The Best (in my opinion) Career and Job-Search Books
by Judy Kaplan Baron, Ph.D., Master Career Counselor
You're busy. I know that. What are my recommendations if you're interested in helping yourself but short on time. Read the list below. Consider borrowing them from the library if saving money is a priority.
Here are, in my opinion, the most indispensable career and job-search books that can really help educate and inspire you:
The Best of the Best:What Color Is Your Parachute? 2012: A Practical Manual for Job-Hunters and Career-Changers by Richard N. Bolles. This classic is the best selling career book in the world, with 10 million copies sold, and has been listed on TIME magazine's All-TIME 100 Nonfiction Books. One of the most distinctive features of Parachute is that it is updated annually; the 2012 edition marks its 40th anniversary. The indispensable book covers the job-search process and devotes a significant chunk to helping readers figure out what they want to do in their careers. Bolles adapts the book to recessionary times by including material on survival skills and having the right attitude.
Comprehensive job search: Guerrilla Marketing for Job Hunters 3.0: How to Stand Out from the Crowd and Tap Into the Hidden Job Market using Social Media and 999 other Tactics Today by Jay Conrad Levinson and David E. Perry. We've always been a bit skeptical about books that purport to cover the entire job search; every aspect of the hunt -- resumes, cover letters, interviewing, networking, and so on -- is such a big subject in itself that it's hard to imagine that a single book can do justice to the entirety of job search. But Guerrilla Marketing for Job Hunters 3.0 does. This is a comprehensive job-search guide on steroids. The authors offer cutting-edge ideas (example: reverse-engineering the kind of Boolean searches recruiters conduct for candidates) that leave many other comprehensive job-search books in the dust. The book, which gets periodically updated, includes extras like QR codes that enable readers to access additional content using their cell phones and an eLearning Library of online goodies. Overall, Guerrilla Marketing for Job Hunters 3.0 spells out exactly what all job-seekers should be doing right now to succeed, with information they won't find elsewhere.
Personal/career branding: Career Distinction: Stand Out by Building Your Brand by William Arruda and Kirsten Dixson. This is a step-by-step guide to career and personal brand management that advises readers on how to brand themselves for career success, determine how others perceive them, develop a unique value proposition, define a target audience, tell a brand story, express themselves clearly and consistently, build and manage an online identity, stay consistently on-message and on-brand, and increase "career karma."
Networking: Make Your Contacts Count: Networking Know-how for Business and Career Success by Anne Baber and Lynne Waymon. This volume is a comprehensive guide to networking. Though not specifically focused on job search, the book is rich with advice and tips on how to network effectively, including instructions on drafting a networking plan, as well as information on cultivating current contacts, making the most of memberships, effectively exchanging business cards, avoiding the top 10 networking turn-offs, sharing anecdotes that convey character and competence, and transforming one's career with a networking makeover.
Resumes and cover letters: Resume Magic: Trade Secrets of a Professional Resume Writer by Susan Britton Whitcomb. At 608 pages, Whitcomb's behemoth of a book is the definitive guide to crafting a resume. Resume Magic is a complete compendium that covers every resume (and cover-letter) contingency. Full of user-friendly samples and tips, the book is truly the gold standard for resume books.
Interviewing: Interview Magic: Job Interview Secrets from America's Career and Life Coach by Susan Britton Whitcomb. Like Resume Magic, Whitcomb's interviewing compendium is a rich guide on its topic. A few highlights of the 500-page book include instructions on creating "SMART stories" about accomplishments for use in interviews, advice on integrating one's personal brand into the interview, tips on maintaining the right mindset for interviewing, a complete directory of types of interviews, extensive material on preparing for specific interview questions, and much more.
Salary negotiation: Negotiating Your Salary: How To Make $1000 a Minute by Jack Chapman. Chapman's slim, regularly updated volume (now in its seventh edition) has sold more than 250,000 copies because it is the guide to salary negotiation, offering "tried and true techniques give job-seekers a completely fair advantage over the employer, a way to increase your salary by thousands, even tens of thousands of dollars in cash and/or benefits."
Social-media job search: Find a Job Through Social Networking: Use LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Blogs and More to Advance Your Career by Diane Crompton and Ellen Sauter. This is a tricky category in which being the most up-to-date means everything -- because change happens so rapidly on the Internet. Find a Job Through Social Networking is comparable to one of our runners-up, Social Networking for Career Success. Both were published in the same year, but we gave the edge to Find a Job Through Social Networking because it is in its second edition and therefore has established more of a track record. The book covers use of LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, blogs, and other forms of social media to propel one's career. It also delves into identity-management sites, discussion groups, and online publishing/public speaking.
Recessionary job search: 101 Best Ways to Land a Job in Troubled Times by Jay A. Block. This guide addresses the emotional fallout of job loss and unemployment while also suggesting dozens of action steps, some of them quite innovative. Each chapter ending summarizes a subset of the 100 best ways to which the title refers.
Executive job search: For Executives Only: Applying Business Techniques to Your Job Search by Bill Belknap and Helene Seiler. One of several books from the Five o'Clock Club, For Executives Only offers strategies you'll find nowhere else -- and strategies that work for a wide range of job-seekers, not just executives. It features case histories so readers can learn from others' successes as well as the pitfalls experienced by those who tried to tackle the job-search process on their own. The book covers every aspect of executive job search, as well as advice on managing a job-search campaign, staying organized, and dealing with the emotional roller coaster of the search.
On the job/career sustainability and advancement: The New Leader's 100-Day Action Plan: How to Take Charge, Build Your Team, and Get Immediate Results by George B. Bradt, Jayme A. Check, and Jorge E. Pedraza. This book is jam-packed with value-added downloadable tools that "leaders at every level" can use make the best of their first few months on the job. Readers will learn to assess the business context and internal political culture they'll be facing, understand team members' Behaviors, Relationships, Attitudes, Values, and Environment (the "BRAVE" approach to motivating teams), advise the boss for success, and use social media and other communication tools to reach and motivate stakeholders.
Self-employment: Making a Living Without a Job: Winning Ways for Creating Work That You Love by Barbara Winter. This innovative book is all about how you can make a living by working when, where, and how you want. Highlights include instruction on how to find opportunity in a chaotic economy, why smart, "small and spunky" is the 21st Century business model, how to use the Internet to open the door to fresh opportunities, how to find the best resources to help create and grow a business, and how to leave "employee thinking" behind and build an "entrepreneur's mindset."