Advice from Dick Bolles, author of the world’s best-selling career book

What Color is Your Parachute?
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With the new year approaching, it’s a good time to consider new career strategies and hiring practices. For some input, we turned to Dick Bolles, author of What Color Is Your Parachute, the world’s most popular job search book. First published in 1970, the book encourages creative career management and self-promotion and the 2014 edition brings new statistics, job-field analyses, and advice on social media and search tactics.

Job search requires creativity

In the 40 years since the book debuted, technology and the Internet have transformed job search. Search engines and social sites have changed how people look for jobs while applicant tracking systems have changed how employers interact with candidates. Despite such change, Bolles says people still rely heavily on traditional resumes. These tend to summarize people’s past rather than giving a view to what they’d like in the future. Even with new technologies available to job seekers, looking for a job requires self-reflection more than anything else. “To effectively look for work, you need to answer questions about what skills you love the most, and where you would most love to use those skills,” explains Bolles.

He identifies another obstacle to successful online job searches, observing that opportunities are scattered. He advises that a successful job search requires a lot of rethinking. “Creativity doesn’t mean just getting creative when you’re looking,” he says. “It means being creative about everything you do in your unemployed or job search period: how you spend your time, how you create your resume or decide to approach employers. Creativity is not an end product. It should be the characteristic of everything you do.”

Three tips for employers

For employers, Bolles believes there are three simple steps to take. “First, we should stop looking for ‘the perfect candidate.’ They exist but are so rare. Next, don’t say you’re looking for skills when you are really looking for experience. If you are genuinely looking for skills, say exactly which ones in your postings,” Bolles says. “And finally, be willing to train. Don’t assume that our educational system has turned out the men and women you want; you may have to continue their education. By being willing to train people who have the basic building blocks, you can find the candidate you want. That training belongs to you.”

Historically, January is a strong month for hiring, and for 2014, employers in all four U.S. regions surveyed report the most positive outlook since 2008. With this growth on the horizon, Bolles’ words carry a special significance. The new year presents a great opportunity to breathing new life into both job search and hiring, providing a catalyst for people to revitalize their careers and for employers to reinvigorate their recruiting.