Get That Job
What Color Is Your Parachute? 2019

Get That Job

Perennially bestselling annual manual tells you how to “parachute” into the perfect job situation.


This manual has been a classic since 1970, and revised, updated editions appear regularly. With more than 10 million copies sold in 28 countries, this popular item on Time’s list of the All-Time Best 100 Nonfiction Books is the best-selling job-search manual in the world.


The higher your transferable skills, the less competition you will face for whatever job you are seeking.Richard Bolles

Fast Company called it, “One of the first job-hunting books on the market. It is still arguably the best. And it is indisputably the most popular.” And The New York Post wrote, “It remains the go-to guide for everyone from midlife-crisis boomers looking to change their careers to college students looking to start one.” Time astutely noted that the book, “…is about job-hunting and career-changing, but it’s also about figuring out who you are as a person and what you want out of life.”

Job Landscape

Since the 2008 recession, the authors – writing under the byline of the late Richard Bolles, a career development expert and former Episcopalian preacher – report that most jobs last fewer than five years. By 2020, they calculate, freelancers and part-time employees will make up 40% of American workers. Despite the hype surrounding AI and automation, the authors believe technology will displace only 5% to 19% of the workforce. But, they insist, the single job that can carry you to retirement no longer exists.

Job hunting is no longer an optional exercise. It is a survival skill.Richard Bolles

The authors say your likelihood of getting a job from internet jobs boards is only 4%. Instead, they assert, finding a job, as always, means finding someone you like who likes you.

“Parachute Approach”

The authors explain that their Parachute Approach starts with analyzing your talents and what you like to do. Then, they recommend, approach candidate companies through a “bridge person” who knows the company and knows your work.

Look at your past, break that experience down into its most basic ‘atoms’ (namely, skills), then build a new career for the future from your favorite ‘atoms,’ retracing your steps from the bottom up, in the exact opposite directionRichard Bolles

The authors claim the Parachute Approach has an 86% success rate. They suggest beginning with the “Flower Exercise”: Draw a flower with a center and six petals. Each petal represents an aspect of your ideal job: people, work conditions, your skills, your hobbies and your non-work expertise, money, and where you want to live. Put your life’s mission in the center of the flower.

The authors urge you to interpret which careers your flower diagram suggests and to list jobs where your skills and knowledge intersect.


Then, they instruct, build a résumé that lists your specific work and personal skills; scholarships, awards or student jobs; how much you increased your previous employer’s business; clients you brought in; projects you completed; your responsibilities; who you managed; and the computer programs and apps you know.

Nothing…makes you look less professional than having an obviously outdated profile. Richard Bolles

The authors recognize that your cover letter may be more important than your résumé. So, they advise you to tailor your CV to each job and to select its main points with the goal of getting an interview. The authors explain that if your résumé comes with a personal referral, you’ll end up competing with – on average – only nine other candidates. They believe you should complete a LinkedIn public profile with a job title featuring a keyword prospective employers might seek.


Interviews are conversations, the authors remind you, and each one is unique. At smaller companies, they promise, you’re more likely to interview with someone who can hire you. The authors stress, however, that your main goal at the first interview is to get a second one.

Sooner or later, as you do this informational interviewing…you’ll find a career that fits you just fine. It uses your favorite skills. It employs your favorite special knowledge or fields of interest Richard Bolles

When prospective employers say “tell me about yourself,” they want to know how your skills and knowledge fit their needs. Don’t give an answer that is longer than two minutes and never criticize your previous employer.

If you want it, the authors contend, you should ask for the job before your final interview ends. If the interviewer can’t offer you the job, ask about if he or she knows of someone who might be looking for a job candidate with your skills and background. And, the authors underline, always send a thank-you note. 

Negotiating Salary

The authors state the obvious: know the salary before you start the job. If an interviewer mentions salary and asks how much you want, the best response is that until the company wants you, that conversation is premature.

Do not ignore your intuition if it tells you that you would not be comfortable working with these people!…If these people aren’t it, keep looking!Richard Bolles

In terms of salary strategy, the authors tell you to let the interviewers mention the first number. If they ask how much you’d like, the authors believe you should say that the prospective employer must have a number in mind, and you’d like to know what it is. When your negotiations end, the authors are adamant that you must ask for a letter of agreement citing the agreed-upon salary.

Your Mission

Your life’s mission, the authors concur, will evolve over time. They make the case that unemployment enables you to contemplate your mission. They remind you to take care of yourself while you’re unemployed: get the sleep you need, stay active and hydrated, go outside daily, keep in touch with your friends and stay grateful. 

Everybody’s Read It

The one issue with Parachute’s advice is that people have bought it for decades. The methods are sound – if purely common sense – but not cutting edge. Everyone has been applying these tactics since the manual’s first edition, so following its counsel means being one of a crowd, though that may well work out fine for you. This guide’s perpetual bestseller status indicates that its guidance must be real-world effective. Bolles was a clear, serviceable writer with a simple message; his successors have the same solid abilities.

As a former Episcopalian minister, Bolles includes appendices addressing job hunting from a Christian point of view. He urges you to translate that spirituality in whatever way speaks to you. In Bolles’ philosophy, a vocation is spiritual. Even unemployment can be meaningful if you take the opportunity to reflect on your deeper beliefs. Whether you embrace faith-based tactics in your job search will depend on your personal religious feelings, but Bolles offers plenty of other tools and ample food for thought.

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