What Color Is Your Parachute 2011 by Richard N. Bolles - Excerpt | Books | Employment

What Color Is Your Parachute?

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What Color Is Your

Parachute?
2011
Edition
Revised and
Updated
Annually

A Practical Manual
for Job-Hunters and
Career-Changers

R ich a r d N. Bol l es

TEN SPEED PRESS
Berkeley

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This is an annual. That is to say, it is revised each year, often substantially, with the new
edition appearing in the early fall. Counselors and others wishing to submit additions,
corrections, or suggestions for the 2012 edition must submit them prior to February 1,
2011, using the form provided in the back of this book, or by e-mail (RNB25@aol.com).
Forms reaching us after that date will, unfortunately, have to wait for the 2013 edition.

PUBLISHER’S NOTE
This publication is designed to provide accurate and authoritative information in regard
to the subject matter covered. It is sold with the understanding that the publisher is not
engaged in rendering professional career services. If expert assistance is required, the
service of the appropriate professional should be sought.

Copyright © 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000,
1999, 1998, 1997, 1996, 1995, 1994, 1993, 1992, 1991, 1990, 1989, 1988, 1987, 1986, 1985, 1984,
1983, 1982, 1981, 1980, 1979, 1978, 1977, 1976, 1975, 1972, 1970 by Richard Nelson Bolles
Front cover photograph copyright © iStockPhoto/DNY59
All rights reserved.
Published in the United States by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of the
Crown Publishing Group, a division of Random House, Inc., New York.
www.crownpublishing.com
www.tenspeed.com
Ten Speed Press and the Ten Speed Press colophon
are registered trademarks of Random House, Inc.
The drawings on pages vi-vii, 43, 57, 201, 248, 248-49 are by Steven M. Johnson,
author of What the World Needs Now.
Illustration on page 71 by Beverly Anderson.
ISBN: 978-1-58008-270-9 (paper)
ISBN: 978-1-58008-267-9 (cloth)
ISSN: 8755-4658
Printed in United States of America on recycled paper (20% PCW)
Cover design by Katy Brown
Interior design by Betsy Stromberg
10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
Revised Edition

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The wonderful actress
Anne Bancroft (1931–2005) was once
loosely quoted as saying
about her husband, Mel Brooks,
My heart flutters whenever I hear his key
Turning in the door, and I think to myself,
Oh goody, the party is about to begin.
That is exactly how I feel
about my wife,
Marci Garcia Mendoza Bolles,
God’s angel from the Philippines,
whom I fell deeply in love with, and married
on August 22, 2004.
What an enchanted marriage this is!

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The 2011
Table of Contents
Preface: In This Internet Age, Why Do Job-Hunters
Still Want a Printed Book?
In Gratitude
A Grammar Note

x
xv
xix

Part I
Finding a Job . . .
1 There Are Always Jobs Out There

3

2 Where Do I Go from Here with My Life?

15

3 Once You Know Exactly What You Are Looking For:
The Five Best Ways to Look for a Job

31

4 Once You Know Exactly What You Are Looking For:
How to Deal with Handicaps

57

5 Once You Know Exactly What You Are Looking For:
Resumes and Contacts

71

6 Once You Know Exactly What You Are Looking For:
Interviews

93

7 Once You Know Exactly What You Are Looking For:
Salary Negotiation

121

8 Once You Know Exactly What You Are Looking For:
How to Choose a New Career When You Must

137

9 Once You Know Exactly What You Are Looking For:
How to Start Your Own Business

147

10 Once You Know Exactly What You Are Looking For:
Entering the World of 50+

167

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PART II
Finding a Life . . .
11 The Flower Exercise: The Parachute Workbook

179

WHAT Do You Most Want to Do?
WHERE Do You Most Want to Do It?
HOW Do You Find Your Ideal Job?

Appendices
Appendix A:
Finding Your Mission in Life
Appendix B:
A Guide to Choosing a Career Coach or Counselor
Appendix C:
Sampler List of Coaches

304

About the Author

327

Index

329

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269
288

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Preface: In This Internet
Age, Why Do Job-Hunters
Still Want a Printed Book?
May 26, 2010
I’ve been thinking. Next year’s edition of this book will mark its fortieth
anniversary. That’s how long this book has been out, and in fact that’s
how long this book has been on best-seller lists. Its sales are closing in,
now, on eleven million copies sold, in twenty languages, in twenty-six
countries. It is the best-selling book in the world on the subject of jobhunting, career-changing, and just generally figuring out what you want
to do with your life, from here on out.
The remarkable thing is, I had no such intentions for this book, when
first I self-published it. I just wanted to help some of my friends who
were in something of a life crisis, to say the least: out of work, trained
to do only one thing, with skill-sets the world no longer wanted. So, I did a
lot of research to find for them alternatives to the traditional ways of
job-hunting or career-changing, and then typed out my findings (there
were no computers in those days) in a little hundred-page book, which
my local copy shop reproduced.
But in 1972 I met a wonderful bookman, Phil Wood, who owned
a little publishing company in Berkeley, California, called Ten Speed
Press, and he wanted to publish my book commercially. I said yes, and
so we have, since November of 1972, put it out through his publishing
company, updating it every year but one. No words can express how
wonderfully kind Phil was to me, over the years, as now have been

