New Career Center Books

The lazy days of summer have come to an end. . .but it’s not always easy to kick your career back into high gear. If you need a boost, the Career Center’s got your back, with these books on motivation, productivity, and efficiency:

Harvard Business Review Guide to Being More Productive
The Harvard Business Review consults subject matter experts to publish how-to guides on a variety of career- and business-related topics. This guide contains a compendium of techniques to maximize one’s productivity while avoiding burnout. Topics include: Prioritizing tasks, Cultivating willpower, Minimizing distractions, Focusing on meaningful work, Taking proper vacations, Recharging with micro-breaks, and Setting healthy boundaries.

Eat That Frog! Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done
by Brian Tracy
From the book: “There’s an old saying that if the first thing you do each morning is eat a live frog, you’ll have the satisfaction of knowing you’re done with the worst thing you’ll have to do all day.” Author Brian Tracy uses the live frog as a metaphor for all of the unpleasant – but crucial – tasks we tend to avoid. The book offers suggestions and strategies to help us stop procrastinating, get the frog-eating over with, and get on with our lives.

Smarter Better Faster: The Secrets of Being Productive
by Charles Duhigg
Have you ever wondered how some people manage to accomplish so much? Why some companies have such breakthrough successes? Pulitzer-Prize-winning journalist Charles Duhigg used his investigative skills to search for the answers to these questions. His findings are published in this treatise on the science of productivity. Each chapter covers a real-life success story, followed by an in-depth analysis of the productivity techniques involved.

Harvard Business Review Guide to Making Every Meeting Matter
If you’ve ever left a meeting thinking, “That was a total waste of time!”, this is the book for you. This guide aims to help make your meetings more efficient and useful. Sections include: Setting a purpose, Preparing an achievable agenda, Inviting the right people, Moderating conversation, Regaining control, and Ensuring follow-through.

If you’d like to place a hold on one of these books, please visit the East Baton Rouge Parish Library website.

Written by Lynnette Lee

New Career Center Books

One of the most difficult workplace skills to master is the skill of getting along well with people. Not to worry, though: the Career Center is here to help. Our newest crop of books from the Harvard Business Review features several guides focusing on people skills.

The Harvard Business Review is a paragon of helpful and accurate career advice. Each guide in this series is written by subject matter experts and crafted to give readers a step-by-step plan for achieving the goal at hand. Whether you need help with handling conflict, leading and managing groups, or general emotional intelligence, these books can be a great place to start.

HBR Guide to Emotional Intelligence
How well do you know your own emotional intelligence? This guide aims to teach you to determine your strengths and weaknesses, manage your emotional reactions, make smart decisions, and bounce back from difficulties.

HBR Guide to Delivering Effective Feedback
Do you want to ensure that you’re giving your employees the right kind of feedback – for both positive and negative performance? This guide aims to help supervisors fairly assess performance, motivate top achievers, handle defensive employees, and create individualized development plans.

HBR Guide to Dealing with Conflict
What are your methods for handling workplace conflict? This guide aims to help employees identify causes of conflict, explore options for handling disagreements, manage emotions, and develop resolutions.

HBR Guide to Leading Teams
Could you use some help in getting your team to work together and achieve things quickly? This guide aims to help managers choose the right employees to build a cooperative team, set clear goals for employees and groups, hold people accountable for bad behavior, and keep the team focused and motivated.

HBR Guide to Coaching Employees
Would you like to mentor, inspire, and empower your employees? This guide aims to help supervisors create realistic growth plans, engage employees in development, teach employees to problem-solve, and give effective feedback.

All of these books are available for checkout from the East Baton Rouge Parish Library.

Written by Lynnette Lee

Book Review: Workplace Poker

This book is about workplace politics and other common obstacles to employees’ career development and how to better achieve the latter by learning how to master the former.

what’s holding back my career?

