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What Color Is Your Parachute? 2014: A Practical Manual for Job Hunters and Career Changers

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The world's most popular job-search book is updated for 2014 to tailor its long-trusted guidance with up-to-the-minute information and advice for today's job-hunters and career-changers.
In today's challenging job-market, the time-tested advice of "What Color Is Your Parachute?" is needed more than ever. Recent grads facing a tough economic landscape, workers laid off mid-career, and people searching for an inspiring work-life change all look to career guru Richard N. Bolles for support, encouragement, and nuts-and-bolts guidance on landing a job. Combining classic elements like the famed Flower Exercise with updated advice on social media and search tactics, this revised edition outlines what works--and what doesn't. Bolles demystifies the entire job-search process, from resumes to interviewing to networking, expertly guiding job-hunters towards their dream job.

368 pages, Hardcover

First published January 1, 1970

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About the author

Richard Nelson Bolles

56 books83 followers
Dick Bolles, more formally known as Richard Nelson Bolles, was a former Episcopal clergyman, a member of high-IQ society Mensa, and the author of the best-selling job-hunting book, What Color is Your Parachute? The book remained on The New York Times best-seller list for more than a decade and has sold over 10 million copies.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,024 reviews
Profile Image for David.
24 reviews4 followers
March 27, 2018
The book never addresses the central question: what color is your parachute? In fact, parachutes (of any color) are never mentioned at all.
Profile Image for Jan-Maat.
1,534 reviews1,787 followers
August 19, 2021
I had imagined this would be a simple guide helping people to gain employment, little did I realise that this was all to the greater glory of God and would have nothing to do with parachutes.

"God loves a Trinity", the particularly irritating little kid who used to regularly beat me at chess when I was a student in Russia used to like saying, and true to this philosophy Mr Bolles' book is also divided into three parts
Being no expert in the nature of God it strikes me that unemployment is a bit like the problem of evil in theology, and so dragging God into a book about job-searching is a bad idea, not so for our author and former episcopalian priest who seems to find the idea of self-service simply divine. And this is the key to the whole book, I was reminded of Dale Carnegie's how to win friends and influence people - in that both seem to be men who found a purpose, and a comfortable living, through their books which ostensibly are about helping other people to find a purpose and a comfortable living. As I was reading recently the only way to make yourself wealthy through self-help books is to write one. Having finished the book and in light of the importance for Bolles of finding out what God's purpose is for you the reader, it now is clear why he begins with a discussion of how great is wife is, a hospitable, coffee brewing, cake baking spouse. The good spouse is a sign of being at one with God's purpose, along with a sufficiently comfortable standard of living, therefore Bolles' exposition, in an inverse humility topos, of his great relationship with his wife is meant to reassure the reader that he is rewarded by God and therefore is more or less at one with God and therefore a reliable guide in assisting you to find God's purpose for you in life in exchange for the cover price of the book.

It is mildly curious then to observe that all Bolles examples about living in accordance with God's will have nothing to do with the difference between being in or out of work, but instead are all about how you conduct yourself while either in work or out of it.

Working now from the back towards the front of the book we come to the flower section in which you fill in the petals of a flower to show yourself flibbertigibiwasimaticallitcanhardlybebotheredtoexplainbecausereallyitisanoverlabouredexerciseabout values, if you've done Schein's Career Anchors, or some personality testing, or read a horoscope then you know the kind of thing involved. It does strike me that you'd generally try to work your values into a CV (or Resume), covering letter or job application, or maybe you don't.

What I liked about the first section was its helpful advice - job hunting is tiring and depressing so the job hunter needs to rest, if you are scared in an interview the interviewer probably is too, the low rates of success of most methods of searching for jobs, you put your CV out into the world to work for you and this creates the sense of an ideal CV - if only you could get the wording just right that the invitations to interview would never stop coming in - and depression as a consequence when they don't and so on. But this was coloured by Bolles' fixation about Schools, presumably in the US sense of institutions of tertiary education, not teaching all the things that he was laying out in his book. I felt here he could instead be grateful as this was allowing him an opportunity to earn a dollar, and that secondly that colleges of tertiary education have their own programmes to deliver, and the careers advice that Bolles was dispensing could be reliably transmitted in about a half dozen printed A4 handouts from a careers office - its not something that requires formal teaching or a place on the curriculum. His mileage does differ. However I couldn't shake the impression from the language and phrasing used in the examples of what to say in job interviews or thank you notes, that Bolles' mental model of a job-hunter was Cary Grant in an old Black and White film.

Looking over this I feel mildly excited, or perhaps that is an after-effect of the cough medicine I've been taking, here I've got another fine specimen of US thought post Second Great Awakening, typical concerns - rejection of the state, searching for God, confidence that a purposeful and purposive life will bring material reward. If I was the kind of person who kept dead fish up on the wall in glass cases it would deserve a place with them. Since I'm not, it's back in the loch for you Nessie!

Apparently it is not just me who notices that there is a lot of religion in the modern economy.
Profile Image for Rachel Smalter Hall.
355 reviews211 followers
August 18, 2011
I picked up this book at a time in my life when I was like, "ok, Rachel, it's time to figure some stuff out." Along came Richard Bolles, like my own sweet little Grandpa giving me life advice. He actually had me doing all the cheesy exercises -- lists, graphs, venn-diagrams, even a flower chart for Pete's sake. And in the end, gosh darnit, I knew I was going to move back to the Midwest and become a librarian!

FYI, this book does have some serious Christian overtones, but Grandpa Bolles is pretty low-key about it. It kind of makes you want to hug him, actually.
Profile Image for j e w e l s.
307 reviews2,341 followers
October 15, 2017
This is THE handbook on what to do with the rest of your life! I read this many moons ago when I first graduated from high school and then a few years after that when I had a college degree in my hands. The book is a must-read guide to navigate the confusing job search we all encounter from time to time.

