The best career books

4 authors have picked their favorite books about career and why they recommend each book.

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#ENTRYLEVELBOSS

By Alexa Shoen,

Book cover of #ENTRYLEVELBOSS: How to Get Any Job You Want

Three cheers for Entry Level Boss. I love Alexa's voice. I love her advice. And I love that she's broken down getting a job into the steps that every twentysomething wants and needs. Anyone who wants that first job--but is not sure how to get it--should read this book.

Who am I?

Meg Jay, PhD, is a Clinical Psychologist, and an Associate Professor of Human Development at the University of Virginia, who specializes in adult development and in twentysomethings in particular. She earned a doctorate in clinical psychology, and in gender studies, from the University of California, Berkeley. Her books have been translated into more than a dozen languages and her work has appeared in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Harvard Business Review and on NPR and BBC. Her TED talk “Why 30 Is Not the New 20” is among the most watched of all time.


I wrote...

The Defining Decade: Why Your Twenties Matter--And How to Make the Most of Them Now

By Meg Jay,

Book cover of The Defining Decade: Why Your Twenties Matter--And How to Make the Most of Them Now

What is my book about?

The Defining Decade has changed the way millions of twentysomethings think about their twenties--and themselves. Revised and updated for a new generation, let it change how you think about you and yours. Drawing from more than two decades of work with thousands of clients and students, Dr. Jay weaves the latest science of the twentysomething years with behind-closed-doors stories from twentysomethings themselves. The result is a provocative read that provides the tools necessary to take the most of your twenties, and shows us how work, relationships, personality, identity, and even the brain can change more during this decade than at any other time in adulthood—if we use the time well.

Roadmap

By Roadtrip Nation,

Book cover of Roadmap: The Get-It-Together Guide for Figuring Out What to Do with Your Life

Written by a team of documentarians, Roadmap is a great read for folks who are just starting their career—or starting over! It offers inspiring examples of people with weird, creative careers, including tons of interviews where you can learn about people’s specific paths. The exercises in the book emphasize seeking variety and blending your interests, rather than narrowing down your multi-passionate soul.


Who am I?

Emilie Wapnick is an award-winning author and community builder. She is the founder and creative director at Puttylike, where she helps multipotentialites (people with many passions and creative pursuits) integrate all of their interests to create dynamic, fulfilling, and fruitful careers and lives. Her popular TED talk, Why some of us don’t have one true calling, has been viewed 7 million times and she has been featured in The New York Times, Fast Company, Forbes, New York Magazine, The Huffington Post, BBC, and Vice.


I wrote...

How to Be Everything: A Guide for Those Who (Still) Don't Know What They Want to Be When They Grow Up

By Emilie Wapnick,

Book cover of How to Be Everything: A Guide for Those Who (Still) Don't Know What They Want to Be When They Grow Up

What is my book about?

What do you want to be when you grow up? It's a familiar question we're all asked as kids. While seemingly harmless, the question has unintended consequences. It can make you feel like you need to choose one job, one passion, one thing to be about. Guess what? You don't. Having a lot of different interests, projects and curiosities doesn't make you a "jack-of-all-trades, master of none." Your endless curiosity doesn't mean you are broken or flaky. What you are is a multipotentialite: someone with many interests and creative pursuits. And that is actually your biggest strength.

How to Be Everything will help you channel your diverse passions and skills to work for you. It offers a practical framework—used by real multipotentialites—to build a sustainable life and career around ALL of your passions.

The Renaissance Soul

By Margaret Lobenstine,

Book cover of The Renaissance Soul: How to Make Your Passions Your Life--A Creative and Practical Guide

Another important antecedent to How to Be Everything, this book offers a serious focus on career, work, and revenue streams. Lobesnstine, a career and life coach, makes the argument that a need for variety and love for finding new challenges are not liabilities, but assets. If you’re ready to get down to business, this might be the read for you.


Who am I?

Emilie Wapnick is an award-winning author and community builder. She is the founder and creative director at Puttylike, where she helps multipotentialites (people with many passions and creative pursuits) integrate all of their interests to create dynamic, fulfilling, and fruitful careers and lives. Her popular TED talk, Why some of us don’t have one true calling, has been viewed 7 million times and she has been featured in The New York Times, Fast Company, Forbes, New York Magazine, The Huffington Post, BBC, and Vice.


