If you’re thinking about a job change in 2020, here are the 20 top books to help you take the leap. Read our summaries of each below to find the best book that will give you the most relevant guidance at your particular phase of the job change journey.
For a little extra help, make sure to check out the MovingWorlds Institute Global Fellowship, a program to help professionals find more fulfilling, world-positive careers. Applications for our next cohort are now open!
1. Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World, by Adam Grant
For when you feel like there’s something wrong with you for not fitting in.
Why we like it: When you’re in the wrong career, it’s easy to feel like there’s something wrong with you for not accepting the status quo. By the time you finish this book, you’ll see that your non-conformity is actually an asset waiting to open a world of possibilities! Featuring captivating stories that span business, politics, sports, and entertainment, Originals is full of surprising insights and powerful ideas that will change the way you see the world and yourself.
2. Braving the Wilderness: The Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to Stand Alone, by Brene Brown
For when you feel vulnerable in the uncertainty of a transition and are questioning where you belong.
Why we like it: On a recent Get Ahead by Getting Away webinar, Nate Wong described leaving his secure job in pursuit of something more authentic as “tantamount to cliff-diving into the ocean.” If you can relate, Braving the Wilderness is an excellent companion to help you stay true to yourself while navigating the uncertain waters of change.
3. Barking Up the Wrong Tree: The Surprising Science Behind Why Everything You Know About Success Is (Mostly) Wrong, by Eric Barker
For when you’re questioning your ability to succeed because you weren’t the class valedictorian.
Why we like it: According to Eric Barker, much of the advice we’ve been told about achievement is wrong. Barking Up the Wrong Tree uses an easy-to-read narrative style full of anecdotes to illustrate the surprising science behind what actually determines success, and most importantly, how anyone can achieve it – regardless of the ‘conventional’ measures.
4. Pivot: The Only Move That Matters Is Your Next One, by Jenny Blake
For when the pressure to make the “exact right move” is preventing you from making a move at all.
Why we like it: Jenny Blake was a Career Development and Training Specialist who created a startup-inspired framework to help people think about their career growth. Following this guidance helps build confidence, reduce second-guessing, and make a career change that much easier. Her 4-step framework can be used again and again to help you take the next right move until you reach your goals.
5. Designing Your Life: How to Build a Well-Lived, Joyful Life, by Bill Burnett & Dave Evans
For when you know something needs to change, but you aren’t sure what it is or where to start.
Why we like it: If you aren’t sure what change to make yet, analysis paralysis could be holding you back from taking the first step. Designing Your Life is a makes the process simpler and more approachable by offering tools and exercises to help you take a design thinking approach to your life and career. Rather than having to figure out your end destination ahead of time, Designing Your Life helps you test hypotheses by prototyping various career options, reflecting on them, then updating your path along the way.
6. Switchers: How Smart Professionals Change Careers – and Seize Success, by Dr. Dawn Graham
For when you need some guidance in landing in your new job ready to succeed!
Why we like it: Dr. Dawn Graham provides another layer of guidance in Switchers which will help you do more than just switch careers — her guidance will provide you the insights and tools you need to make sure you land in a new role where you can hit the ground running and be a success.
7. The Dip: A Little Book That Teaches You When to Quit (and When to Stick), by Seth Godin
For when you need some motivation to quit what you know you should have quit long ago.
Why we like it: Sometimes the hardest thing about a job change is leaving something behind. If you need guidance on whether you should quit (or not), and how to best to it, then this book by Seth Godin will give you the tools, confidence, and inspiration you need to quit.
8. What’s Next?: Follow Your Passion and Find Your Dream Job, by Kerry Hannon
For when you’re considering a mid-career change and worried it’s too late.
Why we like it: Filled with inspiring stories from real people who have changed careers mid-life, What’s Next? is a roadmap of sorts for anyone looking to make their next job their dream job. The combination of in-depth testimonials and concrete suggestions will give you the inspiration and tools to pursue your dream job, no matter what you were doing before.
9. The New Rules of Work, by Alexandra Cavoulacos and Kathryn Minshew
For when you realize that the days of long-term company loyalty and pensions are over, and aren’t sure how to navigate the current job market.
Why we like it: In the past, people picked one career and stuck to it, rarely even switching companies. But the modern workplace has changed drastically, and the advice of old doesn’t necessarily apply. Written by the founders of the popular career website The Muse, The New Rules of Work contains quick exercises and structured tips to help you find the right path, land the right job, and advance your career in the age of digital transformation.
