Career & Finance

15 Books To Read if You Want To Take Your Career to the Next Level

it's time to boss up, ladies

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Source: @wocintechchat | Unsplash
Source: @wocintechchat | Unsplash

Maybe one of your new year’s resolutions for 2023 is to make some big moves in terms of your career, whether it be getting that big promotion you know you deserve, applying for that dream job you’ve always wanted, or even completely changing career paths. Whatever it may be, we love to see it! But, it’s no secret that achieving major career goals is not an easy feat. Don’t worry, it’s totally normal to feel a little overwhelmed in the process. No matter how tough it gets, everything you’re hoping and working for is 100% achievable–especially with some guidance from fellow badass working women to help you along the way.

So many women, particularly women of color, feel isolated when it comes to excelling in the workplace. But even if you’re not finding a support system in your own office or personal network, there are so many successful women out there that want to see you thrive, and are here to tell you everything they wish they knew when they were in your shoes. If you’re in need of tools that actually work, advice, or words of encouragement to navigate your journey, these guides and memoirs written by women of all different professions and backgrounds are exactly what you’ve been looking for. We leaned on the experts at Goodreads to bring you the best of the best here as you work to take your career to the next level.

Marshall Goldsmith & Sally Helgesen
How Women Rise: Break the 12 Habits Holding You Back from Your Next Raise, Promotion, or Job

Business expert Marshall Goldsmith partnered with his longtime colleague and women’s leadership expert, Sally Helgesen, to create this invaluable handbook for women trying to take the next step in their careers. They know that for women in particular, the same skills and habits that made you successful early in your career could actually be holding you back as you move towards the next stage of your working life, as women oftentimes struggle with habits like reluctance to claim your achievements and the “disease to please”. This book will help you identify specific behaviors that keep you from living to your full potential (no matter what stage you are in your career) and help you identify what needs to change to help you get to where you want to go in the future.

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Tara Mohr
Playing Big: Find Your Voice, Your Mission, Your Message

Renowned women’s leadership expert Tara Mohr saw how women were "playing small" in their lives and careers, were frustrated by it, and wanted to "play bigger." So, she's taken it upon herself to devise a proven way to achieve your dreams by "playing big" from the inside out. In her tell-all guide, Mohr provides real, practical tools to help rid you of self-doubt, become less attached to praise and criticism, unlearn “good girl” habits, and begin taking bold actions. While not all women aspire to end up in the corner office, every woman aspires to be something. This book isn’t just for corporate women, as it offers tools that help every woman play bigger—whether you’re an executive, volunteer, artist, or anything in between.

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Lauren McGoodwin
Power Moves: How Women Can Pivot, Reboot, and Build a Career of Purpose

With this invaluable book, founder of Career Contessa Lauren McGoodwin provides an invaluable career resource for women feeling stuck or unfulfilled by combining actionable advice, learning tools to make impactful life changes, and an in-depth discussion of how to build a meaningful career on your own terms. Drawing on the insights and lessons developed in her own career journey, she offers an essential handbook that helps professional women truly feel understood, so that they can bypass perfection and planning and instead head straight to evolving through addressing young professionals' main concerns such as career transitions, growth, and how to secure a “dream job” (or more so, how to abandon that elusive idea).

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Deborah Liu
Take Back Your Power: 10 New Rules for Women at Work

As a woman in Silicon Valley who worked her way to the top of the corporate ladder, Deborah Liu knows firsthand the challenges and obstacles in the workplace that keep the deck stacked against women—and now knows how to overcome them. For every woman who grew up competing on the uneven playing field, and was told that you’re too aggressive, assertive, dramatic, or emotional, this book is the battle cry you need in order to thrive within the system that exists today. This powerful guide presents both hard data and Liu's personal experiences from twenty years as a leader in the male-dominated tech industry to help you find your voice, debunk the negative connotations of “power”, and become a great leader without losing yourself in the process—reminding you that even though you can't make the world fair, you can take your power back.

