Can you read your way to career success?

Guest Blog

Today I welcome Mark Crossfield; Accredited Executive Coach, Licensed Career Coach and Master NLP Practitioner at Bravo Coaching.

Mark is passionate about helping people to love their job and build a great career at whatever stage and whatever age. He supports people in their career to become unstuck and overcome challenging situations. Today he asks; Can you read your way to career success?

Welcome Mark, over to you..

I love reading. I always have done, and books have been a significant inspiration and information source in my life and career so far. But are books enough? Can you get all you need from the pages of the great career books available?

You see, the theory has it that whatever is currently challenging you in your career has probably been overcome and dealt with by somebody else before you.

There’s a decent chance that person has written about their experience and how to overcome these challenges.

Let’s look at the best career books available in 3 categories:

  • Choosing a career
  • Getting hired
  • Succeeding at work and overcoming challenges

And in each case, I will reflect on where the gaps might be and how you can find further inspiration.

Choosing a Career

One of the most challenging aspects of career management is, well, choosing a career or deciding what’s next for you. Two of the best books on navigating the world of career selection are:

  • Working Identity – Herminia Ibarra
  • The Squiggly career – Helen Tupper and Sarah Ellis

Working Identity is still probably the best I have read on this subject. It’s an old book, and I have read it many times and highlighted the best bits.

This isn’t a step-by-step book, however -more of a longer-term career strategy.

Some Key Points:

– The biggest mistake people make in career exploration is to delay taking the first step until they have settled on a destination

– Run small experiments to explore new identities of who you could become

– Action is crucial. It isn’t easy to think your way into finding your new career

The Squiggly Career book is a more recent addition and breaks down the traditional concept of a linear career path replacing it with a ‘squiggly’ model. This book is very practical with lots of exercises and activities to illuminate a successful career path.

The book guides you to identify your strengths, values, goals, and motivations. The authors also reveal how to network effectively by helping others and the merits of starting a side project.

Both books are highly recommended, and for many people, this may be enough to support you in understanding yourself better and making intelligent next steps in managing your career.

However, using books as your only aid requires self-reflection and an ability to maintain sustained progress in the direction of your ideal career. This can be challenging, and it can be difficult to resolve your own career challenges and evaluate options when working solo.

Seeking assistance from a friend or family member is always an option, of course.

Getting Hired

The steps needed to secure a job include CV preparation, job application writing, and succeeding at a job interview. All these steps can be fairly alien if you are not used to them. Thankfully there are a lot of books available to help you in this area and two of the best are:

The CV Book: How to avoid the most common mistakes and write a winning CV by James Innes

Knockout Interview by John Lees

The CV Book by James Innes is a very practical approach to writing a CV that gets results. The book shows you how to:

  • Quickly put together a CV
  • Tailor your CV to each opportunity that arises
  • Avoid all of the most common CV mistakes
  • Make your CV stand out from the competition

The book is highly recommended.

Knockout Interview by John Lees is an easy to read and practical guide to support you in preparing for and succeeding at interview. John provides:

– 125 of the most common interview questions

– A ‘fast-track’ preparation option for interviews

– Sample answers to challenging questions

– Insights into what goes wrong in an interview and why

Both of these books are useful in helping you to prepare your job application and CV and also to get you ready for your interview. Preparation is the key, and therefore, these books are highly recommended.

Books however, by their nature, convey information in one direction: from the book to you. The weakness, therefore, is getting bespoke advice on drafting a CV personal to you and also tailoring your interview approach to your unique situation. When I support clients, for example, in preparing for an interview, I’m able to tailor my advice around the role, the likely questions that could arise, and of course the strengths and weaknesses of my client.

Succeeding at work and overcoming challenges

Having decided on a career and succeeded in securing a role that ticks all your boxes there are still many challenges to enjoying your role and succeeding at work over the long term. Two of the best books that can support you with these challenges are:

How to Have a Good Day – Caroline Webb

Be Bulletproof – James Brooke and Simon Brooke

How to Have a Good Day is research led and evidence-based and is a comprehensive collection of mindset approaches, tools and techniques you can use to have a good day (at work).

The book is divided into seven parts. In a nutshell, these parts address:

– Setting your intentions

– Organising yourself and your life in a more strategic way

– Making the most of your relationships

– Being your best, most insightful self

– Maximising your impact

– Increasing your resilience

– Boosting your energy.

The book offers many helpful insights into the nature of human interaction and why we act the way that we do at work. This is both informative and liberating.

Be Bulletproof by James and Simon Brooke is about how can you turn a crisis into an opportunity and make yourself bulletproof. The book provides practical solutions for strengthening resilience so you can bounce back from any setback, rejection, or criticism.

I think the book is a good choice in this category and can help you to become more confident, positive, and self-assured in the face of the challenges faced day to day at work.

Both these books help you to deal with many of the challenges you might face at work. Addressing confidence issues, which can be a significant factor in your career, is something both these books address.

When to call a career coach

The chink in the armour, when it comes to reading, is that however thorough these books are there are bound to be situations you are encountering which are not adequately dealt with. Besides, your situation is unique to you and applying generic advice can sometimes be hit and miss.

So, what are the other options …?

If you need support in your career and cannot work through the issues yourself with the aid of good books, finding a career coach can be a good move.

Working with a good career coach can be life-changing and help you discover what your best life at work looks like, making the most of your skills, experience, values, and aspirations.

Whether you’re working for a large or small organisation or currently looking for your next role, working with a career coach can set you on the right path to feeling happier, more fulfilled and rewarded at work.

The range of issues a career coach can help you with include:

  • Supporting you to make a big leap in your career
  • Working with you to look at your career options
  • Helping you to deal with the blocks you may have around your career success
  • Assisting you to overcome the fear of making the next step to something better
  • Supporting you when you are ‘stuck in a rut’ at work – maybe you are in a ‘good job’, but not a good job for you!

If you interested in finding out more about career coaching with me have a look at my website to see the many ways I can help you in your career.

If you are unsure about career coaching, let’s have an informal chat.

Bye for now!


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