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12 Books to Empower Your Career & Job Search in 2021

Matt Glodz
12 Books to Empower Your Career & Job Search in 2021

Our Top 12 Career Books to Add to Your Reading List in 2021

Welcome to 2021!

We compiled our top book recommendations to help you with:

  • Finding Your Passion
  • Changing Careers
  • Networking
  • Increasing Drive and Motivation
  • Improving Work Performance
  • Starting Your Own Business or Side Hustle

We found the books on this list to be particularly helpful in our own lives, and we trust that you'll benefit from reading them as well.

Happy reading, and best wishes for your career success in 2021!

Finding Your Passion 

What Color is Your Parachute? by Richard N. Bolles

What Color Is Your Parachute? 2021 - Richard N. Bolles

What Color is Your Parachute?: Your Guide to a Lifetime of Meaningful Work and Career Success is a comprehensive, practical manual for jobseekers that has sold over 10 million copies.

A classic in the world of career coaching, it will guide you through practical exercises to identify exactly the type of job you are looking for and secure a role that truly excites you.

The revised 2021 edition addresses the impact of COVID-19 on job seekers and applies timeless career advice on topics including interviews, salary negotiations, and changing careers to today's market.

StrengthsFinder 2.0 by Tom Rath

StrengthsFinder 2.0 by Tom Rath

We're strong proponents of taking time to clarify your career direction. After all, there's nothing worse than climbing up a ladder only to find out it's leaning against the wrong wall.

StrengthsFinder 2.0 includes an online assessment that will help you identify your innate talents.

You can leverage these insights to position yourself on a career path that you will not only enjoy but also thrive in.

Changing Careers

When to Jump by Mike Lewis

When to Jump: When the Job You Hate Isn't The Life You Want by Mike Lewis

I read When to Jump: When the Job You Hate Isn't The Life You Want before quitting my job to work on Resume Pilots full-time, and it gave me the final push I needed to go for it.

I highly recommend this book to anyone thinking of making a major life change - whether that's shifting career direction, moving to a new country, or launching a new business.

Lewis' Jump Curve provides practical guidance on how to prepare for your transition mentally and financially. You'll also read 44 first-hand stories from people who have made major jump in the past.

The common theme? Not a single person regretted their decision.

Excellent Sheep by William Deresiewicz

Excellent Sheep: The Miseducation of the American Elite and the Way to a Meaningful Life

"In order to invent your life, you need to overcome that thing the system is so good at inculcating: fear of failure."

If you're a lifelong overachiever and people pleaser, you'll enjoy Excellent Sheep: The Miseducation of the American Elite & The Way to a Meaningful Life by William Deresiewicz, a former Yale professor who observed that his students were, well, excellent sheep.

While the students excelled at ticking the boxes and doing what was expected of them, they struggled to find their purpose and vocation.

This book is a must-read for current high school and college students, but working professionals will also find it helpful in rethinking societal norms of what it means to be successful.


The Proximity Principle by Ken Coleman

The Proximity Principle by Ken Coleman

Studies show that the best way to get a job is through personal connections, and less than 1% of candidates who apply via job boards end up getting hired.

In The Proximity Principle, Ken Coleman discusses how to position yourself to connect with the right people, helping you build genuine relationships that open the doors to new career opportunities.

If you aren't a natural networker or get nervous at the idea, this is the book for you.

Increasing Drive & Motivation

12 Rules for Life by Jordan B. Peterson

12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos by Jordan B. Peterson

12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos is incredibly well-researched, leveraging material from philosophy, mythology, and religion to explain why you should "set your house in perfect order before you criticize the world" and "treat yourself like someone you are responsible for helping," among other rules.

Peterson, a former Harvard professor and clinical psychologist, writes in a blunt and straightforward manner.

His approach will help you stop making excuses or blaming external circumstances, motivating you to take responsibility for your life once and for all.

Designing Your Life by Bill Burnett & Dave Evans

Designing Your Life: How to Build a Well-Lived, Joyful Life by Bill Burnett and Dave Evans

Written by two product design professors at Stanford, Designing Your Life: How to Build a Well-Lived, Joyful Life teaches you how to leverage design thinking principles to build a meaningful life and career.

If you feel like you're settling or unhappy with your current circumstances, their book is a practical resource for getting unstuck and improving your situation.

