The 8 Best Career Books of 2021
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Whether you're in retail management or IT, the average person changes jobs between five and seven times during their career while another 30 percent will change every 12 months. Whether you’re looking to find a new job or simply excel in the one you’ve got, our picks for the best career books will help you find your way.
Best Overall: Designing Your Life
New York Times Bestseller “Designing Your Life” from Bill Burnett and Dave Evans shows readers how to—putting it simply—design a life they love. Using design thinking, such as how a chair or a smartphone is designed, the authors explain how to apply those principles to designing one’s career, and therefore, one’s life. Burnett is a Consulting Assistant professor at Stanford and the executive director of the Design Program; Evans is adjunct lecturer in the Product Design Program at Stanford, a management consultant, and a co-founder of Electronic Arts, a California-based video game company.
Best for Women: Power Moves
Career Contessa’s Lauren McGoodwin has long spoken to ambitious Millennial women. But her book, “Power Moves: How Women Can Pivot, Reboot, and Build a Career of Purpose,” takes it a step further. The book focuses primarily on career transitions and how women can grow in their careers, focusing on a few key principles—abandoning the idea of a dream job, quitting the comparison game, taking control of your finances, and what power moves are (and why they’re important). A former recruiter for Hulu, McGoodwin is also the host of The Femails podcast.
Best for Early Risers (Or Those Who Want to Be): The 5AM Club
As implied by the title of Robin Sharma’s book, your best work happens before everyone else in the world wakes up. “The 5 AM Club: Own Your Morning, Elevate Your Life” promises that waking up just one hour earlier (yes, really) can help you reduce stress, improve focus and creativity, and gain success. Sharma is a leadership speaker and is also the author of “The Leader Who Had No Title.”
Best for Creatures of Habit: The Slight Edge
“The Slight Edge: Turning Simple Disciplines Into Massive Success and Happiness” is a guide for readers to make a habit of turning those seemingly small, everyday choices into success and fulfillment. The eighth edition of this book focuses on the “ripple effect,” or what coauthor Jeff Olson has deemed one of the primary factors determining success today. Olson is a motivational speaker and is the founder of The People's Network. Coauthor John David Mann is an award-winning author and has also written The Go-Giver with Bob Burg, The Latte Factor with David Bach, The Red Circle with Brandon Webb, and Flash Foresight with Daniel Burrus.
Best Inspirational Pick: Find Your Why
A follow-up to Simon Sinek’s wildly popular “Start Your Why,” this second installment focuses on how teams and leaders can find inspiration within the workplace; in other words, their “why.” Written in tandem with Peter Docker and David Mead, Sinek lays out a roadmap for professionals to find their why and implement it, asking questions like, "Can I have more than one 'why?'" Or, "What if my 'why' looks like my competitor’s?" Sinek is also the author of “Leaders Eat Last.”
Best for Introverts: Year of Yes
Shonda Rimes is famous for hits on the small screen as creator of “Grey’s Anatomy,” “Scandal,” and “How to Get Away with Murder.” But now she can add "The New York Times" bestseller title to her repertoire. This isn’t just a fizzy, celebrity tell-all, though. Inspired by a conversation during Thanksgiving during which the author's sister accused her of never saying "yes," this memoir follows the author over a year of saying yes to everything that scared her. A worthy lesson, in life and the boardroom.
Best for Strategic Thinkers: Expect to Win
Carla Harris’ “Expect to Win” shares the author’s trademark “pearls” of wisdom on how to be successful in any workplace. Think: authenticity, the power of perception, leveraging your voice, and showing up as your best self every day. Harris is the managing director of global capital markets at Morgan Stanley and has been named Fortune magazine's 50 Most Powerful Black Executives in America, Essence magazine's 50 Women Who Are Shaping the World, and Black Enterprise's 50 Most Powerful Women in Business.
Best for Millennials: Indistractable
What millennial hasn’t struggled with distraction at the hands of their ever-present smartphone? Enter Nir Eyal’s “Distracted,” which takes on the seemingly impossible task of extricating this distraction from our day-to-day-life. This book explores not just the psychology behind why we’re so obsessed with our smartphones, but also shares a four-step model on how to keep it in check. Eyal, a former Stanford lecturer, is also the author of international bestseller “Hooked.”
Bill Burnett and Dave Evans’ New York Times Bestseller “Designing Your Life” (view at Amazon) earned our pick for the top spot due to its innovative approach to career management using design theory. How? The authors applied concrete design examples, like how your smartphone is designed, to help readers “design” a fulfilling life and career.
Meet the Expert
Rachel Morgan Cautero has a master's degree in journalism from New York University and more than a decade of journalism experience, most in the personal finance sector. Most recently, she was the managing editor of DailyWorth, a finance-based media destination for women. She’s been published in SmartAsset, The Balance, The Atlantic, Life & Money, Parents, WealthRocket, and Yahoo Finance. These titles were selected based on author credentials, reader reviews, and any relevant awards.