Read What Color Is Your Parachute? Online

Authors: Carol Christen,Jean M. Blomquist,Richard N. Bolles

Tags: #Juvenile Nonfiction, #Business & Economics, #Careers, #School & Education, #Non-Fiction

What Color Is Your Parachute? (7 page)

BOOK: What Color Is Your Parachute?
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Finding Your Dream Job

Richard N. Bolles,
What Color Is Your Parachute?
2010 (or latest edition). Ten Speed Press, 2009. Also check out the companion website:

Identifying Your Skills and Planning Your Career

This fun site (the website of European career expert Daniel Porot) will give you lots of information about identifying your skills, planning your career, and searching for jobs. If you want to go right to the skills section, click on the Self-Assessment tab at the bottom left on the home page.

Although the jobs described at California CareerZone are found in California, some may exist in your state too. The website is fun and informative, and it offers several free career assessments. Be sure to use the Reality Check section. It will help you learn what your ideal life may cost. provides a comprehensive tool for career and college exploration. At a cost of $30 for an annual subscription, you will be able to explore information on careers, college, financial aid, job search, and starting your own business.

Another site that offers free skills and interest assessments is

A free skills assessment that links with suggested occupations can be found at
(click on Skills Search).

Prioritizing: This word means putting items in order of their importance to you. A first priority is what is most important to you. Simple prioritizing can be done by putting each item on a separate sticky note and rearranging them until you have a list that is prioritized. You’ll find an online grid and instructions for using one and making custom grids for five to twenty items at the following website (scroll down the far left column for a link to a grid):


Who You Love to Work With


Have you ever had a part-time or summer job where your work was actually pretty boring but you still liked going to work? If you’ve had that kind of job, we bet you liked going to work because you enjoyed the people there. Maybe you worked with friends, or perhaps you had a boss who was friendly and helped you learn new skills, or maybe you met interesting people—customers, clients, patients—every day. If you haven’t had a part-time or summer job, maybe you’ve had some of these same experiences in a class. The class itself may have been boring, but you enjoyed going to class because your friends were there, or the teacher cared about you, or class projects took you outside the classroom, where you met interesting people.

Short of being a total hermit, most every job you’ll have as a teen or early twentysomething will surround you with people to one degree or another. Later in your career, you may work from a home office or even out of your suitcase and laptop as you travel the world. But as a young person, a good job can be ruined if you’re surrounded by difficult people or people you simply aren’t comfortable with, and an ordinary, not-so-interesting job can be fun if you work with people you enjoy.

Finding a dream job involves more than discovering what you love to do; it also means discovering what kinds of people you enjoy working with. Let’s do that now by going to a “party”!

Imagine you’ve received an invitation to a party of people a little older than you. You don’t know any of the people well or at all. (“What kind of party is that?!” you ask. Please bear with us, OK?) Below is an aerial view of the room where the party is taking place. For some reason, people with the same or similar interests have all gathered with each other in different corners of the room.
The following is a brief list of the types of people at the party. The terms Realistic, Investigative, Artistic, Social, Enterprising, and Conventional refer to particular types of skills and the people who most enjoy using them. Each category includes a few examples of people who might be in that particular group. In the descriptions of these people, you’ll probably notice how their interests and skills work together.
Realistic (R):
People who like nature, athletics, or tools and machinery. Examples: Tom loves to hike in the mountains and does volunteer trail maintenance. Dee plays on the school soccer team. Paul repairs cars. Louise and Larry build furniture in their father’s woodworking shop. Ross grows vegetables for the farmers’ market, and Yvette raises dogs to be companion animals for people with disabilities.
Investigative (I):
People who are very curious and like to investigate or analyze things. Examples: Jason always wants to know why—why a certain bird is no longer seen in his area, why the brain works the way it does, why one ball team plays better than another. Jessica investigates the best places to take a date—concerts, movies, amusement parks, hiking trails—and writes about them for her school paper. David analyzes everything—from the data in his chemistry experiments to the results of community service projects. Erin, a student council member, wants to figure out why new students have so much difficulty scheduling the classes they need.
Artistic (A):
People who are very artistic, imaginative, and innovative. Examples: Ashley draws cartoons. Carlos, Aaron, and Stacy started a band and play at local dances. Daniela designs costumes and sets for school theater productions and is known for being able to create great stuff with few resources. Guy develops his own software for doing computer animation.
Social (S):
People who like to help, teach, or serve people. Examples: Isabel, a senior, orients freshmen about life at high school. Steve tutors middle school students in math and English. Keri reads assigned class texts to a blind student. Darin volunteers as a trainer for the school football team, and Bob serves as a peer counselor.
Enterprising (E):
People who like to start up projects or organizations, or influence or persuade people. Examples: Dana started a service project where high school students visit the elderly in a convalescent home. Ty, who’s running for student body president, persuades people to vote for him. Greg works with kids who are at risk of getting involved with drugs and gangs.
Conventional (C):
People who like detailed work and like to complete tasks or projects. Examples: Michael, the treasurer for a service club, keeps detailed financial records of all their fund-raising activities. Kristin works part-time in an insurance office, where she’s responsible for keeping all the files up to date. Terri oversees the preparations for the prom, making sure everything that needs to get done gets done.
OK, now you know a little about the kinds of people who’ll be at the party. You’ve just arrived and walk in the front door. (Don’t worry about whether you’re shy or if you actually have to talk to anyone. That doesn’t matter at this party.) Now, we have three questions for you:
  1. Which corner of the room would you go to first—that is, which group of people would you most enjoy talking to for the longest time? Write down the letter for that corner.
  2. After fifteen minutes, everyone else in the corner you chose leaves for another party. Of the groups that still remain, which group would you be drawn to the most? Which people would you most enjoy being with for the longest time? Write down the letter for that corner.
  3. After fifteen minutes, this group also leaves for another party. You look around and decide where to go next. Of the groups that remain, which one would you most enjoy being with for the longest time? Write down the letter for that corner.
The three letters you selected indicate your “
Holland Code.” The Holland Code is named for Dr.
John Holland, a psychologist who did research on “people environments”—that is, the types of people we most like to be with. According to Dr. Holland, everyone has three people environments they prefer from among these six—Realistic, Investigative, Artistic, Social, Enterprising, Conventional. By naming whom you’d prefer to talk with at a party, you’ve identified your favorite people environment.
(Actually, the Party exercise gives only an approximation of your Holland Code. If you want to take a longer test to more accurately determine your Holland Code, go to
Now, turn to
My Parachute
and write your Holland Code in the section entitled My Favorite Types of People. You may also want to write a short sentence or two about these types of people. For example, if your Holland Code is IAS, you might write: “I will enjoy my work most if I am surrounded by people who are very curious and like to investigate or analyze things (I), who are also very innovative and creative (A), and who really want to help or serve people (S).”

Now, look over the traits described for each of the three groups of people you chose and see how much of this is also true of you. We often see ourselves best by looking at others. We call this the
Mirror Theory. When we describe the people we would most like to be with, in many cases we have also described ourselves. As the old saying goes, “Birds of a feather flock together.” What do you think? Do you see yourself in your favorite types of people?

Many young adults find it helpful to describe their idea of a good boss. A good boss can be a great mentor. Teachers are very much like bosses. Some of them make you work very hard, but they manage to pull good work out of you, and you learn a lot from them. When you are just starting out, you want a boss you can learn from. Make a list of characteristics of a good boss for you. Prioritize the list.
BOOK: What Color Is Your Parachute?
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