Having worked with many training and coaching clients and observing their career trajectories, Dan Rust concludes that it is rarely people’s actual work performance that determines a successful career or quick bounce back after job loss. Therefore, he wrote this book for those who “are talented, ambitious, and hardworking but feel your career just isn’t accelerating as fast as it should” as well as for those who “have been frustrated to see others (less talented, who don’t work as hard as you do) achieve rapid professional progress”. He wants to peel back the layers of corporate politics, put them out in the open and help the reader to successfully navigate some of the pitfalls of corporate America. Corporate politics is one hurdle but there are more hurdles to career advancement that usually lay within each individual. Rust identifies those as well and helps the reader steer through the common obstacles working life puts up. His insights are derived from more than 30 years in the corporate world.

structure and layout

The book is divided into 9 chapters, each addressing a particular workplace issue that often derails employees’ career advancement. The topics addressed are:

  1. how to observe and read colleagues
  2. navigating office politics
  3. taking responsibility for one’s failures
  4. strengthening one’s career by increasing physical, emotional, and mental energy
  5. how to deal with personal rejection
  6. strategic self-promotion
  7. creating personal rapport and how to influence others with it
  8. making effective career decisions
  9. bouncing back from adversity and setbacks

how can I overcome my obstacles?

Rust’s primary goal of the book is to provide practical skill development to his readers. He wants to drive home the point that talent, ambition, and hard work are integral to any career advancement, but are often not enough, because employees’ career trajectories get derailed by the obstacles outlined above. Chapter by chapter and obstacle by obstacle Rust details how to overcome them. Each chapter contains a number of real life stories from his training and coaching experience. Rust concludes each chapter with a call to reflection and action. “Think Now” contains prompts to reflect the chapters’ content in relation to the reader’s own career situation. “Act Soon” outlines actions that can be taken quickly and “Long-Term Thoughts and Action Points” challenges the reader to more long term planning and thinking about the specific issues addressed in the preceding chapter.

general thoughts

This book contains a lot of good information and practical advice. That is its pro and con at the same time. If read like a novel or in one sitting it is easily overwhelming. This is a book best taken in bits and pieces. The best approach would be to either use it as a work book and, taking one’s time, work through it chapter by chapter taking full advantage of all the prompts and exercises at the end of each chapter. Or the reader can just use it a chapter at a time. With this book it would make perfect sense to just pick out the chapter(s) that are applicable to the reader’s current issue or situation and maybe come back later to work with the rest. Overall this book represents a good toolkit and go-to resource to address specific workplace and career advancement issues.

Written by Anne Nowak

New Career Center Books

The Career Center has received a huge influx of new books. Several of our newest titles touch on the theme of finding satisfaction in your career – be it from identifying your passion, changing careers, or even just learning to be a little bit more authentic. Enjoy!

How to Find the Work You Were Meant to Do: Born for This
by Chris Guillebeau
Guillebeau offers a practical guide for finding the perfect job at the “intersection of joy, money, and flow”, either within a traditional company (by making a job work for you) or by striking out on your own. Guillebeau shares stories of real people, along with tools and exercises, to guide the reader through career options and discover (or shape) a job perfectly suited to you. Each chapter covers a different tactic for achieving an objective, such as: choosing the winning ticket to your career lottery, having both money and life, mastering the right skills, becoming indispensable, and so on.

50 Ways to Get a Job: An Unconventional Guide to Finding Work on Your Terms
by Dev Aujla
Aujla, CEO of the recruiting firm Catalog, spent three years with a team researching and experimenting with different methods for getting a job and talked with thousands of people. In this book Aujla outlines a “better way” to manage the job search process. Emphasis is placed on finding not just any job, but one that “feels natural, rejuvenates you, and isn’t motivated by stress or fear”. Chapters cover how to start, finding your purpose, how to cope with feeling overwhelmed, learning new skills, networking, what to do when stuck, applying for jobs, and interviewing.

Harvard Business Review Guide to Changing Your Career
by Harvard Business Review
Considering a change of career can be confusing and frightening. Perhaps you feel stuck or frustrated in your current career, you have discovered a new passion, or you simply feel ready for something new.   This book tackles directly different challenges involved in preparing for a change in career. Chapters are by a different writer (or writers) and are organized into sections that address: understanding what is going on, understanding and imagining what you want to do, recognizing when a career change is right for you, how to investigate a new career path – and perhaps reevaluate your current one – and how to be motivated for a career change or having at least two careers at the same time.

