Career Skills Reviews

Book Review: What Color Is Your Parachute? by Richard N. Bolles

What Color Is Your Parachute? Is perhaps the most comprehensive and well researched career book on the market.

The Fortune Book Club Book Review: What Color Is Your Parachute? 2020


Title: What Color Is Your Parachute? 2020
Author: Richard N. Bolles
Publisher: Crown Books for Young Readers
Publication date: 13 Aug. 2019
Pages: 352
ISBN-10: 1984856561
Rating: 4/5


What Color Is Your Parachute? is a worldwide best selling career book. Annually revised to keep on top of career trends, the book has over 10 million sold copies and is perfect for first time job hunters and career changers alike. The practices and techniques used within allow anyone to put their dream job into words and put a plan in place to find it!


Richard Bolles’ unconventional academic approach to job-hunting has proven successful in What Color Is Your Parachute? Not only does it allow him to command authority as an expert in his field, the supporting evidence is enough to quell the fears of those fretting that they are “unemployable”.

Revised annually since 1975 the book is a one stop shop for career advice and although the content itself is specifically related to the United States, the core messages and teachings are universal. The book covers: resumes, interviews, salary negotiation, overcoming challenge, changing careers and (briefly) how to start your business.

At the centre of Bolles’ approach to career finding is a self-reflective personal inventory. As a reader you’re guided through topics such as ideal colleagues and working conditions to preferred management style and responsibilities. Not only is the in-depth self-examination revealing in and of itself, the experience is empowering and successfully communicates that you be the one in charge of your job-hunt.

As well as helping you create a clearer professional perception of yourself, What Color Is Your Parachute? also explains the differences in approaches between job-hunters and employers when it comes to hiring. Bolles goes on to highlight how these differences in approach can lead to conflict and confusion. For example, a lot of job hunters prefer to use recruitment agencies in order to get hired whereas employers prefer to hire from within or someone they already know.

The book even has an academic styled appendix called the “orange pages” that contains resources on how to choose a career counselor and dealing with emotions when out of work. However, this section also made reference to finding your purpose in life which was too spiritual and preachy for my liking and ended up impacting my review of the book.

Overall though, What Color Is Your Parachute? is a great reference for those seeking career advice. It covers the whole job-hunting experience in detail and with trustworthy evidence providing credibility that other authors can’t compete with. That said, I don’t feel the 2020 edition of the book added too much more compared to previous editions and feel you could get by with a cheaper and slightly outdated version. 4/5.

Take Action

Throughout What Color Is Your Parachute? Richard Bolles urges the reader to take action and start thinking about what qualities their dream career has. You can do the same, by thinking about these areas:

  • Think about the types of people you do and don’t like working with.
  • Think about the types of work environments you do and don’t like working in.
  • Think about the transferable skills you can bring to any job and which ones you prefer using.
  • Think about the goals, mission statements and purposes that most attune with your life.
  • Think about the knowledges, interest and skills you already posses and which ones you prefer using.
  • Think about the level of responsibility and salary you are after.
  • Think about the part of the world you’d most prefer to work in.

Once you’ve covered all of the areas above, you will have a general idea of your “dream job”. You can now compare job listings to your “dream job” to see which best suits your ideals.

Mentioned Reading

  • Free Agent Nation – Daniel Pink
  • No One Is Unemployable – Debra MacDougall and Elisabeth Sanders-Park
  • The Career Guide for Creative and Unconventional People – Carol Eikleberry
  • Getting A Job: A Study of Contacts and Careers – Mark Garnovetter
  • The PIE Method For Career Success – Daniel Porot
  • Drive – Daniel Pink
  • To Sell Is Human – Daniel Pink
  • Learned Optimism – Martin Seligman
  • Flourish – Martin Seligman
  • Feeling Good – David Burns
  • Moonwalking With Einstein – Joshua Foer
  • Influence – Robert B. Cialdini
  • Job-Hunting Online – Mark Bolles
  • The Career Counselor’s Handbook – Howard Figler
  • The Handbook of Nonsexist Writing – Miller and Kate Swift

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By Jake Doran

Masters in Advanced Computer Science student at Keele University, interested in all things tech and business, with aspirations to undertake an MBA in the future.

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