The End of a Legacy: Dick Bolles of What Color Is Your Parachute

dick_bolles_headshotDick Bolles, author of What Color is Your Parachute, passed away on Friday, March 31, 2017. He had just celebrated his 90th birthday.

I saw Dick Bolles present at a few conferences, but didn’t talk to him. He was always talking to someone else, and I wanted more than a handshake and a smile.

My time came when I was speaking in his hometown, Danville, California. He and his wife, Marci, came and were in the audience.  I always have butterflies when I’m in front of an audience, but this was like an extra dose of butterflies.  THE GURU of job search… perhaps the father of modern day job search, was in the audience. He has flown around the world giving presentations, and in the decades since he penned the first edition of What Color is My Parachute, he’s seen, and done, it all.

I got a great introduction from Susan Joyce, owner of, and had my first real, great, conversation with him, on the phone.  It was actually short, but it was real.  By the time we were in Danville our relationship progressed to the point where going out to lunch was only natural.

After my presentation he and Marci waited while I shook hands and said goodbye to individuals from the audience, and then we piled into his Buick (an Enclave, I think). I was wondering what this legend who had sold more than 10 million books drove… just a Buick. We drove about 15 minutes away to one of his favorite Asian restaurants, where we spent at least an hour in awesome, awesome conversation.  From that conversation I’ll never forget when he said:

“Jason, your message, and my message, are the same.”

I was immediately intrigued.  First, that he listened to my hour and a half presentation and paid enough attention to get “my message.”  Second, because he could concisely say what “my message” was (I would have been hard-pressed, at the time, to tell you what my message was). And third, because he, The Legend, said that it was the same as his message.  Awesome…!

“And what would you say our message is?”

“Our message,” he replied, “is a message of HOPE.  We show people that they have options, and when they have options, they have hope.  When they think they have run out of options, they are hopeless.”

I processed this and realized that he had, in one word, explained why I got on the road. Why I got up in front of audiences, even though it was uncomfortable. Why I would face the skeptics and the hecklers, and put my ideas in front of brilliant unemployed professionals so they could analyze and evaluate and question them.

Dick Bolles put my calling, passion, and purpose into perspective.

When he said “HOPE” I immediately got it. You see, I was a hopeless job seeker. I was at the end of my rope, with no hope.  It was a dark, depressing place to be.

Life without hope does not end well.  Dick said that we, in our own ways, gave hope.  We inspired hope.  We showed people options, and gave them a reason to keep trying, to keep doing, and to move closer to a job, where they didn’t need to worry about hope vs. despair.

You can believe that since that lunch, I’ve thought about hope every single day. I have taken his message, our message, to heart, and have understood the gravity of what we do.

What an honor to have Dick Bolles, the legend, the man who has touched millions of lives, even put in near himself in our quest to change the world, one job search at a time.

Thank you Dick Bolles, for the live you have lived and the legacy you have left.  There are many, many thousands of career professionals who have been influenced by you, your words, your mission, your example, and they are influencing others… sharing the message of HOPE.

22 thoughts on “The End of a Legacy: Dick Bolles of What Color Is Your Parachute”

  1. Thank you for honoring Dick Bolles, as he deserve to be. You’re right. Our job as speakers, authors and entrepreneurs is to give hope AND to give tangible insights people can use so they’re inspired to put their hope into action. For when people have hope and useful insights, they don’t just have options, they get useful results. – Sam Horn, author of Got Your Attention?

  2. Jason, this is the first I have heard of Dick Bolles’ passing and I am saddened beyond words. He was the father of career development and a major influence on so many of us in the profession as well as our coaching clients. Thank you for your post.

    Debbie Melnikoff

  3. Jason, Thank you for the great tribute to Richard Bolles. Long before I became a Career Counselor, I had a” What Color is Your Parachute” book in my collection (still do!). His books are inspiring and empowering and I use some of the exercises in them with my clients today. How fortunate you had to opportunity to spend time with him.

