Cover image for What color is your parachute? : a practical manual for job-hunters & career-changers
What color is your parachute? : a practical manual for job-hunters & career-changers
Bolles, Richard Nelson.
Personal Author:
Thirtieth anniversary edition.
Publication Information:
Berkeley, Calif. : Ten Speed Press, [2000]

Physical Description:
xvii, 349 pages : illustrations ; 23 cm
General Note:
Includes indexes and bibliographies.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
HF5383 .B56 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



A revised edition of a career guide, last published in 1995, which now provides information on scanning the Internet for job vacancies. The guide is now divided into two sections, the PARACHUTE WORKBOOK and the RESOURCE GUIDE.

Author Notes

Richard Nelson Bolles was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin on March 19, 1927. During World War II, he served in the Navy. He studied chemical engineering for two years at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, then transferred to Harvard University, where he received a bachelor's degree in physics. After graduation, he decided to become an Episcopal minister. He received a master's degree in New Testament studies from General Theological Seminary in New York and was ordained in 1953.

He had been a clergyman for 18 years when a combination of budget problems and philosophical differences with superiors led to the elimination of his job and his dismissal in 1968 as a pastor at Grace Cathedral in San Francisco. After six months of searching, he got a job with United Ministries in Higher Education, an interdenominational church organization that recruited and supported college chaplains across the country. However, when the college chaplains were increasingly being laid off, he decided to help the chaplains find new careers. He was an ordained Episcopal minister until 2004, when he left the ministry.

In 1970, he self-published What Color Is Your Parachute?: A Practical Manual for Job-Hunters and Career-Changers as a photocopied how-to booklet for unemployed ministers. In 1972, he recast it to appeal to a wider audience and found an independent publisher willing to print small batches so that it could be frequently updated. His other books included How to Find Your Mission in Life and The Three Boxes of Life and How to Get Out of Them. He died on March 31, 2017 at the age of 90.

(Bowker Author Biography)



Chapter One A Hunting We Will Go                Okay, this is it.              The moment of truth has arrived            For You. It's time          To go out, and look for a job,        Out there in the job-market ,      Which all your friends speak of     In hushed tones, as a battlefield littered with the bodies    Of the unemployed,   Who tried and failed to find a job Before you. It's a very strange market, out there, One area in sunny prosperity,   Another in deep Depression,    As Asian markets crash and burn.     Five million people unemployed now      In the U.S. alone.        So that even in good times          The battlefield is littered with new bodies.           Those just laid off,             Who had worked at one              Place, for years               And thought their jobs                Would always be secure there,                 But then got downsized                  Without any warning,                  In a merger, takeover, makeover,                   Or whatever,                   Completely beyond their control.                  And now You                 Laid off, or merely discontent                With your lot in life              Are about to go out there             On that battlefield           And look for work.         You've heard of course       All the horror stories:    You've heard Of former college profs with two degrees Working now at the local deli;    Of union workers who went out on strike      Only to find, this time,        Their jobs were not waiting for them,          For no one told them that if they strike            They might strike out              In this new world .                You've heard the stories                  Of people pounding the pavements                    For weeks and months,                      Even in good times,                       Without finding anything.                        Of college graduates                        With shiny degrees                        Who cannot find any work                       They're trained in.                      Of friends who went back to school                     To learn the hot trade of the moment, but                    Can find no work in that hot trade,                   And now are                  Unemployed, angry, and depressed.               With `welfare-to-work'              Programs            Everywhere          There are inevitably some sad stories        That newspapers love       To run     Of people thrown off welfare   Who can't find any job. Misery always sells papers, We read them, And we are depressed.   For them.    And for ourselves.     Anyway, now it is our turn      To hunt.    And what is it we do,     When our job-hunting time has come?       We procrastinate,        That's what we do.          We're busy winding things up , we say.           Or, just waiting until we feel a little less            `Burnt-out,' and more `up' for the task              Ahead, we say; though actually,               If the truth were known,                We're hoping for a miracle ,                 You know the one I mean:                  A rescuer, suddenly appearing                  On a white horse,                  Coming, coming to save us.                 We don't know                 His name: is it                Our former employer,               Or the government,              Our union,             Our relatives or friends?            We are unclear; we only know           The world owes us          A job.        It shouldn't be up to us       To have to go hunting for it      So hard, ourselves,     Although of course we know   It is precisely up to Us.    So, we make up a glorious resume   -- By ourselves or with some help. How it sparkles, how it shines, How quickly it will get us   A job.    And then we post it      On the Internet        Or mail it out         By the hundreds,          By the bushels,           Waiting for that inevitable            E-mail, or call,            From some bright-eyed employer-type            Who, seeing our glorious history,            Has cried out "This is exactly the person           That we have been looking for!"         But there is one small problem: the e-mail        Or the phone call       Never comes.     And we are left to wait   And wait And wait While the world goes out of its way, It seems,   To tell us how little    It cares     Whether we find work,      Or not. We seek out family and friends' advice,   And the first thing    That they say to us, is,     "Have you gone on the Internet?"      "Have you tried the job-posting sites?"       "Oh, you have? How many hours?"        "Weeks, you say? And ... nothing?"         "Oh!"          They search for some of the older ways           To recommend            To you:             "Have you tried employment agencies?"             "Why, no," we say,               So down we go.                Down, down, down                To the ante-room, and all those hopeful                Haunted faces.                Our first bout, here,               With The Dreaded Application Form .              "Previous jobs held.             List in reverse chronological order."            We answer the questions, then we sit               And wait.             The interviewer, at last, calls us in;            She (or he) of the over-cheerful countenance,          Who we know will give us good advice.       "Let's see, Mr. or Ms.,      What kind of a job are you looking for?"    "Well," say we,   "You can see, there, what I've done. What do you think?" She studies, again, our application form; "It seems to me," she says, "that with your background   -- It is a bit unusual --   You might do very well in sales."    "Oh sales," say we. "Yes, sales," says she, "in fact     I think I could place you almost immediately.      We'll be in touch. Is this your phone?       I'll call you tomorrow night, at home."        We nod, and shake her hand, and that         Is the last time we ever hear          From her. We're reduced to the want ads,   By our miserable plight,     But we are dumbfounded      Right there, at the sight       Of those little boxes        Describing jobs that are built         As little boxes          For the soul.           We call on the employers,            We tell them, of course, that we're job-hunting now,            "And your ad looked just right for me ..." O wow!            Look at that face change, are we in the soup!            As we wait for the heave-ho, the ol' Alley-oop!           "`Over-qualified'? you say?          Two hundred before me         Have been here already,       And you have only five     Vacancies?No,    Of course I understand." We pound the pavements, Knocking on doors,   Visiting companies,    Getting rejected     At place after place,      Getting discouraged,       Day after day,        Getting depressed --         How pathetic, this is,         This Neanderthal thing          So cheerfully named,          The Job Hunt.           Weeks drag by,          Months drag by,         And we are reeling        From rejection shock,       And ever we are thinking:     The job-hunt seems the loneliest task in the world.   Is it this difficult for other job-hunters Or career-changers? Well, friend, the answer is YES.     Are other people this discouraged,    And desperate and depressed,   And frustrated, and so low in self-esteem after A spell of job-hunting? The answer, again -- unhappily -- is YES. YES. YES. Well, yes, you do have     great big teeth; but, never mind     that. You were great to at least     grant me this interview. Little Red Riding Hood Copyright © 2000 Richard Nelson Bolles. All rights reserved.

