Richard Bolles Stays on the Job

He retools "What Color Is Your Parachute?" for hard times.


But while the book enabled Lencioni and Petersen to find their passions, today's baby boomers often have more complicated expectations. Once they may have sought work that satisfied their souls; now they may seek jobs that fit into their lives as grandparents or snowbirds. "What they're looking for is flexibility," says Patrick Rafter of, a site for older workers. The pursuit of flexible hours may motivate them to take lower-paying service jobs—often filling the kinds of positions that were once the domain of teenagers—but their hope for more meaningful work that suits unusual schedules may not be lost.

The talent shortage that will result from boomers retiring has a growing number of employers redrawing their human resources strategy. AARP, which recently released a list of the year's best employers for workers over 50, says corporations and nonprofits are increasingly introducing policies to keep and recruit older workers. Bolles, for his part, says ageism is real but not universal. "If they keep looking, they'll find out that there are employers who value experience and are willing to pay for that," Bolles says.

Job engines. The Internet has changed the job search process dramatically since 1970, and Bolles suggests plenty of helpful job engines and career sites in newer editions of his book. But many searchers labor under the misapprehension that they'll find jobs more quickly online. By the time they realize the Internet alone won't solve their problems, they've wasted precious time, Bolles says. Again—it's all about hard work.

A 2006 MetLife Mature Market Institute study found that 43 percent of workers ages 60 to 65 were still motivated by the desire to do meaningful work. To find that kind of work, the ideas in Parachute may be even more important now, as employers hire older workers with energy and workers bring vitality to jobs they enjoy. Figuring out your favorite skills and ideal locations will bring natural energy, Bolles says. (He also recommends sitting forward in your chair and keeping answers brief during a job interview.)

In large part, Bolles's ideas have served the highly mobile American workforce well, as corporate loyalty has given way to a flank of free agents. "I think the job market has come back to him," Lencioni says. "If anything, his book just becomes more relevant in time." So, no more excuses, boomers.