Book Review: Outwitting the Job Market
From time-to-time, as we receive career-related and job-hunting books and other resources from publishers, the staff of Quintessential Careers will review them to help you make better decisions about the best books to use in your career and job search.
Outwitting the Job Market: Everything You Need to Locate and Land a Great Position, Chandra Prasad. Paperback, 256 pp. ISBN: 1592283500.Publisher: The Lyons Press. $13.95.
Reviewed by Randall S. Hansen, Ph.D.
I first stumbled upon this useful little book when the author emailed me to ask if I would be willing to read an early proof of the book and provide some feedback. As I read that version — and as I reread the newly published version — I was struck at how well Prasad covers all aspects of job-hunting in a very easy-to-read style, with numerous tips and examples to guide the wary job-seeker.
For years now, my partner Katharine Hansen and I have discussed and debated how we might develop a comprehensive book on job-hunting. There is definitely a need for a definitive job-hunting book. The stumbling block for us always comes down to the problem of how do you cram the voluminous job-search advice we want to offer into a book that doesn’t scare off job-seekers because of its size.
I really was not sure such a book was possible until I read Prasad’s book, which covers the whole gamut of job-seeking — from identifying a career path and potential employers to negotiating a job offer. Of course, in between, Outwitting the Job Market also includes chapters on networking resumes, cover letters, and interviewing. As she promises in the introduction, this book indeed provides the essentials for succeeding on the job market.
Unfortunately, one of the downsides of trying to provide a comprehensive job-hunting how-to in a reasonable number of pages is that you cannot really cover any one subject in the depth it requires. That’s why there are complete books written solely on one particular job-hunting step, such as networking or writing your resume.
This weakness is played out in the chapters on resumes and cover letters, where some key strategies are barely mentioned or overlooked entirely. In fact, one of the trends in job-hunting — the development of job-search portfolios — is not even mentioned in the book. I’m also a big proponent of job-seekers being extremely proactive in their job-search, and I found her advice too cautious — and more focused on human-resource folks than on the hiring managers.
And the biggest sin Prasad commits — and I am hopeful she will fix in the next edition — is that she does not include a resources section for each chapter. There are so many great resources available for the job-seeker who needs extra help, let’s say, on creating her resume. There is a wealth of books, articles, and Websites devoted to resume creation — and Prasad’s book would be nearly perfect with the addition of these resources to each chapter on job-hunting.
My favorite chapters in Outwitting the Job Market are the chapters on the application process and strategies for long-term career success, where Prasad really shines. Here are some other useful sections of the book:
- Creating a Personal Career Inventory
- Creating a Prospective Employer List
- Conducting Company Research
- Nine Ways to Network
- Tips for Writing the Perfect Resume
- Methods of Applying for a Job
- Unspoken Rules of Online Job Correspondence
- Preparing for Job Interviews
- Outwitting Tough Interview Questions
- Multiple Callbacks: Why an Employer Invites You Back for Repeat Interviews
- Ways to Ride Out the Dry Spells
- How to Negotiate Your Compensation
- Seven Strategies for Long-Term Success
Bottom line advice: Outwitting the Job Market is a solid, well-written, and easy-to-read book packed with good advice and tips for job-seekers, and is especially useful for college students and other job-seekers new to job-hunting, as well as a refresher for others. Just remember that you will probably need to supplement this book with one or more print or online sources to get the depth you require in areas where you need the most help or direction.
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