Here's a mixture of titles related to career theory, wisdom and practice that clients have found both helpful and inspiring. Email email@example.com if you have other suggestions or feedback.
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The Joy Of Work?: Jobs, Happiness and You — Peter Warr & Guy Clapperton
Drawing on up to date research from the fields of positive and work psychology, this book aims to help the reader take more control over their working lives. It looks at ways we can get more satisfaction from work (using some straight forward questionnaires as well as case studies and suggestions). Part of this is changing the ways we think — examining our beliefs about how we work: "changing you rather than changing your job." It also examines issues within organizations that affect well-being (such as levels of control, role ambiguity, appreciation, variety and interpersonal contact) so a useful read for managers too.
The Chaos Theory of Careers — Robert Pryor & Jim Bright
A recommended read if you really want to dig deep into contemporary career theory, particularly around unplanned change. Sometimes chance events in our working lives have profound outcomes, other times dramatic changes seem to have little effect. The Chaos Theory of Careers (CTC) characterises individuals as complex systems responding to chance events as well as complex influences and endeavours to explain how we construct meaning from our experiences of these patterns. This book explores the challenges of uncertainty, the interconnectedness of current life, the potential for information overload and emergent thinking on the search for meaning and purpose through work.
Life Coaching: A Cognitive-Behavioural Approach — Michael Neenan and Windy Dryden
The way we think profoundly influences the way we feel. Learning to replace unhelpful, negative thinking patterns will help you to feel and therefore act differently. Based on cognitive-behavioural coaching techniques, this book shows you how to tackle the self-defeating thinking that may contribute to your work, procrastination, time management, decision making and problem solving difficulties. These are all important tools of career management.
Confidence Works: Learn To Be Your Own Life Coach — Gladeana McMahon
Confidence is a vital building block of career management. Self-belief is crucial to achieving personal and professional success. If we don't have confidence in our own abilities how can we convince others? This book explores our thinking styles, our behaviours, the impressions we make and how we manage our emotions. Gladeana is one of the four founders of cognitive behavioural coaching in the UK, which is regarded as one of the most effective ways of personal change.
Working Identity — Herminia Ibarra
If you feel your work life is not fulfilling and that you need a change of direction (which is probably why most people visit Second Careers) this book is full of case studies of how others have done just that. Based on sound academic research (Ibarra is Professor of Organisational Behaviour at INSEAD), successful transitions are shown to occur one step at a time, over a surprisingly long period. Career transitions are rarely a linear, deeply planned path — often our clients take a crooked path that gradually helps them to redefine their working identities. Ibarra encourages a "first-act-then-think" sequence to career change, contrary to the "plan-then-implement" sequence in most career change literature. We have seen many of our clients create new working identities through incremental steps: pursuing extracurricular passions or voluntary experiences, rather than take one huge leap into the unknown.
The First 90 Days — Michael D. Watkins
We coach employees in the on-boarding process with the objective of settling them in as quickly as possible to start achieving results. This is a critical transition and the niggling issues in their first few months can escalate into bigger problems later on. This book is a road map for taking charge in this vulnerable period, aiming to reduce "break-even" points, ie where the new starter begins to add value, not consume it. It also provides some useful questions to ask during the interview stage, such as "what lurking surprises could detonate and push me off track?"
Job Interviews: Top Answers To Tough Questions — John Lees
John Lees is the doyen of UK careers experts. This is a practical read for anyone approaching a job interview, going "back-stage" into the mind of the interviewer. It covers 225 interview questions to prepare for, sample answers and a chapter on dreaded competency-based questions. Zena was one of several UK coaches who contributed insights on what employers and recruiters are asking in the current market.
How To Get A Job You'll Love — John Lees
This popular book is written to help people who have a strong sense that they want to do something purposeful in life, but don't know what. It's a good deck-chair read and has some useful tips on career planning. We use some of John's exercises with our clients but you might want to read the book as well to help you discover what he calls your "hot buttons".
