of the 100 best and most influential nonfiction books published in the last 90 years. The Library of Congress chose it as one of 25 books down through history that have shaped people’s lives. The book has sold 10 million copies, to date, and is actually rewritten, not simply revised, every year. This year Dick spent four months rewriting two thirds of the previous year’s edition. The current edition is the 2013, available online or in bookstores. The book has been translated into 20 languages and is used in 26 countries. Dick is credited with founding the modern career counseling field (by such pioneers as the late Bernard Haldane), and is often described as its #1 celebrity. He has a website at jobhuntersbible.com, and eParachute.com, a blog at http://jobhuntersbible.typepad.com, and he is on LinkedIn, Plaxo, Facebook, Google+ and Twitter (@ParachuteGuy) He lives in Danville, California with his beloved wife Marci.
So there you have it. What great professional and personal insight and I personally am grateful to Richard for his time and for exclusively providing this kind of knowledge to answer some burning questions