In one recent interview, a reporter made a comment about my book reviews. “I read several of them, and they all seem to be positive,” she said. “Do you like every book you read?”

No, of course not. In fact, my friends would tell you that I’m generally pretty critical of the stuff I read. However, I don’t see the point of reviewing books I hate. Better to ignore them and focus only on the good stuff, right? And when I have mixed feelings about a book, I try to convey that, either explicitly or in a more subtle fashion.

Today, I won’t be subtle. I have mixed feelings about Kevin Fanning’s Let’s All Find Awesome Jobs. I saw this book mentioned on a site I trust, so I ordered a copy. It’s both great — and goofy.

Fanning has worked in HR and recruiting for nine years, and he’s learned some stuff along the way. Here’s how Fanning describes his book’s objective:

At any given moment, there are a lot of people applying for jobs. There are a lot of people applying for the jobs you want. The people doing the hiring have a stack of resumes to get through, and they all look pretty much the same. I can show you how to stay focused and avoid the careless mistakes that would otherwise land you in the reject pile. I can’t make you the right person for the job. But if you are the right person for the job, I can show you how to make that very clear to the people doing the hiring.

Let’s All Find Awesome Jobs is divided into several short (4-8 page) chapters, including:

  • Resumes. Fanning explains the number-one rule of resume writing (make it legible!), and offers tips for building a resume that supports your application. He also explains that it’s fine to have a resume that’s longer than a page — if that’s what you need to show your experience. (Also, like me, he hates resumes that list an objective.)
  • Cover letters. “In most cases,” writes Fanning, “the cover letter is more important than the resume. Resumes are a minefield of half-truths and intentionally ambiguous language. Anyone whose job it is to review resumes knows this.” He explains how to write a cover letter that sells your experience to the reader. He even includes paragraph-by-paragraph guidelines.
  • Applying. Fanning says the most important thing to do when applying for a job is to follow the instructions. He also argues that you shouldn’t show up in person to deliver your application, because it’ll do you more harm than good.
  • Phone interviews. This chapter includes a checklist to help you prepare to give an effective phone interview.
  • Onsite interviews. Like the phone interview chapter, but targeting face-to-face interviews.
  • Following up. After the interview comes the waiting, which Fanning calls the “most arduous part of the interview process”. Unfortunately, there’s not much meat to this section. This chapter doesn’t explain how to follow up on an interview; it just recommends that you send a thank-you note and wait.
  • Getting or not getting the job. This chapter offers tips for increasing the chances that you’ll find a job. It all boils down to networking.

This is a short book. In fact, it’s not really a book — it’s a pamphlet. It took me just 24 minutes to read Let’s All Find Awesome Jobs — and I was taking notes! There are some great tips here, but because of the brevity, it all seems rather light. This is, in essence, one very long blog post, and as a result, it’s not very detailed or nuanced. Fanning glibly shares his insight and moves on.

Warning: Let’s All Find Awesome Jobs tries very hard to be cool and hip. I’d wager it’s the only job-hunting resource that contains the word “f***” — and it contains it not once, but eight times. Now, I can swear like a sailor (especially while boating in Alaska!), but there’s a time and a place for vulgarity, and a business book (or pamphlet) just doesn’t seem like one of those times or places. If you like this style, great. If not, be warned.

Let’s All Find Awesome Jobs would work much better as a $3 e-book or PDF download than it does as an $8 “book”. (It’s available for $4 on the Amazon Kindle.) For eight bucks, I want more meat and less attitude. Still, despite its weaknesses, if I were looking for work, I’d be glad to read Let’s All Find Awesome Jobs. The info is practical and down-to-earth.

I’m curious, though, if you can recommend other books that contain real-world advice for job-seekers. Or are there good blogs about looking for work? Fanning’s pamphlet is a good (if imperfect choice), but what other info is out there?

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