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the folks over at the Crown division of Random House, in New York
City, who bought Ten Speed Press from Phil, a year ago. I continue to
research, and I continue to write, updating the book, faithfully.
Looking back, a lot has happened over the past forty years, obviously.
Big changes in the world, big changes in the economy, big changes in the
job-market, and—big changes in the publishing world, too. In case you
haven’t heard, the form of the book—as a thing printed on paper—has
been undergoing a major challenge. While three thousand books continue to be published every day of the year,1 according to experts there
are as many as three times that number that are now published digitally,
electronically, rather than on paper. So, in the excitable media you will
see doomsday articles with such titles as “The Death of the Book, As We
Know It?” Well, not exactly—yet.
But things are changing in the publishing world, and increasingly
paper books and digital books are appearing side by side. Amazon’s
Kindle, Apple’s iPad, Barnes & Noble’s Nook, Google’s Android, and
Sony’s PRS-700 are accelerating that change.
In the time ahead, I will be a participant in that change; part of me
is, after all, “a techie.” My college education was at the Massachusetts
Institute of Technology and at Harvard, and my major was physics.
Still, the changing form of the book is, IMHO, nothing to get downcast about. Changing form is what books do. Down through history,
books have alternatively been written on stone, clay, tree bark, wax
tablets, parchment, and papyrus. They have been written as volumes,
codices, scrolls, and individual leafs. It was apparently the Arabs’ idea
to copy books on paper, and Gutenberg’s idea to produce many copies of
the same book. The Printed Book, as we know it, began in 1455, shortly
after the invention of the printing press.
Skip to the present. When I wrote the first edition of Parachute, back
in 1970, there were thirteen books in print, in this field which we may
loosely call job-hunting, career-changing, careers, or lifework planning.
None of them sold very well. But after seeing the popularity of Parachute
(which even I didn’t see coming, and still can’t explain) publishers have
since been publishing literally thousands of job-hunting or careers titles.
So, this brings us to the question that I have been turning over and
over in my mind, this year in particular: with the availability of all the
1. http://ask.metafilter.com

In This Internet Age, Why Do Job-Hunters Still Want a Printed Book?

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electronic information about the job-hunt that is out there these days,
why do so many job-hunters still want to hold in their hands a book
printed on paper, to aid them in their job-hunt (I’m thinking, of course,
specifically of my book); why isn’t the Internet, with its succinct answers
to specific questions, quite sufficient for the job-hunter? Why have
eleven million people gone out and bought a book? Doesn’t that strike
you as strange?
I guess my first response is that basically I haven’t a clue. But, on further thought, five thoughts or hunches occur to me:
1. I think some job-hunters want a printed book because we love to
touch things. A printed book can be touched, handled, and carried about. You feel possessive of it. It is, in fact, yours (you bought
it). That’s a delight to your mind. And the feel of the paper it is
printed on, is often a delight to the fingers. (Parenthetically, one
human resource expert told me that when dealing with mailed-in
resumes, it is the employers’ fingers that first tell them to be favorably
or unfavorably inclined toward the job-hunter whose resume they
are about to read. It all depends on whether they like the feel of the
paper the resume is printed on, or not.)
2. I think some job-hunters want a printed book because they love
three dimensions. An e-book or a print-out of job-hunting information from a website, has two dimensions: height and width.
A book adds a third dimension: depth. That’s both a fact and a
metaphor.
3. I think some job-hunters want a printed book because they like all
their information on a topic to be gathered in one place. Using the
Internet is often like standing on Mount Olympus and calling the
winds from the four corners of the earth to gather before you. One
packet of information arrives from the East. Another from the
West. Still another from the North, and then the South. A book, if
it is broad enough yet focused, has already gathered the information from the four corners of the earth, and presents the gathered
information to you, as a fait accompli. All in one spot.
4. I think some job-hunters want a printed book because a book often
plays a role in that job-hunter’s life that is normally reserved for a
person. It’s more common to speak of a book, rather than the

