VRA Rehabilitation Awards 2017
Award Categories:
- VR Practitioner
- VR Research and Education
- VR Initiative

Vocational Rehabilitation Awards 2017  – Winners

VR Initiative -Runner Up

What Color is Your Parachute?”

10 Reasons for using Richard N Bolles’ immensely popular guide for job hunters and career changers.

By Marietta Birkholtz

I was pleased to receive a highly commended award by the VRA this year after innovating a successful career change programme for UK service leavers. Having adapted the approach to a wide range of clients over the past 15 years (chronic pain sufferers and able-bodied alike), I hope to inspire the wider use of the ‘Parachute’ approach.

Here is why:

1. It Works!: In his work spanning four decades, Richard N Bolles established that this approach has a 50% – 80% success rate with job finding, while traditional approaches average out at a mere 15%.
2. Participant buy-in: rehabilitation participants who access a vocational vision while in a rehab programme, participate more fully in the programme overall (‘the potential gain being worth the pain’).
3. Effective engagement: Job seekers looking for work they actually want are more likely to search wholeheartedly (and more independently) with a higher chance of success.
4. Adaptable to many different client conditions: With some training and experience, the ‘Parachute’ modalities can be adapted for most clients facing short attention spans, or other challenges.
5. Provides intrinsic motivation: The clear emphasis on the individual’s core interests, favourite transferable skills, and/or ‘calling’, seems to motivate those in adversarial circumstances, including chronic illness, long-term unemployment, addiction, criminal record etc (motto: sell ability instead of disability).
6. Gives Hope where there may be little to begin with: The Career Parachute engenders hope. Service leavers or others who have been injured, downgraded, and/or are afraid of re-entering the job market, do need hope.
7. Focuses on jobs with meaning: The approach encourages working towards meaningful employment which makes the creation of a ‘win-win’ situation more likely: the employee gains a job they want to do, and the employer gains an enthusiastic team member who is more likely to perform well, and stay on.
8. Can also be used as a self-help tool: The approach is set out in two volumes , one of which is a summarised version of the most helpful exercises. This lends itself to clients’ independent progression post-discharge.
9. Can improve your success rate!: The ‘Career Parachute’ is a fascinating and constructive tool box for vocational practitioners that can enrich their practice, their own career development, and improve service outcomes.
10. Positive culture shift for the organisation that uses it:The ‘Parachute’ ethos centres around meaning, human potential, positive emotion, and expansion of what is thought ‘to be possible’. This can have a positive impact on the outlook of the entire organisation practising it.