What Color is Your Parachute? by Richard N. Bolles is a classic for job hunters for the past zillion years, so I won’t bore you with how great it is and how you need to go out and buy it. The fact is millions of people already have gone out and bought it. What I am going to talk about is what I have learned from it as a freelance Art Director/Graphic Designer.
I have always heard from the time I was little about how I show get a job that I loved and how I should change the world. Like so many in college, I pursued a degree that I prayed would land me a job that I would love. Many college student change majors over and over again trying to find a good fit. I stuck with one major, Graphic Design, but wondered if I should have explored more options. For me, I have always come back to graphic design and the issue of what to do with my life has been more of a confidence issue: was I do the right thing and am I actually any good at it?
After doing the exercises in this book, I found that my main passions, the things I can talk forever about, tended to be about art/design, history, travel, finances, Bible, and books. When I wrote out my roles and skills in each job that I have had, I found that I have often dismissed the things that I did naturally and with ease. I found that this book did more for helping me see my career with clearer vision and in a realistic perspective of my field and not the unattainable thing I created it to be in my own mind.
Mr. Bolles wrote this book from the perspective of his Christian background as a pastor before his years upon years of experience in career counseling. This means that he sees our career as being part of our God-create mission in life. That doesn’t mean that the only really good career is in some sort of ministry, but that we were each created unique and have something unique to contribute to the world. In my mind, I immediately envision having some sort of cosmic world-changing mega-corporation that effected thousands of people, but this book actually has a more realistic scope: to work moment by moment, day by day to make the world a little bit better of a place than it was before using your own unique abilities. In that perspective, our mission is to just find a worthwhile task to do today and do it.
As I looked over my resume of 15 years of random designing tasks, I found that there was a surprising unity to all have done. I had blindly just found people who needed some sort of help with graphic design and just did what they set before me. I had not seen myself working while doing some of these projects. I was just helping out and doing what came naturally. Many of these projects were never even listed on my resume even if I had been paid for it because I had been just helping. When I organized all of this “helping out” from its unorganized mass of freelance tasks with varying fees and odd levels of responsibility, I discovered that I had a busy career focused very heavily in working with churches and non-profit organizations.
Wow. I guess I had mission the whole time!
I also did the research Mr. Bolles recommended and found that I had been mis-labeling myself as just a Graphic Designer. It was as though I was still straight out of college begging for a chance to prove myself. I found that I have been eagerly taking on the broader more well-rounded role of an Art Director during most of my freelance career. I love researching newer methods, creating budgets and time-lines, advising on design issues, contacting printers, working with very different creative personalities, and orchestrating large projects. I know my stuff. I am very glad I read this book and followed his advise. I now feel more confident to pursue the work I was created to do.