I was so curious as to whether the new edition would hold up in a cyber dependent world. The answer is YES! The book still offers invaluable advice as to resumes, interviews and prioritizing your wants and needs in the adult world. There is no end of information on occupations and the requirements and payoffs of each. And now, there are literally hundreds of web links and sites listed to aid you in your job search.

Included in the newest edition is a chapter on how important your online presence is to your job search. There is information on Linkedin, networking and everything in between.

Thank you very much to the publisher and the wonderful folks at Blogging for Books. They sent me a copy in exchange for my honest review.
Profile Image for Begum Sacak.
135 reviews102 followers
October 15, 2016
If you are looking for a book which tries to teach you what you already know, this book is good for you. Other than a few useful websites and tips on finding jobs/your skills, this book was a waste of my time. At the end, the author surprises you by revealing his strong Christian faith; I just don't understand why on earth you would include a huge faith section on a job hunting book. He could have talked about faith in general. Well, this is my personal opinion, but I didn't like this book at all.
Profile Image for Bren fall in love with the sea..
1,561 reviews259 followers
September 30, 2021
Reread. Fantastic as ever.

“Always define WHAT you want to do with your life and WHAT you have to offer to the world, in terms of your favorite talents/gifts/skills-not in terms of a job-title.”

What Color Is Your Parachute? 2015
by Richard Nelson Bolles

Does anyone EVER know what they want to do with their life?

If not, this book is certainly worth reading.

Actually scratch that..read it even if you think you DO know. It's that good.

I have actually read many versions of this book. Bolles would update it regularly and I always read the updated versions. It is interesting to read the first version, written so long ago, and then read the current version which is packed full of information about the internet which did not exist when he originally wrote this book.

So I have had many different jobs in my life from Executive Recruiter, Outside Sales, inside sales, Political Poller, school admissions rep, market research.

I have very rarely felt I was doing what I was put on this plane to do. I think most people would say that. Who really LOVES their job? If you are one of the lucky ones, I envy you.

Sales was a skill that came easily to me but it is rather soulless and I never loved it even though I did it for so long.

In his book, Bolles talks about sooo much but really encourages the reader to take a look at themselves and who they are and what their passions are versus what their skills are. He wants everyone to do what they love. And though, that is impossible for many..there have been quite a few success stories that came from reading this book.

There are quizzes and exercises and so much info. I loved reading about the Holland Code which I still take semi regularly. That involves finding what TYPE of job is a fit for you. There are six categories.

Artistic..artist, graphic design etc

Realistic..plumber, forest ranger, truck driver etc

Social..social worker, career coach, teacher etc

Enterprise...sales, business owner etc

Conventional..administrative, payroll, accountant etc

Investigative..chemist, cyber security etc

I usually come out high on Enterprise and artistic and very very low on Realistic.

It is a great book, a classic. More than that, it is a FUN book. Do not get me wrong. You will not immediately read this and know your life's mission. But you will have a great time exploring possible career choices with Bolles guiding you and who knows? You will be one or two steps closer if nothing else.

In this age of Covid, it is even tougher. But I would highly recommend this book. It remains my all time favorite on the wonderful(not so) world of job hunting.
Profile Image for Kevin.
14 reviews1 follower
March 15, 2010
Seriously, this book is one of the best selling career self-help guides? I find that hard to believe. My issues with this book:

1) Awkward, and at times incomprehensible, sentence syntax. Dick Bolles comes across as a doofus with too much time on his hands who just decided to sit down and write a book, and not as a job-market-savvy consultant.

2) Seriously stupid advice. "Try a search engine, like Google, or Yahoo, or your favorite one if you have one." Yeah, thanks for the advice, Dick. I never thought to Google jobs in my field. It gets worse; he has you draw pictures of flowers and fill in all sorts of diagrams and tables to help you find the job that's right for you. What do you do if you already know where you want to work and are having a hard time getting into those jobs? This book does not say.

In all it was a huge waste of my time to read this book, I'd have been better off finding jobs, writing cover letters, and tweaking my resume. I guess if you've never, ever had a job that's required a resume and cover letter before, this book may be helpful, but most of the advice Dick Bolles provides is obvious and useless.
Profile Image for Greg.
330 reviews
June 25, 2015
One of the important skills one should have in our modern society is the ability to look and be successful in getting a job. Unfortunately, many of us are not well-equipped nor skilled enough to navigate our way around the job market. Moreover some of us are intentionally or unintentionally misinformed by others on how we should go about the transition in between jobs. We are getting multitude of answers and finally get a job only to find out that we are not satisfied; then the cycle starts again.

But good news! There is a book that can help us not just only to get a job but find ourselves as well. What Color Is Your Parachute? 2015 by Richard N. Bolles gives us an insightful view of what is happening in the current job market. This book is updated yearly so you can be sure that the information is always fresh and most of the time relevant. If you are not looking for a job, you can still benefit by gaining the knowledge of what you really want to do. As a result of this you may begin to question your existence in your current role and find yourself a more fulfilling place work for.

Here are just several of the reasons why you should consider reading this book:
1. If you want to get an understanding of why there are still so many unemployed people while employers are still finding it hard to fill in their vacancies, this book will enlighten us.
2. You will get a better understanding of your situation. You will realize that not every employer will like you, but there are several or many employers who are looking for someone who is exactly like you. Your task is to look for them.
3. It will teach you that just using your resume and sending it to different employers is not the most effective way to get an invitation for an interview.
4. This book will guide you to understand who you really are.
5. Written in a very engaging style, this book will make you feel like you are with a sage who will guide you all the way to your successful job hunting.

