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Career Strategy and Advancement

The books listed in this section can help you gain a better understanding of career strategy and advancement. While 12 Steps to a New Career uses your achievement stories to identify the skills you use most frequently in your personal and work life, many of these books use different approaches to accomplish the same thing. Since there is no one way that works best for everyone, I often refer people to one or more of these books for a different approach to finding their career destiny.

Some books on this list deal with other issues that I often suggest my clients read because they deal specifically with career advancement issues.

Here are my recommendations:
Do What You Are: Discover the Perfect Career for You Through the Secrets of Personality Type – Third Edition by Paul D. Tieger & Barbara Barron-Tieger, Little, Brown and Co., 2001.
Using workbook exercises, you can determine a close approximation of your MBTI profile. The chapters describe characteristics for each profile, including examples of people within that profile, suggested occupations, and possible pitfalls.

Do What You Love, the Money Will Follow: Discovering Your Right Livelihood by Marsha Sinetar, Dell, New York, 1989.
Discover how to tune in to your inner world and your unique talents; evaluate and build your self-esteem, banish your outmoded network of “shoulds” and liberate yourself from an unfulfilling job with this step-by-step guide to finding work that satisfies your passions.

FIRST, Break All the Rules by Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman, Fireside (Simon & Schuster), 1999.
This book results from a survey conducted by The Gallup Organization of how great companies select people for talent rather just focusing on skills and experience. There are excellent examples of what employers look for that would be helpful to any executive or manager who will be facing corporate interviewers.

First Things First by Stephen R. Covey, Simon & Schuster, 1994.
Covey helps you to manage your time better, not by just being more efficient but by looking at what is most important and what really matters in your life and career. He then gives you a road map on how to put more balance in your life and organize yourself to focus on the things that are most important.

How to be a Star at Work: Nine Breakthrough Strategies You Need to Succeed by Robert E. Kelley, Time Books, a division of Random House, 1998.
Kelley builds on his research with Bell Labs where fellow employees identified the star performers, and then Kelley and his team researched what those people did that enabled them to be so successful. He was able to identify nine techniques common to all. The excellent book includes examples of the techniques that illustrate how and why they were successful. It doesn’t dwell on theory but illustrates practical guidance on what works and why.

I Could Do Anything, If I Only Knew What It Was: How to Discover What You Really Want and How to Get It by Barbara Sher, Dell Publishing, 1994.
This is a good book for anyone languishing in a dead-end job and reluctant to make drastic life changes due to uncertainty about what would actually inspire them. Sher will show you how to determine what your goals are and how to successfully reach them even if you haven’t the foggiest idea what to do with yourself.

The Introvert Advantage: How to Thrive in an Extrovert World by Marti Olsen Laney, Psy.D., Workman Publishing, 2002.
If you’re an introvert, you already know that getting your message across to people you just met, expanding your network, and asking for help from people you don’t know very well can be intimidating. This book will help you accept yourself for who you are and offer advice on how to be more effective at getting your message out.

Life Strategies: Doing What Works, Doing What Matters and the companion The Life Strategies Workbook by Philip C. McGraw, Hyperion, 2000.
The book and companion workbook give you no-nonsense, action-oriented, life-changing philosophies of Dr. McGraw. You need to read the book before using the workbook. He guides you through his process of getting real about yourself, getting smart about understanding his 10 life laws, getting ready by preparing yourself, and getting going by identifying your goals and action items to accomplish them.

Listening: The Forgotten Skill by Madelyn Burley-Allen, John Wiley & Sons, 1995.
This is a self-teaching guide with exercises that will help you to become a better listener. The exercises are quick and easy, and they work.

Make Your Own Luck: Success Tactics You Won’t Learn in Business School by Peter Morgan Kash, Prentiss Hall, 2002.
A venture capitalist describes the successes and failures of his life and those of others and shows how a positive attitude and 10 simple steps can open up opportunities where before you saw none.

NOW, Discover Your Strengths by Marcus Buckingham & Donald O. Clifton, Ph.D., Simon & Schuster (The Free Press), 2001.
The authors explain how talent, skills and knowledge come together to create your strengths and why you shouldn’t spend time and effort trying to overcome your weaknesses. Read the first three chapters (about eighty pages) and then go online to answer the free questionnaire. The result will be your “signature strengths” (top five strengths), out of thirty-five distinctly different themes. Knowing these, you can find whether you’re “playing to your strengths” in your job or you’re just going through the motions and not finding career happiness. I use this excellent book in my practice to help my clients focus on pursuing opportunities that they are passionate about.

Please Understand Me II by David Keirsey, Prometheus Nemesis Book Company, 1998.
A bestseller that gives detailed portraits of the four MBTI temperament and character traits. A quick assessment questionnaire identifies your MBTI profile. The Temperament Sorter with accompanying descriptions is available online at

The Portable Coach by Thomas J. Leonard, Scribner, 1998.
The founder of Coach University describes his 28-step Principles of Attraction program that will help you to eliminate energy-wasting distractions and become the creator of an environment designed to let your natural entrepreneurialism, charm, talent and personality flourish. Exercises will help you to set and prioritize your most important values.

Power Networking: 59 Secrets for Personal & Professional Success (second edition) by Donna Fisher and Sandy Vilas, Bard Press, 2000.
A systematic approach to networking for personal, professional and business success that tells you what does and doesn’t work, and includes suggestions on what to say in different situations and how to develop your “elevator pitch.”

Primal Leadership: Realizing the Power of Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman, Richard Boyatzis, and Annie McKee, Harvard Business School Press, 2002.
This book translates the characteristics of EI from earlier research on children to what makes business leaders successful. This book is much more readable than Goleman’s Emotional Intelligence, and it identifies and illustrates successful business situations that reflect high EI.

StrengthsFinder 2.0 by Tom Rath, Gallup Press, 2007.
An upgraded edition of the original StrengthsFinder assessment developed by Donald O. Clifton and first popularized in NOW, Discover Your Strengths. This book also allows you to go online and take an updated version of the StrengthsFinder assessment. The report you receive includes more detailed information than the earlier version but the book lacks the detailed descriptions about strengths that you will find in NOW, Discover Your Strengths. I prefer this book for the updated online assessment and NOW, Discover Your Strengths for the very enlightening discussion about strengths.

What Color is Your Parachute? by Richard Nelson Bolles, Ten Speed Press, Berkeley, CA. Updated version published annually.
Dick Bolles is the father of career changing practical advice since 1970. He has updated Parachute annually to reflect feedback from readers. This book is for anyone considering a career change. It is the career search book I recommend for anyone starting their careers, in the early years of their careers, and for those with special needs. Dick Bolles’ companion Web site is

Your Best Year Yet by Jinny S. Ditzler, Warner Books, 1994.
This book is a fun, proven, interactive workshop-in-a-book that offers a transformational, goal-oriented program based on 10 simple questions. The straightforward, life-changing practical steps will help you to make your next year – and every year – the best of your life.