Author: Andy Lester
Publisher: Pragmatic Bookshelf, 2009
Aimed at: Software developers
Pros: A lot of sound advice for job seekers
Cons: No magic prescriptions for finding work
Reviewed by: Sue Gee
This book started out in a more optimistic age - in 2004 to be exact. In the current economic environment its message of "life is too short for a job you don't love" might seem over idealistic. Many people would settle for a steady job. On the other hand it does contain some good commonsense advice for competing in the jobs market and that is something everyone trying to land a job probably needs - and if you can gain a job that you are enthusiastic about so much the better.
Andy Lester, who is a software developer, starts with a few basic principles including "be honest with yourself" and with others and "be positive". The second chapter "What do you want in a job?" is about motivation and asks you to consider a dozen factors - from money to the technology used (for the author using non-Windows technology is an important factor) to dress code and working hours and suggests you rank these in a spreadsheet.
There follows two chapters on creating an effective résumé: the first theoretical - what to include and leave out; the second practical - create three versions in Word, plain text and HTML. Andy's advice here seems very sound and I certainly agree with some of the main points - creating a résumé that is going to achieve success isn't a quick and easy task, in fact it’s a long and arduous one. Later in the book he makes the important point that you need to customise your résumé for each specific job, that a cover letter is important and never to disclose your salary history.
The message of Chapter 5 "Finding Your Job" is that "it's all about the people" and urges personal communication as the optimum method and not to rely on employment agencies but to hunt out opportunities.
Part 2 of the book goes on to provide advice about a job interview with a chapter on preparing for the interview, which includes devising a relevant portfolio followed by three on the interview itself - a general one, one on handling tough questions and one on how to deal with topics that should be avoided. These are peppered with examples and case studies - from the employer's perspective as well as the potential employee's. There follows a chapter on references, negotiating once you receive a job offer, how to resign from your current job and how to make the best of being rejected.
The book rounds off with a chapter on "Staying Hirable" which tells the reader to remain on the lookout for a better job. It also advises you to improve your network and to start a technical blog to promote yourself.
This book does hammer home the idea that finding a job is hard work - but that it is a task that can repay a lot of painstaking effort. Reading this book can probably help but it doesn't have any sure fire answers.