I wrote...

How to Be Everything: A Guide for Those Who (Still) Don't Know What They Want to Be When They Grow Up

By Emilie Wapnick,

Book cover of How to Be Everything: A Guide for Those Who (Still) Don't Know What They Want to Be When They Grow Up

What is my book about?

What do you want to be when you grow up? It's a familiar question we're all asked as kids. While seemingly harmless, the question has unintended consequences. It can make you feel like you need to choose one job, one passion, one thing to be about. Guess what? You don't. Having a lot of different interests, projects and curiosities doesn't make you a "jack-of-all-trades, master of none." Your endless curiosity doesn't mean you are broken or flaky. What you are is a multipotentialite: someone with many interests and creative pursuits. And that is actually your biggest strength.

How to Be Everything will help you channel your diverse passions and skills to work for you. It offers a practical framework—used by real multipotentialites—to build a sustainable life and career around ALL of your passions.

Body of Work

By Pamela Slim,

Book cover of Body of Work: Finding the Thread That Ties Your Story Together

Pamela Slim offers a wonderful way to reimagine your life and career, build your personal brand, and share your story. Multipotentialites often struggle to describe where they’ve been and where they’re headed in an impactful way. This book argues that your career is not a linear thing—it’s a collection of different types of work that you’re proud of. Body of Work will help you see your life story from a totally new vantage point.


Who am I?

Emilie Wapnick is an award-winning author and community builder. She is the founder and creative director at Puttylike, where she helps multipotentialites (people with many passions and creative pursuits) integrate all of their interests to create dynamic, fulfilling, and fruitful careers and lives. Her popular TED talk, Why some of us don’t have one true calling, has been viewed 7 million times and she has been featured in The New York Times, Fast Company, Forbes, New York Magazine, The Huffington Post, BBC, and Vice.


I wrote...

How to Be Everything: A Guide for Those Who (Still) Don't Know What They Want to Be When They Grow Up

By Emilie Wapnick,

Book cover of How to Be Everything: A Guide for Those Who (Still) Don't Know What They Want to Be When They Grow Up

What is my book about?

What do you want to be when you grow up? It's a familiar question we're all asked as kids. While seemingly harmless, the question has unintended consequences. It can make you feel like you need to choose one job, one passion, one thing to be about. Guess what? You don't. Having a lot of different interests, projects and curiosities doesn't make you a "jack-of-all-trades, master of none." Your endless curiosity doesn't mean you are broken or flaky. What you are is a multipotentialite: someone with many interests and creative pursuits. And that is actually your biggest strength.

How to Be Everything will help you channel your diverse passions and skills to work for you. It offers a practical framework—used by real multipotentialites—to build a sustainable life and career around ALL of your passions.

How to Make It in the New Music Business

By Ari Herstand,

Book cover of How to Make It in the New Music Business: Practical Tips on Building a Loyal Following and Making a Living as a Musician

You've read it all before. The standard trope of a rockstar genius turned slow-motion trainwreck through drug-fueled self-indulgence has become all too common in music fiction. The truth is a successful career in the music business requires lots of hard work and smart decision-making. This is especially so in today's world of rapidly shifting technological and social dynamics. Herstand, in plain language, tells it like it is, offering both a sobering assessment of the many challenges you'll face, but also practical real-world advice on how to overcome them. Even if you have no intention of becoming a musician, it's an eye-opener into how the modern business works.


Who am I?

Since childhood, I've been in love with musicians, the world they live in, and the fruits of their labor. I spent years listening to my parent's record collection, which covered everything from pop, rock, and country, to jazz and classical. Today, music continues to stir my passion like nothing else. Though an industry career was never in the cards for me personally, I've frequently hovered around its periphery. My goal was to write a band story, one that strayed from common tropes to explore, through humor and heartbreak, the many joys and pitfalls of life in this mercurial and often nonsensical industry. The result was my trilogy, Idol Pursuits. Enjoy.


I wrote...

Swimming Through the Dawn

By R.P. Rioux,

Book cover of Swimming Through the Dawn

What is my book about?

Swimming Through the Dawn begins the Idol Pursuits trilogy, a captivating adventure of a dreamer who tempts the odds by starting her very own K-Pop girl group in America. What could possibly go wrong? 

