"They talk of the dignity of work. Bosh--the dignity is in leisure," observed Herman Melville. Be that as it may, most Americans find few ego rewards in being out of a job. And, according to Richard Nelson Bolles, as job hunters cast about for new positions, a sense of personal worthlessness--or "rejection shock"--can set in, representing a serious hurdle. It's an insight that has drawn generations of readers to Bolles's What Color is Your Parachute? (Ten Speed Press, $14.95), making it a perennial best-seller. This month, it's No.4 on BUSINESS WEEK's paperback Best-Seller List.
The 1996 What Color is the 26th edition of the book--it gets revised every year. But the fundamental insights of the book remain unchanged: You should figure out what skills you enjoy using and what jobs utilize those skills--then employ winning strategies to land such a post.
Bolles thinks little of want ads, employment agencies, or blanket resume mailings. Instead, he favors the personal touch: Approach an employer directly, perhaps using leads given by friends or relatives. But he says it's best to spend time beforehand investigating yourself and researching potential employers. To back up its method, What Color provides a variety of drills, ranging from "the party exercise," which helps you outline your skills, to writing a mini-autobiography. And who knows--you could experience a little ego enhancement along the way.
HARDCOVER BUSINESS BOOKS
1 MANAGING IN A TIME OF GREAT CHANGE by Peter F. Drucker (Dutton $24.95) Broad-ranging essays from the grand old man of American business thought.
2 THE BEARDSTOWN LADIES' COMMON-SENSE INVESTMENT GUIDE by the Beardstown Ladies Investment Club with Leslie Whitaker (Hyperion $19.95) Recipes for Four-Bean Salad, Five-Hour Stew--and 23% returns.
3 THE DISCIPLINE OF MARKET LEADERS by Michael Treacy and Fred Wiersema (Addison-Wesley $25) Consultants diagnose what successful companies do.
4 BUILT TO LAST by James C. Collins and Jerry I. Porras (HarperBusiness $25) How 3M, Wal-Mart, Procter & Gamble, and others became standouts.
5 THE ROAD AHEAD by Bill Gates, with Nathan Myhrvold and Peter Rinearson (Viking $29.95) Observations on the I-way and a peek at the $30 million house that Bill built.
6 BUFFETT by Roger Lowenstein (Random House $27.50) The life and wisdom of the Oracle of Omaha.
7 THE DIGITAL ECONOMY by Don Tapscott (McGraw-Hill $24.95) How business is using information technologies.
8 FIRST THINGS FIRST by Stephen R. Covey, A. Roger Merrill, and Rebecca R. Merrill (Simon & Schuster $23) Managing your time by balancing your life.
9 HOW TO DRIVE YOUR COMPETITION CRAZY by Guy Kawasaki (Hyperion $22.95) Pulling off the gloves--and giving the other guy fits.
10 WINNIE-THE-POOH ON PROBLEM SOLVING by Roger E. Allen and Stephen D. Allen (Dutton $17.95) Piglet, Eeyore, and pals show how to face up to quandaries.
11 INSIDE THE TORNADO by Geoffrey A. Moore (HarperBusiness $25) A dip into Silicon Valley for lessons on marketing.
12 RAVING FANS by Kenneth Blanchard PhD and Sheldon Bowles (Morrow $20) How to turn customers into your biggest boosters.
13 MICROSOFT SECRETS by Michael A. Cusumano and Richard W. Selby (Free Press $30) An academic look at the company's product development and management style.
14 MAKE IT SO by Wess Roberts PhD and Bill Ross (Pocket Books $22) From Star Trek's Captain Jean-Luc Picard, leadership lessons and deep-space lore.
15 THE MAKING OF A BLOCKBUSTER by Gail DeGeorge (Wiley $24.95) How Wayne Huizenga built his empires.
PAPERBACK BUSINESS BOOKS
1 YOUR MONEY OR YOUR LIFE by Joe Dominguez and Vicki Robin (Penguin $11.95) To achieve financial independence, restructure your life.
2 THE SEVEN HABITS OF HIGHLY EFFECTIVE PEOPLE by Stephen R. Covey (Fireside $12) Habitually popular.
3 THE WARREN BUFFETT WAY by Robert G. Hagstrom Jr. (Wiley $14.95) A useful analysis of how Buffett does it.
4 THE 1996 WHAT COLOR IS YOUR PARACHUTE? by Richard Nelson Bolles (Ten Speed Press $14.95) The latest incarnation of the enduring job-search bible.
5 1001 WAYS TO REWARD EMPLOYEES by Bob Nelson (Workman $8.95) Give them a champagne brunch, a casual-dress day--or plain old cash.
6 THE GOAL by Eliyahu M. Goldratt (North River Press $19.95) Bringing your strategies in line with your No.1 purpose: making money.
7 GETTING TO YES by Roger Fisher, William Ury, and Bruce Patton (Penguin $11.95) A Harvard team's step-by-step guide to conflict resolution.
8 J.K. LASSER'S YOUR INCOME TAX 1996 by the J.K. Lasser Institute (Macmillan $14.95) Hey, April 15 is just around the corner.
9 THE WALL STREET JOURNAL GUIDE TO UNDERSTANDING MONEY AND INVESTING by Ienneth M. Morris and Alan M. Siegel (Fireside $13.95) Concise explanations enriched with graphics.
10 THE FIFTH DISCIPLINE by Peter Senge (Currency $18.50) Creating the "learning organization."
11 THE WEALTHY BARBER by David Chilton (Prima $12.95) Don't get clipped--invest 10% of your pay, then cut debts.
12 ZAPP! by William C. Byham PhD with Jeff Cox (Fawcett $10) How "empowerment" revved up employees at the fictional Normal Co.
13 THE ONE MINUTE MANAGER by Kenneth Blanchard PhD and Spencer Johnson M.D. (Berkley $9.95) Three management techniques, conveyed in brief story form.
14 PERSONAL FINANCE FOR DUMMIES by Eric Tyson (IDG Books $16.95) Lighthearted primer.
15 SOROS ON SOROS by George Soros with Byron Wien and Krisztina Koenen (Wiley $19.95) Financial tips and political philosophy from the "world's most powerful trader."
The BUSINESS WEEK Best-Seller List is based on a survey of chain and independent booksellers that carry a broad selection of books on economics, management, sales and marketing, small business, investing, personal finance, and careers. Well over 1,000 retail outlets nationwide are represented. Current rankings are based on a weighted analysis of unit sales in November.