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Career advisers aid local job seekers

Living business by the book

Local authors offer tips for job search, business startups

By Kelly Davidson, For the Camera
March 18, 2005

With the majority of U.S. employees looking for new jobs with increased job satisfaction and compensation, some local career gurus are finding their niche in Boulder by mixing self-help guidance with career recommendations.

"Self-help books are much more popular than career books," said Arsen Kashkashian, the inventory manager at the Boulder Book Store. "If you can inch over into that self-help market, then your chances are much better. Not everyone needs a career, but everyone has problems — and then you have a much bigger market."

Theresa M. Szczurek is one of several local authors finding some success in the gray area between the self-help and career sections at local book stores. With her new book, "Pursuit of Passionate Purpose," the Boulder resident appeals to the job-seeking audience with what she calls "success strategies for a rewarding personal and business life."

"It's more than just a self-help book," Szczurek said. "I want people to understand life can be everything you want it to be. It's your choice."

In the book, Szczurek, founder and CEO of Boulder-based Technology and Management Solutions Inc., weaves stories of her life lessons with interviews from professionals to demonstrate her philosophy for finding balance between life and career — a popular theme in a market where flexibility to balance work and life falls among employees' top five gauges of job satisfaction.

Above life and work flexibility, employees rated benefits, compensation, job security and feeling safe in the work environment as "very important," according to the 2004 Job Satisfaction Survey Report from the Society for Human Resource Management.

The quest for increased job satisfaction in these and other areas is partly why 75 percent of all employees are actively or passively looking for new employment opportunities, according to the 2004 U.S. Job Recovery and Retention Survey released by the Society for Human Resource Management and

Even with these compulsions and fluctuating unemployment rates, the Pearl Street Borders store and the Boulder Book Store reported modest sales success with their local career titles.

"The store's career section as a whole has not been wildly popular even in the economic downturn," Kashkashian said. "It wasn't that career books spiked during that time, but there are a couple of staples that always sell."

The yearly edition of "What Color Is Your Parachute?" is a consistent annual best-seller at the local Borders and Boulder Book Store, but practical resume and job interview manuals provide the most steady sales. Helping her clients overcome their negativity is what motivated Sue Frederick to write her latest book, "Dancing at Your Desk."

The Boulder-based career counselor, 53, uses the book's "seven steps to finding work you love" as the foundation for the undergraduate and adult education classes she teaches at the University of Colorado and Naropa University. She put her method to work when reinvented her career after turning 50 and realized she loved helping other people find the work they love.

"My book naturally evolved from my work with clients, who wanted something to take with them, and now it works both ways in that people who read the book want to work with me," Frederick said. "I just want to help people make good choices to find their meaningful work."

Like Frederick, Boulder's Jay Hearst and Donald J. Strankowski capitalized on their professional experience and career consulting practices by writing books. Hearst's "Lead the Charge to Business Success" is directed at first-time small-business entrepreneurs.

"I've started and run several businesses, some with more success than others," Hearst said. "The one I like to talk about was started on my kitchen table, capitalized at $3,000. It was sold, 17 years later, for $60 million."

Strankowski's "Get Hired!" addresses job hunting in diverse economies: "If the economy has changed and the job market has changed, then job seekers need to employ new techniques and new strategies in order to be successful."

Other area career advisers are promoting their methods with seminars and instructional packages. From her InsightEdge office in Boulder, Cindy Moret O'Keeffe offers provides a $75 professional coaching package called the "Essential Edge," which includes a three-month coaching journal and audio CD for instructions and support.

At Borders, Susan Hadinger of Compass Coaching & Consulting presents a free career coaching seminar on the first Monday of every month, and on April 7, the store will host Frederick's "Finding the Work You Love" seminar.

Boulder-born books have found a home amid the resume and interview how-to books, but a place on the shelf doesn't guarantee success.

"Every now and again, one of these local career books takes off," Kashkashian said. "But that's the exception not the norm."


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