BOOK REVIEW: The Panic Free Job Search
By Julia Blackstock
Author: Paul Hill
Publisher: Career Press 2012
I have a lot of respect for anyone who writes a book, especially on job search. Because I work with university students, many of whom are willing to read a book to develop a strategic approach to looking for work, I am always looking for a book that I can recommend. I would prefer to recommend Canadian books but a comprehensive approach is the priority. So it was with great interest that I read Paul Hill’s book, Panic Free Job Search.
The book is organized into three parts: alignment, confidence and tactics. His genuine motivation starts the book well, putting the jobseeker front and centre in his or her own life, capable of very different future lives depending on a willingness to engage in a process. He points out the importance of motivation and a positive attitude (rightly so) and makes an interesting referral to a third-party resource for guided meditation. He is not the first career author to pull in laws of attraction strategies into the career realm but the combination with neural feedback was new – for me. Interesting stuff.
The tactics section of the book is organized to help the jobseeker take advantage of changes in recruiting in recent years. Paul describes in detail the many social marketing tools available (kept up-to-date with a companion website). The best parts of the book for me were Chapters 5 and 9 which included instruction on Internet searches. I use technology a fair bit (e.g., LinkedIn on a daily basis) but I learned a great deal, including search strategies for LinkedIn (using Google) that get around restrictions for those with a limited network. My career toolkit is stronger and better as a result of his review.
Paul spends considerable time on networking (job search talking) and credits author Orville Pierson as a primary source—an important attribution. Paul did, however, take some concepts further than Pierson and, coming from me, that is high praise because I am such a fan of his work. The interviewing chapter was short but contained an effective section on asking questions to truly understand the nature of the work and how performance will be assessed.
Hmm. The finding direction part was probably the weakest aspect of the book overall (and yes, I actually did the exercises). The do-it yourself strategies would probably work better for more experienced and mature readers. The reality is that if people need help with finding direction, they usually need the kind of help not easily extracted from a book. He is available for personal coaching and recommends resources (available at additional cost); so, at one level, the book functions as a conduit for future clients.
The book would have benefitted from a stricter editor. The tone might be off-putting for some. I love down-to-earth language; it was just a little too earthy for me in places. Some of the strategies were a little over the top in my opinion (e.g., fear-based marketing), but the contexts in which we work are different. As well, gendered language was surprising in a book this recent, an oversight corrected somewhat towards the end of the book.
So, is it worth a read? For sure. Would I recommend the book to a student to read? Perhaps, with some carefully-worded caveats.
Julia Blackstock is a Career Counsellor with Queen’s University Career Services. She holds a Bachelor of Arts Honours and Bachelor of Education from Queen’s University. She has also worked with private clients as a coach.