Articles By Dick Bolles

'Tis the Job Hunt That's Ruining America

Author: Dick Bolles

Needless to say, I am not a politician.  I'm only an expert about "the job hunt."   But this does cause me to stay riveted on all that goes on in our nation's capital, because I've never seen a place more screwed up by The Job Hunt, in my whole life. In the legislative and executive branches of our government, the job hunt is their obsession.  They try to conceal that simple fact by giving it a more high-falutin' name.  They call it "re-election."  But beneath the facade of that language,  it's still their job hunt.

It's breathtaking to watch how, in the interests of their next job hunt, they will do, say, or promise,  almost anything. 

They all have what we in our industry call "contract jobs" -- jobs that they have only for a set amount of time, and then they have to get rehired.  This keeps their eyes riveted on the people who have the power to hire them again,  and if they think  it will improve their chances of getting rehired, they will say one thing when they're trying to get the job, say the opposite thing once they have it. Once rehired, they will completely reverse their decisions on the job, from week to week:  they will sponsor a bill one week,  vote against that very same bill the next week.     They will even say No to everything, if they think it will help them with their next job hunt.

Why do they like this job so much, why do they want this job so badly?  Well, for one thing it has a great health plan.  For another, they get some mouthwatering special benefits and favors.  And, probably most importantly, the job gives them a lot of power, for as long as it lasts.  In an organization with 100 employees, (the Senate) one man or woman can thwart the will of the other ninety nine. 

They don't need to take a Dale Carnegie course; this job, from beginning to end, depends on their being able "to win friends and influence people."  That's the skill that most determines whether or not they are successful in their next job hunt. It is the sine qua non of the job.  

So, what does all this add up to?  Simply this: their obsession with their own job hunt is ruining America. It's causing things not to get done that should be done.  It's causing things that should not get done, to be done.   It's corrupting the fight to make this a better and more compassionate country, toward its own citizens.

I know what you're thinking, of course.  You think I'm talking about one particular political party. Nope. Wrong.   I'm talking about how, decade after decade,  the whole Congress and the Executive Branch, decide altogether too many of their policies, decisions and votes by one criterion above all others: "will it help my next job hunt?"  "Will it help me get re-elected?"  Until, of course, they're ready to retire.

So, I have this comforting thought for you: if you are unemployed, and worrying about how to find your next job,  don't worry. You have friends in Washington,who know exactly how you feel, because they are in the same boat as you are.   They may be employed temporarily for the moment.  But they're just as worried about their jobs as you are.

Friends?  Well they would be, if they ever saw any connection between their situation and yours. But I wouldn't hold out much hope.  They are so obsessed with their own situation that they never stop to consider how similar it is to yours.  "You're looking for work?   Sorry,  I don't have any time to help you.   I'm up for re-election."

P.S. In the interest of full confession, my grandfather was a congressman.  He was a noble man, and never worried about his job hunt.  He died peaceably, while he was still in office.I know of course there are other noble men and women in office, to whom none of what I have said above, applies.   I hope their tribe increases. 

Why Pursuing Your Dream Is Still Important

Author: Dick Bolles


In deciding what you want to do with your life, or what you want to do next with your life, there are only three questions to ask yourself: WHAT, WHERE, and HOW.

1. WHAT do you most love to do?

2. WHERE would you most love to do it? and

3. HOW do you name such jobs, and how do you find such jobs?

That word Love is important. You want to look for your passions (what you'd most love to do), rather than just your competencies (what you can do). In my 44 years of experience in this field, I have found this is terribly important. Oh, some "experts" will claim that it's hard enough to find any work during this long slow U.S. recovery from the 2008 Recession, so this is no time to be picky. Don't believe them. It's always time to be picky. Here are five reasons why:

1. In this imperfect world, odds are you'll only find part—not all—of what you're looking for, at least in the beginning. So if you aim for all of your dream, and at first find only half of your target, good news: you've found 50% of your dream job, right off. On the other hand if, out of fear, or the desire "to be realistic", from the beginning you aim for only half of your dream, and end up with half of that, you've found only 25% of your dream.

2. If your job-hunt drags on, as is the case more often since the 2008 Recession, you need something that will keep you at it! Pursuing what you'd most love to do will give you the determination to keep on going with your job-hunt or career-change, even during rough patches. "If I get this, or even something close to this, it will all be worth it."

3. If your job-hunt drags on, you need to replenish your energy along the way. Pursuing what you'd most love to do will give you the energy to keep on going, even during rough patches. (Notice, in other situations, when you're talking to a loved one, and you get on some topic you're enthusiastic about, how your energy level rises. You feel renewed. So, here.)

