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Originally published on Monday, November 13, 2006 in The Miami Herald

Books offer advice on the job-seeking process
Three recent books examine how to deal with the job market and the possibility of working without an employer.


Having been through several job searches over the years, I'm not at all surprised to learn that there's more movement than ever within individual careers. Companies cut people based on short-term financial exigencies, incompetence or for no good reason at all, and employees relocate, seek better positions, retire or quit.

In most industries, consolidation has taken place, with inevitable job cuts to minimize redundancies, take advantage of presumed efficiencies or just placate Wall Street.

Bottom line: The traditional job-for-life model is dead -- if it ever truly existed.

Here are three new books that may offer wisdom and insight to those on the cusp of a change.

What Color Is Your Parachute? 2007: A Practical Manual for Job-Hunters and Career Changes. Richard Nelson Bolles. Ten Speed Press. 382 pages.

The original edition of this classic for job seekers appeared in 1970 and is now annually updated. Richard Bolles is wise to keep it current, given the changing job market and the quantum shift that has taken place on the job-search front.

He has retained his folksy approach, but somehow he has managed to jam more information and resources into the package. Of course, there are lots of Web links and other places to go for additional assistance. If you are in the job-quest mode and you need a pep talk and some good counsel, this is still a great place to get ready, with self-assessment exams and other tools you may not have known you'd need.

Are There Any Good Jobs Left?: Career Management in the Age of the Disposable Worker. R. William Holland. Greenwood Publishing Group. 176 pages.

If you are an older displaced worker, especially a white-collar wage slave, Holland feels your pain. His book is a tough but extremely compassionate discussion of the current state of affairs, what it means and how best to deal with things if you are making an unwanted transition during what you had hoped would be the latter stages of your career.

There are lots of specifics offered for individuals and the value of such advice depends on one's situation, of course, but the heart of this book is broader in scope. William Holland looks at our country and its place in the global economy. It's difficult to avoid pessimism, perhaps, but he offers glimmers of hope to those able to seize the opportunities provided by entrepreneurship and retooled expectations after exiting the corporate cocoon.

Not everyone will have the wisdom and fortitude to act upon his advice, but there's much food for thought here, regardless.

Real Success Without a Real Job. Ernie J. Zelinski. Ten Speed Press. 240 pages.

Along the same lines, Ernie Zelinski, the author of The Joy of Not Working, extends and embraces the options afforded by the paradox of increased consolidation and decentralization of the economy. For people who are rigidly task-oriented and need to be told what to do most of the time or who have no idea how to productively get through the day, there's not very much here. But if you are a creative and slightly whimsical sort, this freewheeling and entertaining discussion might be revelatory.

Zelinski's personal and slightly conspiratorial tone makes for pleasant reading, but underneath the surface, he makes a serious case for self-directed income creation. A modicum of courage and perhaps a dash of recklessness -- and a supportive spouse -- would probably be helpful, too.

But for those contemplating cutting the binds of employment and making their own way, you could do far worse than avail yourself of Zelinski's philosophy.

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