This book is primarily recommended for the following:
1. Job hunters
2. Those who have friends or family members who are looking for jobs
3. Career coach or counselors
4. Anyone who wants to understand themselves better

Just another tip: This book demands a lot from its reader. For you to get the full benefit from this book, you've got to do the exercises, particularly the Flower Exercise. These exercises will really help you a lot.
Profile Image for Patty Mora.
37 reviews
July 17, 2010
I've read this book and completed the exercises twice during my adult life, and it has helped me tremendously in answering the age-old question, "What is my mission in life."

For those of us who live to work, and not work to live, this is the book for you. I highly recommend completing the exercises, or "homework" as I call it, and you will uncover your talents and dreams that have been buried over the years.

It will take a little bit of your time, maybe an hour a night for a week or two, or over two weekends. But aren't you worth it? You will have to write 5-7 short 1-2 page stories of your past successes, or how you overcame problems, do an inventory of your skills, and think about what you really like and dislike about jobs.

For the person who is not looking for their mission in life, this book gives great advice on how to find a job when "there are no jobs." Trust me, there are always jobs out there, you just have to know where to look. And sometimes you will find one even when you're not looking.

Bottom line, if you are out of work, treat your job search as a full-time job. You will have to hit the pavement, meet people, and get your name out there with a face to go with it. Printing out 1000 resumes and faxing them to companies or organizations will get you nowhere.

Profile Image for Bethany.
895 reviews18 followers
December 25, 2019
I’m not currently looking for a new job. But the parachute book has been on my list for a long time. I’m glad I chose the most recent because it is chock full of practical advise.

This book starts with the premise that every human being is unique and has something to offer “employers”. Chapters 4-6 help you define who you are and what makes you perform at your highest level. Chapters 1-3 describe the job market and the playing field, so to speak. Chapters 7-9 are the mechanics of the game, how it works, the rules, how to win. Chapters 10-12 are nuanced, overcoming challenges, changing to a completely new career or going for self-employment.

I was particularly interested in reading chapters 4-6, refining my definition of myself and what makes me awesome. And it asks you to create a flower diagram to be your map guiding you on your life’s journey. I also very much appreciated the exercises in filling out this diagram and plan to complete my own.

Good stuff in here.
Profile Image for Susan Barton.
Author 6 books93 followers
August 17, 2015
I'm embarrassed to say this is the first version of What Color is Your Parachute that I've read. Of course I've heard of it, but just never got around to reading it. In an effort to remain current with career search trends, Richard N. Bolles has been updating this book since 1975. Now that I've finally had the opportunity to read the 2016 version, I'm absolutely astounded by the amount of information the author provides. Loaded with practical job-hunting advice, the author has compiled the book into the following eleven informative chapters:

* Chapter 1 - It's a Whole New World for Job Hunters
* Chapter 2 - Google is Your New Resume
* Chapter 3 - There Are Over Eight Million Vacancies Available Each Month
* Chapter 4 - Sixteen Tips About Interviewing for a Job
* Chapter 5 - The Six Secrets to Salary Negotiation
* Chapter 6 - What to Do When Your Job-Hunt Just Isn't Working
* Chapter 7 - You Need to Understand More Fully Who You Are
* Chapter 8 - You Get to Choose Where You Work
* Chapter 9 - How to Deal with Any Handicaps You Have
* Chapter 10 - The Five Ways to Choose/Change Careers
* Chapter 11 - How to Start Your Own Business

"The Blue Pages" (appendix A thru E) are filled with additional insightful, comprehensive information.

The author makes a strong case for taking inventory of who you are before embarking on your job search. His flower method is so thorough, serious job hunters will definitely gain better insight into who they are and what jobs are most appropriate for them. His discussions on the importance of getting social with social media are vitally important for anyone looking for a job today.

There is much work to be done with this book, however. While there is a great deal of sensible, and even obvious, tips, anyone truly serious about finding a job or changing careers will have to spend a lot of time doing the exercises within this book. The author makes no bones about that. But after all, finding the right job or career is an important undertaking for anyone.

I would highly recommend this easy to follow and useful guide for anyone searching for a job, thinking of a career change or looking into starting a new business.

http://ebookreviewgal.com received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Kater Cheek.
Author 31 books258 followers
September 2, 2014
A friend of mine bought this for me on kindle, saying it was a great way to find out what job best suits you. This book has been around for years and years, but as with textbooks, the author is quick to assure you that you really need the latest edition, as it's constantly being revamped. While there certainly are new addresses and new urls in this book, the basic principal, I'm sure, hasn't changed much.

Most of the book consists of a guided self-assessment of what your likes and dislikes, skills and weaknesses are. There are charts to fill out, lists to make, and in a particularly memorable exercise, Bolles wants you to draw a flower where every petal represents a different element of your work personality.

I admit, I didn't do any of these exercises. First of all, the kindle format is really not a good format for reading this book. I strongly recommend that if you want to read this book, you opt for a paper version rather than an electronic version. While the silly little royalty-free illustrations came up okay, most of the charts were difficult if not impossible to read. Secondly, I'm not sure I really believe that these exercises would be a good use of time. They seem to presume a very high level of self-awareness. Do I really know that I wouldn't want a job in the medical industry if I've never had one?

The other problem I had was that there seemed to be huge gaps between finding your perfect job and actually getting it. It's like when you ask Google how to go to Australia and they tell you to kayak 1500 miles. You like chocolate + giving criticism + working near stainless steel? Chocolate taster! More than one person's perfect job would be "chocolate taster" but the chances that you know someone who knows someone who knows someone who can get you that job are slim. It's also a slim chance that "chocolate taster" pays a living wage and has insurance. I'm pretty sure that my flower would say that I'd be best in a creative job, like writer or artist which--guess what!--I'm already doing, but a lot of people need jobs that aren't just emotionally fulfilling, but also pay enough that you can pay bills with it.

