Wednesday, August 20, 2008

What color is YOUR parachute?

I wouldn't call the last couple of months the highlight of my life. They would, rather, reside near the bottom on my life history's list of good times. Job hunting is NOT fun and does NOT make you feel better about yourself. I have learned a few things in the past ten weeks though.

First: College is not the real world. Don't fool yourself into thinking that it resembles it in any way.

Second: College will teach you about the real world, but not how to survive in it. This involves Josie B. Student learning all about current events, international problems, philosophical implications, empirical evidence, and scientific reasoning. It does not, however, involve a study of the job market, how to find a job, or even where or how to start.

Third: A degree is worth less than your real world expertise. Sadly, knowing how to go about securing a job will help a lot more than that beloved degree. Paper is less effective than personality. That's just how it is. People don't choose to hire you because of your resume.

So how do you go about learning all this real world stuff? Well, for one, you learn learn by failing. All those unsuccessful attempts at landing a job teach you what not to do. I highly recommend this path if your looking for a long and tortuous professional and personal hell. Or if your a masochist. Either or.

If that, however, does not sound appealing to you, I would go for the second option. Learn from another expertise and success how to find a job the right way. And learn it before you graduate. There are many ways to go about doing this. I, not surprisingly, chose to read a book.

That book is Richard Nelson Bolles' What Color is Your Parachute?: A Practical Manual for Job-Hunters and Career-Changers. I just started the book today and I have already learned a lot! Here are some pearls I have gleaned from my perusal:
  • College/High School fails to teach you the three essential life skills.
    1. How to choose and find a job.
    2. How to choose and find an appropriate partner/husband/wife.
    3. How to think and how to make good decisions.
  • It takes, on average, 18 weeks to find a job in America. That is over four months!
  • Some are the worst ways to go about finding a job include using the Internet (4% success rate), mailing resumes to employers at random (7%) and answering local newspaper ads (14%).
  • Some of the best ways are asking for job-leads from family, friends, and contacts (33% are successful), knocking on the door of any employer that interests you (47%), using the phone books yellow pages employers of interest residing in the city you want to work, and then calling to ask if they're hiring for a position you can do well (69%).
  • The best way to find a job, according to the author, is by doing a life-changing job-hunt. This includes doing homework on yourself before even beginning the job search. It involves learning the WHAT, WHERE and HOW.
  • What are the skills you most enjoy using. That does NOT mean those you are good at.
  • Where: Imagine you are a flower. Every flower has an environment where it does best. Where would your flower thrive, in a professional sense?
  • How to get where you want to go. This is perhaps the most difficult question.
  • If done thoroughly (again according to Bolles) this has a 86% success rate.

I'm working on #1 right now. After making a huge list of verbs detailing things I can and can't do, I found about 15 that I both do well and love doing (the second part is essential):

  1. Discovering
  2. Learning
  3. Questioning
  4. Writing
  5. Analyzing
  6. Interpreting
  7. Investigating
  8. Traveling
  9. Reading
  10. Informing
  11. Examining
  12. Creating
  13. Playing
  14. Listening
  15. Conceptualizing
  16. Reviewing
  17. Researching

I know most are pretty abstract, but they are meant to be. The practical comes in when you figure out how to consolidate these skills/interests into a real world job.

I haven't gotten that far yet. But I hope to, as I hope some part of this very long post helped or interested you in some small way. Cheers!

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