BTRIPP (btripp) wrote,

An essential for the job search ...

As I've alluded to in this space before, my reviewing of books has suddenly become noted in certain sectors, obviously due to my having been penning the Chicago Tribune's “Chicago Now” site's The Job Stalker blog over the past six months or so. The current book, however, was the first instance of a contact made by the publisher's promotional arm to me about a book, rather than coming from my querying them about a review copy! So, for the FTC and others who might care, this represents a copy sent to me by the good folks at the Portfolio division of the Penguin Group.

Use Your Head to Get Your Foot in the Door: Job Secrets No One Else Will Tell You is the latest release from the “best selling author” of Swim With The Sharks (among others), Harvey Mackay, who appears to be an interesting case ... a business man who has developed a booming side-line in speaking, writing, and syndicated columns, while still maintaining his core business, an envelope manufacturing company. Perhaps it is this which prompts him to offer a “Get a Job or Get Your Money Back Guarantee”, which promises to refund the book's purchase price if you follow his advice but still aren't employed within six months!

As long-time readers will appreciate (and as I've kvetched about previously), I am not a fan of business books, career management books, or job-search books, but have been thrust by circumstances largely beyond my control (my third major job search in ten years), to have become very conversant in this particular niche. So, it was without any significant enthusiasm that I launched into reading the current volume. Despite this, I was soon won over by Mr. Mackay's style, and his approach to presenting his information.

Use Your Head to Get Your Foot in the Door is broken into eight major sections, from “Dark Days” to “Stay Afloat” (which comes after “Get Hired”), and these are broken down into numerous sub-sections each addressing key points. The book is sprinkled with cartoons from the New Yorker magazine, as well as “Quickie” one-page sidebars which highlight specific suggestions (such as “The Lecture Room in your Laptop” which directs readers to resources such as the TED talks, as well as universities, such as MIT and Yale, which have put courses up for free on the web).

It is hard to briefly cover this book, as there is so much in it, a truly staggering amount of information on a wide array of topics related to the job search. Again, its main structure in walking the reader through an experiential timeline from becoming unemployed through getting a new job, with pieces that suggest they started out as free-standing columns, plus interviews, stories, “coaching” and lists. The author is clearly quite fond of lists, and they range from the “Ten Reasons to Buy This Book” up before the table of contents to the “Lucky 13” list of recommended books in the “Afterthoughts” section. Frankly, some of the best bits of this book are in those lists, like “The Mackay 22” which is a “debriefing” run-down for you to fill out immediately after any interview (and its more “basic” predecessor, the “Mackay 44” which is a pre-interview checklist), and the famed (I guess, I'd not heard of it previously, but this stuff isn't my core competency) “Mackay 66” contact management system (the forms for which are downloadable at his website).

As mentioned above, I'm in my third job search in the past decade, and I have used numerous “career management” groups, “career counselors”, “career services”, "career centers" and read more job-search/career books than I have ever wanted, and have never encountered a more encyclopedic system for getting a job than this book. While it is an easy, diverse read, it is constantly focused on the realities of the job search, and is up-to-the-moment as far as technology and the current economic realities are concerned. I have picked up dozens of “I did not know that!” points here, ranging from government programs I'd never heard of, to on-line resources that I'd managed to miss in my own wanderings through the Internet, to the various useful features like the above-detailed lists. While I'm certainly going to be incorporating elements of Mackay's system in my own job search, I'd highly recommend this to anybody faced with having to find a job.

Since Mackay is a top-selling author an this is brand new, it's pretty much a sure bet that you'll be able to find Use Your Head to Get Your Foot in the Door at your local brick-and-mortar bookseller, although Amazon currently has it at 34% off of cover price. Again, even for somebody as battered and scarred from the job search wars as I am, this is a useful book, and it should be the manual for most everybody else heading into that fight!

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Tags: book review

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