Their latest book, Designing Your Work Life: How to Thrive and Change and Find Happiness at Work, applies the same principals to help you transform your current role to make it more meaningful and engaging.

The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg

The Power of Habit Book by Charles Duhigg


You can't argue with the fact that consistent, strategic action leads to progress. While we often set out with good intentions and feasible plans, new year's resolutions and other goals end up on the backburner in place of more urgent (or more pleasurable) tasks.

In The Power of Habit, Charles Duhigg, an award-winning reporter, explains the science behind habit formation using engaging real-world case studies.

By applying his insights, you'll be able to create lasting habits that drive desired change.

Improving Work Performance

Deep Work by Cal Newport

Cal Newport - Deep Work

Between calls, texts, emails, and Slack messages, it's no wonder so many of us find it hard to concentrate on what needs to get done.

In Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World, Cal Newport explains how to accelerate your performance by eliminating the noise and devoting 100% of your focus to demanding tasks.

As a result, you'll be able to accelerate your productivity, reduce stress, and get noticed by your superiors.

Flow by Mihaly Csikszentmihaly

Flow by Mihaly Csikszentmihaly - Amazon

You know that satisfying feeling of being so engaged in your work that hours go by and you don't even notice? This state of consciousness is simply referred to as flow.

In Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience, psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihaly explains how you can intentionally put yourself into such a state more often to become happier and more engaged.

You can apply these principles in both your work and personal life.

Getting Things Done by David Allen

Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity - David Allen - Amazon

Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity is all about how to create efficient systems to keep track of what needs to be done and when.

When you have to-do lists scattered between your iPhone, multiple Post-it notes, Google calendar, Trello, and Excel worksheets, keeping track of everything becomes a job in itself.

Such an approach also makes it easy to miss things or procrastinate, leading to additional stress.

David Allen's systems for organization and productivity are simple and straightforward - and that's exactly what will help ensure that you actually use them.

Starting Your Own Business or Side Hustle

The E-Myth Revisited by Michael E. Gerber


The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don't Work and What to Do About It is a must-read for anyone thinking about starting their own business.

Small business owners wear many hats spanning marketing, HR, accounting, legal, and sales - in addition to delivering their products or services.

Gerber explains the vital difference between a business owner (someone who works on the business, driving strategy and growth) and a technician (someone who works in the business, delivering the goods).

While you'll inevitably wear all of the hats when you first start, his framework will help you prevent burnout and position your business for long-term success.

In Summary

We hope you enjoy our suggestions and found at least one or two books to add to your reading list for 2021! 

If you have any other book recommendations, feel free to share them with us at

This article contains affiliate links, so we may get a small commission for any purchases you make using them. We only recommend books we have read and think you will capture value from, so we appreciate your support!

About Resume Pilots

Resume Pilots is an award-winning executive resume writing firm and a proud member of the Professional Association of Resume Writers and Career Coaches. Our previous clients include CEOs and senior executives at the world's leading companies.

As a professional services firm, we take your reputation seriously. We are committed to delivering writing excellence and superior service while operating with integrity and discretion. Recruitment firms we partner with also trust us to consistently deliver quality documents for their clients.

Our writers have studied in the Ivy League and other top-tier universities and have strong writing backgrounds coupled with industry experience.

Here's how we can help you:

Resume, Cover Letter, and LinkedIn Writing Services: If you are looking for end-to-end support, hire one of our professional resume writers to rewrite your documents from the ground up.

Executive Resume Template Downloads: If you plan to prepare your own resume, consider using one of our classic, ATS-friendly resume templates for Microsoft Word.

To learn more about our services, book an introductory call with our founder here or email

About the AuthorMatt Glodz

Matt Glodz is the Founder and Managing Partner of Resume Pilots and a Certified Professional Resume Writer.

After studying business communication at Cornell University, Matt worked within Fortune 500 companies, where he noted that qualified candidates were frequently denied interview opportunities due to poorly written documents.

At Resume Pilots, Matt combines his business and writing background - which includes prior work for a Chicago Tribune publication - to craft resumes that give his clients the best chance of landing interviews. He works with clients ranging from CEOs to recent graduates and has been writing resumes for over 10 years.

He has been quoted on numerous business and career-related topics in outlets including Business Insider, CNBC, Fortune, Glassdoor, The Ladders, and Thrive Global.

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