Career coaches who work with execs at the likes of Goldman Sachs and Amazon recommend books to help jobseekers pinpoint their next big opportunity

  • It's a scary and confusing time to be looking for a job.
  • We asked top career coaches for the books they recommend to all their clients who feel lost, stuck, or ready to start something brand-new.
  • Their recommendations, listed below, include business classics and contemporary guides to career changes.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

The pandemic recession has thrown a wrench in many people's career plans.

In some industries, it's all but impossible to find an employer that's hiring. Other businesses are tightening their belts, so that petitioning your boss for a promotion or a raise seems laughable.

Wherever you find yourself, it helps to know you're not alone — and to seek guidance from folks who've navigated similar challenges.

To that end, Business Insider asked some of the most innovative career coaches — who've worked with leaders at the likes of Amazon and Goldman Sachs on issues like salary negotiation and imposter syndrome — for the books they recommend to all their clients. We heard about contemporary guides to career changes ("Pivot" by Jenny Blake), bestselling business classics ("How to Win Friends and Influence People" by Dale Carnegie), and an ode to professional networking ("Never Eat Alone" by Keith Ferrazzi).

Below, we've listed all of those recommendations, along with a synopsis of the book, which coach swears by it, and why. Each one will help you see the current climate as an opportunity for growth — and for reinvention.

"How to Win Friends and Influence People" by Dale Carnegie

This bestseller has sold more than 15 million copies since it was first released in 1998 and is about achieving your maximum potential at work and in life. Carnegie explores ways to make people like you, how to turn people onto your way of thinking, and how to change others without making them dislike you. 

Rahkim Sabree, founder of Unlimited Investment Solutions, recommends this book for career coaches and their clients. 

"It teaches people how to engage with one another by building relationships," he said. "Relationship building has been a cornerstone to my career and coaching success."

Find it here

"The Gifts of Imperfection" by Brené Brown

In this self-help book, Brown explores how to overcome fear and self consciousness to achieve personal growth. She uses psychology to explore how we can live more authentically. 

Julia Wuench, founder of The Authenticity Guide, recommended this book for anyone looking to improve their career and their life.  

Find it here

"The Big Leap: Conquer Your Hidden Fear and Take Life to the Next Level" by Gay Hendricks

In this book, Hendricks writes about how to push ourselves beyond our limits to achieve our goals. The book outlines a simple program for achieving success in life, love, and finances. 

Both Stacey Staaterman, founder and lead coach of Stacey Staaterman Coaching, and Cathryn Carruthers, high-performance coach at Carruthers Communications,  recommended this book. 

"The biggest hurdle we all have in life and career is our own mindset (and the unproductive behaviors that go along with it," Staaterman said. 

Find it here

"Triggers" by Marshall Goldsmith

This book is all about overcoming "triggers," or events that arouse feelings of distress, in our lives. Goldsmith outlines how to monitor your emotions and control how you respond to even the most difficult situations. 

Goldsmith is one of Staaterman's mentors, which is why she recommended this book. 

"Everyone should know what triggers their thoughts, feelings, and actions (helpful and hurtful," she said. 

Find it here

"The Memo: What Women of Color Need to Know to Secure a Seat at the Table" by Minda Harts

In this book, Harts provides actionable advice for women of color about challenges they might face at work. She acknowledges the "ugly truths," like microaggressions and the wage gap, that keep them from getting ahead. 

Ebony Joyce, career coach and talent management consultant at Next Level Career Services, recommended this book. While its focused on women of color, anyone can use it for career advice, Harts said. 

Find it here

"Why Helping Others Drives Our Success Give and Take" by Adam Grant

Researcher and Wharton professor Adam Grant examines why some people are successful and others aren't. The book breaks down how our success is related to interactions with others. 

Rand Nouruddin Al Aaraj, executive career coach at General Assembly Middle East, recommended this book. 

Find it here

"You 2: A High Velocity Formula for Multiplying Your Personal Effectiveness in Quantum Leaps" by Price Pritchett

Meiyoko Taylor, transformation coach and life and business strategist at Legacy Trailblazers, called this book a "gamechanger." 

Pritchett provides a strategy for finding gradual incremental success. It includes 18 key components for achieving without putting in a lot of effort. 

Find it here

"Power Moves" by Lauren McGoodwin

McGoodwin is the founder of job advice site Career Contessa. In this book, she provides advice for women who are feeling stuck or unfilled in their careers. It includes actionable advice for taking control of your career. 

Tiffany Dyba, career-transition coach and consultant at Tiffany Dyba Career Coaching & Consulting, recommended this book. 

Find it here

"Pivot" by Jenny Blake

Blake, a former career development specialist at Google, thinks that pivoting is crucial to growing a successful career. This book will give you the tools you need to take your career in a new direction. It will also help you answer the crucial question, "What's next?"

Dennett Edwards, founder and CEO at Corona Daze Professional Development, recommended this book. 

Find it here

"Designing your Life" by Bill Burnett and Dave Evans

This New York Times bestseller will help you thrive in your career and life. Burnett and Evans share how design thinking can help you create a life that is both meaningful and fulfilling. 

Both Emily Lamia, founder and CEO of Pivot Journeys, and Joe Casey, managing partner at Retirement Wisdom, recommended this book.