Career Development For New College Students

By Mike Sun,

Book cover of Career Development For New College Students: How to Find the Right Career Path and Get the Job that Makes You Happy

For many, choosing a career path feels like the sole reason for going to college. The pressure is high, and you think you have to have it all figured out immediately. What do you do to help you make those tough decisions? Mike Sun's book offers a step-by-step guide on choosing the right career path while in school and, more importantly, making it a career you enjoy. Career Development for New College Students walks you through job exploration, self-discovery, and career goal setting so that you are well-prepared for the road ahead. 


Who am I?

Many degree holders experience career and financial challenges they aren't prepared to handle. I know this first hand because after completing my Ph.D., I faced joblessness and massive student loan debt, and after becoming a professor, I saw my students encounter similar situations. This prompted me to write, Dump Your Degree: How to Repurpose Your Education, Control Your Career, and Gain Financial Freedom. My mission is to provide tangible solutions to students and early career professionals so that they stop solely relying on their degrees but instead learn how to use the sum of their knowledge, skills, and talents in unique ways to create meaningful, viable careers.


I wrote...

Dump Your Degree: How to Repurpose Your Education, Control Your Career, and Gain Financial Freedom

By Zakiya Akerele,

Book cover of Dump Your Degree: How to Repurpose Your Education, Control Your Career, and Gain Financial Freedom

What is my book about?

Not all degrees offer the same return on investment. Unemployment and underemployment are real issues for recent grads, creating uncertainty about their future. One factor holding many of them back is degree tunnel vision, which causes them to solely focus on their academic background instead of the sum of their knowledge, skills, and talents to better approach their career.

That's why Dump Your Degree gives practical advice on avoiding common pitfalls and how to create a rewarding career. You'll learn how to: correctly set educational and professional goals; get the right advice about making career decisions; explore viable options outside of your degree field; build beneficial and meaningful professional connections; and make and manage money. The result: A sense of fulfillment, stability, and freedom!

Now Try Something Weirder

By Michael Johnson,

Book cover of Now Try Something Weirder: How to Keep Having Great Ideas and Survive in the Creative Business

A relatively small, informal book filled with advice on how to keep having great ideas and how to survive in the creative business. Valuable even in you only pick up for a minute.


Who am I?

I am a graphic designer, writer, and brand consultant. I work with clients of all sizes, from multinationals to companies of one. Since opening my business in 2005 I’ve created logos and visual identities for brands in more than 30 countries. I run two design blogs Logo Design Love and Identity Designed. They resulted in publishing deals to write their accompanying books, and their pages now get millions of views each year.


I wrote...

Identity Designed: The Definitive Guide to Visual Branding

By David Airey,

Book cover of Identity Designed: The Definitive Guide to Visual Branding

What is my book about?

Identity Designed formalizes the process and the benefits of brand identity design and includes a substantial collection of high-caliber projects from a variety of the world's most talented design studios. You'll see the history and importance of branding, a contemporary assessment of best practices, and how there's always more than one way to exceed client expectations. You'll also learn a range of methods for conducting research, defining strategy, generating ideas, developing touchpoints, implementing style guides, and futureproofing your designs. Each identity case study is followed by a recap of key points.

How Women Rise

By Sally Helgesen, Marshall Goldsmith,

Book cover of How Women Rise: Break the 12 Habits Holding You Back from Your Next Raise, Promotion, or Job

This book is another top pick of mine. Helgesen and Goldsmith provide advice for leaders who are ready to move forward, but are confused by what is holding them back. The book breaks down the 12 habits that hold women back (and some men) and prevents them from taking their careers to new heights. I love their direct no nonsense approach and pragmatic suggestions. A must read for women who are ready to break through and achieve greatness.


Who am I?

I’m one of the world’s leading experts on the maximization of talent, who is the author of six books on leadership and talent. I’m also a LinkedIn Top Voice in Leadership and Workplace, and one of the few people who was a guest on The O’Reilly Factor, with Bill O’Reilly, who left the show unscathed.


I wrote...

Can We Talk?: Seven Principles for Managing Difficult Conversations at Work

By Roberta Chinsky Matuson,

Book cover of Can We Talk?: Seven Principles for Managing Difficult Conversations at Work

What is my book about?

