Since the 1970s, African-American unemployment has remained almost twice that of the general population in the United States. Currently, the published African-American unemployment rate over 14 percent nationwide; by contrast, the average rate for the general population is 7.8 percent; White unemployment is 7.0 percent; and Hispanic unemployment is stagnant at 10.2 percent (http://www.bls.gov/news.release/pdf/empsit.pdf”). The only recorded ethnic or racial group with an unemployment rate higher than that of African Americans is Native Americans. Clearly, race still plays a role in this high unemployment rate. However, race is only one factor. At the beginning of this last recession and economic downturn, about one in five Black workers had public sector jobs and African American workers were one-third more likely than Whites to be employed in the public sector. A study by the Center for Labor Research and Education at the University of California in the spring of 2011 concluded: “Any analysis of the impact to society of additional layoffs in the public sector as a strategy to address the fiscal crisis must take into account the disproportionate impact the reductions in government employment have on the Black community.” Although the slow economic recovery from this recession has been difficult for most Americans, it has been devastating for African Americans. Blacks have relied on government jobs at the federal, state and local levels since reconstruction when the United States Postal Service hired freed slaves. This relationship continued through more than 100 years when racial discrimination barred Blacks from many private sector jobs, continuing into the 1960s when the federal government expanded to provide more services such as buses to the new suburbs created by White flight, additional public hospitals and schools, etc. Smaller government is here to stay and many government sector jobs will never be replaced. If African Americans are to succeed in this new environment, you will need to experience a paradigm shift from viewing the public sector as a primary means of employment, to viewing the private sector as a primary means of employment. Successfully making this paradigm shift will require visioning, retraining, viewing their skills as being transferable, and networking in the private sector.
Unfortunately, many African Americans are not familiar with the key skills necessary for successful career management before starting a job search process or managing your careers. You just want a job. There are no established documents or materials available in print, audio, or on video that provide African Americans with the valuable information needed to successfully compete with other racial and ethnic groups for quality jobs in the twenty-first century. When Your Parachute is Black meets that need.
- What do you need to do now to further your career?
- Where do you want your career to be in five years? ten years?
- Do you have a plan or strategy in place to reach your goals?
- What will be some of the roadblocks to your success and how will you deal with them?
- Where do you start?
- When will you start?
- Who can provide assistance to you with your search?
When Your Parachute is Black answers these questions by helping African-American job seekers create a vision, evaluate your skills and view them as transferrable across industries; and document your accomplishments, values, strengths, weaknesses, likes, and dislikes. You will learn how to develop professional objectives and communication plans that lead to gainful employment. You will be taught how to design and implement work plans targeting specific organizations that meet your professional objectives. You will create a resume and an E-portfolio that will lead to interviews. In addition, other tools needed to obtain interviews are presented for you in a clear and comprehensive manner. The book also shows African-American job seekers how to interview effectively so you can negotiate and land the best jobs. The techniques presented in When Your Parachute is Black provide African-American job seekers with skills that enhance and further the remainder of your careers.
When Your Parachute is Black is the product of almost forty years of professional and academic experience. I first became interested in career development and outplacement services in 1986 when I was laid off from Bristol Myers and was sent to use the services of Drake Beam Morin, Inc. I came to view this as an opportunity to learn how to help people when they were at one of their lowest emotional points in their lives. Instead of going back into my old career field, I joined the team at Drake Beam Morin as an outplacement seminar consultant. Since then, I have designed or delivered hundreds of programs that have been used throughout the United States. Information from my workshops, discussions on structural inequality from my doctoral program in education on leadership and change, feedback from clients and colleagues, research of additional Web sites, and personal observations provide the foundation for the discussions and illustrations contained in this work.
When Your Parachute is Black is not just one more “how-to-find-a-job book.” It presents career and goal-setting information geared to the specific needs of African Americans. Key points are illustrated with concrete sidebar examples indicated by the text highlighted within the manuscript. Special emphasis is placed on information that helps readers become more productive in both job searches and career development. The publisher might also consider including 12-15 line art illustrations placed in alternating chapters to break up the text and highlight major themes. Many chapters will feature at least one success story: a real-life example of how the chapter’s information helped someone land a great job. The appendix provides tables, templates, and assessment forms so readers can work alone using the information introduced in each chapter. Finally, an annotated list of important resource Web sites and materials in print supplement the information presented for each section.