4. You need another way to find organizations than just waiting for them to announce a vacancy. If you first identify what you'd love most to do, it's relatively easy then to identify and research places that might have such jobs. And you can then approach them through your contacts, before they ever announce their next vacancy.

5. Once you get a job interview at places of your choice, you need to stand out from the other (say) nineteen people they're interviewing there. It is the enthusiastic job-seekee rather than the one who can just do the job, that stands out in any interviewing process. If it's your whole dream you're after, you will be enthusiastic, without even trying, because you're about to get closer to your dream. Not so enthusiastic, if it's only one quarter of your dream.

For People of Faith, A Word or Two

Author: Dick Bolles

I grew up in the Christian church. That is to say, I grew up in the Land of Faith, and I have always found it to be a lovely land.  It is full of beauty, color, light, sound, mercy, love, forgiveness and compassion. It is a land of joy, strength, and laughter. Because I live in the Land of Faith, now at age 88 I have a city inside my head: memorized music from the great composers, poetry, texts, hymns, images—they’re all playing in there; and I have fellowship and a bond with others who also hunger that there be a God, and love the idea that we have a Creator. 

I have friends, of course, who know no such hunger.  They not only do not believe we have a creator, they feel no need that there be one. Some of them, indeed, are glad there is no one to whom they will be ultimately accountable, or to whom they owe Gratitude. 

Talk between those who feel a hunger that there be a God and those who do not, is usually not very fruitful. The conversation usually degenerates into each side trying to convince the other that they are wrong. For example, Richard Dawkins, in his book The God Delusion states “If this book works as I intend, religious readers who open it will be atheists when they put it down.“ There are also the famous atheist billboards in New York’s Times Squareand elsewhere.  On the other side, there are fundamentalist and evangelical Christians who feel a deep need to convince those who have no hunger for God, of the error of their ways—and they have Biblical texts to justify their doing this.  

I myself have never been a fundamentalist, and never could be one. I have never felt any need to convert those who feel no hunger for God.  My thoughts run in another direction, entirely:  Let it be, let it be, let it be. We who have a hunger for God should just place those who do not, into the hands of the God they do not believe in.  And let it be. Speaking words of wisdom, let it be.

But among ourselves, I think we should talk.  Talk and share.  By the age of 88, you have had a lot of experiences.  A lot.  And you have learned a lot.   So, I thought today I would share my experiences with prayer.  Particularly with prayer for healing.    When I have seen prayers for the healing of someone,  and small miracles then occur,  I have noticed certain things that  hinder such prayers, and certain things that seem to help.   So, here are my learnings, for what they're worth:

1. They begin by focussing on God, and thanking Him (Her) for all past blessings in their life.  If we are not grateful for what we have already received, why should we think that we will receive any more?

2. They then tell Our Creator,  that they trust in His power to intervene in our lives, but only when invited in.

3. They picture to themselves a door, and beyond that door lies a beautiful countryside with a radiant, healed person, for whom they are praying

4. They tell the Lord that they know He needs your prayer, because that is the key that opens the door.
3. You ask for healing, and picture coming down from heaven an early light-blue light,  going in through the top 
of Kiri's head, and bathing her whole being.
4. You picture this for several minutes.
5. You then ask the Lord for direction about any healing aids that lie within Our control. (You know the old story about the woman whose home was in the midst of a flood, she climbed to the highest floor, then the roof,  two rowboats came by and offered to rescue her, she declined,saying "I'm waiting for the Lord to save me."  Finally, she drowned,  went to heaven, and bawled out the Lord for ignoring her prayersr.  "What do you mean?" the Lord replied, "I sent two rowboats to rescue you.")
In the case of my own back for example, I prayed but then it became clear to me that the Lord was using other instruments:  I heard/felt/sensed NOT to use doctors, neurologists, surgeons or even chiropractors, but only a physical therapist.  I asked all my friends who was the best, and that is what I have followed ever since, and my back is gradually getting better and better, and better, as you know.  Of course, we want instant healing, with no work on our part, but that is not always the way the Lord works.  He often uses "instruments" whether they be rowboats or physical therapists.
6. ALWAYS end the prayer by affirming "Not my will, but thine, be done."  and ask the good Lord to make something beautiful out of our suffering.   That almost always means,  being infinitely more sensitive every day to those we know or run into, who are also suffering, in the same or in other ways   The body is temporary; the soul is eternal.  If the goal goes around the world dispensing sympathy and understanding, that is the greatest gift the soul can ever seek.

