Figuring out how to get (and stay) ahead in your career can be challenging and overwhelming.
But career coach Celia Currin says reading the right books and articles can help significantly.
At a recent New York Women in Communications, Inc. event, Currin shared her three must-reads for anyone trying to move forward in their career.
“These are for anyone who’s trying to build a long-lasting career and be thoughtful about it,” she tells Business Insider.
Here’s what Currin — who has an MBA from Harvard; was the first female editor of Harvard’s weekly newspaper Harbus; and has held senior roles at Dow Jones and The Wall Street Journal — thinks all ambitious career builders should be reading:
Currin says she finally took the time to read the 2013 book 'Lean In' by Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg, in early February 2016. She thought it was a 'fabulous' quick read from a good writer.
'I thought it was a very interesting view of career issues from the woman's perspective, and I thought it was a very candid and personal approach,' she says.
While the book is more relevant to women and how they are sometimes their own worst enemy in the workplace, Currin says she'd recommend it to men, as well, because it talks about different styles of work, such as direct versus non-direct.
'People need to be pretty conscious of their own style and the style of their colleagues and that's not just a woman's thing,' she advises.
Synopsis: 'Lean In' by Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg focuses on how women unintentionally hold themselves back in the workplace, and what they can do to fix it. Sandberg includes compelling research, as well as personal anecdotes, to explore negotiation tactics, mentorship, and how to build a fulfilling career.
Currin says the 2007 book 'Who Gets Promoted, Who Doesn't, and Why' by career expert Donald Asher is a great book for someone starting a new job because it gives 'real common sense approaches' on how you can set yourself up for success at your new company.
The book advises you to work smarter to get ahead, not harder.
For example, Currin says ambitious people often get a nice pay increase when they switch jobs, but they have to be sure their timing is right. 'You need to move when you're still hot, not when you're cold,' she advises.
'Who Gets Promoted, Who Doesn't, and Why'explains 'exactly what puts one employee on the fast track to an exceptional career, while another stays on the treadmill to mediocrity,' according to the book summary.
Asher organizes his advice around ten things everyone should be doing to get ahead, including these three tips: 'timing is as important as performance or talent,' 'always make your boss look good,' and 'find guardian angels and benefactors.'
Currin says the 1997 Fast Company cover story 'The Brand Called You' by Tom Peters revolutionised the world and is still timely 19 years later. 'Everything in it is still very much on target,' she says.
The article 'was way ahead of it's time,' Currin explains, because it views all workers as free agents. In other words, you're the head marketer for a brand called you. 'In a sense you're contacting your work and your time and your efforts to a company,' she says.
The article is especially applicable to job seekers and climbers today because it tells you to think of your career as a chess game where you need to make strategic moves rather than a ladder where you just need to keep climbing, she says.
For example, Currin only worked for two companies -- Dow Jones and The Wall Street Journal -- over a 25-year period, but admits that most people don't want to do that anymore. Today, she says, people stay with an employer for about four years before moving on to a different company or industry.
'The Brand Called You' by Tom Peters tells readers to think of themselves as a brand -- just like Nike or Coke -- that they are in charge of marketing. He says you should never let your company or job title define you because no matter who you are working for, you are ultimately working for yourself.
'We are CEOs of our own companies: Me Inc.,' Peters writes.