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  • Writer's pictureShannon Phillips

What Color is Your Parachute? A Book Review

For all of my book reviews, I will be using a rating system of 1 through 5: 1 for the worst; 5 for the best! I will be rating only books that can be found at no cost through a local library and that are rated as some of the best career, financial, and self-help books in the 21st century. If you have any suggestions or questions, please feel free to leave them in the comments below!

What Color is Your Parachute (2021) by Richard N. Bolles with Katharine Brooks

Rating: 4/5 Lattes

What Color is Your Parachute is one of the most recommended, published, and edited career books of the century. Regularly updated since its original publishing date in 1970, the 2021 edition addresses how much the work search process has changed and adapts its own processes with it.

This book brings up many good points relevant to the modern job search: the importance and effect of technology, the effect of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020, and unlike many generic job search books, addresses persons with disabilities, veterans, people with criminal records, and people without degrees.

I find that fact that the author addresses all careers, from manufacturing to CEO in an inclusive manner to be one of the best-selling points of the book. All too often, career books, such as the Ladders Resume Guide, are geared more towards people with degrees and white-collar style jobs. What Color is Your Parachute addresses the basics of the job search process in a way accessible to people from all walks of life!

One of the book’s central resources is the “Flower Exercise”, an exercise developed by Richard Bolles and included and updated in each edition. I found the activity to be well worth it. It is unique in its approach to having you take self-inventory and is easily adaptable to job seekers in all fields and of all skill levels. He still includes manual and digital ways to complete the activity, which I found to be very helpful. The activity itself, while time consuming, is a good way to be introspective, gather information about yourself that can be used not only to narrow down careers that are a good fit, but also to help you develop your resume, Linked In profile, and prepare for interviews with the information you gather!

The only negatives to this book are two things. One: the fact he glosses over and doesn’t provide concrete advice for handling situations regarding socioeconomic inequality, and that not everyone has the same resources to start from in the job search process. Two, which I appreciate is an optional chapter only, is the Orange pages discussing religion and your “mission” or life’s purpose in relation to work. He ignores the fact that while work can be enjoyable, for many it is unfortunately a necessity to simply live in today’s society, and doesn’t address that in certain careers, a work-life balance isn’t always as possible as it would be in certain white-collar jobs, such as an on call EMT.

Overall the book has great advice and resources, is updated to reflect the current state of the job market, and the much acclaimed “Flower Exercise” is definitely worth the try!

Check it out at a library near you!


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