Book Reviews

Book by Susan Jones Sears & Virginia Gordon
Review by: Holly E. Martin
Assistant Dean, First Year of Studies
University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, IN

Sears’ and Gordon’s timely and well-written update of their workbook on career exploration, planning and job searches takes into consideration the significantly more challenging world of career planning that has developed since their last edition in 2002. Career considerations have always been an important part of educational planning and academic advising, but rarely more so than now. In this edition the authors are at pains to help students understand as well as to put into practice the process of career exploration and planning. They help students to see career planning as a process with a number of important phases, and they encourage students to be actively involved in thinking about and participating in deliberate career planning as early as possible in their college career.

The workbook is logically organized from first explorations in assessing personal interests and skills, through educational alternatives and questions about preparing for the workplace of the future, to the concrete practicalities of writing resumes and interviewing. Throughout the book the authors balance just enough theory to explain the efficacy of the exercises presented in the guide. They also ensure that there is a sufficient variety of clear, to-the-point exercises to satisfy the needs of a wide range readers, some of whom may be working through the book on their own, but many more of whom may be using it as part of a class. The clarity of explanation as well as the diversity of exercises, strategies, and points of view presented in Building Your Career allows for remarkable completeness and flexibility of use in such a relatively short and accessible workbook. Although probably most efficacious when used in the classroom or under the direction of an advisor, the workbook can easily be used by the motivated individual student.

Sears and Gordon emphasize the need to take time to think about and explore career, educational, and job search decisions. Their hands-on exercises help to tie this reflection to the students’ short and long term decisions and plans. In addition the workbook points the students to a variety of up-to-date resources, including web resources, to encourage in-depth exploration of career planning questions and issues.

Advisors who are not using this book as part of course will find it easy to go straight to the appropriate chapter to meet the needs of their students. Although the chapters build logically from first explorations of interest to technicalities about legal and illegal interview questions, it is perfectly possible to go to the chapter most pertinent to the students with whom the advisor is presently working, whether it is choosing a major to fit their career plans or on taking action steps that fit their year in college. Each chapter builds on the next, but each is complete in itself and can be utilized, when necessary, in isolation from the others. The workbook may be used as part of a class, in workshops, or with individual students as needed.

In addition to clear explanations of each chapter’s subject and a variety of exercises, each chapter also contains short case studies for discussion; a summary checklist for that chapter; and a very practical note on “How to Use” what the student has just learned. Theory, explanation, practice, and practicality—it’s all there in an accessible and immediately useable form.


Building your career: A guide to your future, (4th Edition) (2011). Book by Susan Jones Sears & Virginia N. Gordon. Review by: Holly E. Martin.  Columbus, OH: Pearson Education Publishing. 121 pp., Price $40.00, (paperback). ISNB 9780-13-708452-4

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