Five must-read books if you're thinking of a career change
How long does a person spend at work in an average lifetime? There is a huge variation of course, but whether you’re working on a full-time 9–5 basis or something entirely different, your relationship to your work matters, and contributes significantly to your overall well-being.
When your relationship with your work deteriorates or doesn’t feel quite right, it’s natural to consider making a change.
It’s best not to underestimate how big a decision it is to change career, so if possible, take plenty of time to consider your options. This is where books on the topic of career change can be especially insightful: to help clarify your reasons for making a change, and advising you on the ideal way to go about it. You may decide that taking a new approach to work is actually what you need – there are numerous books out there to help with this too.
What follows is a list of five common reasons we feel unsatisfied at work, and five books to help us overcome these difficulties.
You know it’s time to make a change but aren’t sure where to begin
Career Leap: How to Re-invent and Liberate Your Career – Michelle Gibbings
With the rise of automation and artificial intelligence in many sectors, workplaces are changing. Positions allow more flexibility but less long-term job security. Freelancing is becoming the new norm in the gig economy.
Career expert Michelle Gibbings frames her book on future-proofing your career within the transitional working culture we live in, arguing that by making simple choices you have the ability to ‘reignite, reshape and liberate your career’, and ‘While it isn’t possible to future-proof your job, by taking positive steps it is possible to future–proof your career’.
With refreshing directness, Gibbings compels us to be more active when redefining our career, writing that ‘Knowing how to write the new rulebook for your career gives you a competitive advantage that will last long into the future’.
Your workplace isn’t a great cultural fit, but you love your work and are determined to thrive as an introvert in a world of extroverts
Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking – Susan Cain
As an introvert, fitting into the modern workplace can be a challenge. Sometimes the answer is to change jobs and reassess your career, but often there are ways introverts – who make up one third of the population according to recent research – can thrive.
After all, as Susan Cain writes in Quiet, it is introverts who often provide the most powerful insights and innovations when given the opportunity to share their ideas.
Cain confirms that there are times when it is important to ‘be a pretend extrovert’, but that ultimately ‘staying true to your temperament is key to finding work you love and work that matters’.
If you are an introvert – as many of us are – or possess introverted traits, this book is a must-read for its focus on either thriving in an extroverted workplace or forging a new career path.
For those who feel undervalued and underappreciated at work
Get a Life, Not a Job: Do What You Love and Let Your Talents Work for You – Paula Caligiuri
‘You only have one life: why settle for anything less?’
According to Paula Caligiuri, we should all be striving to do what we love at work. The driving point of Caligiuri’s book is that in a world where employers show less long-term loyalty to employees, the onus is on the workers themselves to take responsibility for their own career.
The key, Caligiuri argues, is to leverage your skills, talents and interests in order to excel in your chosen career, or to work towards a new career entirely.
You feel disengaged with your work and some bad habits are holding you back. You want to cultivate better habits to achieve greater work-life balance, but don’t know where to begin.
The Power of Habit – Charles Duhigg
Often we are held back in life by our habits – some benign, and some actively harmful. Duhigg’s book acknowledges that habits come in many forms, but the underlying mechanisms of habit-forming are the same.
Once you understand this and how habits are formed, it’s possible not only to break any bad habits but to form positive habits in their place.
Changing your daily habits in the workplace is a powerful way to get your career back on the right track. With the right habits anyone can improve their productivity at work and their general wellbeing – positive changes likely to be noticed by your colleagues and rewarded by managers.
You feel stuck in a rut in your career, and you’re yearning for change
Getting Unstuck: How Dead Ends Become New Paths – Timothy Butler
With our career as with life, it’s easy to get stuck in a rut. You may be in this position already within your current job, where you feel you’ve exhausted all other options and finding a new career path is the only way out.
Butler’s book is a practical manual for people who find themselves in just this situation, looking for a way to find a new career direction, but not sure where to start.
With practical exercises involving meditation and writing – and real-life examples of people who overcame career and personal life impasses – Butler helps you find ways to recognise the patterns of meaning in your life, and how to use your experience and imagination to take action for positive change. All with the aim of defining a meaningful path.
Our range of postgraduate courses and short course options can help you take the first step towards a new career, or enable you to take a fresh approach to your current role by upskilling.