Knowledge is power. And one way to become an expert in any subject is to read. Thousands of career development books exist, but it’s difficult to know where to start. So, to make the process less daunting for you here’s some of my book recommendations. Along with some helpful tips on how to get the most out of your reading.
So Good They Can’t Ignore You by Cal Newport
A great book for finding your calling in life. I agree with Cal Newport that making your passion is not the best career advice. Instead, developing skills and career capital is the most efficient approach. Much like how Steve Jobs wasn’t initially passionate about computers. But later found the work rewarding and transformed Apple into the tech giant it is today. So, if you struggle with the advice “do what you love, and you’ll never work another day in your life” this book is for you.
Who Moved my Cheese by Spencer Johnson
A short story examining a group of people frustrated that they can’t find their cheese. The same concept applies to people in a job search. What I like best about this book is it teaches you to laugh at yourself. And to accept you can’t stay on the same career path forever. Otherwise, you’ll remain frustrated, and your situation won’t change. Worth a read and best of all not a long book either. If you enjoy it check out Johnson’s other book One Minute Manager for more great advice.
What Color is Your Parachute by Richard N. Bolles
By far the most famous career advice book. What Color is Your Parachute is updated every year and is a gold mine for career development. It shows you how the current job market has changed. And why you should spend less time on inefficient job application processes like job boards. Instead, it teaches you to think more creatively. And market yourself correctly by reaching out to people directly through the parachute method. The flower petal exercise is fantastic and worth the price of the book alone. It’s a great exercise for looking inside yourself and discovering what your true interests are. Ensuring you go after the jobs that best match your unique style. Also, included are helpful links to other resources, like organizations, websites, and books. Read it if you haven’t. You won’t regret it.
How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie
An excellent book on how to communicate with people. Carnegie gives good practical advice that many people forget like taking an interest in other people’s life, using their name often and listening to people. But what I love best about this book is it shows you how to give feedback to people without criticizing them. And how to teach someone a lesson without being mean to them. My highest recommendation. Also, be sure to print out each principle to refer to later.
The Four Hour Work Week by Timothy Ferriss
Timothy Ferriss’s most famous book. What I found most useful from reading his book are the productivity tips. Such as getting the most critical task done before 11am. Only checking email twice a day and the importance of taking rest away from work. Mini-retirements are a genius idea too. Like What Color is Your Parachute there are also tons of links for further reading and advice too. If you like this book check out his website for helpful articles, videos and podcasts.
TIPS TO GET THE MOST OUT OF READING
Don’t just read books
Besides career books at your local library look to other mediums for reading too. Explore websites like Inc and Entrepreneur for career articles. Sign up for weekly newsletters, email tips, set Google alerts. Read the newspaper. Make reading a daily ritual.
Make time for reading
If you’re too busy with work and family obligations, it’s possible you don’t have time to read, but there is a way. For most people, your mornings and evenings are under your control. And if you spend just 15 to 30 minutes daily making reading part of your schedule it can be done. Reading while commuting or audio books are another option.
Keep a reading log
Reading a book isn’t enough. You need to keep a reading log and take notes. First, make the process easy for yourself. Start by copying and pasting words you find relevant into a word document. Next, write the page number down so you can reference it later. Finally, immediately after reading write down any thoughts or reflections down. It’s important to do this immediately while the info is fresh on your mind. Otherwise, you’ll forget about it later.
Rotate books to offset boredom
It’s boring to read the same book week after week. So if you lose interest in a long book set it aside for a week and read something else and then come back to it. I like reading two books at a time and having two on the back burner to switch out when I get bored.
Make a plan of action
Knowledge is power, but even more critical then reading is the application. Most people who buy self-help books read them and don’t apply anything. They then keep buying books and wonder why nothing’s changed with their life. Don’t let that happen to you. After you finish a book set a time to do the exercises in the books and fit the new habits into your schedule. The best time to apply something is right after you read it. I like to do 15 minutes of reading and 15 minutes of application immediately afterward daily. You could also set aside an hour or more on the weekend to tackle larger application exercises.
Reading career development books will bring on significant changes in your life. But only if you apply what you read. Test out some of these books and see what you think. Have any career book recommendations of you own? Please share your thoughts in the comments.