By Karin Eldor
Monster Contributing Writer
There’s no doubt about it: some of the most valuable career lessons you'll learn will be on the job. After all, there is theory and then there’s actual hands-on practice.
But then, there are the books that come along and add a different perspective to your point of view. No matter where you are in your career, a dose of advice from different successful professionals is always welcome.
In addition to seeking the guidance of mentors, here are the books that taught me a thing or two. Whether you’re looking to land your first job, seeking a career change or aspiring to move up the corporate ladder, hopefully these books will inspire you too.
1) “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People”– by Stephen R. Covey
There’s a reason this classic book is distributed to new recruits at many corporations. From how to be proactive to thinking “win/win,” the seven habits are timeless lessons that gave me insight not only in my professional life, but also my personal one. I still remember reading this one when I was fresh out of university and in year 1 of my first job!
Key takeaway: Achieving inner success and peace can help you grow from the inside, out and do wonders for your career.
2) “Freakonomics”– by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner
I had studied communications in university and I recall everyone asking me, “So, what exactly do you do with that degree?” It turns out that while I didn’t study business, a degree in communications was the perfect way to dip my toes into different realms like marketing, journalism and media. I practically devoured “Freakonomics” while at my first job at a successful startup as it helped me see the world through more perceptive eyes – the eyes of an economist, to be exact.
Key takeaway: There’s more to things than meets the eye – so don't take anything at face value.
3) “It’s Not How Good You Are, It’s How Good You Want to Be”– by Paul Arden
After getting my start at an Internet startup, I ventured into the world of retail marketing – a completely new field for me. Feeling out of my comfort zone, I recall being in my manager’s office when she handed me this book: “It’s Not How Good You Are, It’s How Good You Want to Be,” written by one of the world’s greatest ad execs. To say this book changed my life is an understatement! Written in a quirky yet digestible way, this readable pocket-sized book has come along with me to every job I’ve had since first reading it seven years ago (I open it every now and then for a quick refresher). It expands on lessons such as how to think out of the box, how to make a great first impression, how to negotiate, and how to speak in public. It’s a game changer of a book!
Key takeaway(s): 1) Don’t over promise, over deliver (pretty self-explanatory) and 2) Have the courage to be wrong sometimes. When you take a risk and go against the grain, great things can happen. It can be better than trying to prove you’re right – after all, just because things are done a certain way, doesn’t make them right.
4) “Leadership and the One Minute Manager”– by Ken Blanchard
After some time in marketing at a fashion retailer, I moved on to another Canadian retailer, but this time in the sphere of online marketing. There I became the manager of a small team, and the human resources department recommended this book as a helpful tool to transition into a managerial role – and how right they were! This book examines four different kinds of leadership styles and how they must be used differently per person, and per situation.
Key takeaway: There are “different strokes for different folks.” An effective leader recognizes the different situations that require different kinds of leadership styles – so diagnose each situation and shift gears accordingly.
5) “Six Pixels of Separation”– by Mitch Joel
In this social media-driven age where we’re all connected, knowing how to stay connected, network and brand yourself using social media is of paramount importance. At this stage of my career, where I have both a full-time job as well as a roster of clients, the brand I create for myself and the network I build are both extremely important. It’s crucial to connect with people on channels like Facebook and Monster’s “BeKnown” application as you never know when your connections can lead to career and personal growth.
Key takeaway: You’re only as good as your network!
6) "Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less"- by Greg McKeown
Everyone at work is reading this book, even my boss! It targets the importance of learning when to say "no" and pushing back when necessary so you do not undermine your performance and your productivity. Learn doing what is essential will contribute to the right path and the things that really matter in life.
Key takeaway: Getting only the right things done.
The truth is, there will always be tools out there that offer advice for every stage of your career. The tools can come in the form of books, magazine articles, blogs, and of course our Monster career resource right here. The trick is to keep an open mind about what you read – even if you disagree. Growth comes from learning about different perspectives and if you want to grow continuously, you need to see the inspiration that can come from everywhere.
Which books inspired you throughout your career? I’d love to know!