The job market has sent people searching for answers, and their search has resulted in a mass exodus to the self-help aisles, creating a mini-boom in the ever popular self-help industry. But how useful is all this career advice?
Looking to quell fears of impending job loss, several print and online publications have unveiled their lists of "can't-miss" ways for Americans to keep their jobs. An About.com list of 10 tips starts with "don't excel," followed immediately by "don't do poorly." Desperate--and by now confused--readers are later instructed to "use the mantra ‘I'm just happy to have a job.'"
Those hoping for something more, well, helpful than statements on mediocrity and self-preservation have sought out the popular business self-help racket, headlined by Stephen Covey's The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People and its 15 million copies sold. With the Bureau of Labor Statistics showing 5.7 million jobs lost since December 2007, a troubled publishing industry is seizing a the opportunity.
The new crop of career rescuing titles started last year with the release of Stephen Viscusi's "Bulletproof Your Job: 4 Simple Strategies to Ride Out the Rough Times and Come Out on Top at Work." In the search for a voice on professional stability, the CEO of the Viscusi Group executive search firm subsequently became a job-keeping authority.
With Viscusi appearing on everything from Good Morning America to the Tyra Banks Show, book stores have since seen a wave of similar leadership and job books. Originally a best-seller in the UK, Life's a Pitch recently made its North American debut while Harvard Business School Press' "Think Again" ties efficient decision-making directly to certain brain processes. Even Newt Gingrich has a new leadership book. Of course, the beauty of the self-help industry, which saw $11 billion in revenue in the U.S. market alone, is that there aren't available metrics to confirm how truly helpful these books are. But the market at least shows that self-help gurus are keeping their jobs.