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Preface

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Internet, as a kind of Personality. In my own case, I meet people
every week who say, “Oh that book saved my life” or “That book
turned my whole life around”—the kind of language you normally
use about a person.
5. I think some job-hunters want a printed book because a book preserves memories. You read it, use it, put it on a shelf, and as you
walk by it in later years, you smile at the memories it evokes when
your eyes fall upon it. The book has a history, not of its own, but
of you. You are in that book now. Especially if you underlined and
marked it up. Whenever I speak some place, people will come up
to have me autograph a copy of my book. And often it is a dogeared copy, all marked up and underlined, of an edition from ten
or fifteen years ago. They want me to autograph that, even if
they’re also carrying a copy of the current edition. That old edition
has a history in their lives that the current edition does not. And
they treasure that history. Hence they treasure that book.
I never tell a job-hunter they ought to use a book. Each of us ought to
get our information in whatever form feels most congenial to us. But if
observers of the common scene are puzzled as to why they see so many
job-hunters buying a printed book for help, despite this digital age and
Age of the Internet, maybe some of the above reasons help explain that
mystery. Or, maybe not.
[Full disclosure: I am the author of a job-hunting book. Or did I
already mention that? I’d take what I have to say, on this subject, with a
grain of salt, if I were you.]
—Dick Bolles

P.S. This book is substantially rewritten and updated every year, as you
probably know. People ask how I keep up, so let me briefly tell you. I come
from a newspaper family, and have a voracious appetite for information.
I read four newspapers every day (the New York Times, the San Francisco
Chronicle, USA Today, plus a local paper), three news or business magazines every week (Bloomberg BusinessWeek, Time, and Newsweek), and
I relentlessly search the Internet, daily. Also, four times a year, for five
days in a row, I do nothing but interact with job-hunters, gathered in my

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home. I stay very up-to-date on the current problems men and women
are running into, out there in the job-market.
I do not think of this any longer as just a book. It’s much more a living
organism, evolving, changing, growing. It takes on a life of its own, each
year. I love this work. It’s thrilling and exciting, and you never know
what’s going to happen next.
And what have I learned, when all is said and done? I have learned that
when any of us turns into a job-hunter or career-changer, as we inevitably
do, we need two things above all else: we need hope—desperately. That
includes encouragement and inspiration. And we need tools for discovering our truest vision for our own life, plus practical strategies for finding
that vision, that work, and that mission.
Hopefully, this book will give you both.

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Preface

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In Gratitude
I think a lot about gratitude. I didn’t get here, alone. I do not stay here,
alone. I am not inspired, alone. I am not able to write, alone. Everyone
of us is part of a community; I like to say I’m a member of an earthly
orchestra (I’m the piccolo player).
I thank God that I am still in splendid, vigorous health, that I still
have all my marbles and wits about me, that I love to write more than
ever, that I love to help people more than ever—and that I am enchanted
by every moment of my life with such a wondrous woman as my wife,
Marci. We laugh together, all day long.
Now I know that life is serious: we only get one shot at it, so far as we
know. And that should lend a solemnity to life, that prevents us from
just taking it casually. I have experienced my share of tragedy, on this
Earth; sometimes I felt that I would never recover. So I empathize with
everyone going through hard times. But still, there is a lot of humor to be
found, day by day, in the ridiculous way we humans sometimes behave.
I love laughing. I particularly love laughing at myself. So does Marci.
Laughter keeps us young.
I’m grateful for my family, and I want to name them here: I’m grateful for my dear sister Ann Johnson, and for my own dear children, and
their families: Stephen, Mark, Gary, and Sharon, plus their most-loving
mother, my former wife, Jan, not to mention my former stepdaughter,
Dr. Serena Brewer, whom I helped raise for twenty years. I’m grateful
also for Marci’s two grown children, Adlai and Janice, with their marriage partners respectively, Aimee and Marcel, and Marci’s one-year-old
grandson, Logan. I love them all dearly.
My especial thanks to Marci for playing hostess to the Five-Day
Workshops we conduct quarterly, in our home in the San Francisco Bay