What We Owe Returning Vets

Author: Dick Bolles


Some men and women in America are combat veterans.  Films like American Sniper,  Hurt Locker, and Lone Survivor have opened the door to our understanding what a sacrifice combat veterans have made for us. But actually, a veteran is anyone who has served in the Armed Forces of the United States. There are more than 21,200,000 veterans in the U.S.

What do we owe them? Four things, it seems to me.

(1) REMEMBRANCE. Some of them laid down their lives for us, in the service of fighting oppressors and architects of evil. These veterans are gone, now, at least from earthly view. Except among their families and friends, it is easy to forget their sacrifice. That was, after all, yesterday. So, once a year we have a Veterans Day when we deliberately remember, anew. We visit cemeteries, or crypts, or the graves of the Unknowns. We hold parades and concerts and solemn services, remembering all who laid their lives for us, in what Jesus called, "no greater love than this." Hoping they can hear, even in another world, our undying gratitude for their sacrifice.  And we need to do this more than once a year.

(2) CELEBRATION. 2,600,000 veterans served in recent wars. A million of them are coming home through 2018. The vast majority of them not only came home unscathed, but stronger, braver, more disciplined, more skilled, more mature than they ever were before. They make magnificent employees that any employer would be lucky to hire. This is highlighted in some recent books, such as the November 4 release of "For Love of Country: What Our Veterans Can Teach Us About Citizenship, Heroism, and Sacrifice" by Howard Schultz and Rajiv Chandrasekaran. The armed services were a blessing to them. And to us. And to our workplace.

Over 90% of those who have just come home, or are coming home, do not —do not—suffer from psychological or mental disabilities. But 250,000 Iraq or Afghanistan veterans do, and have been treated for PTSD. 50,000 veterans are currently homeless, every night. 22 veterans commit suicide every day. Small percentages, from the larger view of things! But percentages be damned! Every single individual is precious in God's sight. One disabled vet is one too many. Anything, anything, we can do to help with the cost of their treatment is an act of mercy and empathy. It not only helps them; it makes each of us better at being a human being that the earth can be proud of. I have given; I hope you will, too.

(4) Lastly CODE-BLUE HELP. Of course returning vets need help in finding employment. Job-hunting is a mystery even to those of us who have never served in the armed forces. It is often even more of a puzzle to returning vets. The unemployment rate is currently 7.2% among male veterans; among female veterans, it's 11.2%. By comparison, among the rest of us it's only 5.8%. Returning vets need help in finding meaningful work. But this means more than just giving them help with writing resumes and conducting interviews. That often is just not enough.

Hospitals have a particular vocabulary that is useful here. The term is "code-blue." It refers to an emergency in which a patient is in cardiopulmonary arrest, requiring a team to rush to the patient and begin immediate extra efforts to pull them through. Much of job-hunting today, for veterans and non-veterans alike, is in a code--blue situation since 2008. Training in resumes and interviews just isn't enough. Returning vets need extraordinary creativity, new approaches, alternative solutions. 

So, in the newest edition of Parachute (the 2015, currently in bookstores or online), I added a new 20 page section to help returning vets or those who are trying to help returning vets, find meaningful employment and work. I spent three months researching and evaluating the most helpful resources in approaching code-blue job-hunts.    Don't let all that research go to waste. Read it, use it, give it to a returning vet you know.

The Secret of Keeping Hope Alive

Author: Dick Bolles

If you are job-hunting, the most important thing you need to do is to keep hope alive. That is not always easy. . Day after day of sending out resumes, with not a single answer, day after day of searching employers" ads, here or on the Internet, without a single nibble. It is easy to get discouraged. Yet hope is everything. Hope will keep you going, against all odds. Therefore we must understand the rules for keeping hope alive. 

Having studied successful job-hunters for over forty years, I have discovered that their most important secret for keeping Hope alive is that from the beginning, the successful ones always have chosen at least two alternatives for every step of their job-hunt: 

People who are not good at job-hunting tend to fixate on just one way of doing things.

  1. In describing what they can do, they use a job-title. Period. ("I'm an engineer.")  
  2. In describing where they want to work, they use a field-title. Period. ("In the computer field.")
  3. In describing their target, they name large organizations. Period. ("I want to work for GE, or Google, or Apple.")
  4. In describing how they choose particular places, it's always places with known vacancies. Period. ("I'm studying all the ads and job postings on the Internet.")
  5. In describing how they get into organizations, they use one way only. Period. ("I'm sending them my resume.")

