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Los Angeles Times

Career guidance handbook from a 40-year vet, a portrait of the entrepreneur

AP Business Writer

CAREER COACH: The "Job-Hunter's Survival Guide" is a slim paperback manual of little more than 100 pages, chock-a-block with bullet points and tips, wrapped in a road-sign shade of yellow.

The author, Richard Nelson Bolles, 82, wrote the best-selling "What Color is Your Parachute?" guide to job searching — now running at over 400 pages in the 2009 edition.

"There are a lot of people hanging on the ropes in the present, brutal economy that don't have time to read a big book," Bolles said. So he gave them a best-hits collection of advice, due out this month, culled from his 40 years of career guidance:

— Yes, unemployment is at its highest level in more than a quarter-century, but "there are always jobs out there." In May, the Labor Department said there were 2.6 million job openings. Competition is fierce for these openings, but keep telling yourself that there are always going to be vacancies, Bolles' book says.

— The average length of joblessness was 24.5 weeks in June, according to the government. You have some time. So sit down and figure out what you really want to do, as specifically as possible, Bolles says. Not what the marketplace is asking for, but what your ideal job would look like. "The more focused you are, the more likely you're going to find a job."

— Post as complete a resume as possible everywhere online that you can: LinkedIn, Plaxo, Facebook, he advises.

— Now, the key: Approach the companies you've deemed a good fit. Seek out potential employers — from the phone book, acquaintances, online searches or social-networking sites — and sell them on your specific skills, Bolles says. Even if they don't have anything to offer you, they'll find it easier to help you out.

That's the most active and hardest way to approach a job search, Bolles says, but much more effective than using online job boards or replying to companies' posted openings. You're offering your services rather sending in applications with swarms of others.

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A PORTRAIT OF THE ENTREPRENEUR AS A 40-YEAR-OLD MAN: What does an entrepreneur look like?

A recent survey by the Kauffman Foundation, a pro-entrepreneur group, found that company founders, mostly in the technology sector, tended to be married, middle-class and middle-aged.

— Family: Nearly 70 percent said they were married when they started the business. About 60 percent had at least one child. In the case of their own birth order, the biggest group, 42.5 percent, said they were the first-born.

— Education: They overwhelmingly (95 percent) are college graduates. There was an even split between those who held only bachelor's degrees and those with more advanced degrees.

— Background: The survey said that 71.5 percent called their parents "middle-class." That ranged from professional parents with postgraduate degrees to white-collar workers with associate's degrees. It found 82.5 percent were born in the U.S., with the next biggest country of origin being India, at 3.8 percent.

— Work experience: About a quarter had zero to five years of work experience under their belts before launching or joining a start-up, while 27.6 percent had worked six to 10 years and 23.3 percent 11 to 15 years. The average age of company founders was 40.

The survey was heavily skewed to the technology sector. The report's authors wanted to survey those industries they considered "higher growth," such as aerospace, computer software and hardware, biotechnology and engineering consultants. It randomly polled 549 employees from these "high growth" sectors by phone and e-mail between August 2008 and March 2009. Those termed "founders" were those who joined their company in its first year.



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