Questions and Answers with Career Expert Richard Nelson Bolles
Please note: On a somewhat infrequent basis, Quintessential Careers asks noted career experts five questions related to their expertise and publishes the interview in the current issue of QuintZine, our career e-newsletter. Those interviews are archived here for your convenience.
|Q:||To what do you attribute the enduring success of What Color is Your Parachute? What makes it such a classic?|
|A:|| I haven’t the foggiest idea! There is a book out now, called The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference, by Malcolm Gladwell, and he argues in that book that when a trend appears in society, gathers momentum, and then ‘tips,’ it’s due to a whole series of little things that would be — in some cases — very difficult to identify. What Color is Your Parachute didn’t become popular in the usual way. I never did the appearances or media events customarily done to plug a book. The book’s popularity began very slowly, and consequently developed a solid base, as it grew through word-of-mouth. When people used the book and found that it worked for them, they would tell their neighbor about it. It is a book that you can try out — you can empirically go out there and put the theories to the test.
People have told me what they love about the book, is my zany sense of humor. And the book’s compassion — people write to me and say they feel I really, really understand what it is like to be out there looking for a job… and, of course, I do. I’ve been there, and my compassion for job-hunters is due to the fact that I remember exactly what it feels like, to go through this process of job-hunting, again and again.
|Q:||What trends and changes in job-hunting have you observed in the last few years that have little or nothing to do with the Internet?|
|A:|| The primary one, of course, is that every job has turned into a temp job — whether people are conscious of that or not. Employers have no reluctance now to let go of mass numbers of employees, if their organization is involved in a merger or takeover. Employees are increasingly seen as just part of the expenses of the firm, and when there is a need to balance the bottom line, they are regarded as expendable.
So, becoming a master of the job-hunt process used to be seen, for every one of us in the world of work, as some kind of dilettante exercise, but now it has become a survival skill. We have to know how to job-hunt before we get in trouble, or find ourselves ‘being made redundant,’ as the expression has it.
|Q:||Do you see today’s job-seekers (especially at the college grad/entry level) becoming too complacent about job-seeking because of the robust economy? How can job-seekers make the most of the strong economy and be prepared when the current boom subsides?|
|A:||Absolutely! Many job-seekers, especially college and grad/entry level students are too young to have perspective. We are now enjoying the longest peacetime expansion of the economy that has been recorded in modern times. But, long term, the job market goes through cycles, cycles of recession and expansion and recession and expansion… this has just been a long expansion. Without this perspective, I’m afraid when a recession does come — especially if it is a doozey — many of today’s young job-seekers are going to be floundering. It’s not, however, a matter of their becoming complacent; the problem is they haven’t had enough life experience, yet, to understand how this all works, over the long run.|
Richard Nelson Bolles, known the world over as the author of the best-selling job-hunting book in history, What Color is Your Parachute, is acknowledged as “America’s top career expert” by Modern Maturity Magazine, “the one responsible for the renaissance of the career counseling profession in the United States over the past decade” by Money Magazine, and “the most widely read and influential leader in the whole career planning field” by the U.S. Law Placement Association. Dick is listed in “Who’s Who In America,” and “Who’s Who In the World” and has been featured in countless magazines (including Reader’s Digest, Fortune, Money Magazine, and Business Week), newspapers, radio, and TV (CNN, Ted Koppel, ABC’s Nightline, Diane Sawyer, CBS News and many others). He has a companion Website, JobHuntersBible.com.
Check out all our interview with career experts in Quintessential Answers: Q&A’s with Career & College Experts.
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