One of the ways Bolles suggests you go about getting your perfect job when you decide what that is is to talk to people from the companies you want to work for. You're to find these people through LinkedIn. If you were on the far E of the extrovert/introvert scale, I'd imagine this would be a pleasant exercise, but the idea fills me with horror. Doing several informational interviews, and then going back and asking for a job interview, and then another one? I hate interviews. They're like the worst, most insipid, baby-shower quality bullshitty overly-positive, barely-scratch-the-surface smalltalk with people you don't like and have nothing in common with, except that at baby showers you at least have cake. You end up finding out as much about the job as you do about a suitor on a first date--which is to say, not much. And they find out just as much about you--close to nothing--and yet you're both trying to simultaneously make yourself look good while stifling a deep, bone-grinding boredom. You suffer through it, and then, odds are at least 4-1, you won't get the job. To deliberately seek out interviews before you interview seems as risky as taking a volunteer job in the hopes that it will turn into a paid position. Either way, you've used up a lot of hours. For an unemployed and discouraged person who had plenty of hours with nothing to put in them, it might be an acceptable risk.

But this book isn't really a job hunting book, but a right-brained missive of hope. It's even got a Jesus section in there, for people who are into that sort of thing. This book is about making you believe that you can get your perfect job somehow. It's based on the idea that there are better ways to get a job than sending out resumes. It's got a lot of information about starting your own business, about hiring a career coach, and about finding out what salary a specific job should command and what training it requires as well. So, I will probably go through this book again, once I get a paper copy that I can actually flip back and forth and look at. It probably won't cost me anything except time, and the flower-exercises are a lot like personality tests, which I adore. I can't say I have a lot of hope that it will do much good though. I've gotten most of my jobs by sending out resumes and answering ads.
Profile Image for Erik.
17 reviews4 followers
January 8, 2009
Take advice from someone in the workforce development field: this book and some degree of common sense will take you pretty far. No, this man did not teach me how to write a resume or interview. No, he didn't show me a shining new path in life. What he does do though is illuminate those all-too-easy to overlook things known as "the employer's thoughts and needs."

Job seekers rarely have the opportunity or background knowledge to appreciate the employer as not only a representative of their company but also as an individual with wants, desires and needs. Nine times out of ten, they share many of your same concerns and the key is to address and neutralize those concerns within the employer with a confident, informed presentation. A little goes a long way, and speaking from both personal and professional experience, common sense can carry you even further. If you know the employer desperately needs to expand in an area of your expertise, speak to that need, etc.

Good luck y'all. It's tough right now, but keep the faith - things always work out.
Profile Image for Britany.
950 reviews413 followers
July 4, 2021
Recommended by a friend and former colleague, I picked this one up to try to best figure out next career steps. This book quickly piqued my interest but making arguments against all the typical things job hunters do, I think the reverse psychology aspect of that completely reeled me in.

This isn't just a book, it's a resource and more of a guide. The exercises that Bolles walks the reader through take time and energy, but I think they are worthwhile and added significant value to consider what traits and transferable skills you possess and more importantly-- which are most enjoyable. I found myself quickly and easily recommending this handback out to friends and family. I think most of us still don't know what we want to be when we grow up and sometimes all it takes is some inward thinking and a small nudge to reconsider.
Profile Image for Christopher Lawson.
Author 10 books120 followers
July 7, 2014
This book is widely recognized as the top guide to finding a job. Various editions of this book have sold MILLIONS. It is easy to see why. The author has extensive experience in the field, and backs up his ideas with impressive evidence.


♦ Insight into the actual interviewing process--especially the suggested time min/max for your responses. Bolles provides "Conversation Tips" to prepare for. This section alone is worth the price of the book. They are also "Ten Commandments" for the applicant.

For example, "Conversation Tip #12" Employers don't care about your past; they just ask about it as a way to predict your FUTURE behavior.

♦ Even more, the tips on answering the usual question, "Tell me about yourself." Bolles notes, "How you answer that question will determine your fate during the rest of the interview."

♦ The 5 key questions that the applicant must know:
-Why are you here?
-What can yo do for us?
-What kind of person are you?
-What distinguishes you from other people?
-Can I afford you?

♦ Six Secrets of Salary Negotiation. I was already aware of some of these, such as not being too quick to mention a salary first.

♦ Suggestions on how to best use social/networking sites like LinkedIn. The author points out the importance of completely filling out your user profile, so that prospective employers (who will search these sites) can get an accurate picture of your qualifications.

♦ Also, I had no idea how important it was to have your PICTURE on these sites. Bolles notes that surveys always show that not having a picture is a turn-off.

♦ Explanation as to how the job hunt as changed in some ways, but in essence is still the same.

Excellent editing and book design. Someone has spent a lot of time getting this right! The book is well laid-out into logical sections. The Table of Contents points to each major section.

Even the appendices are impressive. The first appendix will certainly be the most controversial, because the author makes his own religious beliefs clear. This is a very meaty, thought-provoking section called, "Finding your Mission in Life."

Bolles defends his inclusion of religion in a book on job-hunting by this stat: In the U.S., about 89% of the population believes in God. So, he reasons, "Leaving out a section that 89% of my readers might be interested in, and helped by, in order to please 11% of my readers, seems to me insane."

Finding your mission in life will not be trivial, and will not be quick. The author points out that being forced to find a job can also have beneficial effects on our whole life. It offers "a chance to make some fundamental changes in our whole life. It marks a turning point in how we live our life."

The other, less controversial appendices include:
"A Guide to Choosing a Career Coach."
"A Ten Minute Crash Course for Vets."
"Sampler List of Coaches"
"Recent Foreign Editions" (well, okay, this one does seem a bit self-serving.)
"Final Word from Author"

The author's "PostScript" is a very poignant missive--almost a pleas, to the reader. When faced with a job crisis, you can abandon your beliefs, or rethink the things that have been your core principles. "While we are out of work, we can reach toward a larger conception of our God and of ourselves."

