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The Job Seekers Handbook (2nd ed.).


In attempting to facilitate re-entry into the workforce for Job Network clients, this handbook provides some useful information for those unfamiliar with current hiring practices or who have been unsuccessful in their job search efforts to date. The ultimate aim is that the candidate will create their own workbook, guided by tips and techniques in each chapter, and thus develop their own individualised job search program.

Lawrence approaches the usual range of work preparation activities in a logical manner, aiming to empower the reader along the way, beginning with an assertive message that change is part of life. There are chapters to help the reader tap into their dreams, set work and life goals, discover their skills, develop networks, reality check their job choices, create and use their resume, apply for advertised positions and identify others that aren't so obvious. Basic interview tips are included, as is what to expect when starting work and making the most of rejection. Useful resources, both hard copy and web-based, are provided. The tone is conversational and the message is delivered authoritatively but with touches of familiarity, to suggest that the reader is being asked to collaborate with the author rather than simply follow directions.

The ideas are familiar to all career practitioners, progress through the stages is logical, and the activities are relevant to a wide cross-section of the job-seeking population. While the blurb on the back cover supports the view that this is a book for all jobseekers, the many references to Job Network services, roles and functions do however severely limit its usefulness beyond this sector.

In terms of style and content, the handbook appears to have been primarily designed for use by candidates who have a reasonable command of the English language at around Year 0 level. It is equally suited to all age groups but the graphics suggest a younger audience. The case studies offer a broader age range and exemplify the kinds of work-related activities that many Job Network clients seek, such as those found in the manufacturing, trade, retail, administration, hospitality and personal service industries. Some acknowledgement of the large number of individual differences within this group (such as age, location, education, culture, gender and abilities) would have gone some way towards accounting for the needs of a diverse clientele.

Lawrence's solution-focused approach, however, does show a certain level of expectation that the jobseeker will be an enthusiastic and willing collaborator. If the reader believes he or she can and will succeed in the quest to obtain meaningful work, the program is off to a great start. One weakness is that the reader might misguidedly believe that this is all that one needs to know about looking for work, and that if the instructions are followed to the letter success is assured. I would have liked to have seen incorporated in the work some provisos and alternative viewpoints; there were quite a few instances where I found myself disagreeing with an instruction, or found something lacking in the detail, no doubt highlighting that that this is a highly controversial field of endeavour in which we are all constantly learning.

If one weakness relates to the one-size-fits-all approach, another is that it appears that the jobseeker is being expected to generally work through the workbook alone. Reference is made from time to time as to available supports, but the job-search process is highly complex for the uninitiated and those who have been disappointed in the past, so I would have liked to see more about how to get professional help if this is needed.

I enjoyed reading the case samples in the early stages of the book; they add credibility and interest to the reading and make the tasks of the job search process appear palatable and achievable, so I was disappointed that these stopped at the end of Chapter 4, making the last six chapters much drier, rendering the latter part of the book less impactful and interesting. And on the subject of quality, a word to publishers--please do the right thing by your authors and ensure that the manuscript is thoroughly edited and proofread before sending it off to the printers. There were far too many obvious errors in my version, which are a major detraction.

One further limitation of the book is that it is highly time bound; even before the book was sent to the publisher parts were already in need of a rewrite--Lawrence provides a disclaimer at the beginning of the last chapter--which serves to highlight the dynamic nature of an industry that is so influenced by government policy and labour market fluctuations. The instruction to seek out one's union for clarification of issues is a case in point: for an increasing number of workers, this option is no longer available, especially in the more recently-created, technology-based industries.

I would recommend The Job Seekers Handbook in the appropriate context, under careful guidance of a highly trained employment consultant or career practitioner who can apply local knowledge and add further expert advice as necessary, and who is therefore best placed to assist each jobseeker in their individual career and employment pursuits.

Julie Farthing

Career Dimensions, Victoria
COPYRIGHT 2007 Australian Council for Educational Research
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2007 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:Farthing, Julie
Publication:Australian Journal of Career Development
Article Type:Book review
Date:Jan 1, 2007
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