"I am a Certified Designing Your Life Coach and find that people benefit from their application of design thinking principles to life and career planning," Casey said. 

Find it here

"Never Eat Alone" by Keith Ferazzi

Written by experienced networker Keith Ferrazzi, the book provides a look into the steps the author took to connect with thousands of contacts and get ahead in business. According to Ferrazzi, the secret to success lies in reaching out to people, but that can often be a challenging task. 

Some of his best advice? Don't keep score, leverage social media to make meaningful connections, and – as the book title suggests – never eat alone. 

J. Ryan Williams, executive coach, recommended this book on relationship and networking success for clients. 

Find it here

"The Element" by Sir Ken Robinson

This book focuses on an elusive career point that author Ken Robinson refers to as "the element." In other words, the point at which your natural talent meets your personal passion. 

Amy Nguyen, career happiness strategist at Happiness Infinity, recommended this book for those hoping to make the most of their talents and passions. "The Element" draws on the stories of people like ex-Beatle Paul McCartney and "The Simpsons" creator Matt Groenig. The book explains to readers that you don't have to feel limited by age or occupation, there's always a way to tap into the element. 

Find it here

"The Untethered Soul" by Michael A. Singer

Adam Hergenrother, founder and CEO of Adam Hergenrother Training, recommended this book for readers who are hoping to overcome what they perceive to be their own limitations. 

"The Untethered Soul" focuses on walking readers through their relationship with their thoughts and emotions, and teaching them to free themselves from the habits that limit them. The book has been published in multiple languages and received praise from figures like Deepak Chopra and philosopher Jean Houston. 

Find it here

"Now What?" by Nicholas Lore with Anthony Spadafore

What happens when you're fresh out of school and suddenly faced with an overwhelming number of career questions and uncertainties? 

Nicholas Lore and Anthony Spadafore provide the guidance that young people need to face the working world with confidence and design a fulfilling career for themselves. 

The book is filled with charts, worksheets, and quizzes that readers can use to better understand their own ambitions and passions. 

Linda Kempin, online visibility and LinkedIn coach, said that although this book was originally for young people, there are many lessons that can be learned for mid-career adults who are looking to better design their own careers. 

Find it here

"Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less" by Greg McKeown

Erica Keswin, founder of the Spaghetti Project, said this book "urges people to think clearly about their values, what's important to them, and to take on less, not more."

Greg McKeown's "Essentialism" provides readers with a new way to approach their time and resources, find what's important, and to resist the urge of stretching themselves too thin. 

"That is the process I go through with clients as they are looking to change jobs or careers," Keswin told Business Insider. "The people who do this most successfully figure out first what is most important to them (at work and in life), which helps them be more focused on how their chosen career might support those goals."

Find it here

"What You Do is Who You Are" by Ben Horowitz

Leading venture capitalist and management expert Ben Horowitz's "What You Do Is Who You Are" guides leaders on how to create the company culture they want. 

The book goes through four models of leadership and culture-building, and goes through modern-day examples of different leaders, from Netflix's Reed Hastings to Hillary Clinton. Horowitz makes the point that company culture isn't about what you say you do, it's about what you're actually doing to prove your words. 

The book is "great for thinking about growing your management skills and impacting your team's culture," said Lupe Colangelo, career coach and consultant at General Assembly.

Find it here

"What Got You Here Won't Get You There" by Marshall Goldsmith

Claudia Miller, career coach, résumé writer and speaker at Claudia T. Miller: Career Coaching, recommended this book. 

In his book, executive coach Marshall Goldsmith shares his most crucial leadership advice on overcoming bad habits and getting closer to success. Goldsmith goes though the steps executives need to take to climb the last few rungs of the corporate ladder to reach the top. Executives pay $250,000 to work with Goldsmith and receive his coaching – this book provides his best insights for a much smaller price tag. 

Find it here

"Two Hour Job Search" by Steve Dalton

Kalyna Miletic, leadership career coach and founder of Chiefly and Kickstart Your Work, said Steve Dalton's book is great if you're looking to make a job switch or have experienced job loss due to COVID-19.

The book provides advice on navigating the job hunt efficiently and finding a job in less time. It also demystifies the activities in the job search that will help job seekers find work opportunities they might otherwise miss. 

The book also encourages professionals to be proactive and engage in a purposeful, results-oriented job search. 

Find it here

"How Will You Measure Your Life?" by Clayton M. Christensen

Pam Yang, executive coach and career strategy coach at PY Coaching, suggested this title. 

The pandemic has forced many to contemplate their success in a way that they would not have under normal circumstances. In a normal job market, professionals might be tempted to work hard without considering the metrics that measure their own professional fulfillment. During any time, but especially during the pandemic, it's important to step back and think about your own personal and professional goals. 

This book provides readers with a way to reframe the way they view success so that they can reflect on their careers and what truly makes them feel fulfilled. 

Find it here

"Act Like a Leader, Think Like a Leader" by Herminia Ibarra

In this book, professional leadership and development expert and INSEAD professor Herminia Ibarra provides managers and executives the ways they can make changes to their career to lead with purpose. 

"It's full of practical advice to take charge of your own career – because if you don't, then no one else will," said Melody Wilding, workplace success coach at Melody Wilding, LMSW. "It's an excellent manual for becoming the leader you're meant to be and perfect whether you're looking to grow in your current role or trying to advance to your next one."

Find it here

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