Whether you’re new to the job market, or happen to be looking for a new path professionally, the following 10 career books will help you make that happen. These are the books you need to read in order to find and do work you love or take your career to the next level.
1. Find Your Why by Simon Sinek
Do you know your WHY? Here’s mine: ”To inspire, empower, and educate people everywhere so that they can improve their lives and achieve their goals.” Every single thing I do in my career–my motivational speaking work, my writing, my podcast, and every one of my business ventures–revolves around my WHY. And this first book on our list will teach you how to find your own WHY, and then how to draft your own WHY statement so that you can articulate your purpose to the world effectively and elegantly.
2. Deep Work by Cal Newport
The author of this book, Cal Newport, told me on my podcast that being able to sustain your focus for long periods of time is like a super-power. And I believe it. Especially these days–when people are more distracted than ever–it’s crucial to be capable of focusing on your work without succumbing to distraction. This book will teach you how to do that, which is why it’s one of the best career books out there.
3. Designing Your Life by Bill Burnett, Dave Evans
Designing Your Life teaches you how to take a design-based approach towards your life in order to live better and optimize the life you lead in every way, and in every area. The book was co-authored by Bill Burnett, one of Apple’s original designers; and Dave Evans, a mechanical engineer, and previous VP of Talent for Electronic Arts. Bill and Dave also teach a popular class together at Stanford that teaches students how to leverage design-thinking to customize a personal + professional lifestyle optimized for maximum fulfillment. This career book is based on their Stanford life-design class.
4. How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big by Scott Adams
This is one of my personal favorite books. It’s powerful and practical. Especially if you’re looking to find and do work you love. And, if you’re already doing meaningful work, Scott will teach you how to put the proper systems in place to make the most impact with the work you do. In How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big, you’ll also learn–as the title entails–why failure is never a sign you won’t eventually succeed.
5. Mastery by Robert Greene
It doesn’t matter how old you are or how successful you are in your career, there’s always room for improvement. And that’s what this book is all about: becoming a student of your craft. Mastery is about falling in love with what you do, even when it gets hard. This book taught me about how important it is to choose a career that you’re willing to work on becoming better and better at for the rest of your life… Because if you can find that, as the old saying goes, “you’ll never have to work a day in your life.”
6. How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie
Influencing others is an art. Do it wrong and you come off as sleazy. But if you do it right, you can win the admiration of others and advance your career. Learning how to deal with people is one of those skills you won’t learn about in most classrooms. You won’t find it in any business training manuals, either. But if you can learn how to do it, it’ll pay off more than any other specialized skill you can learn–regardless of what industry you’re in. How to Win Friends and Influence People is a crucial career book no matter who you are.
7. Never Eat Alone by Keith Ferrazzi
After you read How to Win Friends and Influence People, do yourself a favor and go get this book. Why? Because it’ll teach you how to create powerful professional networks that you can tap into throughout your career. Your network may not be the only thing that determines your net worth, but it sure plays a big role in doing so.
8. Drive by Daniel Pink
Motivation. Sometimes it can be tough to muster up. But what if you could create “on-demand” motivation for yourself ? How cool would that be, right? Well, this book teaches you how to do that, not only for yourself, but for others as well. In Drive, you’ll learn about the components of human motivation, and how to effectively motivate yourself and others… Both of which are essential elements of succeeding in almost every career.
9. Give and Take by Adam Grant
Give and Take is essential reading because it focuses on how strategically giving to others and adding value to the lives of others can ultimately benefit you. It’s a guidebook for creating a thriving and fulfilling career, while helping others in the process. In this career book, you’ll learn how helping others can propel your professional life forward.
10. What Color Is Your Parachute? by Richard N. Bolles
Our final career book on this list is What Color is Your Parachute. If you’re on the hunt for a new job, or happen to be looking for a new career, then this book is for you. The book is updated yearly, but the core concepts remain the same: Finding a career you love is more than possible if you can navigate interviews, have a marketable skill-set, and are willing to be flexible and creative. This book will teach you how to do that.
Which book will you read first?
Now that you’ve got this list of career books, there’s only one question left… Which one do you read first? Should you go out and get all of them immediately? Should you read them all at once? So many options. So little time. Ultimately, it’s totally your decision what you do with this list and how you apply it to your life and career.
But if I may, here’s what I would suggest you consider as you get started:
- Subscribe to a book summary site, like FlashBooks to get the key-takeaways from the books on this list.
- If you’d prefer to read an entire book, I would highly suggest that you read just ONE book at a time. Sometimes, when we see something new and exciting, we have a tendency to want to do/learn/read it all at once… and as we all know, this is nearly impossible to do without stressing ourselves out. So, choose a book. And then commit to reading it from start to finish.
- If you’re in a rush, try Audible audiobooks, or audiobook summaries.
- Finally, if you’re in a super rush, checkout some YouTube video book summaries, like this one.
How to Get Sh*t Done will teach you how to zero in on the three areas of your life where you want to excel, and then it will show you how to off-load, outsource, or just stop giving a damn about the rest.