11 books to help kick-start your career in 2020

Posted by
Sarah Shaffi
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If 2020 is the year you want to change up your work life, these are the books that will arm you with the tools and help to do so.

We could all do with a bit of career advice at times, whether we’re just starting out or years into our jobs.

There are no shortage of books out there offering help and guidance, but some of them can be a bit dry and seem old-fashioned, and most of us have probably already read Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In, hungry for a woman’s perspective.

Luckily, Sandberg’s book is no longer the only one you can turn to – there are now plenty of women writing exciting books that can help us in the world of work.

Want to be inspired by stories of female trailblazers? Need tips on negotiating a payrise? Keen to make your side hustle your main hustle?

We’ve got you covered, with this list of books that will guide and inspire you to take the next steps in your career.

  • Hype Yourself by Lucy Werner

    Hype Yourself by Lucy Werner.
    Hype Yourself by Lucy Werner.

    More and more of us are turning our passions into a side hustle, and while it’s tempting to think that just doing what we love will be enough, the reality is that we’ll also have to take on the role of being our own hype woman if we want to make it a success.

    Step in PR expert Lucy Werner, whose book Hype Yourself is specifically aimed at individuals and small businesses. Dispensing with PR jargon, Werner will walk you through what you need to create a publicity programme, and get your brand out there. Each section includes activities, examples and tips, and Werner has also created free resources and templates on her website.

    Out 9 January, £14.99, Practical Inspiration Publishing

  • The Multi-Hyphen Method by Emma Gannon

    The Multi Hyphen Method.
    Emma Gannon is the author of The Multi-Hyphen Method.

    Emma Gannon is an award winning blogger, social media editor and podcast creator, which makes her the perfect person to talk about pursuing all the different things you want to do, and doing them well.

    In The Multi-Hyphen Method, Gannon looks at topics including how the modern working world values multiple skills, burnout culture, and what she calls the four Fs: failure, feminism, flexible working and feelings. And along the way she offers advice and tips on how navigate your way to your own definition of success.

    The Multi-Hyphen Method is out now (Hodder, £9.99).

  • Brave, Not Perfect by Reshma Saujani

    Brave, Not Perfect by Reshma Saujani

    Girls and women, argues Reshma Saujani, are brought up to be perfect. Boys and men, on the other hand, are taught to be brave. The result is that women sometimes don’t pursue the bold path because of fear of failure, not measuring up or because we think we have to please people.

    That should all stop, says Saujani, and she would know. In 2010 she became the first Indian American woman to run for US Congress and she lost, badly. During the campaign, Saujani visited schools where she saw the gender gap in computing classes firsthand, leading her to set up Girls Who Code. The lesson? That without her brave run for office, she might never have been set on the path to setting up Girls Who Code.

    Brave, Not Perfect is not a guide to getting a job or a promotion, but it is a call to arms for women everyone to be a little braver every day, and that’s something we could all use at work and home.

    Brave, Not Perfect is out now (HQ, £16.99).

  • The Moment of Lift by Melinda Gates

    The Moment of Lift by Melinda Gates

    It’s well documented that educating girls and empowering women in the economy is a good thing. According to the UN, women’s “economic empowerment boosts productivity, increases economic diversification and income equality in addition to other positive development outcomes”, and “companies greatly benefit from increasing employment and leadership opportunities for women, which is shown to increase organisational effectiveness and growth”. Leave No One Behind, a report by UN, says that “businesses with more women in top leadership and board positions enjoy stronger financial performance”.

    In The Moment of Lift, philanthropist Melinda Gates shares the lessons she’s learned from inspiring people she’s met during her work and travels around the world. Combining data and case studies with anecdotes from her personal life and the road to equality in her marriage with Microsoft founder Bill Gates, this is a book about the power of connecting with one another, and about how when we lift women up, we can change the world.

    The Moment of Lift is out now (Bluebird, £16.99).

  • Flex: The Modern Woman’s Handbook by Annie Auerbach

    Flexible working is, according to the UK government, “a way of working that suits an employee’s needs”. All employees – not just parents and carers – have the legal right to request flexible working, provided they’ve been working for an employer for at least 26 weeks.

    Annie Auerbach has worked flexibly for 20 years, beginning long before the method became popular, or even largely accepted. In Flex, described as a “manifesto for living and working on your terms”, Auerbach looks at how we can bend and reshape routines at work and at home, to provide us with more satisfaction in our lives.

