Best career books to give your job prospects a boost
Need some inspo? These books will get you going
Love your job or loathe it, we could probably all do with a little bit of a boost when it comes to our careers. Whether we’re looking for a promotion, want a pay rise, need a new challenge or want to finally pursue that pipe-dream side-hustle, there’s always more to learn about work and yourself.
Luckily, we can help. No, we can’t give you a new job or make you like that colleague who chews really obnoxiously or makes too-loud phone calls all day long – but we can recommend the best of the best when it comes to business books.
Whether you want to run your own business, boost your confidence or just feel a little more fulfilled every day, there’s something for you. Check them out and vote on your favourite.
Best career books 2019
1. What Color Is Your Parachute? 2019 by Richard Bolles
You know you're in safe hands when you buy this book – various versions have sold over ten million copies. The quintessential guide to job hunting, What Color is Your Parachute? helps you navigate the professional landscape and end up with your dream job.
You may have already come across some of the practical tools in this book, which are now considered to be business classics. But Bolles has also updated the book with brand new strategies on how to find work on social media or online, so there’s something for everyone.
2. The Multi-Hyphen Method by Emma Gannon
If you’ve ever wanted to make some money from a side-hustle or are more of a generalist than a specialist, this book is for you. Promising to help you “convert your craft into a career or your side-hustle into a start-up”, The Multi-Hyphen Method is an invaluable guide for those keen to make their own way in the world.
Emma Gannon, author of the book, is a perfect case in point – not only does she write books but she blogs, podcasts and has also worked in social media. A great way to inspire yourself to pursue new challenges.
3. Designing Your Life: Build the Perfect Career, Step by Step by Bill Burnett and Dave Evans
Based on a Stanford University course of the same name, this book takes an incredibly proactive approach to building your career, encouraging you to carefully design the career you want as you would design a product, space or piece of technology.
Part of the book also focuses on working out what you want to design, before you go for how to do it. What is it you actually care about, are interested in or are good at? Designing Your Life could help you find out.
4. How To Find Fulfilling Work by The School of Life
Written by philosopher and School of Life co-founder Roman Krznaric, this book takes a more philosophical look at what it means to be fulfilled at work.
The blurb of the book notes that the desire to be emotionally and intellectually fulfilled at work is a fairly new invention – not only do we expect to make money at work, we also expect to feel good about what we’re doing. How we get to that place is somewhat complicated, however. If you’re a deep thinker who wants to ask the big questions, this is for you.
5. The New Rules of Work: The Modern Playbook for Navigating Your Career by Alexandra Cavoulacos and Kathryn Minshew
In 2019, it can be pretty easy to find a job – just hop onto LinkedIn and you're faced with plenty of options. But understanding what the reams of data we’re party to actually means is a very different prospect. This book looks to simplify it.
The New Rules of Work is incredibly hands on: you won’t get much philosophical rumination here, instead seeing a focus on structured tips and practical exercise. It also has advice for wherever you are in your career – just starting out, trying to establish yourself or looking to enter a new industry entirely mid-way through your career. Great for those who favour practical advice over introspection.
6. The Myth of the Nice Girl: Achieving a Career You Love Without Becoming a Person You Hate by Fran Hauser
In The Myth of the Nice Girl, Fran Hauser takes aim at “niceness” – that elusive quality many women struggle with throughout their careers. Too nice, and you’re a walkover. Too tough, and you’re a bitch. How do you toe the line?
Hauser thinks this is all wrong. In fact, she argues, you don’t have to “hide your authentic personality to be successful”. Advice includes how to start busting stereotypes, how to balanc empathy with decision-making, and how to grow your confidence.
7. So Good They Can't Ignore You: Why Skills Trump Passion in the Quest for Work You Love by Cal Newport,
Whilst other books exhort you to develop passion for your career, Cal Newport takes a different approach. He believes – as the title of the book amply indicates – that “skills trump passion”. In other words, you’re better off honing your skills than you are almost anything else.
If you’re an idealist, this probably isn’t for you – Newport rejects the idea that all you need is a good attitude to get ahead. Instead, he stays firmly realistic. Work on what you’ve got, Newport says – that, not your passion, will be key to success.
8. The Miracle Morning: The 6 Habits That Will Transform Your Life Before 8AM by Hal Elrod
This is more a general life advice book than it is specifically career focused, but the lessons you’ll learn will serve you well for work, too.The book is split into six sections, each detailing a change or habit you can implement to improve your life before you’ve even got to work. Apparently rolling out of bed at the last minute and getting covered in croissant crumbs before you get to your desk isn’t the way to professional success. Who knew?