The Myth of the Nice Girl: Achieving a Career You Love Without Becoming a Person You Hate
by Fran Hauser
Hauser addresses the challenges women sometimes experience in the workplace: how to be successful without sacrificing their values or hiding who they are. Chapter titles capture well the both-and balance that Frauser offers women who know what they want and wish to advance their careers: Be ambitious and likeable, Speak up assertively and nicely, Give feedback directly and kindly, and so on. The book focuses on how to reclaim being “nice” while being a strong leader who projects confidence.

You Can Do Anything: The Surprising Power of a “Useless” Liberal Arts Education
by George Anders
Anders challenges those who are tempted to think their liberal arts education does not lead to good paying, successful careers when the national spotlight focuses so heavily on science and engineering. A liberal arts education – along with other skills and experiences gained along the way – cultivates traits such as curiosity, creativity, and empathy. Anders helps readers (with a liberal arts education) appreciate the strengths they already have, the new needs and opportunities there are, how to recognize and cultivate allies among employers and classmates, and finally how to tell their story – an especially valuable skill that can grab the attention of a potential employer and/or create new job and career opportunities. That liberal arts education is increasingly useful in ways that can be surprising.

If you’d like to check out any of these books, you may place a hold on them through the East Baton Rouge Parish Library website.

Written by Richard Wright

Book Review: When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing

a time to every purpose

It’s always a joy to read Daniel Pink’s books. He has a knack for presenting Social Science research in an easy to understand way that makes it applicable to readers’ everyday lives. In his latest book When he picks timing as his topic and concludes: “I used to believe that timing was everything. Now I believe that everything is timing.” Let’s take a look at his main findings and see how we can time certain life activities to ensure better, more efficient and productive outcomes.

“A peak, a trough, and a rebound” – beware of early afternoons

Numerous studies show a distinctive pattern in most people’s moods and emotional states throughout the day. Happiness, positivity, and attention are on the rise in the morning, only to take a dip in the afternoon, before they rebound again toward the late afternoon and evening. (One study determined the most unproductive time of day to be 2:55pm.) Understanding of these patterns can have far-reaching repercussions for our daily lives. Some of the studies’ findings are just “nice to know,” but others can mean “life or death”. Knowing that taking a short (no longer than 40 minutes!) nap in the early afternoon can boost your productivity later on – that’s nice to know. But knowing that scheduling a medical procedure, such as surgery, for the afternoon will increase the risk of something going wrong 3- to 4-fold or knowing that juries and judges will evaluate evidence in trials much less rationally in the afternoon – that knowledge can potentially save your life!

Scheduling Your Life for Maximum Benefit

For best results, schedule medical procedures, academic tests, court trials, or important analytical tasks (or math class) for the morning. But, as always, there are exceptions to every good rule. When the task you need to tackle is not an analytical one but one that requires you to have insight or a creative spark, it’s best undertaken during our non-optimal time, the afternoon for most people. For academic schedules, this means that math and science classes are best scheduled early, whereas art and creative writing are best taught later in the day.

Midlife Crisis

According to research, the quintessential midlife crisis is real across genders, countries, and different socioeconomic groups. Numerous studies have shown that well-being and happiness slump in midlife and reach the lowest point at 52.9 years (for American males). Happiness begins to decline in the early 30’s, bottoms out in the early 50’s, and starts a steady climb after that. People frequently report higher well-being in their 70’s than in their younger years. While most explanations have traditionally centered on sociology, explaining that midlife is the phase of the realization of unmet life expectations and the corresponding disappointment, Pink also delves into newer research that alludes to the possibility of there being a biological component to the midlife crisis.

Take a break – the power of naps

Pink calls naps “Zambonis for our brain”. According to research “they smooth out the nicks, scuffs, and scratches a typical day has left on our mental ice”. Numerous studies from around the world conducted among different professions show the benefits of naps. For example, a NASA study shows that pilots who napped up to 40 minutes showed a subsequent increase of 34% in reaction time and a twofold increase in alertness.  A UC-Berkeley study shows that an afternoon nap expands the brain’s capacity to learn and retain information as well as boosting short-term and associative memory. Nappers were twice as likely to solve a complex problem as non-nappers. The benefits of napping are independent of the amount of sleep people get at night. Even individuals that get enough nightly sleep still benefit from an afternoon nap.