√ HIGHLY RECOMMEND! This review doesn't do justice to this oustanding work. This is a COMPREHENSIVE, well-written book by perhaps the #1 expert in the field. Honestly, if you are struggling finding your next job, you would be nuts to not read this book.

♫ A Review by Chris Lawson

[Note: I do not know the author of this book, and no one requested I write this review.]
Profile Image for Scott Dinsmore.
59 reviews387 followers
July 10, 2009
Why I Read this Book: I wanted to get a firm understanding of the career direction in which I wanted to head and how to go about it after finishing my university work. This book provided a wonderful road map.


This book, or I should say a version of this book has been on the best seller list for many years now. Bolles spends the majority of each year putting together the updated version for the year to come. This is not the type of book you buy once for one search and that is it. Every time you are looking to change jobs and especially when you are looking to change careers, it is important to read through the most current version of this book. Given the leaps and bounds our world has gone in terms of change, it is no wonder why this book needs to be updated yearly.

This book is a must for career changers whether you are just getting out of college or you have been working for 30 years and you need a change. Dick Bolles is a brilliant man who I have had the pleasure of having dinner with on a number of occasions. He first started writing a version of Parachute in the 1970’s and has since changed countless lives. The success stories he discuss in the book are inspirational.

Bolles explains every job search method we have heard of out there today (and even some we have not). He gives very eye-opening statistics about which methods are most effective and which are not. Do you know what the single most ineffective strategy for job searching is according to Bolles’ research? It is posting your resume on a job board like Monster or Career Builder. That is only effective 4%-10% of the time. How many people use this as their only technique and expect good results? Too many. Just understanding that fact and what techniques produce the best results will make this read invaluable. Here’s a suggestion. Get started on building your network and never stop. More on the networking buzz word once you read through the book.

Parachute is also a great job search reference book. Every professional serious about their career should have a copy on their desk. It contains relevant websites, career tests, salary negotiation & interview tips, articles, techniques and processes that you can refer to at any time in your search. This is one reason why it is so necessary to update every year. Website links and data change in the blink of an eye. He has the most up to date links and resources online at his website mentioned at the bottom of this page.

The reason this book, and more importantly his system for finding your career calling, has been so greatly successful is that Bolles’ main focus is not on the job but instead on the job hunter. In order to truly find your career calling you must truly know yourself. Many of our inherent characteristics are things that we do not necessarily take as common knowledge. This is the key to his system, which he calls the Flower Petal Exercise. Be warned that this exercise will take some work, but it will pay huge dividends in your future. Going through this series of exercises is what is going to get you clear on what you should be doing professionally (and perhaps personally) with your life. I cannot stress enough the importance of completing the Flower Petal Exercise. The accompanying Parachute Workbook which I detail elsewhere in this site will step you through the exercises from start to finish. It is so easy to read a book and do nothing about it. The key is to take initiative and get proactive with this book and all books for that matter so that they will make a difference in your life and lead you to success. Enjoy the journey.

-Reading For Your Success
105 reviews5 followers
January 30, 2013
(I read the 2013 version.) I mostly read this to make my mother happy. The cheesiness aside, it committed one of the mistakes of the self-help genre that most aggravates me: it convincingly and with great detail outlined the problem with the traditional approach to its subject, namely job hunting; its stated problem is that just emailing your resume out to job postings online won't work for a variety of reasons. It made a pretty convincing argument for this approach being pretty pointless. But then rather than presenting a wide array of solutions, he insists that the only way around this problem is to follow his guide in the book. And if you're skeptical about the system that he suggests, as I very much am (his solutions for how to get better at networking are laughably unrealistic and hokey for any person who has a hard time with networking because of shyness or whatever), then you're up shit creek: you've been convinced that your old way of doing things is wrong, but you're left with no solutions if you don't 100% buy the author's step-by-step guide. Bleh.
Profile Image for Jen Austin.
72 reviews5 followers
January 9, 2012
This was an interesting book, but A) I shouldn't have read it at the same time as another career book and B) I liked the format of the other career book better. This is more about sitting down and writing while the other (I don't know what I want to do, but I know it's not this) had more quizzes. They both had their positives and negatives, but I felt this one gave a lot of examples, which could have been pared down a bit (I get it - 3 illustrative stories aren't necessary) and went into more detail than was necessary. On the other hand, it did have a lot more links to helpful job search tools. It's a recommend, but perhaps don't inundate yourself with job search info and read one at a time. If I had, perhaps I would have liked this better. Also I read the 2012 copy but was unable to find it on goodreads, so I marked this ad 2013. Perhaps the newer version has updates that make it better.
Profile Image for W. Whalin.
Author 42 books383 followers
August 23, 2015
Valuable Insight -- Whether You are Searching for A Job or Not

No job lasts forever--whether we admit it to ourselves or not. This classic book (updated each year) is loaded with encouragement and insight for every reader. The step-by-step insights are valuable to any reader at any place in the job market.

