The best career development books

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

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The Conscience Code

By G. Richard Shell,

Book cover of The Conscience Code: Lead with Your Values. Advance Your Career.

Drawing on years of business school teaching and research and leading negotiation trainings in many countries, Shell provides an important guide for people to stand up for their values in business, law, and complex work situations. Real-world stories put flesh on the bones of outlines of both philosophical and political approaches to difficult choices in career and workplace negotiations. This book can assist any negotiator in figuring out what is really important to them (and their clients and organizations) and then how to actualize behaviors that make principled change happen. This book also provides great advice about when to walk away from the negotiation table or a particular task or job because higher values call.


Who am I?

I am one of the founders of the American dispute resolution field and have taught negotiation, legal ethics, mediation, alternative dispute resolution and international dispute resolution for 40 years in over 25 countries on every continent. I have mediated, negotiated or arbitrated hundreds of cases. I am a law professor who has taught legal ethics since it was required post-Watergate for all law students. As a negotiation teacher and practitioner, I have seen the effects of deceit and dishonorable negotiations in law and diplomacy and peace seeking and I have also seen what can happen when people treat each other fairly to reach better outcomes for problems than they could achieve on their own.


I wrote...

What's Fair: Ethics for Negotiators

By Carrie J. Menkel-Meadow (editor), Michael Wheeler (editor),

Book cover of What's Fair: Ethics for Negotiators

What is my book about?

This book collects the best articles in law, business, politics, psychology, and ethics to provide an overview of philosophical, personal, and moral concerns in negotiating ethically. It also addresses specific and practical issues of strategy, tactics, information sharing, deception, uses of power, relationships and the social impacts of particular negotiations, and the ethics of compromise itself. The book addresses issues of how we should approach each other when we need someone else to accomplish something and what we owe to others who are not at the bargaining table.

Think Big

By Grace Lordan,

Book cover of Think Big: Take Small Steps and Build the Future You Want

Think Big is a science-based roadmap to help a reader achieve their wildest dreams, by taking small and big steps that move you incrementally toward the goal. Sometimes the steps require doing things you have not done before but sometimes they require stopping or reducing or changing your current patterns of dealing with the realities of life.


Who am I?

I have been an organizational psychologist and executive coach for more than two decades, advising high-level executives, including Fortune 500 leaders, to build workplace cultures in which all employees can flourish. Yet, for many employees of color, the workplace is so challenging that many feel professionally stifled. I realized many years ago that to accomplish my own goals; I needed to take control of my career and not depend upon the vagaries of individual leaders. I needed to set goals, take a long game view, be honest with myself and my leaders, and help leaders understand how changing some habits could help them and me succeed in a disrupted world. 


I wrote...

Leading Inclusion: Drive Change Your Employees Can See and Feel

By Gena Cox,

Book cover of Leading Inclusion: Drive Change Your Employees Can See and Feel

What is my book about?

In this well-researched book, organizational psychologist and executive coach Gena Cox delivers the message that although human variation is normal, true inclusion that embraces these variations remains elusive in the workplace. She argues that this state of affairs will continue until executives lead inclusion from the top of their organizations. Drawing on psychological science, interviews with corporate leaders, the work of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) experts, and her own experience in corporate America, Gena goes beyond the “business case” and answers the clarion call for human-centered organizational leadership.

Leading Inclusion is not a “how-to” book; it is a “how-to-be” book that educates, challenges, and empowers you and your c-suite and board colleagues to change your organization—and America—one employee at a time. 

#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.

I Shouldn't Be Telling You This

By Kate White,

Book cover of I Shouldn't Be Telling You This: How to Ask for the Money, Snag the Promotion, and Create the Career You Deserve

A spunky and accomplished businesswoman and author, Kate White carved her own highly successful career and provides a practical and proven how-to for women to follow. Women wear many hats simultaneously (Think Seuss’ Ten Apples Up On Top) and Kate gives witty, wise, straight-talk for moms on how to balance parenting and craft a career you enjoy. You have talents and potential, I Shouldn’t Be Telling You This is step-by-step guidance to hone your abilities and navigate challenges. These are essential tips from the gutsy innovator who helped increase Cosmopolitan Magazine's circulation by half a million copies per month.


Who am I?

“Eminently quotable, PeggySue Wells is a tonic — warm like your favorite blanket, bracing like a stiff drink.”

History buff and tropical island votary, PeggySue parasails, skydives, scuba dives, and has taken (but not passed) pilot training. The bestselling author of 30 books including the What To Do series, The Slave Across the Street, Bonding With Your Child Through Boundaries, Homeless for the Holidays, Chasing Sunrise, and The Ten Best Decisions A Single Mom Can Make, PeggySue’s most challenging and rewarding adventure was solo parenting seven children. With one in four homes single mom-led, PeggySue teamed with Pam Farrel to offer practical help and tangible tips to moms navigating parenting solo.


I wrote...

The 10 Best Decisions a Single Mom Can Make: A Biblical Guide for Navigating Family Life on Your Own

By Pam Farrel, PeggySue Wells,

Book cover of The 10 Best Decisions a Single Mom Can Make: A Biblical Guide for Navigating Family Life on Your Own

What is my book about?

No matter how you became a single mom, you share the same challenges and fears all parents have. You may feel stretched to the limit. You may suspect your children need more than you're able to give. How are you going to do this on your own?

With humor, Scripture, and sage advice, Pam Farrel (child of a single mother) and PeggySue Wells (single parent of 7 children) show you how to be decisive, create a nurturing home, be proactive, date wisely, pray for your child, embrace your happily-ever-after, and more. You are capable of parenting your children with courage, confidence, and clarity. This loving, practical guide shows you how.

