What Color is Your Parachute

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The term “golden parachute” describes an agreement between a company and an employee, whereas the employee will receive certain significant benefits if the company terminates the employee. These benefits include severance pay, cash bonuses, stock options, or other benefits. Companies created golden parachutes to attract and retain skillful business leaders.  But golden parachutes have come to represent excessive compensation regardless of the executive’s performance, even if they are forced out for poor performance, even a scandalous event. If COVID-19 has displaced you, what color is your parachute?

The first use of the term “golden parachute” came in 1961. Creditors of Trans World Airlines wanted to wrestle control of the airline from Howard Hughes. The creditors provided Charles C. Tillinghast Jr., an employment contract that included a clause that would pay him money if he lost his job. Golden parachutes spread quickly in the 1980s to protect company leaders from hostile takeovers.

As news of the generous benefits of golden parachutes spread, company shareholders and the public at large began to have a negative opinion of this corporate benefit and demanded more accountability. Congress passed laws to limit such benefits.  Even so, golden parachutes can often exceed $100 million.

How big is your golden parachute? Don’t you have a golden parachute? Then you need to pick up a copy of What Color is Your Parachute by Richard Nelson Bolles. It is called a practical manual for job-hunters and career-changers. My mother gave me a copy in 1985, and it changed my life for the better. The self-help book for job-seekers has become so popular it is reprinted regularly with updated information.

Everyone is dealing with the effects of COVID-19. In just a few weeks, tens of millions of people filed for unemployment benefits. Millions of others have become victims of salary cutbacks and furloughs. The county’s economy is on hold as people are required to stay at home and practice social distancing. Waiting for things to get back to normal is not an option. There is no doubt that the virus will force lasting changes in the job market. You need to make changes now, and What Color is Your Parachute can help.

If you’re like most people, you’ve put together a resume and sent it around. Maybe you’ve posted your resume on some job posting websites. That used to work, but now it won’t because the job market has changed. You need to improve your job-hunting skills and change with the times.

When times are good, and employment levels are high, employers often have difficulty filling jobs so they must work harder to find the candidates they want. Employers will read resumes and check job sites. But when unemployment levels rise, employers find it easier to identify the candidates they want so they don’t read as many resumes and they don’t check out job sites. The old way of finding a new job doesn’t work. That’s when it becomes easy to assume there are no jobs. With COVID-19, you need a new strategy for finding your next job.

At the heart of What Color is Your Parachute is the self-inventory exercise. When we think about ourselves and our career, we tend to think of ourselves as we are now in the profession we have today. It is difficult to see yourself in a different role in a different industry. When you complete the self-inventory exercise, you will start to see that you have many talents that make you a desirable candidate for various jobs in other fields. That realization alone will lift your spirits and put some zing back into your job search efforts. Instead of just looking for a new job in your present field, you enlarge your job search potential into new areas that may be less affected than your current line of work. You can start to get the upper hand on the job search process and look for the kind of work you want to do instead of just finding another job.

The thing I like most about What Color is Your Parachute is what the author calls the Parachute Approach to find a new job. Instead of focusing on the job market, you focus on yourself. You figure out who you are, what you’re good at, and what you love to do.

After I did the self-inventory, I did a 180-degree turn and started in a different career direction. It was the best career decision I ever made.

“Empty the coins in your purse into your mind, and your mind will fill your purse with coins.”

If COCID-19 has displaced you, I wish you only the best. But please don’t just sit there waiting for things to get back to normal. Do something! Turn off the news and pick up a book. Watch a learning video or take a course online. Ben Franklin once said, “Empty the coins in your purse into your mind, and your mind will fill your purse with coins.” Now is the time to do exactly that.

Let me know if I can help.

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Spike SanteeWhat Color is Your Parachute

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