Pit Stop: A Career Workbook For Busy People — Michael Higgins
Written by our friend, career coach Mike Higgins, this is an unusual workbook format comprising entertaining but thought-provoking exercises spliced with personal stories which are designed to move the reader from a "stuck" position to having a workable career strategy. This is a great start to career exploration. Each exercise follows logically from the other and it may be a cost-effective way of starting to investigate what you want from your working life.
More Balls Than Most: Juggle Your Way To Success With Proven Company Shortcuts — Lara Morgan
Lara Morgan (@IamLaraMorgan) started selling luxury gifts from home and ended up with a global business, with manufacturing plants in the Czech Republic and China. She sold her majority shareholding in 2008 for £20 million. On top of that, she is a happily married Mum of three who represents Great Britain at triathlons, so it is hard to find a better role-model for work/life balance. In her Second Career, Lara is now an influential speaker, mentor and has several new ventures including Company Shortcuts, a source of practical advice and frameworks to enable mid-size businesses to achieve accelerated growth. This is her very entertaining story, to inspire new entrepreneurs and also to guide experienced business people through tough decisions and challenges.
The Social Animal — David Brooks
If you are noticing that academic performance and intelligence don't always correlate with success and fulfillment and wondering which traits matter most, you will find this a fascinating read. The core finding of Brook's writing is that our decisions and views are shaped as much by unconscious processes as by the power of reason. The conscious mind gives us one way of sensing and controlling our environment and many professionals are schooled in development of these career and life skills. Yet how we make our biggest decisions - who to marry or befriend, which path to take in life, what to love - is poorly understood and often ignored. Using new scientific research to describe what makes for success and happiness in life, he uses the narratives of fictional characters to discuss the relative importance of emotion over reason, social connections over individual choice and perceptiveness over IQ. Connections built on trust and reciprocity are as important as wealth or prestige to our wellbeing. Christakis and Fowler, scroll down, describe these connections in more detail.
Connected — Nicholas Christakis & James Fowler
Many of our clients say they need to work less on their actual job and more on building the networks that help to shape their career. In this book Christakis and Fowler explain the pervasive and often bizarre qualities of social networks, which seem to have a life of their own and a scarily strong influence on our working and private lives. Most of what we do, even the way we feel, is significantly influenced by those around us and those around them, and around them. If you are thinking about the dynamics of your own networks then this will be a compelling read.
Developing Resilience — Michael Neenan
Career-paths don't always run smoothly and many obstacles we encounter seem beyond our control. We work with our clients to help them understand how they interpret these obstacles (such as job loss, lack of promotion, early retirement, failure, difficult workplace relationships, demanding workloads, poor work/life balance). Once they have understood the meaning they attach to these obstacles, they can change their behavioural and emotional response to them and cope more effectively. This cognitive-behavioural approach is the core of Neenan's work. He starts by explaining differing attitudes to redundancy and how some of us are more resilient to stressful events than others. This book is helpful to supplement coaching (and the vital support of family, friends or colleagues), particularly for clients who are struggling to find constructive ways forward.
Man's Search For Meaning — Viktor Frankl
We believe that people ultimately look for meaning and purpose in their work, even more than satisfaction. Viktor Frankl's book has sold over 10 million copies and has been rated as one of the ten most influential books in the United States. Written in 1946, it chronicles Frankl's experiences as a concentration camp inmate and describes his psychotherapeutic method of finding a reason to live. Frankl concludes from his experience that a prisoner's psychological reactions are not solely the result of the conditions of his life, but also from his freedom of choice: how we react to situations and the meaning we derive from them.
Eleanor Roosevelt — You Learn By Living: Eleven Keys for a More Fulfilling Life
Eleven keys to a more fulfilling life from a role model for a "life well lived".
Eleanor Roosevelt penned this simple guide to living a fuller life when she was seventy six and it has recently come back into print. This is a wonderful source of timeless wisdom that is relevant in any era or circumstance: how to take responsibility, get the best out of people, be useful, be mature, deal with fear, learn, contribute and find meaning. Her belief was that individuality is something we should prize and that we should take risks to define ourselves. Contemporary personal branding theories from someone born over a century ago.