What Color is Your Parachute? is a comprehensive guide to choosing and finding not just any job, but a job that is a great fit with your interests, values, abilities and personal needs. It covers everything from how to write great resumes and find job leads through to how to make good career choices that fit your own unique set of characteristics and circumstances.
This book is the first career counseling book I ever read. I read it before I became a career counselor, when I was in the middle of a bit of a career transition. In a lot of ways I was my own first client, and this book helped me to understand the considerations that go into effective career decision making and job searching. In a lot of ways, it started me on the path to where I am today, working from home in a field that I find very rewarding.
What Color is Your Parachute? is full of great exercises that help you to assess your own career related needs and understand how your personality and values impact your job satisfaction in ways that many people never consider. This book is so full of resources, you do need to be a bit careful that you don't get so focused on the self assessment activities in the book that you let your job search get side tracked. However, the book is set up so that your can be very thorough and do all of the activities, or simply chose the ones that are most valuable to you.
I have read a lot of career related books, and What Color is Your Parachute? is, hands down, my favorite general career guide. It tackles all of the major career related issues in depth and it's updated every year, so it's always current (if you need to be budget conscious, look for the version from the previous year, it will still be current, but it will typically also be a little less expensive than the current version). There are other books that do a great job of focusing on one specific career related topic. However, if you can only buy one, all encompassing book to help you manage your career and your job search, this is the book that I would recommend.
A Quick Note on Online Bookstores
I've posted links to two online stores that sell What Color is Your Parachute?, one for the current version and the other for last year's version. There may be more well known online bookstores that sell this book, but knowing that budget constraints are an issue for so many readers on the Unemployment Site, I've searched out some more budget friendly online stores for you.
What Color Is Your Parachute?: A Practical Manual for Job-Hunters and Career Changers
What Color is Your Parachute? 2006 edition
(still up to date and very inexpensive)