(Last Updated On: 05/06/2011)

25 Great Books to Help You Jump Start Your Career

I’ll admit it: there was a time in my life when I absolutely loathed self help books. I’d never read one, of course, but that didn’t stop me from silently snickering at people browsing the aisles, looking for the secret to life in a mass produced paperback. If you’ve never read one either, chances are good that you feel the same way.

In retrospect, I feel a little stupid for jumping to that conclusion. The truth is, just like any other book, a great self help book can help put some things into perspective and even teach you something new about life or relationships. When applied to your career, the new perspectives can be very beneficial.

Below, I’ve put together a list of books that can help you navigate your career. I hope that they will help you figure out who you are, where you’re going, and how you’re going to get there.

The Pathfinder: How to Choose or Change Your Career for a Lifetime of Satisfaction and Success
By: Nicholas Lore

The only thing worse than having no job at all is having a job that you hate. This book is designed to help you identify work opportunities that will be more engaging and fulfilling for you. It includes over 50 tests and diagnostic tools to help you find your ideal path.
do what you are book

Do What You Are: Discover the Perfect Career for You Through the Secrets of Personality Type
By: Paul D. Tieger and Barbara Barron-Tieger

This book helps you understand how you make decisions, interact with the world, and process information. Then the book shows you occupations that match your strengths and weaknesses. Like all books of this nature, it takes an open mind and creativity to get the most out of it.
career guide for creative and unconventional people

The Career Guide for Creative and Unconventional People
By: Carol Eikelberry

If you’re a creative person who feels stifled by the idea of a 9-5 desk job, this the book for you. Not only does it suggest careers that allow you to stretch out your creative legs, it also recommends ways that you can apply your creativity to any job.
what color is your parachute 2013

What Color is Your Parachute? 2013 Edition
By: Richard N. Bolles

If you only ever buy one career book, this should be one that you highly consider. What Color is Your Parachute is the closest thing you will ever find to a job search instruction manual. And since it’s updated each year, the advice is always relevant and practical.
now what? the young person’s guide to choosing the perfect career

Now What?: The Young Person’s Guide to Choosing the Perfect Career
By: Nicholas Lore

The odds are very strong that, without a clear sense of direction, you will end up doing something that you absolutely hate. If you have absolutely no idea what you want to do for a living, this is a great book to start with. Yes, there are some exercises you’ll have to do along the way, but when you’re finished, you should have a better idea of how to design a career that will set you up for professional satisfaction.
guerrilla marketing

Guerrilla Marketing for Job Hunters 2.0: 1,001 Unconventional Tips, Tricks and Tactics for Landing Your Dream Job
By: Jay Conrad Levinson and David E. Perry

If you’re firing off resume after resume and nothing is working, then you probably need to take a different approach. This book walks you through the job search process piece by piece. Most importantly, it teaches you how to build your personal brand and leverage it into job opportunities.

Getting from College to Career: 90 Things to Do Before You Join the Real World
By: Lindsey Pollak

There’s a vicious cycle for that many college graduates go through: you have to have experience to get a job, and you have to have a job before you can get experience. In this book, Lindsey Pollak provides actionable advice to help you build the skills and experience you need before you start your job search.
career match book

Career Match: Connecting Who You Are with What You’ll Love to Do
By: Shoya Zichy and Ann Bidou

Career Match uses self-assessment tools to help you discover the type of work that’s ideal for you. Whether you’re trying to discover your initial path or considering a career change, this book will help you decide what to pursue and how to pursue it.

Escape from Corporate America: A Practical Guide to Creating the Career of Your Dreams
By: Pamela Skillings

No matter how hard we try, some of us just aren’t cut out for life in corporate America. We feel like we’re able to do something more with our lives, and feel trapped by the suits and the politics. In this book, Pamela Skillings will reaffirm what you already know about yourself and encourage you on a path towards finding fulfillment and satisfaction from your work.
career warfare book

Career Warfare: 10 Rules for Building a Successful Personal Brand on the Business Battlefield
By: David D’Allessandro

People talk about you when you’re not around. And in the end, any success you have will have as much to do with what they say about you as it will how well you do your job. This book provides some great advice for managing your professional brand and reputation in a ruthless corporate environment.