Final thoughts

There is much more to this book than naps and midlife crises. Pink also elaborates on different chronotypes, the science of beginnings and endings, and group timing and synchronization. Interspersed with chapters are sections with real-life action points and tips and tricks to take advantage of the research of timing.  It’s a fun and educational read with lots of life improvement potential.

If you’d like to discover the science of timing, you may check out When from the East Baton Rouge Parish Library.

Written by Anne Nowak

New Career Center Books

For the new year, our newest crop of books is for people in a new career situation. Whether you’re looking for a first job, a new career, or something to do during retirement, these books will help you through the transition.

Getting Your First Job for Dummies
by Roberto Angule
For new graduates, being launched into the real world can be daunting. Fear not, though – this guide takes you through each step of the process, from determining what type of job to look for, through writing a compelling resume and cover letter, to acing the interview and evaluating job offers. The Career Center has long been a fan of the For Dummies series; these books tend to be thorough and well-researched.

Career Leap: How to Reinvent and Liberate Your Career
by Michelle Gibbings
The world of work is changing. Stable careers with clear upward progressions have become more rare, leaving some workers feeling a little lost and uncertain. If that describes you, you may find this book helpful. It is packed full of assessments and exercises to help you determine how secure your career is, what your options for the future are, and what steps you can take to stay relevant and happy in your future career.

Switchers: How Smart Professionals Change Careers and Seize Success
by Dawn Graham
Job searching is difficult enough when you’re looking for a position similar to those you’ve held before. Changing careers into a new field in which you have no experience adds a new level of hardship. This book, written by the Career Management Director at Wharton’s prestigious MBA Executive program, guides you through the process of switching careers. Use its insights to determine whether changing careers is the best move for you, mapping out a transition strategy, defining your personal brand, and using your network.

Retirement Reinvention: Make Your Next Act Your Best Act
by Robin Ryan
Most people want their retirement to be at least as fulfilling and enjoyable as their working life was. . .but without a clear plan, there’s a danger of ending up as a bored, lonely couch potato. 20-year veteran career counselor Robin Ryan, featured in magazines and TV shows nationwide for her career advice books, now addresses the issues faced by retirees. Explore the exercises in the book to help yourself figure out how you’d like to spend your time in retirement – whether through hobbies, volunteer work, or a new job. The book also discusses how to overcome such problems as social isolation, lack of income, a sense of purposelessness, and stagnating skills and personal development.

If you’d like to check out any of these books, you may place a hold on them through the East Baton Rouge Parish Library website.

Written by Lynnette Lee

Book Review: A Friend of a Friend of a Friend. . .

what if all the advice we’ve heard about networking is wrong?

You already know that networking is one of the most important ingredients to success in business, in job search and many other life situations. But if you are like most people, you cringe at the thought of going to the next networking meeting full of strangers. If that adequately describes you, you might want to pick up business professor David Burkus’ latest book on the topic: A friend of a friend of a friend of a friend…..Understanding the hidden networks that can transform your life and your career.

Early on he writes that traditional networking meetings are actually not the most efficient way to meet the right people to connect you to your next job or to start your next business venture with. He proceeds to present a number of scientific findings coupled with real life examples of the approaches that do work. At the end of each chapter he presents exercises that every reader can do on their own to apply the chapter’s findings and facilitate their own networking success. Some of his key findings are:

“Find strength in Weak Ties”

While most people will turn to their trusted close friends and family after a career setback, Burkus presents scientific and anecdotal evidence that it is your weak and dormant ties that will most help you in your job search or business endeavor. While close friends are eager and willing to help, their networks are too similar to your own to unearth new information or leads. It is much more likely that a former supervisor or colleague or past college friends who we have not been in close contact with will furnish the opportunity or information that will lead to a career breakthrough. Therefore Burkus recommends to start a regular practice of reengaging old acquaintances (which represent the weak or dormant ties).

“Skip mixers – share activities instead”

Another finding of his research will have many readers breathe a sigh of relief. Burkus advocates shunning traditional networking meetings consisting of a large room full of strangers who awkwardly try to connect and network. He argues that most people at these events just engage with the people they already know or that are very similar to themselves. He presents research that suggests we meet people much more easily and naturally when we engage in activities together where the primary goal is not networking and that draw participation from diverse sources. Some examples are: serving on non-profit boards, volunteering, taking classes, participating in team sports or being active in religious institutions. These kinds of shared activities create stronger bonds among participants than networking mixers ever could.