I loved what Bolles said in the first chapter, "In today's world, 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. If you can learn new advanced job-hunting skills you can not only survive. You can thrive." (Page 14)

This book is packed with ideas and action steps for every reader. I highly recommend it.
4 reviews
October 3, 2009
This book has been immensly popular for a long time. Its popularity is not due to the the author's writing style. For something that has gone through so many revisions, one might expect a polished, well-written tome. This is not the case. The book is written like a very lengthy ad; full of hyperbole, simplistic statements, and grammer that may be acceptable in the world of advertisng, but not that of non-fiction prose.
It's hard to see why this book is so popular. Perhaps unemployment lowers people's self-esteem so badly that they feel they *deserve* to have their intelligence insulted.
Profile Image for Thủy Nguyễn.
71 reviews14 followers
July 13, 2017
Cuốn sách này cung cấp cho mình hướng đi để vượt xa người khác trong việc xác định nghề nghiệp. Càng đầu tư thời gian suy nghĩ cho sự nghiệp, mình càng có thể chuẩn bị kỹ lưỡng hơn. Sách thích hợp cho cả học sinh THPT lẫn học sinh đại học. May mắn vì trước ngưỡng cửa đại học mình đã đọc được cuốn này😊😊😊
Lời khuyên quý giá nhất từ cuốn sách này là bạn đừng nên thu hẹp sự lựa chọn nghề nghiệp của mình. Hãy học cách tìm kiếm để mở rộng lựa chọn. Giờ là thời đại của multipotential rồi. 👌👌👌
Profile Image for Scout Collins.
563 reviews48 followers
November 19, 2018
What Colour is Your Parachute? looked like a promising read for "job hunters and career changers". But after reading the whole thing and doing most of the exercises, it's really not.

Also, what is this?
"Economists say that a decent middle-class job these days should be a stable, dependable job that pays between $40,000 and $80,000, annually." (5-6)
>> $80,000 yeah, but how the hell is $40,000 middle class?? That's basically living in poverty, ESPECIALLY if you're living in a big city. What economists said that, and when? (20 years ago?)

Things I Liked
The Flower Exercise was pretty good. It mostly made me think about things I already knew, but it also made me consider what working space/conditions I would like to have.

This quote (edited out the bad parts):
"What is success?
To laugh often and much;
To win the respect of [intelligent] people and the affection of children;
To earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends;
To appreciate beauty; to find the best in others;
To leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition;
To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived;
This is to have succeeded." (232).

Tests to check out:
Dewey Colour System (www.deweycolorsystem.com/tests/color-...)
UPDATE: I tried this and it SUCKS. The author said it was free, but it costs $19.95 USD. So I entered my email for them to tell me that. And they picked the ugliest shades of most colours possible, so that's very disappointing. And I thought it would actually be more than "which color do you like? here, you should be this career now."

The main part of the how to start your own business chapter (Skills you need (A) - skills you have (B) = Skills you need to learn/hire someone else to do (C) formula) was good, but the chapter didn't go into enough depth and was too short. The main thing covered was that formula and a couple case studies.

There was some other helpful miscellaneous information.

Now, the bad things...
(Get ready for religious rant)

Started towards the end 1/3 of the book, it was so annoying.

"[Y]ou only have one life here on this Earth, and that life is yours (under God) to say how it will be spent, or not spent" (259)

I thought the Finding Your Mission in Life chapter would be interesting or insightful, but no, it was just religious crap. Honestly it made me drop the rating by 1.5 stars; it was so awful to read, it gave me an actual headache. What a horrible way to end the book.

Richard Bolles sounds like an old religious quack for part of the book, at the end. Also, his annoying misuse of commas annoyed me.

Finding Your Mission in Life (aka CHRISTIANITY SHOULD BE YOUR LIFE) Summarized
Almost EVERYBODY is religious in the world. Only 18 tiny percent of the world doesn't believe! Nobody should care about the measly ~1 billion+ people in the world who aren't religious. More importantly, "6 billion" (not that accurate) people do believe! CARE ABOUT THEM!

Mandatory comma abuse/badly worded sentence must be inserted here: "So, leaving out a section that 84% of my readers worldwide might be interested in, and helped by, in order to please just 16% of my readers, seems to me insane." (265)

Next section: POOR CHRISTIANS: They're a minority so hard done by :(
Bolles quoted this: "Christians... have now experienced the full impact of the world's hostility and indifference. Numerically we are drastically reduced.... [T]he Church, contrary to all appearances, is stronger than the world." Then Bolles said, "I do not want to add to that feeling by keeping silent. Faith is welcome in this book." (265)

Next section: God decides everything and nothing you've ever done has anything to do with yourself, it's just "God's" doing
Bolles is A N G R Y that there is "an increasing trend in our culture to try to speak about religious subjects without reference to God" (268). Spirituality, soul, and "Mission" should NEVER be spoken about without being tied to GOD, do you hear me???? More and more people think that your mission is "a purpose you choose for your own life, by identifying your enthusiasms". While that may not be totally true, Bolles thinks Mission is dictated by God only.

Then, we must insert some arrogance here:
"Most of the leaders who have evolved creative job-hunting ideas were--from the beginning--people who firmly believed in God, and said so: Sidney Fine, Bernard Haldane, 10 other people, Ralph Matson, and of course myself." (268). Tone your ego down, Mr. Bolles.

"[W]e need to unlearn the idea that what we have accomplished is our doing, and ours alone. It is God's Spirit breathing in us and through us that helps us do whatever we do, and so the singular first-person pronoun is never appropriate, but only the plural. Not "I accomplished this" but "WE accomplished this, God and I, working together.." (272)
Oh god. You control nothing, God controls everything! You don't do anything "alone", some magical deity's spirit helps you!

Next section: Bolles' personal thoughts on God (because that's relevant and people care about it)
"[S]ome sort of relationship with God is a given for us, about which we have absolutely no choice." (274). Nope, we actually do, as can be seen by the 1,000,000,000+ people who ARE. NOT. RELIGIOUS. AND. HAVE. NO. RELATIONSHIP. WITH. A. GOD.

