Best Books for Career Guidance

Whether you are happy with your current position and looking to improve in your job, or whether you are looking to make smart choices when searching for a new job, there is plenty of information out there to help. Many experts in the career field have written books on this topic and are more than open about sharing their wisdom.

Read on for some of the best career books on the market for career guidance and career advice. 

Best Books for Climbing the Ladder

When it comes to career development in your chosen field and taking initiative in your current position so that you can rise through the ranks, there are a few great books that can show you how it’s done. These books can also help you achieve job satisfaction.

So Good They Can’t Ignore You

So Good They Can’t Ignore You, by Cal Newport, is a book that tackles skill-building. Thus, what is dissected in this book can be applied to a range of professions and industries.

The author believes that an employee’s excitement about their job and their work is rooted in building skills and honing the craft– not by waiting around for inspiration as many would lead you to believe! Inside this book, Newport examines case studies of professionals who are passionate about their vocation. He then lays out a formula for improving how you work– and in turn, improving your enjoyment of your work– more quickly and efficiently. The author explores those characteristics that help workers most when it comes to standing out among their peers. 


Drive by Daniel H. Pink

Drive by Daniel H. Pink is another great resource for those who are looking to improve their work life, or possibly to get a promotion, for example. This book is a more psychological approach to the professional world. It dissects the psychology behind the forces that kick people into action, and it does so by utilizing years and years of behavioural research. An example of this is how it was discovered that money was actually not as strong a motivator as making a difference.

Knowing that you are making a difference and being able to express yourself is actually much more invigorating and leads to a better satisfaction with one’s work. In Drive, Pink’s goal is to find a deeper understanding of how the brain functions, in order to optimize employee’s mindsets. The book helps employees to improve their work by learning to care about it more– and find work that they care about, too. 


Pivot by Jenny Blake

Pivot by Jenny Blake focuses on grabbing your life and career by the reins, truly taking control. It explores how an employee can best take control and change the course of their career if that is what is needed in their life.

In this book, Blake details the small, actionable steps that you can take in order to position yourself on a better career path. Some of these include expanding your sphere of influence and reducing decision fatigue. These steps, as well as the other tips explored in the book, can be utilized to either change roles within an employee’s current company or to switch jobs and even industries entirely.

Blake focuses on a gradual method of professional reinvention, which is much more achievable and approachable than extreme methods that may be touted elsewhere.

Give and Take

Give and Take, written by Adam Grant

Give and Take, written by Adam Grant, is a deep dive into the true definition of success. Is it money? An office with a view? Grant believes that it is relationships, and providing value, that truly determines success– whatever your definition of success may be. Those who are the most successful in their jobs provide value to their clients and peers, and give more than they take. This is a key theme in the book. Generosity inspires gratitude, which then translates into recommendations, great reviews, and more opportunities– hence the success!

Three types of employees are discussed in the book. First is the “taker”, who gives more than he contributes, next is the “matcher”, who tries to make all interactions equal, and last– but not least– is the “giver”, who puts in the maximum of effort without watching the returns.

Grant believes it is the givers who become the highest performers within a company and are rewarded for it during their careers, whatever path they are on. He supports this claim with evidence such as case studies and statistics. This is a great read for a mindset refresh to change the way you think about your interactions at work and how you do your job. 

Best Books for Starting a New Job

If you are starting a new job or a job seekers going through a career transition, you likely want to do your due diligence and do your research! Luckily, there are plenty of books that are great for career changers discuss this topic at length.

See below for a few of the books that top career coaches recommend.

Designing Your Life

Designing Your Life, by Bill Burnett and Dave Evans

Designing Your Life, by Bill Burnett and Dave Evans, is a great read for those who are looking for the next step in their career, and especially if they are seeking a more fulfilling career this time around. This book takes an interesting approach to career planning by focusing on design thinking in order to help readers design a life and career that they love.

When we say design thinking, we are referring to how a television or a sofa is designed– however, in the book, these ideas are applied to your life instead! By designing the life and career of your dreams, you are able to make actionable lists of steps to take you in the right direction. This type of introspection will also teach you what to avoid as you enter the job market once again– but this time, you will enter with purpose!

Never Eat Alone

Never Eat Alone by Keith Ferrazzi and Tahl Raz

Never Eat Alone by Keith Ferrazzi and Tahl Raz is a guidebook of sorts for someone entering a new career or a new workplace. It is full of tips and strategies to set a new employee up for success. The authors believe that relationships are crucial to success in personal and professional situations; the book focuses on how to build these relationships in order to achieve your career goals.

Some of the techniques include communicating consistently and seeking to serve as well as to be served. Acting only in the interest of yourself will ingratiate you to no one in your workplace, and the importance of connecting with your peers authentically is made very clear in these pages. Networking– which many find so daunting– is also touched upon and broken down into more approachable steps.


Presence, by Amy Cuddy

Presence, by Amy Cuddy, can be of help to job-seekers in the interview stages and beyond, into the workplace. In this book, Cuddy instructs readers on how to project both confidence and competence during their professional interactions. After all– especially when it comes to interviews–, first impressions are important!

Content includes the physical and mental hacks that can have a great effect on interactions and first impressions. Cuddy also discusses some of the changes that readers can implement in their body language and mindsets in order to perform better in intense situations– like a job interview or salary negotiation.

The author, Amy Cuddy, also has a viral TED Talk on the power pose, where she discusses the topics of body language and impressions. 

You Majored In What?

You Majored In What? by Katharine Brooks

You Majored In What? by Katharine Brooks is a great read for career-planning, especially for those who are brand new to the job market. As may be clear from the title, this book is designed to assist recent college graduates with choosing the right career path to follow. While you may have majored in one thing, it is very common to be working in a totally different field when you graduate, as there may be many different career possibilities, so this book is a guide to help navigate this.

The benefits of “wandering wisely” after college and exploring less common career paths are explored, as are the best ways to leverage a liberal arts degree to get a job– by focusing on the skills learned, rather than degree knowledge, for example.

Brooks is a career counsellor herself, and within these pages, the book explores proven methods of finding employment, as well as diagrams and exercises that are designed to help readers discover their professional goals.

This book is perfect for job-seekers who do not yet have a clear plan of attack. 

The Squiggly Career

The Squiggly Career, by Helen Tupper and Sarah Ellis

The Squiggly Career, by Helen Tupper and Sarah Ellis, is a book that explores following a nonlinear path to career success, rather than the straight line that is commonly believed to be the only option. In these pages, readers are shown that it is never too late to pursue a new direction, whether that is in the form of a career change, going back to school, or some other such big change. After all, many of the greats also had nonlinear careers.

Tupper and Ellis assist readers in exploring their own options by providing a blueprint for identifying values and strengths, as well as overcoming doubt, imposter syndrome, and more.

This book is great for someone who is feeling uninspired in their current line of work and is looking for a change or a meaningful career – but doesn’t know what this change should be. It helps job-seekers to uncover their potential and decide how to use it.