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Area. It is a rare woman indeed who will let twenty-one strangers come
be guests in her home for five days at a time, as she cooks breakfast and
lunch for them all, while radiating grace and individual concern for
each, throughout. 1
I want to express my gratitude also to my dearest friend (besides
Marci), Daniel Porot of Geneva, Switzerland—we taught together two
weeks every summer, for nineteen years, and still talk regularly; Dave
Swanson, ditto; plus my other international friends, Brian McIvor of
Ireland; John Webb and Madeleine Leitner, of Germany; Yves Lermusi,
of Checkster fame, who came from Belgium; Pete Hawkins of Liverpool,
England; Debra Angel MacDougall of Scotland; Byung Ju Cho of South
Korea; Tom O’Neil of New Zealand; and, in the U.S., Howard Figler,
beloved friend and co-author of our manual for career counselors; Marty
Nemko; Joel Garfinkle; Richard Leider; Richard Knowdell; Rich Feller;
Dick Gaither; Warren Farrell; Margaret Dikel; Susan Joyce; and Gerry
Crispin.
Speaking of dear (and I was) there is this
dear man, whose mischievous picture you see
here. His name is Jim Kell.
He died this month (as I write). At least
twelve thousand job-hunters will know his
name instantly. That’s how many of your
e-mails he answered over the years. Patiently,
thoroughly, helpfully. He was never paid a
cent for doing that. It was his offering, and
his pleasure. He told me, many times, how
he went about answering them. He would
read them each night before retiring. Then he
would rise at 4 a.m., meditate a while, then
read them once more to see what insights his
mind had come up with while he slept, and
then pray to “The Great, Good God” as he
used to say, to ask for inspiration as to what he could say that might be
helpful. Many of you have written me, over the years, to say how helpful,
indeed, was his answer to your e-mail. What you may not know is what
a divine sense of calling he had, and what a wicked sense of humor he
1. For more information, you can e-mail fivedayworkshop@aol.com.

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displayed. He was always so much fun to be around. Now he has gone,
peacefully, to his well-deserved rest. The word is bandied about much
too idly these days, but if you ever wanted to meet a real “saint,” you had
only to meet Jim, and you instantly knew. (Unless you were a dunce.) We
will never see another one like him.
Another dear friend who died earlier this year was Sue Cullen. She
was from the same place as Jim, and they in fact knew each other well.
Sue taught Parachute for some twenty-six years, and was the most loving,
gentle soul you would ever want to know. She died tragically young,
leaving a bereaved husband and grown family. I will miss her like crazy.
But I end up being so grateful for her life. She was a treasure. I spent
dozens of days in her presence. I wish it had been hundreds.
In closing, I want to publicly acknowledge our Creator. A lot of folks
don’t believe in God; but I have been a man of faith all my life. I mention this here because all I do, springs from that. He is the source of
whatever grace, wisdom, or compassion I have ever found, and it is He
who has given me my burning desire to help others. I am grateful beyond
measure for such a life, and such a mission as Our Creator, known to me
through Jesus Christ, has given to me. I am grateful to Him for being
as real to me as breathing, and the Rock of my life through every trial
and tragedy, most especially the assassination of my only brother, the
crusading newspaperman Don Bolles, killed by a car bomb at high noon
in downtown Phoenix, Arizona, back in 1976—now memorialized in
one of the rooms at the new Newseum building in Washington, D.C.
Dick Bolles
RNB25@aol.com
www.jobhuntersbible.com
P.S. My thanks also to all the folks over at Ten Speed Press here in the
San Francisco Bay Area of California. (Ten Speed, now an “imprint”
of Crown Publishing in New York City, just moved into new digs out
here on the West Coast, at: 2625 Alcatraz Avenue #505, Berkeley, CA
94705.) Anyway, my profound thanks to Phil Wood, who as I mentioned
earlier was my friend and publisher for forty years; he is now publisher
emeritus; Aaron Wehner, current publisher; and to George Young, Kara
Van de Water, Lisa Westmoreland, and Betsy Stromberg. My thanks also

In Gratitude

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to Doug Abrams, a remarkable man whom I bumped into this year, and
now work with; he has been a great continuing help to me. As has Glenn
Jones, “my” videographer, who has been putting together the beginning
of what will ultimately be a library of videos of me. If that is of any interest to you, you can turn to www.dickbollesworkshop.com.
I also want to tell all my readers—more than ten million of you—how
much I appreciate your not only buying my books, but more to the point,
trusting my counsel, and pursuing your dream for your own life. I have
never met so many wonderful souls. I am grateful for you all.

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a Grammar Note

I want to explain four points of grammar, in this book of mine: pronouns,
commas, italics, and spelling. My unorthodox use of them invariably
offends unemployed English teachers so much that instead of finishing
the exercises, they immediately write to apply for a job as my editor.
To save us unnecessary correspondence, let me explain. Throughout
this book, I often use the apparently plural pronouns “they,” “them,”
and “their” after singular antecedents—such as, “You must approach
someone for a job and tell them what you can do.” This sounds strange
and even wrong to those who know English well. To be sure, we all know
there is another pronoun—“you”—that may be either singular or plural,
but few of us realize that the pronouns “they,” “them,” and “their” were
also once treated as both plural and singular in the English language.
This changed, at a time in English history when agreement in number
became more important than agreement as to gender. Today, however,
our priorities have shifted once again. Now, the distinguishing of gender
is considered by many to be more important than agreement in number.
The common artifices used for this new priority, such as “s/he,” or “he
and she,” are—to my mind—tortured and inelegant. Casey Miller and
Kate Swift, in their classic, The Handbook of Nonsexist Writing, agree, and
argue that it is time to bring back the earlier usage of “they,” “them,” and
“their” as both singular and plural—just as “you” is/are. They further
argue that this return to the earlier historical usage has already become
quite common out on the street—witness a typical sign by the ocean that
reads, “Anyone using this beach after 5 p.m. does so at their own risk.”
I have followed Casey and Kate’s wise recommendations in all of this.
As for my commas, they are deliberately used according to my own
rules—rather than according to the rules of historic grammar (which
I did learn—I hastily add, to reassure my old Harvard professors, who
despaired of me weekly, during English class). In spite of those rules,
I follow my own, which are: to write conversationally, and put in a
comma wherever I would normally stop for a breath, were I speaking
the same line.
The same conversational rule applies to my use of italics. I use italics
wherever, were I speaking the sentence, I would emphasize that word
or phrase. I also use italics where there is a digression of thought, and

