Find solace between the covers

Q: Like many others, I have seen my career slip downhill of late to the point where I haven’t worked now for seven months. I was always successful and even ran my own business for a number of years. But the downturn has hit me badly. I find it difficult to keep my morale up. I have taken some courses in various things to keep my mind active. I am not a voracious reader of books, but have resolved to change that. What book would you recommend for someone in my situation? (TR, email).

A: It is important to take responsibility for your own ‘state of mind’ when unemployed. Morale can dip so easily, as you have suggested. As we’ve said here so often before, general commentary tends to be predominantly negative.

The book I’d most recommend is What Colour is your Parachute by Dick Bolles. This is book is revised annually and in 2012 he promised “the most dramatic, drastic rewriting, updating of the book, ever.” And he’s no Johnny-come-lately, Dick: he first wrote the book 40 years ago.

What I like about What Colour is your Parachute is the pragmatism it brings to job-searching and career development. He doesn’t pander to readers. In my view, there can be a tendency to handle job-seekers with kid gloves, whereas Dick puts the responsibility back on the job-seeker to take complete charge of their own search.

It remains a fresh production and will certainly get you thinking in a new way about your job-searching. It’s fun, bright and breezy. Dick doesn’t trade in solemnity.

The whole area of job-searching is changing all the time, and it is useful to bring some creativity to the process.

Dick champions Jobs Clubs – but only if they have a bias towards action. Meet up, talk about what you’re going to do, go and do it, and come back and relay how you got on. He is adamant that it remains the most potent form of job-searching, and, from my experience, I would concur. The reporting-back element of it – a kind of Weight Watchers model – has great power.

A Jobs Club I played a small part in establishing just a few weeks ago has already reported excellent results. Within a few weeks, people were ‘on the move’ – some to temporary work, some to work experience they really wanted to get. None have got a permanent job yet, but, from what I can discern, all have made progress and, crucially, all are more positive and upbeat about the future.

Can you start a Jobs Club in your area, TR?

This week’s top tip

Run your CV through the half-page test.

Take the front page of your CV, and fold it in half. Then, read just the top half. After reading it, ask yourself: “If I was an employer reading just that piece about me, would I invite me in for interview?”

If you have devoted six lines to your contact details, you fail the half-page test. But if your half-page talks about your skills, achievements, and attitude – backing up the claims with hard evidence from your career – you pass the half-page test.

Remember, in a ‘buyer’s market’, employers may only read the first half page of your CV, particularly employers who don’t have a dedicated HR division.

Get the ‘good stuff’ in early in your CV.

 For a copy of Sli Nua Careers’ CV checklist, email with CV Checklist in the subject line. Sli Nua Careers offer CV preparation, interview training and mock interview services at their offices in Galway, Dublin and Ballinrobe, Co. Mayo. More: