It's easier to visualize our dream job when we are young, mainly because we're influenced by what we see in our environment. But as we reach adulthood, this is when everything gets tricky. Whether you are a fresh graduate looking to start a career or have been working for years and wanting to have a transition, it is incredibly challenging to figure out what career you want. Nevertheless, finding the right job is vital as it can ultimately lead you to happier and more fulfilling life.
A great recommendation to kick-start your career planning is by reading What Color Is Your Parachute (2021), by Richard Bolles and Katharine Brooks. This book has sold more than ten million copies in the past fifty years and appears at number 27 on TIME's All-Time 100 Best Non-Fiction Books for a good reason. It is one of the most complete guides available for anyone looking for a fulfilling and satisfying career. In today's world of work, job fit and satisfaction are increasingly important – both for employees and employers.
Happy employees are more productive – 13% more – and are more likely to go the extra mile for the business and teams they work within. But the world of work has changed and is continuing to do so. The amount of time we spend in a single job is decreasing, and full-time jobs taking up 35 hours of the week or more are becoming harder to find. Add to this the multiple innovations we've seen in past decades – AI, robotics, the internet – and it's clear we need to begin reimagining our lives and the world of work that is on the horizon. Many of the traditional jobs we are familiar with today are at risk of disruption. In all likelihood, tomorrow's workplace teams will be a combination of humans and machines. The longer someone is unemployed, the more their life satisfaction drops, and their levels of anxiety and sadness increase.
Like all good career guidance activities, Bolles and Brooks start with the essentials in the journey to fulfilling work – beginning with where we are and what we want so the course to where we'd like to be can be successfully plotted and traversed.
Good Career Planning
Whether beginning your first career or changing careers, Bolles and Brooks encourage readers to focus on what they enjoy, take time to explore options, and aim to keep job hunting fun. Career planning often starts with a narrow view of job types, expands this view, and then narrows down again to identify the best fitting roles.
The Parachute approach to finding dream work – the kind that is fulfilling, gratifying, and pleasurable – begins with looking inward before looking outward at the job market. In this way, you can clarify the types of roles that excite you. Careers that fascinate and interest us will inspire us. And talking to people already in these roles will help us learn more about them.
The best job should not be just the high demand job but the one that enables you to use your favorite skills, talents, traits, and knowledge daily in settings you find stimulating and rewarding. Of course, a dream job is different for everyone, but it gives more than it takes, and it leaves us feeling fulfilled and as though we are moving toward our goals and values rather than away from them. Work need not be a grind if we are brave enough to learn about ourselves and the roles that suit our unique interests, talents, values, and preferences. Because of this, Talent Transformation has developed a Career Test that you can take free of charge and receive personalized feedback and guidance.
To find the best fit for anything, you need to know your measurements or try something on. Talent Transformation’s Free Career Test measures your interests and uses algorithms to provide guidance and list the roles you might find empowering.
The 'Flower Exercise,' explained in the book, is a detailed self-inventory, covers job seekers' and switchers' preferred people, places, skills, knowledge, locations, salary, and purpose. Each of these facets is depicted as a petal on a flower which represents our whole selves.
Not content to have a list of things we enjoy for each category, the flower exercise takes readers a step further, prioritizing their favorite things. Doing this can expose the most critical aspects figuring out how to choose a career and exploring options you may not have previously considered. When developing these career measurements, readers also develop stories about who they are and the skills they have attained throughout their lives. Self awareness can also help you through the journey of personal growth. These stories are then able to be used to illustrate competencies for employers in interviews.
Along with determining our career measurements, we learn how to "try on" different careers and intriguing or exciting roles. Connecting with experts in fields that interest us is one such way. The book includes a set of interview questions to use when meeting with experts. These questions get to the heart of potential roles – how they got into the work, what they like and dislike about it, and where others who do this kind of work may be found. Reminders to thank people for their time are liberally scattered through the pages. It always pays to be courteous and appreciative!
Surveys estimate that as many as 85% of jobs are found by networking, yet 25% of workers don't network at all. By following the process of the flower exercise and informational interviews with people in roles the same or similar to those we may like to try ourselves, the reader begins to network without the pressure of consciously building career ties.
However, once the flower exercise has been completed, readers are encouraged to do just that – network with their contacts for potential leads. LinkedIn is a handy tool, and the book points out how to best use this resource to leverage weak ties and grow social network, who are often the most help in job searches.
No modern job hunting book would be complete without a section covering social media. This medium of communication and representation has had arguably one of the most significant impacts on job hunters in the past few decades. For example, 47% of employers indicate they won't interview candidates without a social media presence. Bolles and Brooks provide sound guidance on editing and building online profiles that support job seekers' goals.
Once you have figured out your favorite skills, traits, and knowledge they possess and matched them to a career and organizations that you'd like to work for, you can need to learn the finer details of interview preparation and presentation as well as salary negotiation. No aspect of the job hunt is left uncovered – including the option of choosing to work for yourself. You’ll finally have an answer to the question ‘what career is right for me?”
What Color Is Your Parachute? is a comprehensive workbook designed to take readers on a journey of self-discovery that ends at a dream job destination. It is a book about jobs, but also a book about life and hope. Our goal should be to live victorious lives that meet and overcome the many challenges and obstacles along the way with grit, determination, and grace.
Start with your journey today by taking the Free Career Quiz and receive personalized career guidance!