Helpful, but Not Really “Rapid”

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I picked up Five Steps to Rapid Employment when my husband was out of work and looking for a job. The book is broken up into five sections, one section for each “step” of the job search process.

Step One, “Learning How to Ride the Emotional Roller Coaster,” was one of the most helpful sections. In it, Block talks about what it takes to tame your reactions to negative situations–and, specifically, your reaction to the very unpleasant experience of losing one job and finding another. While I don’t necessarily agree that a person’s attitude so completely determines how a job search will turn out (Block asserts that “if you believe you will land a job rapidly, you probably will,” which hasn’t been my experience), I can appreciate that a positive frame of mind has the power to make a tough situation bearable.

And I liked that Block emphasizes the importance of knowing yourself–and, especially, the importance of taking care of yourself and your body while you are going through a difficult time. This means eating well, exercising, and spending time with your family (even just 45 minutes a day) no matter how well or badly your job search efforts went that day.

I also thought Block’s techniques for overcoming fear were rather insightful. He suggests, first, to ask better questions–instead of, “How am I going to get through this?” ask yourself, “How can I be a good example to my kids during this difficult situation?” or “How have I successfully dealt with situations like this in the past?”; second, to focus on the things that are going well; third, to think of other people who have been through something similar to what you are experiencing and who have survived–to to do this, you might need to become a student of biographies, life events, and history; and, last, to keep your sense of humor.

Step Two gives advice on how to identify meaningful career goals. I didn’t really need help in this area, so I didn’t find this section particularly helpful, though it probably would be if you aren’t even sure what you want to be doing.

I did enjoy the third section on value-based resumes and self-marketing tools. I like that Block is so supportive of creativity and originality when it comes to writing and presenting resumes. And I also liked how he encourages the reader to think of a resume as an opportunity to give a potential employer case studies from your life–for example, “X” was a difficult situation and here is how I dealt with it, or “X” is by how much I improved sales for my department, etc. Even better, Block gives lots of examples of effective resumes for many different job areas.

Step Four, on creating a meticulous action plan (MAP), gives advice on how to go about seeking and applying for jobs. This section also has lots of examples, continued over from Section Three, that were very helpful.

Step Five is all about taking action, but I actually found this chapter to be the least helpful, mostly because it was such a cursory discussion on interviewing, interview follow-up, and salary and benefits negotiation, etc. If you are looking for more information on these topics, I would suggest consulting What Color Is Your Parachute, which has much more detail and practical advice.

While I thought this book was mostly helpful overall, there were two things that irritated me. First, Block has the annoying habit of throwing around unhelpful cliches and meaningless platitudes every so often throughout the book. He can be very ra-ra-cheerleader, and that gets annoying. The other thing is that Block tends to push his story on the reader way too often. If I had a nickel for every time I read, “When I was fired by one of my best friends back in 1992″… Many times I wished that Block would stop trying to “connect” with me and just give me the goods. Minor annoyances, but there they are.

Overall, though, this was a helpful book. I don’t think it will necessarily get you the job “rapidly,” but it does contain a lot of solid and insightful information. I’d still recommend taking a look at What Color Is Your Parachute.

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