Overall thoughts

These are just two of the main takeaways. There is a lot more material in the book. The author presents a lot of research to explain how networking works and why some approaches are more efficient than others. Burkus addresses networking issues specific to job search and to founding or growing a business. An added value of the book is the section “From Science to Practice” at the end of each chapter. Burkus gives the reader “homework assignments” to practice the preceding chapter’s materials in their own life. All the practical information can also be downloaded from his website. Following along and completing the assignments will definitely make you a more skilled and efficient networker.

If you’d like a fresh new approach to networking, you may check out A Friend of a Friend by David Burkus from the East Baton Rouge Parish Library.

Written by Anne Nowak

Book Review: SuperBetter

Have you ever encountered a difficulty, challenge, or trauma that was overwhelming to deal with? If you are human, chances are the answer is “yes”. In her book “SuperBetter,” Jane McGonigal offers a new, fresh, and, in most eyes, unusual approach to overcome such situations. She uses gaming methodology to getting “stronger, happier, and more resilient”. If this turns you off and you think this is quackery, hold on.

About the Author

McGonigal, in addition to being an avid video game player and designer, is also a PhD and Director of Games Research & Development at the Institute of the Future. She has led workshops for numerous Fortune 500 companies and taught at UC Berkley and the San Francisco Art Institute. Her TED talks on this topic have been viewed more than 10 million times. Her SuperBetter methodology has been scientifically researched and validated by several universities and medical centers.

How the Book Works

While the SuperBetter approach is easy to understand and follow, the book is long and not a quick read. It is divided into three parts, and the reader does not necessarily need to follow them chronologically (though the book is worth reading in its entirety). Instead, you can pick and choose the parts that you are most interested in. Not surprisingly, the book is full of gaming terminology. That makes it easy to understand and fun to follow. It is simply part of why this approach works.

Throughout the book you will find more than 50 quests to complete. Those quests represent the real-world applicability and interactive qualities of the book. Of course they are fun too. Follow along and complete the quests, like in a game; they start off very easy and will get more and more involved. The quests address one of four areas: physical, mental, emotional, and social resilience. Through those quests you will gamefully address and manage your life challenges.

Why Games Make us Superbetter

The first part of the book is a detailed overview of the science of games and presents evidence on why they work in alleviating physical and mental pain. It’s fascinating to read how games we all know and which are easily available on a smart phone can benefit our well being (Tetris and Candycrush for example).

This part of the book also discusses what it means to be gameful. Being gameful is the state of mind we are in when we play games and it is key to why games are successful in helping us cope. McGonigal defines gameful as “bringing psychological strengths you naturally display when you play games – such as optimism, creativity, courage and determination – to your real life”. Whenever we approach life’s hurdles optimistically, courageously, determined, and creatively, we stand a much higher chance of prevailing.

How to be Gameful

Part two is the practical part that introduces, explains, and demonstrates the SuperBetter method, which readers can immediately apply to their lives. Here McGonigal gives us many quests to fulfill.  And, as is befitting for a book about gaming, she uses gameful concepts and language, which doesn’t only make it useful but also fun to follow along. The seven rules that make up the SuperBetter method are:

  1. Challenge yourself
  2. Collect and activate power-ups
  3. Find and battle the bad guys
  4. Seek out and complete quests
  5. Recruit your allies
  6. Adopt a secret identity
  7. Go for an epic win

While being gameful, these seven chapters address physical, mental, emotional, and social challenges, how to approach and cope with them.

Adventures

The final part of the book consists of three adventures addressing issues of relationships, body image, and time management. McGonigal defines adventure as “a set of power-ups, bad guys, and quests, designed to help you tackle a particular challenge”. In other words, this chapter represents three full tutorials of how to apply the SuperBetter method to problems in these three specific areas. This also serves as a blueprint to design your own adventures for challenges that you are facing and need to get SuperBetter at.