On the other hand, people who are good at job-hunting figure out alternatives to each of the above. And have them ready at hand. You could call it "their fall-back position," or "Plan B."

  1. Instead of just job-titles, they can name their individual skills.
  2. Instead of just field-titles, they can describe their favorite interests.
  3. Instead of just large organizations, they target small organizations also.
  4. Instead of just going after vacancies, they go after any place that interests them.
  5. Instead of just approaching organizations through resumes, they approach them through their personal contacts, or as I call them, "bridge people"  (they know you and they know them, so they form a bridge between you and them).

There is magic in having alternatives. The reason is simple. If you have only one way - - one process, one field, one job, one target, and so forth - - and that one way doesn"t work, you have no backup strategy to save you, and so Hope dies. 

But you can keep Hope alive if you are obsessed with the idea of always having alternatives - - as a backup plan and strategy.   Backups — in case!

During good economic times, people who are good at job-hunting (or career-changing)  may stick to the strategies that require the least work: resumes, agencies, and ads or job postings.

But during hard times, or if the above didn't work, they change their strategy, and pursue job-hunting methods that require a lot more work. They spend lots of time doing homework on themselves, researching organizations in detail, doing informational interviewing, building their contacts, and other methods that require work. In other words, like species that survive best in nature, people who are good at job-hunting deliberately adapt to a changing landscape.

People who are bad at job-hunting usually don't. They tend to stay with the same strategies during bad times and good. Namely: resumes, agencies, and ads. When this doesn't work, they usually just do more of it. (Everyone's favorite definition of insanity.) So, if haunting "job boards" for 30 days doesn't get them a job, they spend thirty more days searching the job boards.. It does not occur to them to change their strategy altogether, because economic conditions have changed, particularly since the 2008 great recession.  

Alternatives and Hope are married together.   I can illustrate this with many examples. But this striking survey result is as compelling as any: It was discovered that in the U.S. one third to one half of all job-hunters simply give up, by the second month. Yikes!

Okay, now the interesting question: why is that? 

It turns out the "why" is related to the number of job-hunting methods they used. There are many job-hunting methods to choose from: Answering ads (here or on the Internet); sending out resumes, via the Internet or by direct mail; visiting the Federal/state employment agency; asking family or friends for "leads"; asking friends for vacancies where they work; going to your high school or college placement office; placing an ad on the Internet or in your local paper, as a job-hunter; etc. 

A study of 100 job-hunters who were using only one method of job-search, found that 51 of them abandoned their search, by the second month. 

By contrast, a study of 100 job-hunters who were using several job-search methods, found that only 31 abandoned their search, by the second month. 

I don"t think it"s hard to figure out why this is. As I just said, if you use only one job-hunting strategy - - say, resumes - - and then that strategy doesn"t turn up anything very quickly, you tend to lose Hope. You staked everything on that one strategy. If it doesn"t work, you"re finished.

On the other hand, if you are using two, or more methods, your Hope tends to stay alive - - because, when one method doesn"t work for you, you think to yourself, well surely one of these other methods will pay off - - and so, you keep on going. You keep Hope alive. 

How many job-hunting avenues should you use, in order to keep hope alive? Well, it looks as though logically the answer should be: the more job-hunting methods you use, the greater your success will be, at finding a job. No limit. 

But, actually it turns out there is a limit. One study revealed that the likelihood of your uncovering those jobs that are out there increases with each additional method that you use, up to four. However, if you use more than four methods, your likelihood of uncovering those jobs that are out there, starts to decrease

I have pondered this strange finding, and concluded that the reason for this is that if you try to do more than four methods you will end up only taking a stab at each one, rather than giving each the time and thoroughness that it deserves and needs, in order to be effective. 

So, by all means add a second alternative (besides, let us say, resumes) to your job-hunting strategies, but do it carefully and thoroughly. And only after investing the appropriate amount of time in that, should you consider adding a third, or - - at most - - a fourth alternative. 

When should you go on to another alternative? Basically, it"s when you"ve tried the old method, and it just doesn"t work. Our tendency, altogether too often, is to just do more of it. This is insanity.

So, if you answer ads in the newspapers, if you answer job-postings on the Internet, if you send out your resume everywhere, if you sign up with agencies in vain, and nothing is working, don"t just do more of it. And don"t give up. Change your tactics.

Thus will you keep Hope alive. And that is everything to someone who is out of work, and hunting. Wise job-hunters know from the beginning that they are hunting secondly for a job but first of all for Hope.