10. The Power of Meaning: Finding Fulfillment in a World Obsessed with Happiness, by Emily Esfahani Smith
For when the career you thought would make you happy, didn’t.
Why we like it: As it turns out, we’re not very good at predicting what will make us happy. In a culture obsessed with happiness, this wise, stirring book points the way toward a richer, more satisfying life. Weaving together research, a variety of historical sources, and compelling examples, The Power of Meaning offer 4 pillars that you can put in place to build a more meaningful, fulfilling career.
11. Stumbling on Happiness, by Daniel Gilbert
For when you need to better understand what makes you happy in life (and what doesn’t)
Money won’t bring you happiness. Nor will that title, nice offer, or shorter commute… so what will? Daniel Gilbert is one of the world’s leading research on happiness and shares practical guidance to help you grow your career in a way that will give you lasting satisfaction.
12. Managing Transitions: Making the Most of Change, by William Bridges
Because change is hard, and it takes longer than you’d expect.
Why we like it: William Bridges shares that, in order to make the most of change, you also have to consider the “Transition” — the personal and emotional aspect of the change. This “transition” starts well before an actual physical change, and lasts long after. While not as easy to recognize, celebrate, or cope with, it’s every bit as important!
13. Go Put Your Strengths to Work, by Marcus Buckingham
One of the founders of the “Strengths” movements provides practical tips on helping you understand what makes you come alive.
Why we like it: In one of our popular blog posts, we already shared some of the key points from Marcus Buckingham’s work. In this book, he provides a full guide, along with research, to help you answer the question, “How can you actually apply your strengths for maximum success at work?”.
14. Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions, by Daniel Ariely
You will likely make an irrational decision as you navigate your career transition. But don’t worry, you’re not alone.
Why we like it: Dan Ariely light-heartedly and clearly explains how humans to make irrational decisions, even on very important events. Predictably Irrational gives you the insights to help understand when you’re approaching the state of irrationality, and what to do instead.
15. Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, by Daniel Pink
One of the first books to clearly explain that work is much more than about a paycheck, and what will give you satisfaction instead.
Why we like it: Have you ever met someone that had a job you thought would be a “Dream job”, only to learn they didn’t like it? Have you ever wondered why people with jobs at really important organizations seem unsatisfied? Drive explains why, and how you can use these principles to plan your own career that will give you purpose.
16. The Purpose Economy: How Your Desire for Impact, Personal Growth and Community Is Changing the World, by Aaron Hurst
Finally, a book to help you understand what Purpose actually is, and why the quest for it is taking the corporate world by storm.
Why we like it: Aaron Hurst uses a combination of research, stories, and industry insights to help you understand the concept of purpose, and how to tap into your own personal purpose patters.
17. You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life, by Jen Sincero
This title says it all.
Why we like it: The world needs you to be a badass. This book will help you recognize your awesomeness, and how to unleash it for greater good.
18. Get Out of Your Mind and Into Your Life: The New Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, by Steven C. Hayes
A primer on “Acceptance & Commitment Therapy” that is a must-read for anybody going through a challenging journey.
Why we like it: While you are more like to hear the term “Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT)” coming from a therapist or psychologist, the reality is that ACT is a very approachable, scientifically based psychotherapy that can help you be mentally healthy. Since going through career change can bring some mental strain, we find this principle can help you cope with the highs and lows that come with the journey.
19. The CBT Toolbox: A Workbook for Clients and Clinicians, by Jeff Riggenbach
A great guide to help you improve your self-worth
Why we like it: Similar to the book about ACT above, “Cognitive and Behavioral Therapy” is more likely to be discussed by a therapist than a career coach, but by mastering your own mind, you can feel more confident and increase your ability to handle the stress that comes with career changes. The takeaways from this book will be sure to stick with you for the rest of your life! Want an easier to digest read, check out Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: 7 Ways to Freedom from Anxiety, Depression, and Intrusive Thoughts by Lawrence Wallace
20. The Obstacle Is the Way: The Timeless Art of Turning Trials into Triumph, by Ryan Holiday
How to gain strength from hard situations, and emerge even stronger!
This book is largely about stoicism, the endurance of pain or hardship without the display of feelings and without complaint. Yup… that sounds like the job search! This book shares how some of the most successful people in the world have applied stoicism to overcome, learn from, and remain balanced in challenging situations.
Looking for more individualized guidance to support you through your career transition? Apply to our Career Growth & Social Impact Global Fellowship to get the tools, experience, and network to make a bigger impact with your career.