By Anne-Marie Rolfe

Work Tree Book cover_book reviewThis lively, colourful book encourages the reader to think outside the box when it comes to creating work inside the reality of our new economy. The author makes the case early on that our economy has changed and relying on the traditional job search is simply no longer a viable option for many long-term jobseekers. While the book is targeted to those who may have given up on the traditional job search, it presents great ideas that would be helpful to those with an entrepreneurial spirit.

The format of the book makes it easy to dip into. This is not a cover-to-cover read, rather a solid spark for creative thinking. Most sections begin with an interview from someone who took that leap of faith and stepped outside of the constraints of the traditional job search. From there, for many of the over 100 alternative jobs, is a useful compilation of information that can help the reader understand and identify with a possible opportunity.

As an example, one suggestion is for an Urban Farmer, which instantly captured my imagination. My mind wandered to a trip I took to Italy where every square inch of available land was lush with tomatoes, basil, beans and other vegetables. How awesome would it be to be involved in bringing that kind of sustainable agriculture to an urban environment?

So inspired and with the help of this book, a non-traditional jobseeker might well be able to build the bridge to making that happen. The information provided is laid out as follows: a short description, useful skills, interests and experience, income potential, things you can do to get started and resources and links with a sidebar for suggested promotional strategies. It’s a page or more of information (depending on the opportunity) that stimulates creative thinking and points the way to further research.

The language is clear and straightforward. I really liked the listing of useful skills, interests and experience as a way for someone to say “I have that” or “I have most of that.” The information provided under income potential varies. In some cases, the range is broad and the suggestions high. A low, medium, high scale or start-up, two years +, five years + scale may provide a more realistic view of earnings as someone considers the transition to the entrepreneurial world.

When you research and write about over 100 different creative opportunities there are bound to be a few that leave you scratching your head. For this reader that includes Personal Footwear Designer (p. 45), Lice Removal Specialist (p. 102), Shoe Detailer (p. 122), Smoking Cessation Coach (p. 104) and In-home Laundry Attendant (p. 113). My head scratching is driven by questions like: is there really a market for these services? Can you make money with these services? Isn’t a community agency already providing some of these services at little or no cost?

An innovative idea that the author incorporated into the book is that information presented in the book is supported by a robust series of links on a Pinterest board. Not wanting to give away any spoilers, I won’t reveal the address, but I will say that I support the mix of print-based information with online exploration.

The subtitle is “Pick Your Own Job” and yet the truth is that these opportunities are all for self-employment. The author makes the case that traditional thoughts related to self-employment need to be re-examined so that real versus perceived costs associated with business start-up can be considered.

The following question is posed in the introduction: “Does allegiance to the traditional employer/employee paradigm promote transactions (e.g. sending out resumes) rather than job creation?” (p. 8). A question worth considering as we know that for many of our clients, the traditional job paradigm is not feeding their soul, let alone their pocketbook.

Work Tree stimulates creative possibility and presents a wide range of ideas to consider and take action on. Traditional jobs have never been the be all and end all for some. This book widens the scope and presents information in a user-friendly, approachable format, so that with the accompanying support, determination and drive, someone can use it to create a job whose success is determined in part by them.

Want to create your own job? Here are a few ideas from the Work Tree book:

  • Genealogy researcher
  • Virtual language pronunciation coach
  • Curriculum vitae developer
  • Translator
  • Gluten-free baker
  • Personal shopper
  • Virtual assistant


Anne-Marie Rolfe is the Manager of Special Projects for the Employment and Education Centre (EEC) in Brockville, ON and fully committed to researching, investigating and validating legitimate opportunities to work from home.