In Gratitude

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I want to maintain the main flow of the sentence. All in all, I write as I
speak. Hence the dashes (—) to indicate a break in my thought.
Finally, some of my spelling (and capitalization) is weird. (You say
“weird”; I say “playful.”) I happen to like writing it “e-mail,” for example,
instead of “email.” Most of the time. Fortunately, since this is my own
book, I get to play by my own peculiar interpretations; I’m just grateful
that ten million readers have gone along. Nothing delights a child (at
heart) more, than being allowed to play.
P.S. Speaking of “playful,” over the last thirty-five years a few critics
(very few) have claimed that Parachute is not serious enough (they object
to the cartoons, here, which poke fun at almost everything). On the
other hand, a few have complained that the book is too serious, and too
complicated in its vocabulary and grammar for anyone except a college
graduate. Two readers, however, have written me with a different view.
The first one, from England, said there is an index that analyzes a
book to tell you what grade in school you must have finished, in order to
be able to understand it. My book’s index, he said, turned out to be 6.1,
which means you need only have finished sixth grade in a U.S. school
in order to understand it.
Here in the U.S., a college instructor came up with a similar finding.
He phoned me to tell me that my book was rejected by the authorities as a proposed text for the college course he was teaching, because
(they said) the book’s language/grammar was not up to college level.
“What level was it?” I asked. “Well,” he replied, “when they analyzed it,
it turned out to be written on an eighth grade level.”
Sixth or eighth grade—that seems just about right to me. Why make
job-hunting complicated, when it can be expressed so simply even a
child could understand it?
R.N.B.

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Part I

Finding a Job . . .

Part II

Finding a Life . . .

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I

t was the best of times,
It was the worst of times,
It was the age of wisdom,
It was the age of foolishness,
It was the epoch of belief,
It was the epoch of incredulity,
It was the season of light,
It was the season of darkness,
It was the spring of hope,
It was the winter of despair,
We had everything before us,
We had nothing before us,
We were all going direct to heaven,
We were all going direct the other way . . .
CHARLES DICKENS
A Tale of Two Cities

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There Are Always
Jobs Out There

1.

The job-market is a mess, right now. People have lost jobs they thought
would go on forever. Whole households have been plunged into financial
ruin. Hunting for a job is like looking for a needle in a haystack. The
future, to many people, looks bleak. Welcome to “Normal.”
Yes, this is what always happens after a Recession. It’s just been
worse, this time, because this has been a bad Recession. Really really
bad. There’s still a tremendous amount of misery, out there. When you
talk to those who are unemployed, as I do constantly, you feel the kind
of pain that strikes at the very heart of why people want to live. Or
not live. So many souls are living quiet lives of desperation. Their job
is gone. Their home is gone. Their dreams are gone. Their savings are
gone. Their plans for retirement are gone. Their hope is gone. And they
feel heartbroken, abandoned, forgotten. To see what disastrous events
in the economy, like a Recession, or disastrous events in nature, like the
Gulf oil spill, have done to so many people’s lives, is to weep. You hear
discouragement and despair, on every side:
“There are no jobs out there, I know, I looked. I went on the
Internet every single day. After two months, I gave up.”
“I’m hearing all the experts say we are entering into a jobless
recovery. They say some people are just going to have to get
used to being permanently unemployed. I think they’re
right. I can see a grim future ahead for me. It is the death of
all my dreams; all I’ll have after this is a series of regrets.”
“I heard there are six people out of work for every vacancy
that appears; those odds mean my situation is hopeless.”

