If you only read the books that everyone else is reading, you can only think what everyone else is thinking.
— Haruki Murakami
Books are human beings' best friends for a reason. Like any friends of yours who can help you in your career trajectory growth, a book can reveal thousands of hidden secrets of acing your professional journey.
But like a thousand secrets, there are thousands of books as well. How to choose, then? Moneycontrol asked a cross-section of industry leaders to choose the best book that can help job seekers and professionals land jobs of their choice.
The 2-Hour Job Search
Every career guide has a peg, and this one is mysteriously fascinating - a systematic approach to job hunting, says Bhaskar Bhandary, Senior Director - HR at electronics corporation Acer India.
Despite the abundance of social media platforms that make networking a far more effective strategy than submitting applications blindly over the Internet, author Steve Dalton in ‘The 2-Hour Job Search’ argues that the job application process is still a dated practice that hasn't changed much, Bhandary explains.
“His suggested procedures to make use of the technological resources available to job seekers are also clear-cut and simple to implement,” he adds.
Self-Awareness: The Hidden Driver of Success and Satisfaction
HR leaders believe it's critical for job seekers to be conscious of who they are and comprehend their values at their core to have a clear vision of what they want.
“For any desired outcome to be achieved, one must be mindful of one's own being,” says Sudeep Ralhan, CHRO at online investment startup Upstox.
A book that he feels can help candidates through this journey is ‘Self-Awareness: The Hidden Driver of Success and Satisfaction’ by Travis Bradberry.
Even as people search for opportunities, Ralhan says the book talks about having conversations and assessing options because the best decisions are those that are influenced by our values and drivers.
“We need to be clear about who we are, what matters to us and what direction we want to go in,” he says, adding, “The book effectively illustrates the linkage between a wide range of personal qualities, the choices we make and the actions we carry out.”
When Jaydeep Chakrabarty, Head of Communities at IT major Thoughtworks India, interacts with candidates who have applied for a role, he notices that what makes some folks stand out is their attitude and mindset towards how work can be done - especially when faced with challenges.
“Conversations with them delve into how they are willing to work hard or think creatively or push themselves to solve a problem,” he says recommending ‘Mindset’ by Dr Carol S Dweck.
According to Chakrabarty, the book talks about two kinds of people - one with a fixed mindset and one with a growth mindset. Sharing an example of the case in hand, Chakrabarty remembers a seminar by Harsha Bhogle, the famous sports commentator talking about Indian cricket legend Rahul Dravid.
Bhogle narrated how Dravid was asked about the expectations people had of him – he was the person of choice when the Indian cricket team needed a batsman to hold strong in the third position or when no one was ready to take on the captaincy during a tough series or when India could not find a keeper who could also bat.
“Harsha described how Rahul, in his response, talked about how he looked at all those instances as opportunities. And if he did not try, he would not know how good he was. He talked of how when people try to push their limits that they realise how good they are,” Chakrabarty says.
The author talks about how confronting one’s conception of talent and power helps one develop a growth mindset and practice excellence, he adds.
How to Win Friends & Influence People
Career experts feel knowing how to be likeable will get people's attention.
Hence, one of the books Lizanne Dsouza, Founder of Liz Lyn Careers, suggests is ‘How to Win Friends & Influence People’ by Dale Carnegie.
She feels the book gives candidates tips on how to navigate social situations around them and focuses on how listening to others will help them transform their conversations.
Echoing the same, Sujitesh Das, COO of health tech firm HealthWorksAI, says organisations do not just seek people who are technically sound but also candidates who know ‘how to get work done’.
“Now, what do you think differentiates two candidates during an interview? – The first impression that they create!” he adds.
This book highlighted the things that Dsouza was not paying attention to as a business owner. For example, she always thought talking more and making a strong pitch would convince a potential client. However, through this book written in 1936, she learned that listening to her client would give her a better idea of what they wanted and, in turn, be able to help them better.
What Colour is Your Parachute?
With tips on how one should sharpen their interview skills to negotiate a solid salary, ‘What Colour is Your Parachute?’ by Richard N Bolles is a book that has been a go-to guide for any job hunter, as per Janet Paul, Director - HR at cybersecurity startup Securonix.
Some of the book's key takeaways for her include the approach to self-reflection — who are you, what do you like, what are you good at, and what do you value most? “By determining what you want rather than what the job market wants, you can set yourself on a path to career satisfaction and personal fulfilment.”
The book's best feature is that it is revised and updated each year based on the current market trends and best practices used by both employers and candidates, Paul adds.
Pre-Suasion: A Revolutionary Way to Influence and Persuade
The art of persuasion is important in all aspects of life and doubly so in a person's professional life, says Omer Basith, Co-founder & CEO of tech startup Virtual Forest. “Communicating a message is more effective if your target audience is primed to receive your message.”
Hence, Basith feels ‘Pre-Suasion: A Revolutionary Way to Influence and Persuade’ by Robert Cialdini is the best book for the purpose.
Cialdini describes tactics and the psychology behind them along with real-world examples that if properly utilised will help a job seeker convince an employer of their value proposition, Basith adds.