Natalie Walters and Jacquelyn Smith
Mar. 28, 2016
Reading books can fill in the gaps in your education. Landing your first job and entering the workforce can be overwhelming. Chances are, your college didn’t offer classes on how to negotiate your salary, deal with a micromanaging boss, or confront annoying coworkers. But there’s still something you can do to prepare yourself for the tricky world of work: read.
Here are 18 books we think every young professional should read before starting their first job:
‘What Color is Your Parachute?’ by Richard N. Bolles
If you’re only going to read one book on the list, you may want to choose this one. Why? It covers a little about everything.
Bolles writes in the first chapter, “In today’s world, he or she who gets hired is not necessarily the one who can do that job best; but, the one who knows the most about how to get hired.”
The first half of the book talks about how to create an eye-catching résumé and cover letter, as well as how to improve your networking, interviewing, and negotiating skills — while the second half focuses on how to find your ideal career.
‘Never Eat Alone’ by Keith Ferrazzi
“Never Eat Alone” is about using relationships to reach success. In other words, it’s about who you know, not what you know.
Ferrazzi, a master networker, talks about how he used connections to get into Yale for his undergraduate degree, Harvard for his MBA, and later, to land a number of top executive positions.
Based on his experiences and additional research, Ferrazzi claims that networking is the difference between average and super successful people. To help others achieve their dream life, he lays out his exact steps for reaching out to people in his network, as well as networking tips from the most well-connected individuals in the modern business and political world.
These tips have helped him connect with Washington power players and Hollywood A-listers, so they should definitely be able to help you.
‘Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion’ by Robert B. Cialdini
This book will teach you how to make people say “yes.”
No matter what field you’re in, you need to know how to get others to agree with you and help you out.
Cialdini explains the science behind doing just that based on his 35 years of research, as well as his three-year study on what makes people change their behavior.
Not only does this book teach you how to become a powerful negotiator, it also teaches you how to resist one.
‘ The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People’ by Stephen R. Covey
As the title states, Covey has condensed the behaviors of effective people into seven habits that everyone should develop to be more successful, such as being proactive, beginning with the end in mind, and always trying to reach a win/win agreement.
Everyone should read this bestseller, but if you’re swamped, you can check out the book’s summary on Business Insider.
‘Outliers: The Story of Success’ by Malcolm Gladwell
Ever wonder how the best, brightest, or most successful people got to where they are today? Gladwell did, and he set out to find answers.
In the Canadian journalist and bestselling author’s book “Outliers,” he explains that in order to learn why some people reach the highest levels of success in sports, academia, or other pursuits, we have to look at their backgrounds, including their culture, family, generation, and individual experiences growing up.
‘The Start-up of You‘ by Reid Hoffman and Ben Casnocha
“The Startup of You” teaches us how to advance our careers by following lessons from Silicon Valley entrepreneurs.
Hoffman, LinkedIn’s cofounder and chairman, and Casnocha claim that each professional should see themselves as a startup business that they are in charge of managing.
In order to best grow your own brand, you will have to network, invest in yourself, and take risks — just like the famed Silicon Valley startup founders have.
‘Secrets of a Hiring Manager Turned Career Coach’ by Lisa Quast
Quast argues that her simple job searching tactics have worked 100% of the time with her clients.
It’s supposed to be like having your own personal career coach — without the expense.
This book can help everyone from young professionals looking for their first job, to mid-level professionals looking to switch careers, to senior executives.
‘A Whole New Mind‘ by Daniel H. Pink
If you’re an artist, inventor, storyteller, or any other kind of “right-brain” thinker, good news: Pink says the future belongs to people like you.
To help set you up for a long and stable career in a world that is beginning to have an abundance of “knowledge workers” like doctors, lawyers, and accountants, Pink lays out the abilities he thinks are essential to success and fulfillment — and tips for how you can develop them in yourself.
‘Finding Your Own North Star‘ by Martha Beck
Beck claims that everyone’s ideal life should be like the North Star, guiding them through tough decisions.
“I believe that a knowledge of that perfect life sits inside you just as the North Star sits in its unaltering spot,” she writes.
This book will teach you how to identify what you want your life to look like, and what steps to take to get there.
‘Find Your Perfect Job: The Inside Guide for Young Professionals‘ by Scott Smith
The author, who has experience with Wall Street, Washington, Hollywood, and Silicon Valley, as well as an MBA and law degree, uses this book to share the career secrets he’s learned while navigating the working world as a young professional.
The book touches on how to pick a career and how to find a job, as well as résumé and interviewing tips.
‘How Will You Measure Your Life?’ by Clayton M. Christensen, James Allworth, and Karen Dillon
Apple cofounder and former CEO Steve Jobs once said this book “deeply influenced” him.
Its purpose is to help readers find which path will lead to their personal fulfillment. It’s also intended to challenge you to spend your time and money on things that are important to you.
‘The Money Book for the Young, Fabulous & Broke’ by Suze Orman
Orman, the author of seven New York Times bestsellers and a two-time Emmy Award-winning television host, wrote this book to teach recent graduates about the basics of financial literacy.
It’s essential reading for young professionals who are part of “Generation Broke,” but who still have a chance to be financially stable if they manage their paychecks the right way.
‘Thinking, Fast and Slow’ by Daniel Kahneman
“Thinking, Fast and Slow,” a New York Times bestseller and winner of the National Academy of Sciences Best Book Award in 2012, is another must-read for young professionals.
In the book, Kahneman, a psychologist and winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics, explains how our minds function. With that knowledge, he says people can figure out how to make better decisions in both their professional and personal lives.
‘Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes are High‘ by Kerry Patterson, Ron McMillan, and Al Switzler
The authors of this book define crucial conversations as those where the stakes are high, opinions vary, and emotions run strong.
Examples of these conversations include when you have to confront a boss who is breaking a law, when you have to correct a coworker, or when you think you deserve a raise.
These are situations almost everyone will deal with over the course of their career, and every young professional should prepare for them ahead of time.
‘How to Win Friends & Influence People‘ by Dale Carnegie
This classic is known to have inspired a young Warren Buffett when he found it on his grandfather’s bookshelf at age 15, during a time when he was having trouble fitting in at his high school.
Carnegie claims that the lessons he shares in the book from the lives of people like Abraham Lincoln and from modern psychology will help you be more likeable and persuasive.
‘Linchpin: Are You Indispensable?’ by Seth Godin
Godin is the author of 18 international bestsellers, but this 2008 classic is the fastest selling book of his career.
In “Linchpin” he argues that each company has three groups: management, labor, and linchpins. The last group may not get much recognition, but its members form the building blocks of the organization because they love their work and pour themselves into it.
“Every day I meet people who have so much to give but have been bullied enough or frightened enough to hold it back,” Godin writes. “It’s time to stop complying with the system and draw your own map. You have brilliance in you, your contribution is essential, and the art you create is precious. Only you can do it, and you must.”
‘Lean In‘ by Sheryl Sandberg
In “Lean In,” the Facebook COO explains how women unintentionally hold themselves back in the workplace, and what they can do to fix it.
She uses both research and personal anecdotes to explore negotiation tactics, mentorship, and how to build a fulfilling career.
Men can also learn a thing or two from this book, since it can help them understand what their female counterparts are up against at work.
‘So Good They Can’t Ignore You’ by Cal Newport
In “So Good They Can’t Ignore You,” Newport argues that “follow your passion” is a flawed cliché and bad career advice.
To back his opinion up, the Georgetown professor spent time with organic farmers, venture capitalists, screenwriters, freelance computer programmers, and other workers to find out how they landed in a career that they loved.