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Susanne Tedrick
Women of Color in Tech: A Blueprint for Inspiring and Mentoring the Next Generation of Technology Innovators

Contrary to popular belief, tech careers are diverse and fun—and they go far beyond just coding. This book will show you that today's tech careers are incredibly dynamic, and you'll learn how your soft skills—communication, public speaking, networking—can genuinely help you succeed while also learning how to overcome the obstacles that often prevent women of color from pursuing and staying in tech careers. Guiding you through the process of cultivating strong relationships and building a network that will get you where you want to be, you'll learn to identify a strong, knowledgeable support system that you can rely on for guidance, which is a crucial step in getting young women of color into tech careers. With practical advice and inspiring stories, you'll develop both the right tools and the right mindset to set you on the path to success you deserve.

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Daniela Pierre-Bravo
The Other: How to Own Your Power at Work as a Woman of Color

You know that feeling of not belonging when you have so much to say at a work meeting? Being the “the other” at work leads to an unyielding need to fit in. This false feeling of inadequacy in traditional workplaces causes you to adapt and develop “a keep your head down” mentality in order to keep the job that you’ve worked so hard to get in the first place. Like many other women of color, immigrants, and children of immigrants, Daniela-Pierre Bravo became an expert shape-shifter in order to make her way around professional environments. Even once she reached the highest success points of her career, she always felt she had to prove her worth as “the other". Through sharing her journey, this book helps you recognize your power through your own eyes instead of the traditional white gaze in the workplace, and drives you to reshape the way you think about career advancement without losing your sense of identity, and how to use your differences as an advantage.

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Deepa Purushothaman
The First, the Few, the Only: How Women of Color Can Redefine Power in Corporate America

Women of color comprise one of the fastest-growing segments in the corporate workforce, yet are very often underrepresented. For too long, corporate structures and cultural conditioning have instilled in our society that in order to "fit in" and be successful, you must hide or change who you are. As a former senior partner at a large global services firm, Deepa Purushothaman experienced these feelings of isolation and burnout. She met with other women of color across industries and cultural backgrounds, eager to hear about their unique and shared experiences. In doing so, she came to understand collective both setbacks and the true path forward in achieving your goals. In this deeply personal call to action for women of color to find power from within, you learn to fully realize your own strengths, build collective power, create cultures where belonging is never conditional, and rework corporations to be genuinely inclusive to all.

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Octavia Goredema
Prep, Push, Pivot: Essential Career Strategies for Underrepresented Women

This wonderfully written book provides an indispensable career coaching guide for underrepresented women in the workplace. Whether you're looking for a new job, dealing with losing one, pivoting into something new, or returning from time out of the workforce, you’re able to learn something valuable from these strategies to help you advance when you need it the most. Divided into three parts of preparation, pushing forward, and pivotal professional milestones, the overwhelming aspects of taking charge of your career a broken down into understandable, achievable steps to help you find your voice in the most authentic way possible at any stage of your career. Understanding your worth in a workplace that pushes you down is not an easy feat, and Octavia Goredema is here to help you successfully move forward through it all.

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Linda Babcock, Brenda Peyser, Lise Vesterlund, & Laurie Weingart
The No Club: Putting a Stop to Women's Dead-End Work

The No Club started when four women crushed by endless to-do lists banded together to get their work lives under control. Even with their most resilient efforts, they noticed that they very much still trailed behind male colleagues. So, they vowed to say no to requests that pulled them away from the work that mattered most to their careers. This book reveals how their personal journey and subsequent groundbreaking research show that women everywhere are unfairly burdened with non-promotable work, a huge problem we can and must solve. This empowering manifesto walks you through how to change your workload, encourages women to make savvy decisions about the work they take on, and also highlights how organizations can reassess how they assign and reward work to level the playing field. With hard data, personal anecdotes from women of all backgrounds, and innovative advice from the authors’ consulting Fortune 500 companies, this book will forever change the conversation about how we advance women’s careers and achieve equity in the 21st century.

