Job searches are time-intensive, stressful, and often frustrating. And, whether you’re just starting out in your career or making a transition, odds are there’s some part of the job search process that’s at least a little mystifying. From interviewing to negotiating your salary, there are a lot of factors at play when looking for a new job, and one mistake could put the kibosh on the whole thing.
To master the art of the job search, here are 13 books that can guide you through the process:
Richard N. Bolles’ ‘What Color is Your Parachute?’
Great book for: getting started
If you’re only going to read one book on the list, you may want to choose this one. Why? It covers a little about everything when it comes to a job search. The first half of the book talks about how to create an eye-catching résumé and cover letter, as well as how to improve your networking, interviewing, and negotiating skills, while the second half focuses on how to find your ideal career.
David Allen’s ‘Getting Things Done’
Great book for: staying organized in your job search
Considering all the moving parts that come with getting a new job, this book is a must-read because it teaches you the basics of time management and organization. It can also help you through the transition of finding a new job by teaching you how to reassess goals and stay focused.
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Dale Carnegie’s ‘How to Win Friends & Influence People’
Great book for: networking
There are a number of lessons you can learn from Carnegie’s classic that will help you in your personal and professional lives. Importantly, especially when it comes to networking (and also the job interview), you’ll learn how to make people like you and win them over to your side. Carnegie’s advice focuses on maximizing your interactions with other people, and he instructs readers, for example, to encourage people to talk about themselves, instead of dominating the conversation, emphasizing the things you both agree on.
Cal Newport’s ‘So Good They Can’t Ignore You’
Great book for: finding a career path
In “So Good They Can’t Ignore You,” Newport argues that “follow your passion” is a flawed cliché and bad career advice. To back his opinion up, the Georgetown professor spent time with organic farmers, venture capitalists, screenwriters, freelance computer programmers, and other workers to find out how they landed in a career that they loved. What did he find? Aligning your job with a preexisting passion doesn’t affect your job satisfaction. Instead, people become passionate about jobs that they work hard at and become excellent at over time.
Danny Rubin’s ‘Wait, How Do I Write This Email?’
Great book for: writing anything career-related
Don’t let the title of this book deceive you — “Wait, How Do I Write This Email?” is not just about writing professional-sounding emails — though, yes, it does include practical tips for that, too. The book covers just about any job search situation you can think of that involves a written component, from crafting LinkedIn profiles, résumés, and cover letters to soliciting a referral or career guidance. Even if you’d never written a word in your life, this book could help you pass for the most competent professional out there.
Ulrich Boser’s ‘Learn Better: Mastering the Skills for Success in Life, Business, and School, or, How to Become an Expert in Just About Anything’
Great book for: building up expertise in your field
“Boser’s smart and approachable writing style engaged me at once as he laid out six methods for becoming an expert at whatever you like, whether it’s basketball or quantum physics,”Adrian Liang, a senior editor at Amazon, tells Business Insider. The author uses clear, accessible language and backs up all of his examples with anecdotes, data, and experiments. “There’s a lot to absorb here, but happily you have an expert teacher guiding you now on your own path toward effective learning,” Liang says.
William Strunk Jr. and E.B. White’s ‘The Elements of Style’
Great book for: editing your cover letter and résumé
One of the biggest faux pas you can make in your job search is sending out a résumé or cover letter rife with grammar, spelling, and punctuation errors. Strunk and White’s classic grammar book will help anyone drastically improve their mastery of the written word. From commonly misspelled words to grammar and punctuation, you’ll find all the answers in this concise and entertaining read.
Scott Smith’s ‘Find Your Perfect Job: The Inside Guide for Young Professionals’
Great book for: choosing your occupation
The author, who has experience with Wall Street, Washington, Hollywood, and Silicon Valley, as well as an MBA and law degree, uses this book to share the career secrets he’s learned while navigating the working world as a young professional. The book touches on how to pick a career and how to find a job, as well as résumé and interviewing tips.
Have you also read?
Steve Dalton’s ‘The 2-Hour Job Search: Using Technology to Get the Right Job Faster’
Great book for: getting the first interview
The book offers practical tips for how to wade through the sea of internet job postings. You’ll learn how to complete three important steps in very little time using Excel, Google, LinkedIn, and alumni databases: Prioritize your target employers, contact them, and recruit people to provide you with internal referrals.
Michael Port’s ‘Steal the Show’
Great book for: interviewing
You may not need a whole book to prepare you for the kinds of questions you might hear in a job interview. You can easily check out Glassdoor or articles about interview questions for that. What’s more important is figuring out how to convey with maximum impact that you’re the best person for the job. This book can help you with that. According to the author, every interaction is a performance, including the job interview, and as a job seeker, you have to persuade and motivate people to hire you. This book shares practical advice for shining during even the most nerve-wracking interview.
Roger Fisher, William L. Ury, and Bruce Patton’s ‘Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In’
Great book for: getting the job
This 30-year-old book is a great primer for going into any negotiation. Based on the work of the Harvard Negotiation Project, this classic offers practical steps for negotiating, including key takeaways like understanding your counter-party’s interests well.
Lewis Lin and Christine Ko’s ‘Five Minutes to a Higher Salary’
Great book for: negotiating your salary and benefits
Understanding the theory behind salary negotiationis one thing, but putting it into practice is often easier said than done. The book’s authors, who are salary negotiation experts, offer scripts with the exact words you can use to phrase your request for more than 60 negotiation scenarios, taking much of the pain out of negotiating.
Ryan Holiday’s ‘The Obstacle Is the Way: The Timeless Art of Turning Trials into Triumph’
Great book for: dealing with job search setbacks
“Those new to a job or industry know that they are going to hit obstacles,” Liang says. “Many, many obstacles.” This book looks to the ancient past in order to provide reader with some timeless insight on facing obstacles. “Holiday offers the Stoic philosophy as one way to handle and even thrive on these challenges, enriching your life well beyond the cubicle or office walls,” Liang says.
“These are the books that every jobseeker should read” by Rachel Gillet and Aine Cain, published by the World Economic Forum.
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