3

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“With the labor market so tough for the foreseeable future,
even if I find a job, I imagine it will have to be one that I settle
for; there is no hope of my ever finding work that I could feel
passionate about, or find anything remotely approaching a
‘dream job.’”
“I always thought you were supposed to start your job-hunt by
learning all you can about the job-market: what the hot jobs are,
what vacancies are posted by employers on the Internet, and so
on. I was taught that you have to take the job-market as the given,
and then try to depict yourself as one who matches that given. But
with this awful recession we are just coming out of, this doesn’t
seem to work at all. Employers simply aren’t posting any vacancies. Hot jobs are nonexistent. I’m thoroughly bummed out.”
These, and similar sentiments, circulate in the media in the air, and
in the blogosphere, 24/7.
All we want, now, is relief. We want the government to do something.
And create jobs. Don’t just sit there; do something! And we will sweep out
of power any government that does not make Jobs their number one
priority, and come to our rescue.

How Jobs Get Created
The unfortunate news is that Recessions—not this bad, but bad enough—
come around regularly in history, and recovery from them always works
the same way: it is not the government, or employers who pull us out of
our tailspin. No, it is the consumer who re-creates the job-market (and
therefore “jobs”) after a Recession ends; but right now—after getting all
banged up from what we have just been through—we consumers are
basically operating in Cautious mode. That’s normal. If we have any
money we consumers are first using it for other things than consuming,
as is our custom whenever we come out of a Recession.
We are using our income first of all to pay off any debt we have; and
then, to cut down our addiction to credit cards; and then if any money
is left over we are using it to build up a safety net for ourselves, setting
aside more into our savings. And only then, do we—will we—get back to
spending at the levels we did before the Recession. (And thus create jobs

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and restore the job-market to the size it used to be, or more.) It’s going to
take a while. Maybe a long while. Meanwhile, the job-market remains
weakened, and good news comes only in fits and starts.
Of course, to know that all of this is “normal” after any Recession, is
small comfort indeed to those of us who have been set adrift on the Sea of
Despair. We’ve been trying all the things that used to work, except they
don’t anymore. We used to troll the Internet to find interesting vacancies;
now, no interesting vacancies are there (to our eyes, anyway). We used to
look for employers who were hiring people with our job-title; now, our
job-title seems to have vanished. We used to send out our resume by the
bushels, and get interested responses; now, there is just the sound of silence.
And we used to brush up on our interviewing skills, so as to win the day
with a prospective employer; now, no employer even wants to see us.
In all of this, I exaggerate, of course. It isn’t that bad for everybody.
But for many of us it is as bleak as I have just described it. For example,
some six and a half million of us here in the U.S. have been out of work
for twenty-seven weeks or more, as I write. That’s almost half of all the
official unemployed, the worst figures since records began to be kept,
back in 1948.

The Good News
On the other hand, millions of job-hunters have found jobs this year, in
spite of everything, as we are going to see. And I want to help you join
them. I am writing this to give you hope about your future, and to help
you chart a winning path for yourself, out of this mess.
So, let’s begin with a description of what the job-market is really doing,
at the moment, not what the media say it is. Let’s begin with the truth
that there are always jobs out there. Maybe not exactly the ones you are
looking for, maybe not exactly where you would hope they would be,
maybe not as easy to find as they were in good times—but they are out
there. You have to be convinced of that, before it makes any sense to
start looking. So, how do we know this?
Well, to begin with, simple logic will tell you there just have to be
job vacancies out there. After all, at least 138 million people in the U.S.
do have jobs; and they need (and can pay for) services, products, food,
clothing, shelter, and transportation. Not to mention, travel (so long as a

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volcano doesn’t get in the way), recreation, vacations, hobbies, games, and
amusements. Someone’s got to provide these for them. That creates jobs.
In addition, some of those 138 million workers die, retire, move, fall
sick, get restless, get fed up and change careers; so there just have to be
vacancies opening up, constantly.
Simple logic tells us that.
But to put a floor under that logic, there are continuing studies of
the job-market’s actual behavior. And according to the experts, during
the decade 1994–2004, in good times or bad, fifteen million jobs disappeared each year in the U.S., but seventeen million new jobs got created,
each year.1
But doesn’t all this change during, and after, a Recession?
I mean, look at the monthly Unemployment Figure. It’s
been dreadful. It adds up to 8.4 million jobs that have disappeared since the Recession began.

Well, I’m glad you mentioned that Figure. It has led to more mischief
in people’s understanding of what’s going on, than I can possibly tell you.
Part of the problem is its title. Instead of calling it “the unemployment
figure” we would be far better off if we called it “The Relative Size of
the Employed U.S. Workforce.” Once a month, after the end of each
month, the government does something like a “sounding” (think Mississippi riverboat) to measure the size of the employed workforce at the
end of that month. They then subtract that figure from the figure at the
end of the month before that, and tell you if the employed workforce has
shrunk or grown overall that month, and by how much. If the workforce
has grown, that means there has been a net number of jobs added that
month to the U.S. workforce, and the government will tell you how
many. On the other hand, if it’s shrunk, then obviously jobs have vanished that month; and again the government will tell you how many.
And that’s the figure these past two or three years that has been causing

1. http://tinyurl.com/yjbtwal. An address by Ben Bernancke at Duke University March
30, 2004, concerning his study of the previous ten years, which included bad times as
well as good: “A reasonably conservative estimate is that, excluding seasonal and other
short-term layoffs, about 15 million jobs are lost each year in the United States, equal to
nearly 14 percent of the current level of nonfarm private employment. Of course, . . .
these losses were more than offset by the creation of about 17 million jobs per year
during the same period.”