    Flex is out now (HQ, £9.99).

  • An Edited Life: Simple Steps to Streamlining Your Life, at Work and at Home by Anna Newton

    An Edited Life by Anna Newton

    If you’re anything like us, you’ve got multiple to-do lists on the go, a desk which doubles as a dumping ground for everything from mugs to make-up, and sometimes subsist on entirely pre-packaged food.

    It’s time, therefore, to declutter.

    Anna Newton, the creator of the blog and YouTube channel The Anna Edit, is an advocate for editing all aspects of your life so that you can utilise your time and spend more of it doing what makes you happy. An Edited Life will walk you through how to edit everything from your calendar to your digital detoxes and your office space.

    An Edited Life is out now (Quadrille Publishing, £16.99).

  • Little Black Book: A Toolkit for Working Women by Otegha Uwagba

    Little Black Book by Otegha Uwagba

    This modern career guide is by Otegha Uwagba, the founder of Women Who, a London-based platform that connects and supports creative working women.

    A travel-sized handbook – perfect to slip into your bag in case you need to consult it on the go – Little Black Book contains practical advice on negotiating a payrise, networking like a pro, overcoming creative blocks and more.

    As well Uwagba’s own advice, Little Black Book contains contributions from women including author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.

    Little Black Book is out now (4th Estate, £5).

  • Believe. Build. Become. by Debbie Wosskow and Anna Jones

    Believe. Build. Become. by Debbie Wosskow and Anna Jones

    Debbie Wosskow and Anna Jones are the co-founders of The Allbright, a members’ club designed to support women at all stages of their careers.

    Their book is split into three sections. Believe is a guide to self-confidence from the inside out, while Build contains advice on everything from personal branding to sale strategies and spreadsheets. Become profiles 15 inspiring women who have in some way blazed a trail and broken boundaries in the world of work.

    Throughout, Wosskow and Jones shares their own stories of success and failure.

    Believe. Build. Become. is out on 9 May (Virgin Books, £14.99).

  • How to Have a Happy Hustle: The Complete Guide to Making Your Ideas Happen by Bec Evans

    How to Have a Happy Hustle by Bec Evans

    The side hustle – the thing you love but that you do when you’re not doing your day job – is becoming more and more popular. But it can sometimes be difficult to focus on your side hustle when you’re held back by lack of experience, time or money.

    In How to Have a Happy Hustle, Bec Evans shares the secrets of innovation experts and startup founders who made their ideas happen, and offers practical tools, research and guidance to help you build your side hustle.

    How to Have a Happy Hustle is out on 9 May (Icon Books, £12.99).

  • Equal by Carrie Gracie

    Carrie Gracie, the BBC’s former China editor

    Former BBC China editor Carrie Gracie took the ultimate step in the fight for equal pay, resigning her position after failing to get pay equality at the BBC through negotiation.

    Her labelling of the BBC’s “secretive and illegal” pay culture triggered a parliamentary inquiry into BBC pay, and she eventually won an apology from the BBC and a settlement which she donated to the Fawcett Society.

    Equal is an inspiring memoir exploring why women often find it difficult to assert their value in the workplace, as well as a practical guide to what women and men – employees and employers – can do to achieve pay equality for women now and in the future.

    Equal is out on 5 September (Virago, £18.99).

  • How to Own the Room: Women and the Art of Brilliant Speaking by Viv Groskop

    How to Own the Room by Viv Groskop

    The idea of public speaking can strike fear into the heart of the most confident of people. But it’s something most of us will face at some point in our lives, whether we’re speaking in front of a few colleagues or to a roomful of people.

    In How to Own the Room, writer and comedian Viv Groskop explores what it is about women like Michelle Obama, JK Rowling and Oprah that makes us listen to their every word, and how we can apply that to our own lives. Giving tips on what to do if you freeze, get anxiety or are made to feel small, this is an essential for any woman who wants to speak brilliantly.

    How to Own the Room is out now (Bantam, £12.99).

Images: Supplied by publishers / Getty


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Sarah Shaffi

Sarah Shaffi is a freelance journalist and editor. She reads more books a week than is healthy, and balances this out with copious amounts of TV. She writes regularly about popular culture, particularly how it reflects and represents society.

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