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Julia Boorstin
When Women Lead: What They Achieve, Why They Succeed, and How We Can Learn from Them

Julia Boorstin was 13 years old when her mother told her that by the time she grew up, women could be just as powerful as men. A decade later, working at a top business publication and seeing the lack of women in positions of leadership, she simply assumed her mom had been wrong. But over the following two decades as a TV reporter interviewing and studying thousands of executives, she realized that a world of gender equity shouldn’t be a long shot. She found that women she spoke with who thrived in their work environments shared key commonalities that made them uniquely equipped to lead and grow businesses, and were also highly adaptive to change, deeply empathetic in their management style, and much more likely to integrate diverse points of view into their business strategies. Now, Boorstin brings together the stories of over sixty of those female CEOs and leaders to provide a radical blueprint for the future of business, and our world as a whole.

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Julie Zhuo
The Making of a Manager: What to Do When Everyone Looks to You

After you celebrate the shiny new title of getting promoted to manager, the truth hits you hard: you don't really know what you're actually doing. That's how Julie Zhuo felt when she became a rookie manager at the age of 25 as she stared at a long list of logistics and faced a thousand questions and uncertainties. How was she supposed to spin teamwork into value? What was the secret to leading with confidence in new and unexpected situations? But now that she’s managed dozens of teams of different sizes and styles, she’s learned the biggest lesson of all: great managers are made, not born. Zhuo creates a modern field guide packed with everyday examples and transformative insights regarding building trust, losing faith, and even how to get through an awkward interview. No matter what stage of your career you’re in, this is the handbook to read if you’re looking to be the kind of manager you always wish you had.

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Cecilia Muñoz
More than Ready: Be Strong and Be You . . . and Other Lessons for Women of Color on the Rise

Women of color are becoming more visible and more powerful than ever, achieving higher levels of success and blazing new paths for future generations in historically white dominated areas. As the first Latinx to direct national domestic policy issues, Cecilia Muñoz knows the difficulties of getting ahead without having anyone that came before her to follow. In this inspiring book, she offers readers lessons from the challenges she faced and the victories she achieved in the White House, with advice like elevating empathy in the workplace, turning losses into gains, and staying true to yourself. Filled with tons of insights about working through fear and overcoming injustices, you are given the tactical tools women of color need to reach unprecedented levels of power and success without compromising your authentic self.

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Elaine Welteroth
More Than Enough: Claiming Space for Who You Are

Throughout her life, Elaine Welteroth has climbed the ranks of media and fashion, eventually becoming the revolutionary editor who infused social consciousness into the pages of Teen Vogue. In her incredible memoir-manifesto, the groundbreaking journalist unpacks lessons of race, identity, and success through her own journey, from navigating her way as a fiery child to finding herself on the frontlines of the movement for the next generation of change makers. As a young boss and often the only Black woman in the room, she’s fed up of the world telling her she’s not enough, so she’s learned to rely on herself—and is now here to share how you can do it, too.

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Fran Hauser
Embrace the Work, Love Your Career: A Guided Workbook for Realizing Your Career Goals with Clarity, Intention, and Confidence

In this workbook for women who want to get more out of their careers, you’re given a combination of accessible advice, time-tested strategies, creative prompts, and thoughtful exercises that’ll help you both fall in love with your work and design a career action plan grounded in confidence and intentionality. Pulling from her own personal experiences working at some of the biggest publications and corporations around, author Fran Hauser centers her main points of guidance around knowing your value, building your dream team, creating time and space for yourself, and more—all coming together to ultimately help you realize and reach your full potential.

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Emilie Aries
Bossed Up: A Grown Woman's Guide to Getting Your Sh*t Together

Young women today face an uncertain job market, the pressure to succeed at all costs, and a fear of burning out. However, the landscape is changing, and women are taking a role in shaping our careers and lives while also investing more into our community of support. In this candid, refreshing guide for young women, Emilie Aries shows you how to own your power, know your worth, and design your career (and life) accordingly. Honing in on important concepts such as breaking free of the "martyrdom mindset”, developing self-advocacy skills, and how to actually (and healthily) avoid burn out, this book will show you how to craft a happy, healthy, and sustainable career path you'll love.

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