10 Must-Read Career Books for Job Seekers

Whether you are dipping your toe in the water and considering a change or are dedicated to the job search full-time, a career transition offers the perfect time to focus on personal and professional development. There are hundreds of books for job seekers that are dedicated to the tactics of a job search but, quite frankly, they are often boring and too generic to offer personalized advice that is applicable in the job market. These 10 books cover a variety of broader topics that will help you become a more well-rounded, interesting, and confident candidate:

10 Must-Read Career Books for Job Seekers

1. The Confidence Code, by Katty Kay and Claire Shipman

So many job seekers struggle with what they call “talking about themselves” or “self promoting”. This book goes in-depth into the scientific and societal differences between men and women when it comes to how to be confident, fail without feeling like a failure, and continue to push forward. Kay and Shipman provide a wonderful introduction for professional women coming into their own in the workplace.

2. The Power of Habit, by Charles Duhigg

For unemployed job seekers, or even uninspired job seekers, it can be difficult to stay engaged in your job search. In The Power of Habit, Duhigg explains how habits work and shows how, in harnessing this understanding, we can become more productive, successful, and valuable professionals. This is a great motivator for readers to see their potential and put habits in place to reach their goals.

3. The New Gold Standard, by Joseph Michelli

This is a rather unconventional choice, as it focuses strictly on customer service, but it has changed the way that I look at personal interactions. Michelli examines the famous Ritz Carlton culture and dedication to excellence and how it can apply in any business setting. This book is a must-read for anyone who works with people – whether your “clients” are internal or external.

4. Never Eat Alone, by Keith Ferrazzi and Tahl Raz

When my clients complain about me pushing them to network during their job search, I always remind them that these relationships will continue to serve them throughout their career. Where other networking books focus solely on tactics, Never Eat Alone highlights the mindset needed to successfully connect with colleagues, friends, and contacts.

5. Linchpin, by Seth Godin

Godin posits that Linchpins are the essential building blocks of great organizations. And as such, they get the best jobs and the most freedom. For job seekers who are looking to be indispensable, delight their customers and peers, and find jobs that are the perfect fit for them, this book will help you highlight your potential and communicate it to future hiring managers and companies.

6. Getting Things Done, by David Allen

WARNING: This is not a light read. Don’t take it to the beach. I recommended this book to my mother after reading it this spring and gave her the same warning. Treat this book as you would a text book. It is most effective if you go through the steps to organization as you read them, so you’ll need to be at your desk or in your office. Naturally, my mom started reading it on a plane and never made it through the first chapter. Regardless, this book is a game-changer for anyone obsessed with reaching “inbox zero” or otherwise feeling like they spend their days jumping from task to task without really getting anything done. I implemented almost every concept that Allen suggests and it has made a measurable impact in my productivity.

7. How Will You Measure Your Life?, by Clayton M. Christensen

I constantly work with my clients to help them understand that, before starting any job search, it’s important to get clear on what they are actually looking for. Christensen does a wonderful job of highlighting the importance of fulfillment in the workplace and how you can determine what fulfillment means to you. Increasingly, job seekers are looking for careers that fit into the fabric of their lives rather than dominate them and this book is the perfect place to start to find that fit.

8. Lean In, by Sheryl Sandberg

A foundation, movement, and instant classic, Lean In empowers women to take charge of their careers and helps men understand the women in their workplaces. Through her own practical advice and experiences, Sandberg shares specific steps for women to pursue their goals without holding themselves back.

9. Getting To Yes, by Roger Fisher and William L. Ury

The quintessential manual for negotiation, Getting to Yes is a great tool for job seekers to utilize in salary negotiations, interviews, and even interpersonal conflicts within the workplace once they get a job.

10. Outliers, by Malcolm Gladwell

Job seekers are faced with the extremely difficult task of having to differentiate themselves from everyone else in the market. Outliers helps readers understand what makes high-achievers different and how to look for opportunities that allow them to capitalize on their talent and experience.

11. Insanely Simple, by Ken Segall

Yes, I know the title of the article said “Top 10” but this one’s a bonus because it is my all-time favorite business book and one that I think everyone can benefit from reading. Written by the creative director at Apple’s ad agency during the brand’s resurgence, Segall brings to light Steve Job’s obsession with simplicity – not just as a design principle but as it applied to everything at Apple. In a world where simplicity is a disappearing concept (anyone ever tried to order coffee at Starbucks and had no clue what they ended up getting?), this book will help you strip things down and use simplicity to set yourself apart.

Have you read any on the list? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

  • Sara

    This is a good list of career books. Will definitely have to check these out, they all sound good.

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