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What Color is Your Parachute?

Written By Michael Ferrara

Created on 2024-02-27 15:36

Published on 2024-03-06 15:11

As they sipped their coffees, Richard broke the silence, "Navigating the job market feels like wading through a jungle. I don't even know where to start."

Alex nodded in agreement, "It's overwhelming, but I read something interesting about viewing it from the employer's side. It's not just about flooding them with applications but finding a match that benefits both."

Richard looked intrigued, "So, it's more strategic? Like, targeting and understanding what they really want?"

"Exactly," Alex replied, stirring his coffee. "And there’s more to it. With everything moving online, our digital presence is like our new resume. It's not just about what we send but how we appear on platforms they use to scout us."

Richard considered this, then sighed, "But what about someone like me? I'm not exactly outgoing. Networking sounds daunting."

Alex smiled, "That's where the small steps come in. Start with your passion. Talk about it online or in small gatherings. It's not about making a sale but starting conversations."

Their discussion veered into actionable steps, like engaging in informational interviews to build confidence and networks in a low-pressure setting, transforming their apprehension into a strategic plan to conquer the job hunt.

The Nature of Job Markets

Richard N. Bolles in "What Color Is Your Parachute?" discusses the nature of job markets with a comprehensive perspective. Here are his top aspects covered in relation to job markets:

Bolles' discussion on the nature of job markets underscores the importance of adaptability, strategic job searching, and the effective use of digital tools in navigating the complexities of modern employment landscapes.

Common Issues of Job Seekers

According to Bolles, there are several common issues that job seekers face during their job search process:

Bolles also provides insights into how job seekers can address these challenges, such as embracing their natural tendencies while finding ways to adapt and thrive within the requirements of job hunting, suggesting strategies like focusing on one's strengths, practicing to become more comfortable in challenging settings, and seeking professional advice if necessary.

The Flower Exercise

Bolles dives into The Flower Exercise, a comprehensive and multi-faceted approach to career planning and life fulfillment. It encourages deep self-reflection across various dimensions of one's life and aspirations. The exercise is divided into several petals, each focusing on different aspects:

Each petal requires thoughtful consideration and sometimes research. The process includes exercises like listing preferences, imagining ideal scenarios, and conducting informational interviews or online research to refine one's understanding of available opportunities that align with their desires and values.

The My Goal, Purpose or Mission in Life section, for example, encourages individuals to think deeply about their overarching goals and the legacy they wish to leave. It asks them to consider their impact across various spheres, such as the senses (e.g., contributing to beauty through art or music), the body (e.g., promoting health and fitness), and possessions (e.g., encouraging stewardship and simplicity).

This exercise is designed to be introspective and iterative, allowing individuals to continuously refine their understanding of what they seek in their professional and personal lives. It's a tool for guiding career transitions, seeking fulfilling work, and aligning one's job with broader life goals and values.

Shattering Shyness and Elevating Your Career Search

The "P.I.E." method, as described by Bolles, is a strategy designed to help job seekers, particularly those who struggle with shyness or social anxiety, by focusing on three types of interviews:

Pleasure (P): This is the warm-up phase, where the aim is to get used to talking with people for enjoyment. It involves what John Crystal called "The Practice Field Survey," where you engage in conversations about non-job-related subjects that you are enthusiastic about, to help "penetrate networks."

Information (I): This phase involves informational interviewing or research. The purpose here is to find out if you would like a job before you actually go trying to get it. This step is crucial for gathering information about potential jobs and industries without the pressure of a formal job interview.

Employment (E): This is the final phase, focusing on the employment interview with the person who has the power to hire you. This step is about getting hired for the work you have decided you would most like to do, leveraging the enthusiasm and knowledge you've built up through the previous phases.

Daniel Porot, a job expert from Switzerland, further refined John Crystal's approach into what is now known as the PIE method, organizing it into a well-thought-out system. The method has assisted thousands of job hunters and career changers worldwide in overcoming their shyness and improving their job search strategies.

