Book by: Richard N. Bolles
Review by: Robert Johnson
New York University

When thinking about a parachute, the image of a slow glide back to Earth heading towards a set target on the ground comes to mind. A blue parachute cover is lined up exactly with the blue landing zone destination at the beginning the jump. In the context of job hunting and in line with Richard N. Bolles’ What Color is Your Parachute? Guide to Rethinking Resumes, the proverbial parachute would be the resume and the target would be the “interview me” side of the employer table. Bolles very humorously, but pointedly lays out the pitfalls of not understanding how to get a resume past the 8 second test (pg 5).  

This book is a strong advising tool that should be used by career counselors and campus advisors seeking to help students and graduates prepare for the challenges that are an inherent part of job hunting. Like the well-crafted personal statement that is created to impress college choices, the resume now becomes that statement to prospective employers. Or as Bolles puts it, the resume is the “person set ahead of you to plead your case for you” (pg 3). Some of the advice given in the book, such as the death of “the objective” and the rise in weight of online social networking behavior, has become common knowledge. Other tips, such as the employer disdain of common buzz-words such as driven, energetic, and references furnished upon request are very important to know when seeking to separate from the field of applicants.

Parachute is written in a manner that makes it a straight-forward but not overly wordy read. The information presented can be digested and utilized immediately. The guide is made up of four, short chapters that speak directly the idea of what your resume says about you, how to make it speak the language of “interview me,” as well as where to post it for optimum success. Bolles even gives background data and resources to help you through each section in the footnotes of each page. There is very little technical jargon, so this book can be recommended to all levels of job seeker, including the parents and friends of our students. Advisors can also use the book to create their own templates and to become an expert in the eyes of their students and counselee’s.

In the end, job hunters seek to land the job that they set out to earn. After sending out dozens of resumes and receiving no responses for an interview, job seekers want to know how close they were to the interview stage and what they could have done to attain success in that regard. They want their resume to convince prospective employers to bring them in for the interview. The desire to be that needle in the haystack candidate that shines above all of the other applicants is met by Parachute. The trick is to make sure that the color of the parachute matches the color of the landing target.

What Color is Your Parachute? Guide to Rethinking Resumes. (2014). Book by Richard N. Bolles. Review by Robert A. Johnson. Emeryville, CA: Ten Speed Press. 112pp., $12.99 (Paperback). ISBN 978-1-60774-657-7

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