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job-hunters, the media, and the government to wring their hands, or
lapse into depression and despair. With good cause, I might add.
What Happens During the Month?

But—and this is crucial—it is only a net figure computed once a month,
at the end of the month, after all the dust has settled. Ah, and there’s
the rub. A lot can happen during the month, in between the “soundings.”
And does! To find out exactly what, the government (fortunately for us)
maintains a site for exactly that purpose, which is cutely called “JOLT”
(for Job Openings & Labor Turnover), and is to be found at the Bureau of
Labor Statistics website at www.bls.gov/jlt.
Now, you’re probably not going to take the trouble to go there, so let
me summarize for you what it has reported for the past twelve months
(at this writing), and I’ll precede it, for each month, with the monthly
“sounding,” traditionally called “The Monthly Unemployment Figure,”
but as I mentioned earlier, should be called “The Relative Size of the
Employed U.S. Workforce.” Okay, here goes:
February 2009

By the end of that month, the overall size of the employed U.S. Workforce
had shrunk by 726,000 people, since the end of the previous month.
During the month, jobs were lost, jobs were found, but the net change
at the end of the month was the figure above.
But as JOLT reported, during that month 4,360,000 people found jobs.
And at the end of that month, 3,006,000 vacancies remained unfilled.
March 2009

By the end of that month, the overall size of the employed U.S. Workforce
had shrunk by 753,000 people, since the end of the previous month.
During the month, jobs were lost, jobs were found, but the net change
at the end of the month was the figure above.
But as JOLT reported, during that month 4,172,000 people found jobs.
And at the end of that month, 2,717,000 vacancies remained unfilled.
April 2009

By the end of that month, the overall size of the employed U.S. Workforce
had shrunk by 528,000 people, since the previous month. During the

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month, jobs were lost, jobs were found, but the net change at the end of
the month was the figure above.
But as JOLT reported, during that month 4,099,000 people found jobs.
And at the end of that month, 2,633,000 vacancies remained unfilled.
May 2009

By the end of that month, the overall size of the employed U.S. Workforce
had shrunk by 387,000 people, since the previous month. During the
month, jobs were lost, jobs were found, but the net change at the end of
the month was the figure above.
But as JOLT reported, during that month 3,980,000 people found jobs.
And at the end of that month, 2,554,000 vacancies remained unfilled.
June 2009

By the end of that month, the overall size of the employed U.S. Workforce
had shrunk by 515,000 people, since the previous month. During the
month, jobs were lost, jobs were found, but the net change at the end of
the month was the figure above.
But as JOLT reported, during that month 3,776,000 people found jobs.
And at the end of that month, 2,558,000 vacancies remained unfilled.
July 2009

By the end of that month, the overall size of the employed U.S. Workforce
had shrunk by 346,000 people, since the previous month. During the
month, jobs were lost, jobs were found, but the net change at the end of
the month was the figure above.
But as JOLT reported, during that month 4,059,000 people found jobs.
And at the end of that month, 2,392,000 vacancies remained unfilled.
August 2009

By the end of that month, the overall size of the employed U.S. Workforce
had shrunk by 212,000 people, since the previous month. During the
month, jobs were lost, jobs were found, but the net change at the end of
the month was the figure above.
But as JOLT reported, during that month 4,029,000 people found jobs.
And at the end of that month, 2,387,000 vacancies remained unfilled.

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September 2009

By the end of that month, the overall size of the employed U.S. Workforce
had shrunk by 225,000 people, since the previous month. During the
month, jobs were lost, jobs were found, but the net change at the end of
the month was the figure above.
But as JOLT reported, during that month 4,010,000 people found jobs.
And at the end of that month, 2,480,000 vacancies remained unfilled.
October 2009

By the end of that month, the overall size of the employed U.S. Workforce
had shrunk by 224,000 people, since the previous month. During the
month, jobs were lost, jobs were found, but the net change at the end of
the month was the figure above.
But as JOLT reported, during that month 3,966,000 people found jobs.
And at the end of that month, 2,506,000 vacancies remained unfilled.
November 2009

By the end of that month, the overall size of the employed U.S. Workforce
had grown by 64,000 people, since the previous month. During the
month, jobs were lost, jobs were found, but the net change at the end of
the month was the figure above.
But as JOLT reported, during that month 4,176,000 people found jobs.
And at the end of that month, 2,415,000 vacancies remained unfilled.
December 2009

By the end of that month, the overall size of the employed U.S. Workforce
had shrunk by 109,000 people, since the previous month. During the
month, jobs were lost, jobs were found, but the net change at the end of
the month was the figure above.
But as JOLT reported, during that month 4,073,000 people found jobs.
And at the end of that month, 2,497,000 vacancies remained unfilled.
There are always vacancies out there, jobs waiting to be filled;
our problem lies in how we go about looking for them.

