Our Favorite Career Books

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Looking for some good resources to kick-start your career search? Wondering what’s right for you and not having much luck at the library or using Google?

You are not alone.

What follows is our shortlist of great books to help with your career and job search. And believe us, we’ve read and reviewed a lot.

Why books? Because this is a complicated topic, and although you can pick up lots of good pointers and resources on the web, sometimes it’s great to have a comprehensive overview of the topic.

Here’s our list, that we recommend regularly for our clients.

Think something is missing? Feel free to contact us on our Contact Us Page => here

Also, although we provide links to Amazon, and other booksellers (including used), please note we don’t make a commission on anything. We include links to help find your local library, where you might be able to check them out for free!

Career Classics That Have Stood the Test of Time

What Color is Your Parachute?

by Richard Bolles

This is an enduring classic. Richard Bolles first published this book in 1970, and it has been getting updated annually since 1975. Sure, mostly for marketing reasons, but let’s face it, he and his team have been making it better every year.

Basically, this is the DIY manual of how to get clear on your career direction, understand your transferable skills, tell your career story, and run an outstanding search.

But even more important than all that, he frames it in a positive, wise, way. He gets the basic concept that this is as much about finding what’s right for you, as it is about finding a job.

What Color Is Your Parachute is a timeless classic and a must for any career bookshelf. And No, you don’t need the latest version.

Our only caveat is that although networking is important for many (many) reasons, and appropriately emphasized in the book, over the years companies have relied more and more on job boards to collect resumes for open positions (it’s easy, fast, and inexpensive). So just be sure to use your networking time wisely. We have more thoughts on this on our free resources page, which you can access => here.

find it on Amazon => here

find it at Thriftbooks => here

Free at your local library => here

Getting Unstuck

by Tim Butler

O.K., Tim nailed the title on this book (and we like the cover too), and the larger concept – that a career search is about connecting with your deeper mission, purpose, and calling in life. And if you don’t find this connection, well, it will just keep tugging and tugging at to you until you start to answer.

Importantly, and with a respectful salute to the reality we all need to ‘pay the bills’,  he gets the idea that this as much (or more), about subconscious callings and strivings, than the conscious plan, or story, we carry and develop in our heads.

It’s packed with wisdom, stories from his clients, and thoughtful exercises. Some that we use with our clients too!

find it on Amazon => here

find it at Thriftbooks => here

Free at your local library => here

Clever Reads that Hit the Mark

I Don’t Know What I Want But I Know It’s Not this

by Julie Jansen

Julie first published this book in 2003, and there are have been two updates since. She navigated multiple career changes and now works as a career and leadership coach supporting people in transition.

What we like about the book is its structured approach – she provides a great foundation for assessing where you are now, i.e. what’s working and not working in your current role, including lots of questionnaires to assist with self-assessment including tools for assessing core values, understanding attitudes and one’s ability to persevere through change, and assessing one’s attitudes about how we look at our career, to begin with.

Leveraging her experience as a coach, she classifies many of the major presentations of career dissatisfaction, including those of us who might be:

  • Seeking meaning in the workplace and not finding it
  • Bored or experiencing loss of challenges – but perhaps not ready to give up money or status for a dream
  • Bruised or gun-shy from a past layoff, demotion, or other perceived failures
  • Bored and feeling plateaued
  • Yearning to be on your own to realize an entrepreneurial dream
  • Looking to wind down one’s career and achieve a vision for retirement

Along the way she also digs into success factors and goes through the nuts and bolts of how to look for a job that works.

Although it feels a little formulaic at times, through her deep experience, she shines insight into corners of the career journey and provides solid tools that allow for acceptance and clarity on next steps.

find it on Amazon => here

find it at Thriftbooks => here

Free at your local library => here

How Big Is Your But?

by Rene Brent

Keep hitting blocks in the workplace? Do the internal repetitive patterns of fear, shame, low self-confidence keep rearing their ugly heads over and over?

Rene Brent is a no-nonsense fasten-your-seatbelt transformation coach who has strong opinions about how our internal thinking can dominate, and full-on stop the progression of personal development.

In her book, she takes the ‘inner-critic’ head-on and provides, what many believe, are the latest tools for connecting with the parts of yourself that need to be accepted, heard, parented, integrated, and hopefully, ultimately healed.

She provides tools and exercises for finding and naming blocks and a fast-paced approach for building and achieving transcendence, which includes mindfulness, using your body to read and connect with emotions (e.g. ‘the felt sense’), and using imagery to build visions of improved outcomes.

Drawing on her clinical experience as a nurse and hypnotherapist, she provides a clear, practical, approach to overcome those nagging and repetitive blocks that prevent one from achieving one’s true potential.

Her book, and included exercises, is a thought-provoking primer that allows you to start identifying your inner-critic and frame a larger roadmap towards change. We also suggest listening to one of her podcasts (see links below) for additional context.

As coaches, we also appreciate that achieving enduring change requires effort, and resources, well beyond books, but the framework they provide can be invaluable.

find it on Amazon => here

find it at Thriftbooks => here

Free at your local library => here

Podcast interviews can be found => here

Career Books That Bend the Mind (and Call the Soul)

The Great Work of Your Life

by Steven Cope

It’s a pretty daunting task to try and summarize this book.

This a tour-de-force interpretation, dissection, and illustration of one of the great literary works of all time, The Bhagavad Gita also just know as the Gita.

What relevance does this have to finding your career path?

Somewhere between everything and nothing at all. And that’s the whole point.

Stephen seems to have spent a good portion of his life peering deep into his own, and others, subconscious, to try to understand the deeper motivation that comprises, makes-up, and composes the origins, shape, nature, and progression one’s life calling.

In the Great Work of Your Life, he takes on the amazing task of reinterpreting the personal life-quest journeys of some of the create luminaries of our time, including the likes of Gandhi, Walt Whitman, Harriet Tubman, Jane Goodall, and Thoreau, not to hold their achievements as beacons of aspiration or to elevate high moral personal standards, but rather exploring their internal relationships with their struggles, doubts, and suffering, as they wrestled to find and realize the powerful internal callings that were seeking voice.

Along the way, he intertwines this rich narrative with his own journey, his experience as a Yoga teacher, and witnessing the unfolding of similar discernment with us mere mortals.

The only small thing that might be missing is a deeper attempt to try to integrate emerging thinking from the field of Psychology which, in addition to the acknowledgment of mythological and archetypal unfolding of the Hero’s Journey, also acknowledges the emerging understanding, and impact that ‘effective memories’, and the evolutionary environment of childhood, have on shaping our quest and life-long strivings.

Like poetry, and the Gita itself, The Great Work of Your Life is a book you will read more than once.

find it on Amazon => here

find it at Thriftbooks => here

Free at your local library => here

Podcast interviews can be found => here