I Could Do Anything If I Only Knew What It Was: How to Discover What You Really Want and How to Get It
By: Barbara Sher and Barbara Smith

At one time or another, most of are overcome with the feeling that we could be doing more with our lives. We have goals, but too often sacrifice them for security or practicality. This book will help you think realistically about your past, present, and future. With an understanding of where you are and where you want to be, it will help you get there.
career distinction book

Career Distinction: Stand Out by Building Your Brand
By: William Arruda and Kirsten Dixson

If you’re just out of college, you probably think that your education is your most valuable asset. You’re wrong. While an education can get you an interview or even a job, a great professional reputation is the most important factor in your long-term success. This book will help you craft a brand and reputation that will catapult your career.
who gets promoted book

Who Gets Promoted, Who Doesn’t, and Why: 10 Things You’d Better Do If You Want to Get Ahead
By: Donald Asher

It’s a fact of life: promotions rarely go to the people who do the best work. More often, they go to the people who have built the most brand equity and relationships within an organization. This book will help you understand why corporations make the promotion decisions that they do, so you can put yourself in the right spot at the right time.
the startup of you book

The Start-up of You: Adapt to the Future, Invest in Yourself, and Transform Your Career
By: Reid Hoffman and Ben Casnocha

In today’s world, having a skill isn’t enough. You have to think of yourself like a product. What makes you different? What makes you valuable? In short, what makes you different than the thousands of others with identical skill sets? This book isn’t a how to guide, but it does a good job of demonstrating what’s important (and what isn’t) in today’s job market.
win friends book

How To Win Friends and Influence People
By: Dale Carnegie

No matter what they do, all successful people have one thing in common: great business relationships. This classic book is focused on the idea that success in business is a byproduct of expressing ideas, assuming leadership, and generating enthusiasm — and the best way to do that is by treating others well and helping them solve their problems.
positioning book

Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind
By: Al Ries and Jack Trout

Ok, so it may not be a ‘career’ book in the strictest sense of the word, but there are many marketing concepts presented in this book that you really should be applying to your career. By positioning yourself well and putting your value on full display, you’re able to differentiate yourself from the competition. This book shows you how.
case in point book

Case in Point: Complete Case Interview Preparation, 7th Edition
By: Marc P. Cosentino

If you hope to work for a large consulting firm, prepare to be hammered with case interview questions. This book will provide you with the advice and preparatory exercises you need to go into those interviews with confidence. Even if you don’t plan on working for a consulting firm, the book can still be a good resource for learning to solve business problems.
how to get your foot in the door book

Use Your Head to Get Your Foot in the Door: Job Search Secrets No One Else Will Tell You
By: Harvey Mackay

Be honest: When you fire off a resume or go in for a job interview, are you using the same boring buzzwords and platitudes as everybody else? If you’re a new college graduate, chances are good that you are. You have to learn how to differentiate yourself by learning to tell your own story effectively. This book teaches you how.
headhunter hiring secrets book

“Headhunter” Hiring Secrets: The Rules of the Hiring Game Have Changed . . . Forever!
By: Skip Freeman

The job market is as competitive as it’s ever been. With tools like LinkedIn, recruiters have access to candidate pools far larger than ever before. And it’s not going to get any easier. In this book, Skip Freeman lays down the rules that recruiters play by. Hint: it’s not really about what you can do, but how you position yourself.
social job searching book

Job Searching with Social Media For Dummies
By: Joshua Waldman

I know, I know, it’s a Dummies book. But unlike some books in the series, this one is actually really great. Today, more than ever, finding a job is more about who you know than what you know. This book focuses on using social media to make the right connections with the right people, and includes content about personal branding, building an effective profile, and exploring the ‘hidden job market’ on social media sites.
toughest interview questions book

101 Great Answers to the Toughest Interview Questions
By: Ron Fry

Let’s face it: job interviews can be really intimidating. With so much on the line, we get nervous and despite our best efforts, often feel unprepared. At its most basic level, this book will help you learn how to answer interview questions. But if you take it to heart, what it really teaches is how to demonstrate your value.
you majored in what book

You Majored in What?: Mapping Your Path from Chaos to Career
By: Katharine Brooks

Most career exploration books take a linear approach. You start out at point A, and then map out your career until you finally arrive at point Z. It’s a nice idea, but life rarely works out that way. In this book, Katharine Brooks takes a much more realistic approach to help college graduates present their skills in a new and more relevant way.
how to get a job around here book

What Does Somebody Have to Do to Get a Job Around Here! 44 Insider Secrets and Tips that Will Get You Hired
By: Cynthia Shapiro

If you’re not sure how the hiring process works (or it’s been awhile since you’ve actively looked for a new job), this book is an excellent place to start. Though the title is admittedly a little sensational, the actual meat of the book is a practical and invaluable guide to how recruiters and employers make hiring decisions.
secret to getting a job after college

The Secret to Getting a Job after College: Marketing Tactics to Turn Degrees into Dollars
By: Dr. Larry Chiaqouris

When it comes right down to it, getting a job is all about presenting yourself in the best possible way. Whether it’s applying to the right jobs, practicing interviews, or printing your own business cards, this book has tons of actionable advice to position yourself for a successful job search.
resume 101 book

Resume 101: A Student and Recent-Grad Guide to Crafting Resumes and Cover Letters that Land Jobs
By: Quentin J. Schultze

An effective resume is more than a list of qualifications, it’s a reflection of how you think of yourself and the world around you. Rather than writing just another ‘how to write a resume guide,’ Quentin Schultze will challenge your ideas of what a great should be.

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