Having difficult conversations at work is a necessary discomfort. Instead of avoiding these conversations with our boss, colleagues, or direct reports, you need a strategy that won't leave you feeling like you were being talked at or ignored.

The key to solving this problem starts and ends with changing the conversation. Recognizing that it takes two people to engage in meaningful conversation, Can We Talk? outlines what each contributor needs to do to achieve the best possible result. Illustrated with scenarios from everyday work situations, the author offers guidance on how to create the right conditions for a meaningful discussion as well as defining the seven key principles (confidence, clarity, compassion, curiosity, compromise, credibility, and courage) that enable both parties to gain a deeper understanding of what the other person may be thinking and establish their point of view more clearly.

Feck Perfuction

By James Victore,

Book cover of Feck Perfuction: Dangerous Ideas on the Business of Life

Artist, designer, writer James Victore urges us to be ourselves without hesitation. Artists don’t fit in, we can’t. We’re observers and makers and require a certain distance from the mainstream to refine our vision and do our work. But we can be afraid to express ourselves fully and stand out from the crowd. This book dishes out confidence like candy. It’s a great place to replenish flagging spirits when they descend as they will from time to time. It’s energizing and makes you want to open your eyes and do what you can to further the unfolding of your truth and spirit. Written in short pithy chapters, you can dip in and out of it whenever you need a boost.


Who am I?

I’ve been an artist all my life. In childhood, I was always drawing and after graduating from university I became an illustrator doing hundreds of drawings for major newspapers and publishers in the United States for over 25 years. It was my mission, no matter what was going on in the world, to find some humor and lightness to share through my drawings. About 15 years ago, I also began to teach drawing to adults and was amazed to discover that everyone can draw. When I saw how people seemed to become happier and bolder making art I became passionate about sharing how we can grow our creativity by developing an art practice. It makes for a beautiful life and quite possibly a more beautiful world.


I wrote...

The Confident Creative: Drawing to Free the Hand and Mind

By Cat Bennett,

Book cover of The Confident Creative: Drawing to Free the Hand and Mind

What is my book about?

The simple act of drawing can connect us with our true creative selves and this book shows how. Everyone can draw and use drawing as both a means to make art and a way to explore creative ideas. The book shows how to deepen our focus in a yogic way by immersing ourselves in the moment and letting everything else fall away. In this place we find inspiration. The book encourages us to take chances, observe the world and our work with clear eyes, stay open and respond to inspiration when it comes. And just be who we are as artists. It also looks at how by going to the edge of our abilities and mindset we grow our ideas and creative confidence. The book also offers practical drawing exercises for the reader to try and is illustrated with full-color examples from a variety of artists.

The Confident Creative was a 2011 gold medal winner in the Nautilus Book Awards.

The Memo

By Minda Harts,

Book cover of The Memo: What Women of Color Need to Know to Secure a Seat at the Table

This book empowered me during one of the most defining phases of my career in technology. Minda Harts' strategic blueprint on maneuvering the workplace as a woman of color provides guided insight that enables and prepares cognizance of professional politics. The Memo is by far the greatest playbook guiding women on the foundation within their professional atmosphere while navigating through their careers. 

Who am I?

When writing about the everyday challenges that women face within the workplace, I aim to express the events that occur before, during, and after the experience. Unpopular belief, life doesn’t go back to normal for most of us, as getting back to normal from any traumatic experience will leave you shielded. I found my voice through writing about my passion for enabling female empowerment. My path as a woman in leadership came from understanding the lack of consistent supportive resources, encouragement, and validation, amongst women in the workplace. Through my writing, I aim to creatively empower and encourage my readers to find their voice. 


I wrote...

Jaded Choyce

By Shaynuh Sloane,

Book cover of Jaded Choyce

What is my book about?

30 year old urban professional, Chloe choice, has a plan to start a better life for her and her family, starting with her federal career. As she transitions from one organization to another, she hopes to make a positive difference on the road to achieving her professional goals. The situation reaches a head when Chloe discovers that her work environment is far from what it appears to be. As she learns along the way, she faces challenges from her unsupportive employer, leading her to fend for herself while trying to escape the career she once thought she wanted.

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