Traditional vs. Parachute Approach

Bolles, contrasts significantly with the traditional approach to job hunting and career changes. Here's a rundown of the key aspects and how it differs from the conventional method:

Objective: The traditional method focuses on finding any job, while the Parachute Approach aims for an ideal job that utilizes one's favorite skills and knowledge areas.

Self-Perception: Traditionally, job seekers see themselves as not in control and lucky to get a job. The Parachute Approach encourages seeing oneself as a valuable resource who controls the search process.

Job Search Strategy: The conventional strategy involves looking at job boards for available positions. In contrast, the Parachute Approach advises determining what job would be most interesting and motivating before starting the search.

Preparation: The traditional method emphasizes researching the job market to fit in, whereas the Parachute Approach focuses on self-reflection to understand what one does best and loves to do.

Employer Engagement: Traditionally, candidates wait for employers to announce vacancies. The Parachute Approach suggests conducting informational interviews to identify interesting organizations, regardless of current vacancies.

Contact Method: Traditional job applications rely heavily on resumes. The Parachute Approach recommends using a bridge person for a more personal connection.

Resume Purpose: In the traditional sense, resumes aim to sell the candidate's suitability for the job. With the Parachute Approach, the goal is to secure an initial interview.

Interview Goal: Traditionally, the aim is to convince the employer of one's fit for the job. The Parachute Approach focuses on having a meaningful conversation to secure another interview.

Interview Discussion: Traditional interviews focus on the candidate's assets and experience. The Parachute Approach suggests a balance between discussing the employer's interests and the candidate's inquiries about the role and how they can contribute.

Outcome Consideration: The conventional approach is concerned with whether the employer wants the candidate. The Parachute Approach also considers whether the candidate wants the employer and if the job aligns with their passions and contributions.

Concluding Interviews: Traditionally, candidates leave the timing up to the employer. The Parachute Approach advocates for actively seeking closure and expressing enthusiasm about the hiring process.

The Essence of the Parachute Approach

The Parachute Approach is about taking charge of one's job search by starting with a deep understanding of oneself. It emphasizes the importance of finding a job that not only fits one's skills and interests but also contributes to personal growth and satisfaction. This method involves proactive steps, such as self-assessment, networking through bridge people, and strategic interviewing, to find a job that feels like a natural extension of one's passions and abilities.

In essence, the Parachute Approach transforms the job search from a reactive, luck-based endeavor into a proactive, strategic pursuit of fulfilling work. It's about aligning one's career with one's personal identity and life goals, rather than fitting oneself into the available slots in the job market.


In "What Color Is Your Parachute?", Richard N. Bolles emphasizes the multifaceted nature of job markets, highlighting their volatility and the complexities of job searching in the digital age. He underscores the importance of adaptability, strategic job searching, and utilizing digital tools to navigate the employment landscape effectively. Bolles addresses common challenges job seekers face, such as shyness and communication difficulties, and presents the Flower Exercise as a method for deep self-reflection and career planning. He contrasts the traditional job-hunting approach with his Parachute Approach, advocating for a proactive and self-reflective job search strategy that focuses on finding meaningful and fulfilling work. Bolles’ insights offer a comprehensive framework for understanding job markets, tackling job search challenges, and pursuing a career that aligns with one’s skills, interests, and values.

#CareerDevelopment #JobSearchStrategies #WhatColorIsYourParachute #PersonalGrowth #InnovativeJobHunting

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Tech Topics is a newsletter with a focus on contemporary challenges and innovations in the workplace and the broader world of technology. Produced by Boston-based Conceptual Technology (, the articles explore various aspects of professional life, including workplace dynamics, evolving technological trends, job satisfaction, diversity and discrimination issues, and cybersecurity challenges. These themes reflect a keen interest in understanding and navigating the complexities of modern work environments and the ever-changing landscape of technology.

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