BTRIPP (btripp) wrote,

Don't judge this book by its cover ...

This is one of those books that arrived unannounced from a publisher (in this case Ten Speed Press), which probably would have done better with a query call or e-mail up front to put the book in context. Of course, having been penning The Job Stalker blog (over on the Chicago Tribune's “ChicagoNow” site) for a year now (and featuring interviews with authors to go along with these reviews), I get a fairly steady flow of books about jobs, careers, and assorted related subjects. When Pam Lassiter's The New Job Security, Revised: The 5 Best Strategies for Taking Control of Your Career came in, I glanced at it, flipped through it, checked out its chapter headings, and tossed it over in the “maybe sometime” stack. There was nothing in a cursory examination of this book which would have suggested to me that it was anything of interest to somebody enmired in a job search, appearing rather to be a “strategy” book for, well, “Taking Control of Your Career”, implying to me, at least, that it was targeted to those lucky folks who HAD careers to "take control of" and not us pitiful job seekers. I even sent a somewhat “testy” e-mail to the publicist involved (perhaps in response to a follow-up e-mail query), indicating that a book dealing with ways to provide “job security” in one's career had somewhat minimal applicability to me or the readers of The Job Stalker. I was rather chastened when she replied that this was indeed a book with rather significant utility for the job seeker, and suggested that I start by checking out the middle section, “Stop Looking For Jobs”.

Having now read The New Job Security I can tell you that it can be a useful book for somebody “in transition”, but I fear that unless one has somebody waving it under your nose and saying “LOOK HERE!” it is highly unlikely to be picked up off the bookstore shelf by somebody searching for tools to apply to their job search, which is unfortunate. The “revised” part of this is that Lassiter has updated her 2002 original version of the book to reflect the realities of our current disastrous economy. I have not seen the previous edition, but I suspect that it was much more targeted for executives who were job-shifting their way up the corporate ladder. However, she appears to be making use of the various tools and conceptualizations of that book here to such an extent (within a rather new economic reality) that she probably felt that she couldn't simply package those things up in new wrappings and market it as a different book (and I certainly respect that), but in doing so (and again, this is simply my guess as to how this new version came about) much of the former structure (and implied orientation) was maintained, leading to the confusion that I was having about it!

Anyway, the book is in 7 parts, the “5 Best Strategies” with an introductory and a closing chapter. To cut to the chase, as it were, here are the “strategies” involved:
Strategy #1: Send Clear Signals
Strategy #2: Market for Mutual Benefit
Strategy #3: Stop Looking for Jobs
Strategy #4: Build Sustainable Networks
Strategy #5: Negotiate in Round Rooms
Can you see how I didn't “get” this as a job-transition book? Much of the thrust here (as implied in #3) is to “create situations” rather than go out looking for “jobs”, and Lassiter walks the reader through various steps, exercises, and “homework assignments” along the way (with some worksheets for these available at the web site).

The over-all impression I have of this is that the author has attempted to distill the sort of “career management consulting” that she does professionally into a comprehensive “manual” that individuals can use on their own. As these things go, I found this far less “nagging” than many similar books, and I believe that if one were to dedicate oneself to actually working through what she presents here, one would likely to show good results. From my own experience with the job search, I do not have the faith in the sort of networking that is presented here actually happening (which is a key element in the mix), but I'm not discounting that another person in a different situation might be able to make that work. One caveat, however ... most of the focus here is on people looking for six-figure upper management positions … this may come from her affiliation with the ExecuNet organization, which is one of “those sites” that make you pay to access information on jobs, with the promise that they're pre-screened high-salary listings (which anybody familiar with my The Job Stalker scribblings know I have significant issues with) … although certainly some of the tools here are generally applicable.

One thing that particularly recommends itself is a conceptualization called “the marketing circle” where the job seeker's needs are on one side, and the employer's needs are on the other. This is a handy way to keep one's focus on filling needs for the employer, rather that looking at (or communicating) the needs that you have.

Again, I don't know the thrust of the previous edition, but I really think this book would have benefited being “repackaged” into something that spoke more directly to the present-day job seeker. The new revision just came out last month, so it should be available in the brick-and-mortars, but Amazon has it at about a third off. I'd be careful with ordering a used copy, however, as the previous version appears to still be in print (how odd!), so unless you were very specific about the book you were ordering (I'm assuming they have different ISBNs), you might end up with something very different. Again, this is very good for what it is, but it's very hard to get to the point where one knows what that is!

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Tags: book review
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