Next section: Making sure every life purpose is directly related to God even though it's not related
"My mission is to create the purest foods I can, to help people's bodies not get in the way of their spiritual growth."
>> Okay, woah, hold up, I have so many problems with this one. First of all, why would you relate this to spiritual growth before PHYSICAL HEALTH???? How about people can be physically healthy because of good food? Why the hell would spiritual growth be the priority here? And secondly, people learn a lot and change and grow spiritually from illness (not that it's a pleasant thing to go through at all). Speaking of, how does GOD explain the millions of people suffering from cancer, rare diseases, incurable diseases, etc.? If it wasn't the god's "plan", why is it happening? Is it God's fault? Good luck getting out of that one.

(By the way, this review of ranting is just like the way Richard Bolles wrote the last chapter in the book - describing all his thoughts on religion that go on forever!)


I am torn about recommending this. Without all the religious nonsense, it is a decent 3.5 stars book, most relevant for someone who is aware of what they want to do and needs some job hunting tips. There are a few things good for career changers, but was more disappointing in that category (I expected more). It is worthwhile IF you skip all the sections you aren't interested in (I didn't until midway in, which is why reading this book dragged on and wasn't enjoyable). Also, I'm sorry Richard Bolles, but you aren't as relevant as you think you are. Please take your egotism down a notch.
Profile Image for Lara Lee.
Author 8 books41 followers
October 1, 2018
What Color is Your Parachute? by Richard N. Bolles is a classic for job hunters for the past zillion years, so I won't bore you with how great it is and how you need to go out and buy it. The fact is millions of people already have gone out and bought it. What I am going to talk about is what I have learned from it as a freelancer.

I have always heard from the time I was little about how I should get a job that I loved and how I should change the world. Like so many in college, I pursued a degree that I prayed would land me a job that I would love. Many college students change majors over and over again trying to find a good fit. I stuck with one major, Graphic Design, but wondered if I should have explored more options. For me, I have always come back to graphic design and the issue of what to do with my life has been more of a confidence issue: was I do the right thing and am I actually any good at it?

After doing the exercises in this book, I found that my main passions, the things I can talk forever about, tended to be about art/design, history, travel, finances, Bible, and books. When I wrote out my roles and skills in each job that I have had, I found that I have often dismissed the things that I did naturally and with ease. I found that this book did more for helping me see my career with clearer vision and in a realistic perspective of my field and not the unattainable thing I created it to be in my own mind.

Mr. Bolles wrote this book from the perspective of his Christian background as a pastor before his years upon years of experience in career counseling. This means that he sees our career as being part of our God-created mission in life. That doesn't mean that the only really good career is in some sort of ministry, but that we were each created unique and have something unique to contribute to the world. In my mind, I immediately envision having some sort of cosmic world-changing mega-corporation that affected thousands of people, but this book actually has a more realistic scope: to work moment by moment, day by day to make the world a little bit better of a place than it was before using your own unique abilities. In that perspective, our mission is to just find a worthwhile task to do today and do it.

As I looked over my resume of 15 years of random designing tasks, I found that there was a surprising unity to all have done. I had blindly just found people who needed some sort of help with graphic design and just did what they set before me. I had not seen myself working while doing some of these projects. I was just helping out and doing what came naturally. Many of these projects were never even listed on my resume even if I had been paid for it because I had been just helping. When I organized all of this "helping out" from its unorganized mass of freelance tasks with varying fees and odd levels of responsibility, I discovered that I had a busy career focused very heavily in working with churches and non-profit organizations.

Wow. I guess I had a mission the whole time!

I am very glad I read this book and followed his advise. I now feel more confident to pursue the work I was created to do.
Profile Image for Genevieve Trono.
594 reviews98 followers
Want to read
December 21, 2020
I first connected with What Color Is Your Parachute when it was recommended to me by a college advisor almost 20 years ago. While the premise and content have stayed consistent, this 50th-anniversary edition has been updated to include timely and relevant guidance as we head into 2021.

What has made What Color is Your Parachute the best-selling job-hunting book in the world, is also what makes it unique. This book offers an incredible and accessible look at helping job seekers first understand themselves and the power that gives you when picking and/or changing your unique career path. I love that he values not just surviving in your career but thriving and this comes from better knowing who YOU are, not only as a job applicant but also as an individual.

This timeless advice helps you not only understand yourself better but also highlights what you have to offer to the world. In addition to practical and research-based advice, there are also many actionable steps in this book. The timeless flower exercise guides you through a thorough self-inventory. Each of these seven "petals" ultimately deciphers seven ways of describing yourself in relation to the workforce. What makes this book so powerful is that Bolles helps his readers better themselves and what their passions are versus just looking at their skills.

In addition to his tried and true methods and exercises, "this 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 (during the Covid era), 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."

What Color Is Your Parachute was first released in 1970 and it is amazing to see the things that have stayed consistent and what has changed with the times. Whether you are going into the New Year looking to change things up in your career or just trying to better understand yourself as a professional, this book has something for everyone.

Thank you to Random House Publishing for the gifted copy in exchange for my honest review. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own. You can read this and other book reviews at genthebookworm.com
Profile Image for Teena in Toronto.
2,152 reviews63 followers
August 17, 2016
Since the so-called recession of 2008, things have changed. What used to work in job hunting doesn't work anymore. The length of the average job hunt has increased, the length of time the average job lasts has decreased, the way jobs are done is changing, and not surprising that job hunting has move more and more online.

The contents of this book include:

* It's a whole new world for job-hunters
* Google is your new résumé
* There are over ten million vacancies each month
* Sixteen tips about interviewing for a job
* The six secrets of salary negotiations
* What do to do when your job hunt just isn't working
* Self-inventory, part 1
* Self-inventory, part 2
* You get to choose where you work
* How do deal with any handicaps you have
* The five ways to choose/change careers
* How to start your own business

In the appendices:

* Finding your mission in life
* A guide to dealing with your feelings while out of work
* A guide to choosing a career coach or counselor
* Sampler list of coaches

This book is a handy reference if you are out of work, trying to find a new career, trying to figure out what you want to do next, thinking about starting your own business and more. There is lot of advice, procedures, quizzes, and websites to guide you.

