For three decades Richard Nelson Bolles's annually updated and revised Parachute has been cheerfully advising people that the best way to find a job or make a career change isn't to answer a job ad and/or send in a CV. That way, the statistical odds are heavily stacked against success. Instead he advocates a creative three-pronged approach. You are in charge so be proactive and sell yourself. First identify your talents (and of course you've got lots). Then work out where you would like to apply these transferable skills. Lastly, decide how you will pursue organisations which interest you. Thereafter it's down to your efforts: "Successful job hunting is a learned skill. You have to study it. You have to practice it. You have to master it, just like any new skill. And master it thoroughly because you'll need it all the rest of your life", says Bolles.
An ordained Episcopal priest, Bolles was canon pastor of Grace Cathedral in San Francisco. Made redundant in 1968, he created another career by publishing the first edition of Parachute in 1971--then little more than a newsletter. Today it is published in 10 languages world-wide and bought by 20,000 people a month. It's an immensely detailed, friendly book whose attractive layout includes coloured fonts, nice historical sketches and lots of easy-to-read grids, charts and even the odd poem. Useful Internet site addresses abound. And although Parachute is American, most of Bolles's advice is just as applicable in Britain as in the US. Bolles evidently means to be inspirational and is. He's also down to earth. Once you get into an interview you are much more likely to get the job if you don't reek of aftershave, perfume or garlic and if you've had a bath and pressed your clothes, he points out. --Susan Elkin