Business Development

9 Must-Read Books to Help You Create Your Perfect Career


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Having a career and having a career that’s really suited to your skills, passion and experience are two very separate things. 

If you’re looking to build a career that’s tailored to your unique skills, passions and interests, getting advice can feel overwhelming thanks to the sheer amount that’s available. 

Don’t worry though – we’ve pulled up our sleeves, dusted off our reading glasses and made a list of our favourite, must-read personal development books that you can use to help craft your perfect career. 


Designing Your Life: Build the Perfect Career, Step by Step

Author: Bill Burnnet and Dave Evans

Publisher: Vintage (7 Dec. 2017)

Probably one of the most consistently recommended career development books of the decade, ‘Designing Your Life’ focuses on how design theory – the process behind the development of new technology – can be put to use when it comes to building a career that truly suits you.

The book argues that with this approach, it’s never too late to build a career that’s perfect for you – no matter what your circumstances or age.   

Written by Stanford University professor Bill Burnett and world-renowned, ex-Apple designer Dave Evans, Designing Your Life aims to bring Silicon Valley style thought-hacking to the world of career development! 


So Good They Can’t Ignore You

Author: Cal Newport

Publisher: Piatkus (1 Dec. 2016)

The fundamental idea at the heart of ‘So Good They Can’t Ignore You’ is a controversial one that a some people may baulk at – that you should really choose your career based on your skills and talent and not your passion. 

Written by Dr. Calvin Newport, a professor at Georgetown University, So Good They Can’t Ignore You explores how one of the most effective ways to find a career that really satisfies you is to invest your time developing a career in an area that you already have talent in. 


Power Moves: How Women Can Pivot, Reboot, and Build a Career of Purpose

Author: Lauren McGoodwin

Publisher: HarperBus; Illustrated edition (25 Jun. 2020)

Drawing on her years of experience of running the female-millennial-focused career site Career Contessa, in ‘Power Moves’ Lauren McGoodwin explores that perennial question when it comes to career development for young women – how do you evolve your career in spite of self-doubt, comparison and shame. 

Packed with fascinating advice, useful information and practical tools that you can use to advance your career, ‘Power Moves’ is essential reading for millennial women looking to develop a fulfilling career.

Find Your Why

Author: Simon Sinek, David Mead, Peter Docker

Publisher: Portfolio Penguin; 1st edition (7 Sept. 2017)

Simply structured and easy to follow, ‘Find Your Why’ is a step-by-step guide to discovering the big issue that motivates you to succeed at work, or in a wider business – your purpose, or as Sinek puts it, your why. 

Easily applicable to a career development setting, Sinek and co explore the process of finding that central issue that motivates you in a career and developing it to its fullest potential. 


How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big

Author: Scott Adams

Publisher: Penguin

Scott Adams, the creator of the world-renowned satirical comic strip, Dilbert, hasn’t always been successful. In fact, he considers himself a serial failure.

In ‘How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big’, Adams explores how learning from your failures is fundamental to success. Rather than espousing the same-old, clichèd advice about reaching for the stars, Scott Adams suggests that the secret to success is a combination of analysing what super successful people have done to get to where they are, and making opportunities that improve your chances of getting lucky. 


Refuse to Choose!: Use All of Your Interests, Passions, and Hobbies to Create the Life and Career of Your Dreams 

Author: Barbara Sher

Publisher: Rodale Press (6 Mar. 2007)

Conventional career advice tells us that we need to focus on one particular area to pursue when it comes to choosing a job. What if that advice doesn’t suit everyone though?

New York Times best-selling author Barbara Sher believes that it doesn’t. In fact, she thinks that some people are mentally hard-wired to pursue many different areas rather than just one. 

Sher’s big idea in ‘Refuse to Choose!’ is that some people are ‘scanners’. These people don’t hone in on one interest when it comes to developing a career, they’re interested in every area they see. In effect, they are constantly scanning the horizon for new areas and interests to explore. 


Body of Work: Finding the Thread That Ties Your Story Together 

Author: Pamela Slim

Publisher: Portfolio (31 Dec. 2013)

Have you noticed that having a single, stable career where you stay in a role for decades on end just doesn’t seem to happen anymore? Small business expert and author Pamela Slim has. 

In ‘Body of Work’, Pamela Slim explores how the modern world of work is making us blend different types of employment and juggle them at the same type. She offers some simple tips that you can use to navigate this new kind of career, from how to celebrate your achievements and tell your story through to how to launch your own personal brand. 


Die Empty: Unleash Your Best Work Every Day 

Author: Todd Henry

Publisher: Penguin Putnam Inc (24 Jun. 2015)

The hard truth at the heart of this book is simple – we’re all going to run out of time to procrastinate eventually. Time is finite. 

Todd Henry believes that a lot of people fall into the trap of putting off important and valuable work for another day, damaging their creativity, discipline and innovation in the long run. This can be particularly damaging when it comes to taking steps down a new career path. 

In ‘Die Empty’, he explores how putting in place a simple process can help to supercharge your productivity, maintain your motivation and enable you to produce work that you’re proud of every single day. 


Do What You Are: Discover the Perfect Career for You Through the Secrets of Personality Type

Author: Paul D. Tieger, Barbara Barron, Kelly Tieger

Publisher: Little, Brown US; 3rd ed. edition (3 May 2001)

Lauded as a classic in the career development genre, there’s a reason why ‘Do What You Are’ is still as popular today with job seekers as it was when it was published two decades ago in 2001 – it’s practical advice has helped thousands of people find careers that they love. 

Using how a person processes information to define their personality type and how they view and interact with the world around them, ‘Do What You Are’ is a fascinating exploration of how personality can impact your aptitude for particular careers. It takes you through the process of how to discover your personality type and highlights the strengths and weaknesses associated with them, when it comes to building a career. 

Inspired to build a career that’s perfect for you with a professional qualification? Get your free course guide and start your journey to a better job today. 

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