Book Review: The Unwritten Rules of the Highly Effective Job Search

The Unwritten Rules of the Highly Effective Job Search: The Proven Program Used by the Worlds Leading Career Services Company
by Orville Pierson

ISBN-10: 0071464042
ISBN-13: 978-0071464048

PROS: A sober, thoughtful, organized book that presents a definite plan for a job search, organizing many common elements of a good job search into one process.

CONS: Extremely dry writing style may put some off.  Despite organization, some of the book's organiation is odd.

SUMMARY: A must-buy book for the job search, presenting an organized plan you can use "out of the box" as long as you're willing to do some research.

There are a lot of books out there on doing a job search, and it seems most of them repeat about 80% of the same material, with different levels of enthusiasm and different audiences in mind.  We all know about networking, resumes, cover letters, etc.  It seems there's nothing new under the sun job-search wise, and even the technical innovations we see, such as social media, only seem to build on common behaviors – networking and sending out resumes.

Orville Pierson's book contains all the advice you've ever heard before – there's no magic in a good job search, but a lot of research, networking, and common sense.  What Pierson does that makes the book stand out is give you an organized plan for using good job search techniques.  This isn't a pile of advice – it's a plan to get you a job and improve your job searching.

The core of Pierson's work is fourfold:
1) Research one does on oneself, one's potential positions, and one's market.
2) Using that research to create a good resume and "sales tools."
3) Networking with an eye toward the long term, while using resources you have now.
4) Treating this as a project with measurable numbers, information, etc.

These four elements work together, feeding into each other and providing feedback.  A list of companies you want to work for (a vital part of the Pierson method) feeds into your sales pitch, your networking tells you about the companies further, your plans modify, and you track your results.  In the end you navigate closer and closer to your ideal job, probably faster than you may realize.

Besides the plan, the book does provide a lot of useful advice, and fortunately these tidbits are usually couched in the larger picture.  How many hours to put in on a job search ideally, what kinds of job hunting work, for whom and why, etc.  You'll pick up a lot reading this even if you're an experienced professional, and there's an entire subsection on forming a support group that's good for all professionals.

The book is not without it's flaws.  It's extremely dry writing, reminicent more of a textbook or a manual, and the few attempts to add some humor don't really work.  Despite its organization, there are a few curious asides or re-visiting of past ideas that seem a bit distracting.  These are minor flaws, but it's important to realize them tackling the book, especially if you're used to some of the rah-rah go-go job advice books.

This book is ideal for everyone in the job market that's below executive level (and perhaps just at that level).  It's smart, intelligent, well-written (if dry), and presents a useful, rational plan that anyone can use in their job search, and that builds good job searh habits.  It's not the LAST job search book you'll read, but it should be on the shelf of any serious careerist or for anyone having trouble in this job market.

In short, I'm giving it my rare "must buy, must read" rating.  Also if you're using this book, don't lend it out until you're done – you'll want to refer back to it in the future.

So that's it.  Go buy it.

– Steven Savage