Coming up with my picks of the best career books published in the past 12 months, especially for people over 50+, proved a fun but challenging task.
With so many terrific choices, it was nearly impossible to whittle the list down to the best-of-the-best, as I also did for Next Avenue last year.
In the end, I focused on books in three categories: Success strategies, job search and career reinvention. So whether you’re looking to switch fields, find work or simply want to be more successful in your current career, you’re sure to find a helpful read.
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Here are my seven recommendations:
Springboard: Launching Your Personal Search for Success by G. Richard Shell, a professor at the Wharton School of Business, highlights the value of crafting a career around your personal definition of success. Shell created Wharton’s popular “Success Course” and his book includes a number of inspirational stories about students (and others) who chose to focus more on what gives their lives meaning, rather than on what they are supposed to want — an admittedly rare concept for many MBA programs.
Exceptionally well researched and filled with useful exercises, this book will help you answer two key questions: What do you really want? And how do you achieve it?
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Before Happiness: The 5 Hidden Keys to Achieving Success, Spreading Happiness and Sustaining Positive Change by Shawn Achor, an acclaimed expert and researcher in the field of positive psychology, is not technically a career book. But as a longtime career coach, I included it because I’ve found that a positive mindset is critical to both career and job search success.
When we’re able to view our world through a positive lens, we are far more likely to reach our full potential. I guarantee you’ll enjoy Achor’s book; it’s fresh, entertaining and based on compelling research. Even if you apply only a fraction of the author’s suggestions, you’re sure to find Before Happiness a useful and uplifting read.
Job Searching with Social Media for Dummies, 2nd edition by Joshua Waldman is the book for you if you’re intimidated or confused by social media (and who isn’t at times?).
Waldman, an authority on using social media to land a job, takes the mystery out of Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn with a clear explanation of basic and advanced strategies to use them for career and job search success. (Next Avenue is such a fan, the site has published pieces by Waldman on job-hunting through Facebook and LinkedIn.)
His book covers all the “must-know” topics, including how to create effective online profiles, build your personal brand and network effectively electronically. When you’re done, you’ll feel more confident about using social media and might even discover yourself actually having fun as you tweet, post and link your way to a new job.
Knock ‘em Dead 2014: The Ultimate Job Search Guide by career expert Martin Yate has been a staple for more than 25 years — The Joy of Cooking of the job-search world. It has sold over 5 million copies and been translated into 26 languages. So why include it in my list of must-reads for 2014?
Because the updated edition is as fresh and relevant as any job-search book out there. With added emphasis on social media and lifecycle career management, this “oldie but goldie” remains my go-to job search guide. And with plentiful advice from Yate on long-term career management, personal branding and networking for career success, this is a useful career-management guide even if you’re not actively in job-search mode.
Reinventing You: Define Your Brand, Imagine Your Future by Dorie Clark is an invaluable read no matter what stage you’re at in your career.
Clark, a marketing strategy consultant and former presidential campaign adviser for Howard Dean, believes we all need to build a distinctive personal brand in order to stand out in today’s competitive work environment. I agree.
What I liked most about this book is that shes offers more than just ivy tower thinking. Clark provides a realistic and easy-to-implement system for building your brand, including advice about giving yourself a “personal 360 interview” that Next Avenue published.
Reinventing You is peppered with entertaining anecdotes illustrating how Clark built brands for some of her famous clients. It also includes dozens of exercises and ideas for assessing your strengths, crafting your authentic brand and advancing your career for long-term success.
Body of Work: Finding the Thread That Ties Your Story Together by career coach Pamela Slim answers the question: How do you plan a career in a work environment that no longer has predictable career paths?
Sim, author of Escape From Cubicle Nation, argues that in order to thrive in this new world of work, you must be prepared to earn income in as many ways as possible — both as an independent worker and as an employee.
As she recently told Next Avenue’s Work & Purpose editor Richard Eisenberg: “If we look at the fact the world is inherently unstable, and we see how our skills and experience might translate from one sector into the other, we’re going to have more opportunity at becoming more employable. We have a lot more options than we think.”
I think you’ll enjoys Slim’s inspirational stories that will guide you to craft your personal path toward 21st century career success.
Life Reimagined: Discovering Your New Life Possibilities by executive coach Richard J. Leider and Alan M. Webber, cofounding editor of Fast Company magazine, offers hope for anyone trying to navigate those inevitable “What’s next?” moments in life.
This book, written in conjunction with the launch of AARP’s LifeReimagined.org website, is particularly relevant for people over 50 looking to reinvent their careers and lives. (LifeReimagined.org hosts online versions of some tools referenced in the book.)
A fun and quick read, Life Reimagined contains a nice balance of inspirational reinvention stories and how-to tips, along with Leider’s advice on the best ways to identify your unique gifts, explore new directions and create a meaningful second (or third) act.