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Recommended Reading for Job seekers

Brilliant CV

I highly recommend that you buy a copy of “Brilliant CV: What Employers Want to

See and How to Write it” by Jim Bright and Joanne Earl, which is the best book I have

read on the subject.

The reason I liked Brilliant CV is partly because it happened to agree with most of the

views I already held on what makes a good CV (yes, I know that’s highly suspect

confirmation bias but, as I said earlier, the whole area of evaluating CVs is a highly

subjective business).

More importantly, they were the only authors who had made any attempt

quantitatively to test the impact of various CV formats on HR Recruitment Managers

and Headhunters, and so were able to base their recommendations on what works

and does not work on actual fact. So, if I were to only buy one book on CV-writing,

Brilliant CV is the one I would use.

What Colour is Your Parachute

One of the best ways that I know to work out what it is you like doing and what it is

you are good at is in a book called “What Color is your Parachute” by Richard

Bolles. This is one of the all-time best selling job hunting books. I first read it in 1992,

and re-read it again in 1997, and again just last year. What struck me from my most

recent reading is how much the book has changed, and how contemporary it is.

Boles himself says that ‘it’s changed its shape and content. It’s morphed into

something very different, over time. The 2012 edition is quite different even from the


He’s right: the book I read last year is quite different to the one I read in 1997, with

extensive coverage of social networking sites like LinkedIn and Facebook, etc.

Overall, I think it’s an excellent job hunting guide. There are a couple of chapters

which have an unusual (to a UK audience) religiosity to them – Bolles used to be a

Baptist Minister – which one person I recommended to complained about. To be fair

to him, Bolles puts the religious chapters in the Appendices, so you can skip those if

you find that a turn-off. It didn’t bother me. The vocabulary is a little US in tone and

spelling (words like ‘Color’ and ‘Resume’) and the resources he cites tend to be UScentric,

so less relevant to the UK market.

But overall, it’s superbly comprehensive, covering everything from the psychological

to the practical. There’s a chapter on how to keep morale up (called “How to Find

Hope”); and, crucially, “The need to Understand More Fully Who You Are”. This is

covered in Chapter 5, where there is a systematic workbook for teasing out what you

like doing and what you are good at. Chapters 6 and 7 then help you work out how

to apply that to identifying a job that might suit you, to help focus your job search.

I very strongly recommend that anyone about to start on a job hunt complete the

exercises in Chapter 5. Frankly, if you are serious about finding a job, you should read

the whole book not once but twice. In particular, people who are trying to change

careers will find it very helpful. At the very least, it will help you answer, in detail and

with conviction, a whole range of standard interview questions, such as: “What are

you best at? What are your weaknesses? What are the achievements you are

proudest of in your life? In your professional life?” , etc.

Most importantly, it will give you a solid foundation to write your CV, as you will be

able clearly to articulate your key skills and achievements.

The Secrets of Power Salary Negotiating

This book was recommended to me by my business coach about 8 years ago.

Written by Roger Dawson, I have recommended it to hundreds of people both

currently in employment and seeking employment. It is full of practical negotiating

strategies which are easy to implement and results on more elegant negotiations,

where both side leave the table feeling good about the deal finally struck. If you are

someone who feels uncomfortable asking for a raise, then you should read this.


Author: Rupert Reed Last edited 22nd December 2020


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