When you’re first starting out in the working world, you tend to feel pretty confident and take charge — you can do anything, the world is your oyster. But there’s also a lot that you still don’t know, of course (and in some cases, things that you don’t know that you don’t know). Picking up career books may or may not be super high on your list of to-do’s at the beginning — or any stage — of your career, but there’s a lot of learning to be had out there, and it can make a big difference both immediately, and throughout your career.
If you’re at the beginning of your career, if you’re transitioning to a new career (particularly one in a creative field), or you need an in-office or work-from-home brush-up, Little Black Book: A Toolkit for Working Women by Women Who founder Otegha Uwagba is a must-read. Though some of the tips included in the book might seem obvious or well-known to you, it’s always good to get a little reminder about what sorts of things you should be doing in order to make the most of your time spent working — and get ahead in your career.
The skills you need
Though much of the book speaks directly to creatives and freelancers, there’s tons in the book that’s applicable to any working woman, especially one just starting out in the working world.
- Contracts (and why freelancers need them)
- How to set your rates
- How to manage your money and handle all things financial as a freelancer
- How to find — and keep — work
- Navigating office politics
- Making presentations
- Negotiating job offers and pay raises
And if you’ve never had someone teach you how to negotiate a job offer or how to ask for a pay raise — or why these things are important — then you may not even realize what kinds of skills you might be missing. Or how much money you might be leaving on the table.
And while you might think a lot of this is second-nature, if you’re further along in your career or have run your own business for quite awhile, it’s easy to forget that for a lot of younger women or women changing directions, there’s a real learning curve.
The advice you crave
Perhaps the very best part of the book, at least in my opinion, was the last chapter, in which Uwagba compiles a ton of advice from a group of rockstar women spanning a number of fields: one’s a cook, one’s a museum curator, a few are journalists, there are a couple CEOs and founders, and more.
Basically, you can read it as though you’re getting personal advice from women who’ve done big things in their careers, things that you maybe want to someday accomplish (or may be on the path to doing so already). Like with any advice, take what you want and leave what you don’t, but if you, too, struggle with that elusive work-life balance, wish you knew what successful women consider daily essentials, are looking for a mantra or maxim, or just need some advice from gals who’ve been there (and made it through successfully), there’s sure to be something in that chapter that helps or just… lights that fire in you and motivates you to get going.
Career books can be somewhat daunting sometimes (or feel sort of lackluster and uninspiring). But feeling like you have Uwagba and other high-achieving women on your side, cheering you on as you set off on a successful career? You’ve got this, lady.