I recently went to a career workshop. Just as my mind started wandering a million miles away, we were asked this question: "you spend so much time focusing on your everyday tasks at work. But how much time do you spend managing your career?" I’ve been thinking about it ever since. Eventually I concluded that there’s no better gift (for a friend or, you know, yourself) than an inspiring career book or six. I’ve rounded up seven of the very best. And no, you won’t find Lean In or Thrive on this list. Promise.
PS if you're broke this month, try listening to one of these books via a free 30-day Audible trial. It costs nothing (by nothing, I mean nothing!) and you cancel whenever you like. Result!.
Can I be honest? When I first saw the cover for Leave Your Mark I initially dismissed it as a fashion-focused book, but it’s BRILLIANT. Aliza Licht, the mastermind behind the wildly popular DKNY PR Girl Twitter persona, spoils readers with a multitude of actionable tips you can put into practice today, no matter what stage of your career you’re at. Effective communication, building a personal brand, the key to an unrivalled resume... Aliza has got you covered. It's more than an advice book. It's a mentorship in a few hundred pages.
If you're bored of theory, strategy and business talk, Mistakes I Made At Work is for you. The book is made up of 25 candid, relatable essays by accomplished women such as Cheryl Strayed, Kim Gordon and Anna Holmes, who share their career screw-ups, regrets and lessons learned. My favourite? Dr. Danielle Ofri, an associate professor at New York University's School of Medicine, who writes about the time she almost killed a patient. But, really, they're all great and totally worth reading.
Feeling overwhelmed by the amount of career content out there? You're not alone. That's why Phanella Mayall Fine and Alice Olins wrote Step Up. Described as the ultimate career self-help book for women, its combination of pep talk-style advice with manageable 10-minute a day career workouts actually works wonders. Read, rehearse and design a career you love, on your own terms.
If, like me, you're more of a visual reader, I can't recommend In The Company of Women more. Written by founder of DesignSponge, this coffee table-worthy book features inspiration and advice from over 100 female makers, artists and entrepreneurs. Filled with amazing and thought-provoking stories, it left me feeling empowered and ready to make my dreams happen. I can't think of a better gift for a friend, sister or creative female in your life.
Those insecurities, fears, doubts and debilitating questions you've had about your life and career? Jen Sincero has been there and then some. This is self-help but not as you know it: it's packed full of personality, humour and witty anecdotes to help you think about yourself and your life in a brighter light. Highlighter pens at the ready. Seriously, it’s that good.
For anyone who feels unfulfilled at work but hasn't quite realised why, you absolutely must read this book. It shatters the myth that motivation is all about money. Not only will it ask you eye-opening questions, but it'll make you rethink your working life forevermore, helping you work smarter and live better. Stop hating your job and start understanding why and how you can change your situation.
Hillary Kerr and Katherine Power know a thing or two about building a successful business from scratch. They're the founders of Clique Media, after all, home to the Who What Wear empire. Their excellent book boasts career codes to follow, as well as how-to advice they've picked up while building their company from nothing to the multi-million dollar business it is today. For millennials who are just starting out, this is the perfect read.