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.

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!

The Long Game

By Dorie Clark,

Book cover of The Long Game: How to Be a Long-Term Thinker in a Short-Term World

Dorie Clark has a way of identifying the challenges that derail careers and then proposing clear, nail-on-the-head solutions that can be executed. The Long Game clarifies that we can achieve our goals if we define our goals and then are purposeful in taking a long-game view and creating the environment that can support those goals. We need to focus, persist, and make space for thinking. I have followed the guidance in this book to help me achieve some very specific goals that were previously vague ideas.


Who am I?

I have been an organizational psychologist and executive coach for more than two decades, advising high-level executives, including Fortune 500 leaders, to build workplace cultures in which all employees can flourish. Yet, for many employees of color, the workplace is so challenging that many feel professionally stifled. I realized many years ago that to accomplish my own goals; I needed to take control of my career and not depend upon the vagaries of individual leaders. I needed to set goals, take a long game view, be honest with myself and my leaders, and help leaders understand how changing some habits could help them and me succeed in a disrupted world. 


I wrote...

Leading Inclusion: Drive Change Your Employees Can See and Feel

By Gena Cox,

Book cover of Leading Inclusion: Drive Change Your Employees Can See and Feel

What is my book about?

In this well-researched book, organizational psychologist and executive coach Gena Cox delivers the message that although human variation is normal, true inclusion that embraces these variations remains elusive in the workplace. She argues that this state of affairs will continue until executives lead inclusion from the top of their organizations. Drawing on psychological science, interviews with corporate leaders, the work of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) experts, and her own experience in corporate America, Gena goes beyond the “business case” and answers the clarion call for human-centered organizational leadership.

Leading Inclusion is not a “how-to” book; it is a “how-to-be” book that educates, challenges, and empowers you and your c-suite and board colleagues to change your organization—and America—one employee at a time. 

Novations

By Gene W. Dalton, Paul H. Thompson,

Book cover of Novations: Strategies for Career Management

Gene Dalton and Paul Thompson changed the way we think about career development through their research and what they called the four stages of development. It has influenced career development and talent management practices in companies around the world. Deeply accessible and practical, the four stages are fully described and the book is rich in application tools, methods and best practices.

Who am I?

The future of talent management is now. I’m a teacher, consultant, and board member who is deeply interested in the social and economic impact of the freelance revolution. Millions of people around the world are now working for themselves as independent professionals or “solopreneurs”. Millions more are taking on freelance assignments to augment their income or increase their expertise and experience. Technology makes it possible for professionals in many fields to work remotely and free themselves from the limitations of their local economy. These benefits organizations by offering greater access to talent and gives professionals greater access to opportunity. 

I wrote...

Agile Talent: How to Source and Manage Outside Experts

By Jon Younger, Norm Smallwood,

Book cover of Agile Talent: How to Source and Manage Outside Experts

What is my book about?

Companies are gaining advantage through a new capability -- strategic use of external experts -- made possible by technology and the globalization of talent. Leaders everywhere recognize that "lean," "agile," and "fast" strategies require new ways to access and leverage--without owning--key talent to fill critical gaps. As managers seek nontraditional sources of strategic talent and experiment with fast, flexible ways of engaging these experts, they need a new roadmap.

This book delivers that roadmap. It tells you how to assess, choose, attract, develop, support, and retain your external talent. Authored by thought leaders and bestselling authors in leadership and talent management who teach and consult globally, Agile Talent reveals how companies such as Apple, Uber, Airbnb, Google, IBM, and Bain Capital organize and manage new forms of talent in innovative ways. Supported by survey data and packed with tools and templates for applying these ideas, this book is the ultimate guide for winning the next war for talent.

Entrepreneurial You

By Dorie Clark,

Book cover of Entrepreneurial You: Monetize Your Expertise, Create Multiple Income Streams, and Thrive

So many entrepreneurs work endless hours without finding a way to monetize their work. They achieve success on paper, but don’t actually reap the financial benefits. This book provides a roadmap to monetize your talents in a number of ways – from building your brand to figuring out how to get people to pay for your services. 


Who am I?

I never thought I would be an entrepreneur. In fact, I was happy in corporate life. But when my job in corporate America blew up, I realized that I need to rethink my entire approach to building my career and my life. The result of these efforts is The 10% Entrepreneur. Over the past decade, I have integrated entrepreneurship into my life on a part-time basis, reaping meaningful financial and psychic rewards in the process. In the process, I have taught hundreds of thousands of others that entrepreneurship does not have to be an all-or-nothing proposition.


I wrote...

The 10% Entrepreneur: Live Your Startup Dream Without Quitting Your Day Job

By Patrick J. McGinnis,

Book cover of The 10% Entrepreneur: Live Your Startup Dream Without Quitting Your Day Job

What is my book about?

Becoming a full-time entrepreneur can look glamorous from the outside. Who doesn’t want to chase their dreams, be their own boss, and do what they love? But the truth is that entrepreneurship is often a slog, with no regular hours, no job security, and very little pay. What if there was a way to have the stability of a day job with the excitement of a startup? All of the benefits of entrepreneurship with none of the pitfalls?

In The 10% Entrepreneur, Patrick McGinnis shows you how, by investing just 10% of your time and resources, you can become an entrepreneur without losing a steady paycheck. McGinnis details a step-by-step plan that takes you from identifying your first entrepreneurial project to figuring out the smartest way to commit resources to it. He shows you how to select and engage in projects that will provide you with upside outside the office while making you better at your day job. 

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