Final thoughts

Overall this book is well worth reading all its 425 pages (warning: take your time, it is not a quick read). McGonigal’s truly unique (and scientifically validated) approach will surely help people address serious real-life issues from a new angle. If you follow along and complete the quests and adventures while you are reading, you will have gained new coping techniques by the end of the book, guaranteed. For those readers already well versed in gaming terminology and methodology, go ahead and jump right into the quests. For all others, the methods in the book will represent a change in mindset about problem-solving, which is itself a worthwhile effort.

If you want to try out the online and app versions of the game, find more info at www.superbetter.com  If you are interested in the science behind SuperBetter, you can learn more at www.showmethescience.com

Written by Anne Nowak

New Career Center Books

This month’s selections are all about those most crucial job-search tools: networking and personal branding.

100 Ways to Overcome Shyness: Go from Self-Conscious to Self-Confident
by Barton Goldsmith and Marlena Hunter
Shyness can hold your career back by making you less able to forge connections, communicate effectively, and handle difficult people. This guide, written by two accomplished psychotherapists, aims to help you overcome your shyness, through a combination of useful information, case studies, and simple exercises.

The 11 Laws of Likability: Relationship Networking
by Michelle Tillis Lederman
This book is subtitled, “Because People Do Business with People They Like,” and that philosophy is the foundation for this whole book. The guide combines activities, what-if scenarios, and self-assessment exercises to create a plan to help you become more likable – without being phony or insincere. Author Michelle Lederman is a corporate trainer specializing in communications and leadership.

How to Write a Killed LinkedIn Profile
by Brenda Bernstein

 

LinkedIn Profile Optimization for Dummies
by Donna Serdula
Too many people make the mistake of simply pasting their resume into LinkedIn, which can give it a generic look that may not be as attractive to potential employers. Instead, use the tips in both of these thorough guides to create a customized profile, focusing on your personal keywords, experience, and accomplishments. These tips can help you make a great first impression on the world’s largest business networking site.

If you’d like to check out any of these books, you may place a hold on them through the East Baton Rouge Parish Library website.

Written by Lynnette Lee

New Career Center Books

Job interviews: they’re stressful, uncomfortable, and absolutely crucial to your job search success. Thankfully, the Career Center can help you prepare – both through our interview-related blogposts, and through our newest books on the job interview.

Job Interview A-Z Guides

Get That Job! The Quick and Complete Guide to a Winning Interview
by Thea Kelly
This short book can probably be read in a single day, and covers everything from choosing the right outfit to gracefully accepting the job offer.

The Essential Job Interview Handbook
by Jean Baur
An in-depth guide to different kinds of interviews (including phone screenings, recruiter interviews, HR screenings, and behavioral interviews) and how to handle each type.

60 Seconds and You’re Hired!
by Robin Ryan
A career counselor and HR expert, drawing on a lifetime of experience, discusses the best ways to take charge of the interview process, including making a great first impression and selling your skills in quick memorable responses.

Step-by-Step Interview Success
by JIST Publishing
Since nonverbal communication counts for so much in the job interview, sometimes a book is not enough to prepare you. If you prefer the visual approach, check out this DVD for a strong introductory guide to the job interview.

The Ex-Offender’s Job Interview Guide
by Ronald Krannich
This guide focuses on the unique interview challenges faced by ex-offenders, including what red flags may worry employers, how to talk about a criminal record, overcoming problematic body language, and showcasing skills learned in prison.

interview questions and answers

Powerful Phrases for Successful Interviews
by Tony Beshara
If you have trouble finding the right words to describe your skills and experience, this guide aims to help, with templates and scripts for handling a variety of job search situations.

101 Job Interview Questions You’ll Never Fear Again
by James Reed
This book is a great resource for helping you answer the trickiest interview questions, with example answers and detailed explanations.

Winning Answers to Common Interview Questions
by JIST Publishing
This DVD provides detailed strategies for answering the most common interview questions, in an efficient and engaging format.

101 Smart Questions to Ask on Your Interview
by Ronald W. Fry
A good interview is about more than your answers – it’s also about your questions. This guide discusses the questions you should ask, during your research, during the interview, and during the negotiation process, to make sure that you’re choosing a job which is a great fit for you.

If any of these books catch your eye, you may place a hold on them through the East Baton Rouge Parish Library website.

Written by Lynnette Lee