Table of Contents

Preface: Parachute turns 30 years oldp. xi
Chapter 1 A Hunting We Will Gop. 1
The way in which the average person, left to their own devices, normally goes about the job-hunt
Chapter 2 Rejection Shockp. 9
Our Neanderthal job-hunting system
The numbers game
Results of posting your resume on the Internet
How employers hunt for job-hunters vs. how job-hunters hunt for employers
Ads/job postings
Rules for answering ads
Things to beware of in ads
Employment agencies
Temp agencies
Executive search consultants
Chapter 3 You Can Do It!p. 41
An alternative job-hunting approach
There are always jobs out there
The five worst ways to try to find a job
The five best ways to try to find a job
The three fatal assumptions job-hunters make
The three secrets of job-hunting success
The method with the greatest success rate
Chapter 4 What Do You Have To Offer To The World?p. 59
You must figure out which of your transferable skills you most delight to use
The importance of enthusiasm and passion for what you do
Trying to make sense out of your life
What a career is
How most people choose their career
The meaning of skills
Skills vs. traits
Defining transferable skills
How to identify your skills
How to prioritize your skills
Why you need more than one-word definitions
A word to procrastinators
Chapter 5 Where Do You Most Want To Use Your Skills?p. 89
You must figure out just exactly what field and what kinds of places you would most delight to work in
The five steps toward defining Where: Interests
How to identify your favorite interests: Ten tips for the impatient job-hunter or career-changer
'What the job-market wants' vs. what you want to do with your life
How to choose a career
Internet and print resources
Putting a name to your skills: seven strategies for the impatient job-hunter
'Trying on' jobs
Informational interviewing
How to change careers
What to do when you can't afford to go back to school
How to get into a new career when you haven't any experience in it
How to get names of places to apply to
Six methods for researching a company
How to start your own business
Working at home
The secret of success in starting your own business
Help for the shy
The PIE method
Chapter 6 How Do You Obtain Such A Job?p. 171
How to speed up your search
Twelve tips for the impatient job-hunter
How to get in to impossible places
How to find the name of the person who has the power to hire you
How to prepare for an interview
How to conduct an interview
The fear behind employers' questions
How to deal with handicaps
How to end the interview: the six essential questions
The importance of thank-you notes
How and when to negotiate salary
How to win at salary negotiation
Fringe benefits
What to do when interviews never lead to a job
Reasons job-hunters get rejected
Who gets hired the most often
Epilogue: How To Find Your Mission In Lifep. 239
An optional epilogue, for those interested in relating their faith to the job-hunt
God and one's vocation
The job-hunt as turning point
Meaning of the word mission
What we need to unlearn
The three stages to learning one's mission in life
Appendix A Exercises: Your Flower Diagramp. 261
Appendix B How to Choose A Career Counselorp. 305
If you decide you need one, how to find a good career counselor
Your initial visits to them
How to evaluate them
Bad answers they may give you
Good answers to listen for
What to do if you 'get taken.'
A Sampler of career counselors around the world
How to use the Sampler
My own annual International Two-Week Workshop
Who can attend
Indexp. 337