Author Urges Job Seekers to Go Beyond Web
Sunday, August 9, 2009
Richard Bolles doesn't want you to lose hope if you're job hunting -- and he doesn't want you to spend all your time online, either.
The author of the annual "What Color Is Your Parachute?" career guide believes job boards and Web sites represent only a small corner of the opportunities that are available. And he thinks the Internet can encourage laziness, especially in people who are not inclined to work hard.
"You're rescued by the thought, 'I'll post my résumé and while I sleep they'll match it with a vacancy and the next morning I'll get up and there's a job,' " Bolles said.
His new, more focused book is called "The Job-Hunters Survival Guide" (Ten Speed Press, $9.99, 102 pages). It was developed in about six weeks this spring after the job news turned horrific. Its subtitle is a compelling offer: "How to Find Hope and Rewarding Work Even When 'There Are No Jobs.' "
Bolles says there always are job openings -- though they turn up more often through face-to-face conversations than on Web sites. He encourages people to knock on doors and visit old friends to find out about potential openings.
"When somebody's out there all the time, they're going to inevitably bump into some opportunities," Bolles said.
Bolles's new book lists the least effective ways to find work -- including responding to an ad in a professional or trade journal, which he calculates has a 7 percent chance of success. For Internet ads, it's 10 percent, according to his calculation. But Bolles also gives the five most effective methods, based on his 40 years of experience in the career field, writing and running workshops, and looking at research studies.
Job clubs can be very effective, with a 70 percent success rate, if they're organized around finding suitable openings and not just cheerleading, he said. Work with a group and "you get an extra 48 pairs of eyes looking on your behalf," he writes in his new book.
He wishes every job hunter would cultivate persistence and hope during the weeks or months they're unemployed. Hope can disappear if the job hunt stalls, but it grows from using a variety of search approaches, he said.
"Your success at the job hunt is directly proportional to two things: how persistent you are and how much time you devote to it," Bolles said in an interview. He compared finding a job to dating: Objective measures and skills count, but so do personality, emotional connections, charm and other factors.
Bolles, who's 82, still recalls being laid off in 1968 as a pastor in San Francisco. The congregation gathered together money to help him, his wife and young children. He used most of it to hire an executive recruiter who put together a résumé and pointed out "secular jobs." But later he found out that the head recruiters at the University of California at Berkeley tossed a coin to see who would tell him his résumé was awful.
He ended up finding a job through a dean who was "a great friend." Through his job, he was in touch with a lot of pastors whose jobs at campus ministries were being eliminated and with career experts who gave him insights for the first 128-page "Parachute."
"What my unemployment did is made me highly sensitive to their problems," he said.
Forty years later, and Bolles believes that the most effective way to job hunt is to first know your vision of yourself and what you want to do with your career and life. Identify the "what" -- your transferable skills, whether they're organizing, communicating, selling; the "where" -- the environments where you'll flourish; and the "how" -- job titles and organizations likely to have openings. You'll also identify people who could hire and some approaches that can demonstrate your skills
"I emphasize greatly that it's important for people to sit down and pay attention to who they are," he said. "What you do should flow from who you are."