14 Exceptional Career Books | Advance Your Career – CV Nation

14 Exceptional Career Books to Help You Advance Your Career

When it comes to improving your career, reading is one of the best places to start. What could be more beneficial than learning from some of the most respected career experts and business leaders in the world?

Whether you’re just starting your career or you’re a seasoned executive, this list has a book that will help you become a better version of yourself and get the most out of your career in 2021.


1. Rise by Patty Azzarello

Rise is a gem of a career book. With a wealth of career strategies, practical tips and insider secrets, it’s the perfect book to help you advance your career and become an exceptional leader.

Patty Azzarello is the founder of Azzarello Group, an organisation that helps CEOs and leadership teams perform to higher standards. She’s managed a billion-dollar software company and she became the youngest general manager at Hewlett-Packard at the age of 33.

As such, there aren’t many better leaders to get your career advice from than Patty Azzarello.

If you read only one career book on this list, make it this one.

2. What Color Is Your Parachute? By Richard N. Bolles

What Color Is Your Parachute? is one of the most esteemed career advice books out there.

It contains a wealth of valuable resources, strategies and tips that will help you get more results in the job market and align your career with your passions.

The book covers topics such as understanding yourself as a professional and finding decision-makers of companies, rather than distributing your resume in the traditional fashion.

What Color Is Your Parachute? has sold over 10 million copies across 28 countries. Time named it as one of the top 100 non-fiction books of all time.

Referring to the book, Fortune stated: ‘Ideally, everyone should read What Color Is Your Parachute? in the tenth grade and again every year thereafter.’

3. Own Your Career, Own Your Life by Andy Storch

Own Your Career, Own Your Life is among the crème de la crème of career books.

It helps readers take ownership of their careers and go out and get what they really want. It also equips them with the tools to fulfil their true potential.

Furthermore, the book includes a wealth of practical career advice, ranging from self-leadership and personal development tips to career planning and time management skills.

Whether you’re just taking the first steps in your career or you’re an experienced leader, this book is an essential addition to your bookshelf.

4. Switchers by Dr. Dawn Graham

Do you want to change careers? Do you want to find a job that you’re truly passionate about? If so, Switchers is a must-read book for you.

Switchers offers readers tried and tested strategies to help them transition to where they want to be. The book ignores standard job search strategies that simply don’t work when pursuing a career change.

Instead, it focuses on unique tactics that get results.

Authored by Dr. Dawn Graham – a psychologist and career coach – Switchers also covers the psychological aspect of career changes and comes with various practical exercises.

For those looking for a career change, Switchers is an essential read.

5. Do What You Are by Paul D. Tieger, Barbara Barron and Kelly Tieger

Do What You Are is a classic in the career genre, having helped jobseekers build careers that they’re passionate about since 1992.

In simple terms, Do What You Are enables readers to find their perfect career by introducing them to personality types.

It starts by helping readers analyse and learn about their strengths, weaknesses and behaviour in order to discover their ideal career path. It then proceeds to guide them through the job search process and help them become the best version of themselves.

A unique aspect of the book is that it uses individual personality types to take readers on a customised journey. The advice is tailored to individual readers.

6. How Women Rise by Sally Helgesen and Marshall Goldsmith

How Women Rise is authored by Sally Helgesen and Marshall Goldsmith, leadership specialists and coaches who have come face to face with the roadblocks women face in the workplace.

In this book, they explain the twelve habits that hold women back and how they can get passed the obstacles that are in their way.

In her review of the book, Liz Smith, former CEO at Bloomin' Brands, stated: "Women who seek to rise, take note! This is your essential go-to guide. Also highly recommended for men who work with, for, or around women.’

For women looking to take their career to the next level, How Woman Rise is the perfect book.

7. It’s The Manager by Jim Clifton and Jim Harter

If you’re a manager or a leader, It’s The Manager is an essential read. This book provides managers with the capabilities to optimise business performance, adapt to rapidly changing environments and become a top-tier leader.

