Although Richard Bolles, author of What Color is Your Parachute, passed away more than a year ago, his book continues to be published and his work continues to be honored by his son Gary.
Bolles operates the website eparachute.com, which, like the book which inspired it, can help you learn more about yourself and what you’d like to do with your work life. You will be able to discover your strengths, explore hundreds of career paths and see how well certain careers match what you most love to do.
The site, which costs $4.95 per year to access, will take you through a series of exercises that only take a few minutes to complete. You will choose:
- The type of people you’d like to be around if you were at a party
- Fields you love – from building and construction and sales and marketing to geography and public safety and security and many, many others in between
- Skills you like to use
After completing the exercises, eparachute will give you a list of featured ideas for possible types of work. You can explore each of your chosen fields, skills and people types for more work ideas.
For those leaving prison
Bolles has some advice on how to make the most of your days in prison, as far as a future job or career is concerned:
“The time in prison can be well spent by doing homework on yourself – understanding your favorite skills, knowledge, and other unique things about yourself,” says Bolles. “It’s also a great time to study new topics that can be useful to you in the work you want to do when you’re back in society.”
“Of course, society isn’t always as welcoming as we’d like to those who were formerly incarcerated, so you’ll need to be really creative in your search. Doing small projects and part-time work through various online markets, like TaskRabbit and UpWork, can provide a way to do work without having to immediately find a full-time job.”
He also recommends being entrepreneurial and possibly starting your own business. That way you can build a work track record.
“But if you’ve done your homework on yourself, and you can describe your best-loved skills, including ways you’ve used them before, you’ll be in a far better position to tell a prospective employer why you can be the one to help solve their particular problems,” Bolles adds.
Those in reentry have a very special skill
It may not be easy to find a job if you have a record, but Bolles is convinced that many of those leaving jail or prison have a very useful skill.
“Especially for those who were formerly incarcerated, it’s important to know that the world of work is changing rapidly. The people who will be successful are those who are very proactive, constantly adapting to do new kinds of work. If you’ve been in prison, you know how to hustle. Put that hustle to good use in the work you do, working hard to solve problems for the people you work for and with, and you’ll do well,” Bolles says.
But before you get to that point, you still need to figure out what kind of work you’d like to do and find employment. Eparachute is one way to jump start your job search. It’s an introduction to the process of discovering what you like to do. Those who want to go one step further can take a more extensive course on Udemy.
Note: While Bolles mentioned TaskRabbit as a way to ease into the job market, TaskRabbit does require a background check. We’re not sure what types of crimes would prohibit people from working TaskRabbit gigs, however.
You may also want to check the Gigs section of Craigslist or other part-time work opportunities. Another way to work your way into employment is to register with a temp agency, many of which are ex-offender friendly.
$10-$20 can make a difference and provide funding to send job search books to prison and jail libraries and expand our tattoo removal outreach.