  4. Jason, thank you for your post. I am so, so saddened to learn of the passing of Richard Bolles. For years, my husband has given me his book “What Color Is Your Parachute” as a very special gift. I have been a “disciple, a fan, and a follower” of his teachings for as long as I have been in business. The world has lost a legend in the career management profession. I am so grateful to have met him. My deepest sympathy to his loved ones.

  5. I just saw your email, Jason, about the sad news. Richard Bolles is the reason I became a career counselor. Discovering his book and taking his course led me to a purpose-filled career and life. His legacy will live on forever in the careers field. He will be missed so much by everyone whose life he touched.

  6. Thank you for this tribute. What Color Is Your Parachute is the first book I read that made me think about my career as my way to change my world rather than just a paycheck.

  7. It is hopeful and wonderful hearing your recollections on Dick Bolles.

    I had the privilege of attending a workshop at his home for 5 days. He has had an enormous influence on my life and career as a resume writer and career coach. Even now, I am still processing his passing. I regularly use his book in my practice to give others hope – I used it last week for a client to help her find her passion. She is moving forward, and sent me a note of joy today as she is moving on with her journey that the Parachute flower is leading her. I have offered sympathy to Marci and his family.

  8. Thanks for the tribute to Dick. He literally changed my life, and I can never repay the debt I owe him. In 1978 I was coming to terms with the idea that I was not going to succeed in academia, but I didn’t know what else to do. One of the exercises in his book made me understand that what really gives me satisfaction is not teaching but researching and writing. I turned my energies toward that and built a very productive and fulfilling career. Ironically, I found my niche in the field of career information, and Dick himself eventually became aware of my work. When he got in touch with me, I made sure to let him know that he had provided the insight that started me on that path.

  9. Jason, thank you for your touching post about Dick. It resonates with me much. I have just also written a few words about him on my blog (in Polish). I had an honour to live in his house during the Five Day Life/Work Planning workshop led by Dick in Danville, CA. The discovery of WCYIP was one of the best things in my life. I am so happy to have this book in Polish bookstores. He also changed my life and inspired to start my career coaching practice.

  10. Jason —

    This is the first I’ve heard of Dick Bolles’ passing. What a remarkable person he was! Thank you for your tribute to him! His book was the impetus for my making a mid-life career change and becoming a career services professional at a university. You said it well! Hope is the energy source I use daily to re-charge our students!

  11. Jason,

    That you for the wonderful story. I too was shocked when I read your post about the passing of Dick Bolles, the legend. I know over the past couple of years he had health issues, but thought they were behind him. As a community, we have lost a great friend and mentor. My condolences to Marci and his family and all in the careers community.

  12. Jason, thank you for this touching tribute to one of the “cornerstones” of the careers industry. What a wonderful story! And what a powerful word: Hope. That’s quite a legacy!

  13. Excellent tribute Jason.

    I read part of What Color is Your Parachute many years ago. Might be a good time for me to try to read through the whole book.

  14. Dick Bolles created a career finding discipline that changed our world forever. I have used his book/s for myself and my clients in transition.

    If you haven’t read or worked your way through What Color is Your Parachute, you are in for a enlightening experience, a chance to find happiness in your worklife. Cheers.

    Thanks Dick!

  15. What a beautiful tribute! Yes, Dick was a cornerstone to our field.! I feel privileged to have met him and been trained by him early in my career. He will always be remembered.

  16. What a great personal story to share Jason. Hope is truly what gets people through the drudgery of job searching and a great message for all of us in the careers industry to impart upon our clients. Dick and his message will resonate for years to come with professionals like Jason carrying the torch.

  17. I cannot tell you how much Dick Bolles meant to me; I started using his material when I worked as a paralegal and wanted to change careers. I have recommended his yearly updated book to many, many clients of mine, and I really hope these regular updates will continue. I did not change careers right away due to family issues, but he certainly helped me think about things in a completely different way. A lovely tribute, Jason, and one I am happy to add to as well.

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