It's The Manager also aims to teach managers how to effectively lead the 'new workforce', including younger generations who require different forms of leadership. Additionally, the book touches on issues such as the use of human science in management and organisational cultures.

It’s The Manager comes with a unique code that enables readers to take the CliftonStrengths Assessment, which reveals your top 5 strengths, as well as additional content on Gallup Access (Gallup’s online workplace platform).

If you want to become the best leader you can be in the 21st century and ‘future-proof’ your organisation, this is the book for you.

8. Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman

Thinking, Fast and Slow is a psychology book that explores the way we think.

The book takes us inside the human mind and teaches how the two systems of the mind can shape our decision-making in both our professional and personal lives.

The lessons in Thinking, Fast and Slow enable us make better career judgements and understand people better.

The author – Daniel Kahneman – is a psychologist and a Nobel prize winner, so he’s an expert when it comes to psychology and the systems that steer our thinking.

Over 1.5 million copies of the book have been sold globally and it has featured on the New York Times Bestseller List.

9. Presence by Amy Cuddy

Presence is a powerhouse of a self-help book.

In simple terms, the book focuses on self-confidence and ‘presence’ in order to help readers face challenging situations with confidence.

By harnessing the power of presence and adjusting our body language, behaviour and thoughts, we can perform better in job interviews and become better versions of ourselves in the workplace.

Presence has received an abundance of outstanding reviews from major media outlets, such as Forbes, Business Inside and Washington Post. The book has also featured on too many bestsellers lists to name.

Amy Cuddy is well-known for her TED talk, Your Body Shapes Who You Are, the second most viewed talk in TED’s history.

10. The Career Playbook by James M. Citrin

The Career Playbook is the ultimate resource for graduates and younger professionals, providing them with everything they need to know to build fulfilling careers.

While writing the book, James M. Citrin conducted surveys with thousands of graduates, as well as leaders in the business and non-profit worlds. He used the results of these surveys to back up his tips on topics such as job interviews, negotiating salaries, relationship building, mentorship and career changes.

If you’re a recent graduate or a less experienced professional, this book is essential to help you build a fruitful career.

John Donahoe, CEO at eBay, said it best when he stated: ‘If you are looking for a first job or navigating the early years of your career, there is no better book to read.’

11. Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead

Authored by Facebook COO, Sheryl Sandberg, Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead shares Sandberg’s personal story and offers advice to help women excel.

Sandberg highlights the obstacles women face, such as entrenched mindsets that may hold them back, as well as the sexism that she’s experienced. As well as taking readers on a journey of her career, she also provides helpful solutions to the roadblocks women face.

Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead isn’t exactly a guide to growing your career. It’s Sandberg’s story, which includes solutions to the problems women face and guidance on confidence and leadership.

12. The Third Door by Alex Banayan

The Third Door offers a unique insight into how some of the world’s most successful people launched the careers, including Bill Gates, Larry King and Jessica Alba.

The book’s author, Alex Banayan, tracked down and interviewed a multitude of business leaders and famous people, before identifying a factor that links them all: they entered their careers through ‘the third door’.

Tony Robbins summed up The Third Door simply and brilliantly: ‘If you care about your success, you have to read The Third Door.’

13. Radical Candor by Kim Scott

In Radical Candor, Kim Scott – former manager at Google and Apple – explores the behaviour of managers. Rude, aggressive management is unnecessary and counterproductive. Scott shows how such managerial habits have a negative effect on business performance and offers guidance on how to utilise value-adding leadership styles that work.

By using the principles of Radical Candor, managers can be effective and challenging while maintaining a kind, caring approach.

If you’re a manager, Radical Candor is sure to help you enhance your leadership skills and improve the performance of teams.

14. Designing Your Life by Bill Burnett and Dave Evans

Designing Your Life shows readers how to use ‘design thinking’ to build lives and careers that are fulfilling and meaningful. They do this by employing the same design principles that are used to create complex technology and products.

Burnett and Evens make use of various techniques, including reframing, prototyping and mind-mapping – tried and tested design tools.

The book was number one on the New York Time’s Best Seller and has garnered a wealth of positive reviews.


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