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January 2010

By the end of that month, the overall size of the employed U.S. Workforce had grown by 14,000 people, since the previous month. During the
month, jobs were lost, jobs were found, but the net change at the end of
the month was the figure above.
But as JOLT reported, during that month 4,080,000 people found jobs.
And at the end of that month, 2,724,000 vacancies remained unfilled.
Yeah, I know. All of that made your head hurt. And I know you’re
bright, and you certainly got the point by the third month, above; but I
droned on, because I wanted to convince you that this can’t be explained
away as only happening for a month or two. This never changes, month
in, month out: even in the worst of economic times there are always
vacancies out there, jobs waiting to be filled; our problem lies in
where they are, what they are, and how we go about looking for them.
During and following a Recession, the methods we use successfully
to find a job when times are good—sending out resumes, plying the
Internet looking for job postings from employers—don’t work very well
at all when times are tough. We need new strategies, new thinking.
That’s what this book is about. A lot of people are finding jobs; why
shouldn’t you be among them?

Enough Jobs for Everyone?
The media have made much, this past year or two, of the fact that someone calculated there are six or so people out of work for every vacancy
that opens up. That is a huge societal problem; it raises the spectre of
the possibility that as a nation, the U.S. (and other countries) may have
an underclass of permanently unemployed people—for all the foreseeable future. What that may mean in terms of social unrest, general discontent, political divisiveness, and just plain unfairness in the way the
workplace discriminates, will inevitably play itself out in the years to
come. And somehow it simply cannot be ignored.
But there will never be enough jobs in this country for those who want
them, and there never have been. Even at the height of the prosperous
time prior to this Recession, there were eight million people in the U.S.
who couldn’t find jobs. Currently, that figure is around seventeen mil-

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lion. That’s awful; after all, there were “only” thirteen million people out
of work during the Great Depression.
As I said, this is a huge problem for our whole society, and for any
government in power. But as far as its implications for your destiny as an
individual job-hunter are concerned, the situation is quite different. The
implication that has been falsely drawn from this, has run something
like this: Hey, you never had to compete for a job before, but now you’re
going to have to.
This is just plain nuts. As I said, even before this Recession, when
times were prosperous, there were still eight million people who couldn’t
find jobs. As a country, we have never produced enough jobs for all the
people who want to work, except for a brief period during World War II.
In all other years we always have an unemployment rate, and even if it
stands at only 4.7 percent, that’s 4.7 percent of a labor force that is now
154,000,000 in size. So, in actual numbers that works out to be seven
million people who can’t find work in the best of times. (Maybe more,
since the government tends to play around with these potentially explosive
numbers politically speaking.)
In other words, you have always had to compete with other people
for a job, and you always will. You need to know how to do this well. It
begins by first studying Yourself, before you study the job-market and
the job-hunt.

Conclusion
For now, I hope this is your major takeaway from this chapter:
Even during hard times, people in the U.S. have been finding
new jobs by the millions, this month and every month. Moreover,
even after that, millions of vacancies remain unfilled. Now maybe
these jobs are located in a different place than where you’ve lived
for just ages. And maybe the job-titles are different from what
you were looking for. But somebody wants the skills you have;
maybe in a different location, maybe under a different job-title.
But somebody wants you.
All of this is an opportunity for you, if you are willing to roll up
your sleeves, and spend some decent time doing some hard work

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figuring out where you want to go from here with your life, and
then mastering job-hunting skills that are more than just elementary. You can find not just “an okay job”; you can find a piece of
your dreams.
Why be surprised at this good news? I’m here to tell you lots of good
news. After all, this is really a Book of Hope—only masquerading as a
job-hunting manual.
January 22, 2010:
Just wanted to say Thank You for your book, it was such an
encouragement to me when I was laid off last February after
nearly 25 years with the same company. I learned some practical things that seemed to help, in fact I went on four interviews
in a two-month period and was offered three jobs, one because
a former coworker had recommended me to the company, the
others I found online. The hardest thing was deciding which
one to take, but the answer was pretty clear and so now I’ve
been at my new job for 6 months and it is going very well.
Thanks again.
—A Former Job-Hunter

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