Book Review: What Color Is Your Parachute?

Parachute Cover

As a child back in the early ‘70s, I can still remember my father coming home with a book one day whose title jumped out at me. It was a title that seemed silly and compelling all at the same time. “What Color Is Your Parachute?” I’d never been interested in one of my Dad’s books before. But this one caught my attention… Did the color of parachutes mean something? Was there some great mystery that would be revealed as the final pages of this book were read? I have to admit, I didn’t find out the answer to that question until much later…

I recently had the opportunity to review the 40th anniversary edition of “What Color Is Your Parachute?” by Richard N. Bolles, and decided to follow up on that missed opportunity from decades ago. And am I glad that I did!

Dick Bolles has revised and updated his book almost every year since it was first released, ensuring that it remains current and relevant to today’s job seeker. But this book is also a book for truth seekers, which is why my Dad had first picked it up. He was employed, and wasn’t looking for a new job. But he recognized that his young life hadn’t gone exactly as he’d hoped thus far, and he wanted to figure out the reasons why.

As Dick Bolles walks you through the things you need to know as part of a modern-day job search, he also provides exercises that help you to know yourself more, and in so doing, to find that job that is ideally suited to you. He covers how to find hope, deal with depression, and survival skills you need in today’s world, how to deal with handicaps (real or imagined), how to find job vacancies, whether or not resumes are still relevant, how to network using social media and in real life, tips for interviewing and salary negotiation, what you need to know before you start your own business, why being inventive is key to survival, and how to choose a new career. Exercises help you to look closely at the skills that you enjoy using the most, finding your mission in life and coming to know yourself better, and then figure out how to transfer those skills into a career. But it doesn’t stop there, because then you need to teach someone else how to do the same.

One of many statements that jumped out at me was that the key to hope is that, in every situation, we have to have at least two alternatives. So long as two alternatives exist, there’s always a reason to hope. The greatest thing about that is that hope gives you wings, persistence and energy to face whatever challenge you may find before you.

After reading this book, I can understand why my father turned to it when he was trying to figure his own life out. We all go through periods of doubt where we wonder why our lives didn’t turn out the way we’d planned on, and how to get back on track to living a fulfilling, meaningful life. While Dick’s book is specifically geared towards the job seeker, the same principles can be used by the entrepreneur, the student working on college entrance applications, the retiree, and anyone else interested in discovering a more satisfying life.