One thing I found odd was the appendix about finding your mission and the heavy emphasis on God and religion. The author is a Christian and that's fine but I didn't think expressing his religious beliefs was appropriate so I skipped this chapter.

Profile Image for Alyssa.
47 reviews
September 16, 2010
I find this book vastly over-rated.

I got it my Sr. year of college, at the recommendation of an academic advisor (the need for which I also found to be highly over-rated), and it did nothing for me. Yes, I ended up in an industry I LOVED, in a job that fit me well, but with no thanks to this book. It taught me nothing about myself I didn't already know and gave me little useful knowledge to go about my job hunt.

I suppose it could prove quite useful for someone who 1) lacks an intuitive introspection, 2) is entirely without direction, or 3) is largely without empolyable skill that really would benifit from focusing on a niche.

The questions posed in the book might also be very beneficial for high school students to read and may help focus their efforts, thoughts, and actions toward an end goal--even if they change their mind, a teen pondering questions like "what do I want to do?" and "where do I want to do it" will have a serious leg up on their peers.
August 5, 2018
This book will help you understand who you are and what matters to you. Lots of great exercises in this workbook that uncover the truth. It definitely takes time to complete them, but with anything you get out of the what you put into it.
Profile Image for Clare O'Beara.
Author 21 books329 followers
January 14, 2018
This book talks the reader through starting to look for work or a career change, especially when laid off with no immediate prospects. To begin, we are shown why just sending out hundreds of CVs doesn't work. Other methods of job hunting are described, and we are recommended to use more than one.

My lack of total enthusiasm comes from the facts that: it is all about America so a lot of the information given doesn't apply to me; it's dated from 2010, but a new edition is produced yearly; it's providing unrealistic scenarios, if you have read 'Nickel And Dimed' by Barbara Ehernreich; no mention of unions; it has an emphasis on religion, including a section on our Greater Purpose full of Capitalised Words about Spiritual Missions and whether God is Gracious - I'll quote Stephen Fry, "Bone cancer in children?"

The practical areas of the book include the simplest facts, like in the main, smokers do not get hired. Other facts you may not have been taught in school (I sure wasn't but what would nuns know about getting a job?) are how to research jobs before you get hired rather than after; how to make a good impression by being showered, tidy and neatly dressed, with clean breath; how to approach a job hunt as a person who can add value to a firm rather than as a beggar. Very well done is a section showing how you have more skills than you realise, and how skills used in managing one type of work can transfer to managing other types of work.

As with many books of this nature a lot of pages are taken up with work sheets you can fill out, but I don't like the author's referring to one as 'That One Piece Of Paper' because if you read this book over a few days you'll come back to it and wonder what piece of paper is he going on about? He starts calling this alternatively 'the Flower Diagram' many chapters before we see it, so we don't know why it's a flower until we see it. And while we may have loved working outdoors or building as younger adults, more mature people may be obliged to take urban or indoor jobs, not really covered.

I felt there could be a lot more about taking a training course, relating to a job that interests you. This makes you fit for purpose for an employer and shows you are using initiative. It also gives you a taste of the job, rather than the hunting up of total strangers who are employees in a firm and asking them what their job entails, as recommended. If you are changing career you will need to retrain anyway, and if your degree is thirty years old it is worthless. Upskill. In Ireland any education course is legally obliged to contain an employability / jobsearch skills component. And more could be provided about starting your own business and how to find clients.

The indexes at the back are American job coaches and the like; three of the pages list firms overseas, none of them in Ireland.
I recommend getting this book from the library and getting the most up to date version, ideally before you lose the current job, but I also recommend taking that training course.

This is an unbiased review. I run my own business.
Profile Image for Lauren McDonald.
217 reviews12 followers
September 28, 2022
I read the 1991 version of this text and as a 22 year old female university student it was absolutely irrelevant to my life because I read an outdated version and going into education the job tips likely won't apply to me, however if I was a middle aged man in a white collar job in the 90/s this would have been EXTREMELY helpful!
Profile Image for Amy Armstrong.
189 reviews37 followers
September 11, 2013
Richard N Bolles is like a god in the career counseling world, but I have to admit that I have never been much of a What Color is Your Parachute? person. Knowing that makes me a pariah in career counseling circles even if my colleagues don't know they should treat me like one. However, I know that many job seekers every year turn to Bolles, and given The Great Recession, this minister's words of comfort have been greatly needed. Actually, when I found myself going through my own career crisis when it came time to read this galley, I also found comfort in Bolles' words. So, in this way, What Color Is Your Parachute? 2014: A Practical Manual for Job Hunters and Career Changers strikes a good balance between offering the hard-nosed advice most job seekers need and instilling hope.
Bolles still includes The Flower Exercise even though I've always felt like it is way too much work. Also, how many people out there who are out of work are going to get excited about sitting down and saying, "I am someone who is . . . like a flower"? I think I'm kind of frilly, but I don't see myself doing that. It's a bit much.
I did appreciate Bolles' tips on interviewing. He includes the normal checklist of grooming tips and pointers on wardrobe choices. He also mentions that the fact that candidates are judged on the cleanliness of their nails or the freshness of their breath is petty, but he points out, as do I, that it's much better to turn down an offer from a superficial jerk than to lose out on an offer because of silly details like that.
The new edition of What Color Is Your Parachute? relies a bit heavily on Google for my taste. For some job seekers, that could seem a bit overwhelming and general. In a lot of the instances where Bolles refers job seekers to Google, he probably would have been better off referring them to their local librarian so they can learn how to use Google effectively to search for work. That said, this is a classic for job seekers, and I definitely feel comfortable directing job seekers to this new edition as a resource.
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