FIVE STEPS TO C.A.L.M. by Robert Patterson


: Career and Life Management
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Job seekers will find a jumble of hit-and-miss suggestions in this sketchy career-counseling manual.

Erstwhile “employment specialist” Patterson takes a perfunctory stab at elaborating a grand self-help system, complete with goal-setting exercises, personality inventories and an exhortation to “Believe in the Total You.” But the motivational hooey soon gives way to nuts-and-bolts pointers on finding employment, some useful, some not. Patterson is an uninspiring writer, so his model cover letters (“Enclosed is a copy of my résumé in comparison against your client assignments in marketing management”) should be ignored. The author’s lamentable prose is less of an issue in the many bullet-pointed lists of tips–the book feels like it was pasted together from PowerPoint slides–with their gleanings of helpful information. A catalogue of published sources for researching companies will steer readers in the right direction, and a résumé-formatting checklist will catch common errors. Patterson’s advice on job interviews is a mixed bag. His ten-point dress code for men and women is succinct and sensible, and a list of curveball questions favored by interviewers will help readers prep for a thorough grilling. On the other hand, his involved rumination on the niceties of handshakes, body language and “mirroring”–“Say the interviewer leans back and laughs; you ‘laugh beneath’ the interviewer’s laughter, taking care not to overwhelm your interviewer by using an inappropriate volume level”–may leave readers feeling more self-conscious than self-confident. The last chapter is a long, detailed discussion of federal jobs, with a focus on special provisions for veterans, who seem to be the book’s target audience. Patterson’s unbalanced treatment of his subject, and the dubiousness of his recommendations, means that it’s up to the reader to sift the good advice from the bad.

Readers should seek a more systematic and reliable job-search primer.

Program: Kirkus Indie
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