7 books that should be required reading early in your career

Consider this your syllabus to success.

7 books that should be required reading early in your career

Whether you graduated this year or you’re a few years into your career, it’s now up to you to find ways to work smarter so you move ahead—and don’t get stuck in a career rut. And no, we don’t mean you’ve got to start earning an MBA or hire a career coach. But you do have to crack the books! You can pursue professional development wherever you are—as long as you’ve got the right teachers.

We reviewed some top business and career books and found seven that help solve some of the most common career conundrums. If you’re looking to find a better job, get that coveted raise or promotion or want to improve your relationships with co-workers, add these books to your career curriculum and you may be one step closer to the corner office.

When you want to ace your job search

Getting from College to Career: Your Essential Guide to Succeeding in the Real World by Lindsey Pollak

Consider this book Job Search 101. Pamela Weinberg, a New York City-based certified career management coach and personal branding strategist recommends Pollak’s book because it “gives actionable tips to help make a successful transition from college to a job you love.” Learn valuable job-search skills surrounding interview prep, networking, personal branding and more.

When you’re ready for the next step at work

Becoming the Boss: New Rules for the Next Generation of Leaders by Lindsey Pollak

If College to Career was Job Search 101, Pollak’s next book is Career Advancement 101. “Even if you aren’t the boss now, reading this will help you understand your boss and get you ready when it’s your turn,” says Kevin Grubb, the executive director of Villanova University’s Career Center. It’s filled with practical suggestions, quizzes and checklists that “break down modern management styles and techniques.”

When you want to push beyond your comfort zone

Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol Dweck

Do you think you’re dealt a certain hand when it comes to your intelligence and talents? Or do you feel like you can change—even if it means failing along the way? Stanford University psychologist Carol Dweck uses research to show that how you perceive your own ability to grow and change impacts how successful you might become.

“Dweck explains why it’s not just our abilities and talent that bring us success—but whether we approach them with a fixed or growth mindset,” says Atlanta-based executive coach Jodie Charlop. Read this book to learn how to think—and grow—outside the box.

When you want to inspire others

Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action by Simon Sinek

You may be a pro at explaining what you do and how you do it, but are you good at explaining why you do what you do? (And no, the answer isn’t the paycheck and benefits.) Author Simon Sinek says, “Why is the thing that inspires us and inspires those around us.”

The book also teaches you how to cultivate the inspirational quality found in leaders like Martin Luther King Jr. and the Wright Brothers.

When you want to get more done

What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast by Laura Vanderkam

Eat. Run. Meditate. Plan. These are just some of the things super-motivated people do before they’ve even had their first cup of coffee. Laura Vanderkam’s book shares the morning routines of some of the most successful people and explains how to hack your morning for improved productivity.

“All of Laura's books are amazing, but this is full of great ideas to adapt or modify that really helped me rethink how I plan my days,” says Molly Ford Beck, the New York City-based host of the Forbes’ podcast Two Inboxes.

When you want to have better relationships at work

How to Win Friends and Influence People: The Only Book You Need to Lead You to Succeed by Dale Carnegie

Learning how to get along with others at work is one of those life skills they don’t teach you at college. Luckily, the classic book How to Win Friends and Influence People has been around since 1936, helping millions of people improve their interpersonal skills in the office.

“This book helps you understand the core elements of relationship building, how to cultivate trust and how to motivate others (including yourself),” says Tallia Deljou, New Orleans-based career coach. “I recommend it to anyone and everyone who is curious about the psychology behind interpersonal connections.”

When you want to focus on what matters most

Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown

Have you ever said “yes” to far too many things, only to find yourself rushed and overwhelmed? You may want to pick up Greg McKeown’s instant New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestseller ASAP.

McKeown explains how to trim your to-do list so you can devote more time and energy to being successful at the tasks that matter most. “This book helps you redirect your time and energy in a way that will keep you on track and get you to where you want to be,” says Deljou.