Now more than ever, finding a job is itself a full-time job. With unemployment topping 10 percent, the job market is a tough nut to crack. We’ve found four books that will help you hear those magic words—“you’re hired!” Whether you’re a recent college grad, recovering from a layoff or looking to change fields, these books can help you turn the page and find a fulfilling career.
The Age Equalizer
Robin Ryan, author of 60 Seconds & You’re Hired!, brings 20 years of experience, as well as feedback from hundreds of decision makers, to her latest book, Over 40 & You’re Hired!: Secrets to Landing a Great Job.
Target audience: The older job seeker. Recent U.S. Labor Department reports have shown that those with the longest period of unemployment—an average of eight months—are age 45 and older. Ryan’s tips are specifically geared to the more experienced over-40 audience, and her advice is relevant regardless of whether you’ve been laid off, want to change careers or are looking for a promotion.
Best advice: Be prepared to counter employer concerns about your age. Ryan identifies 12 possible problem areas, including lower productivity, an old-fashioned management style and inability to use new technology, and gives specific solutions to address and alleviate each concern.
Biggest surprise: A dated appearance can sabotage your job chances. How you look offers employers a clue on how up-to-date you are and gives insight into your attitude. A modern look, without being too trendy, is important, along with showing lots of positive energy and enthusiasm. Ryan advises hiring a makeover expert if needed.
The Preparation Pro
Harvey Mackay shares a wealth of business wisdom on getting and keeping a job you love in Use Your Head to Get Your Foot in the Door: Job Search Secrets No One Else Will Tell You. The author of the best-selling Swim with the Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive brings fun and wit to the tedious work of job searching.
Target audience: Mackay says his book is relevant “whether you’re 21, 51, or 71.” And since Mackay says the average person will have at least three career changes and 10 different jobs by age 38, chances are you will need his advice at some point in your career.
Best advice: Prepare extensively for every job interview. The Mackay 44 Interview Prep Checklist covers all the bases, and the Mackay 22, a list of post-interview questions, helps you record your memories of the interview while it’s still fresh.
Biggest surprise: While the majority of the book is focused on finding your next job, Mackay gives great advice on keeping your current job and even on handling the “getting canned” conversation. Don’t miss his 7 Danger Signals that you may soon be out of a job. Danger Signal #1: “It’s not your bad breath keeping you on the outskirts: Suddenly your boss invites your second-in-command to meetings you usually attend . . . but forgets to ask you.”
The Life Coach
Career guru Donald Asher has updated his job search bible How to Get Any Job: Life Launch and Re-Launch for Everyone Under 30, now available in a new second edition.
Target audience: Perfect for every soon-to-be college grad who hasn’t thought beyond finding paid employment in order to get out of his parents’ house. The author, who has made more than $1 million rewriting executive resumes, has some unexpected advice: Stop working on your resume and start by figuring out your passion. He advises college students to quit worrying about just getting a job and instead focus on life planning.
Best advice: Finding the right career is a process of self-discovery. Asher takes the reader through a series of activities, including listing the top five world issues you’re concerned about and every job ever held by everyone in your extended family, to help you discover your values, interests and potential career areas. He advocates going beyond choosing a college major by contemplating what will make you happy.
Biggest surprise: Asher’s advice can seem pushy. He recommends calling leads once a day for 100 days and says the biggest problem for job seekers is not being aggressive enough.
Elizabeth Wagele and Ingrid Stabb use the Enneagram Personality Assessment to help career changers find the best job fit in The Career Within You: How to Find the Perfect Job for Your Personality.
Target audience: People looking to get more joy from their job—either in their current position or in the next phase of life. Those with some work experience to draw from will be better able to complete the book’s self-assessments and understand how to apply the lessons on the job.
Best advice: Use your own unique talents and strengths to find the right job. The fast and easy Enneagram (“any-a-gram”) self-assessment test, similar to the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, reveals how strongly an individual leans toward one of nine personality types: Reformer, Helper, Achiever, Individualist, Investigator, Loyalist, Enthusiast, Challenger or Peacemaker. In-depth chapters then help you understand your type, including strengths you bring to the job, what you need in the workplace in order to be happy and what areas you may need to work on. Each chapter ends by helping you prioritize your strengths and determine which careers may be a good fit for your type.
Biggest surprise: The accuracy of the personality types can truly be an eye-opener. My type (Observer) felt like a perfect fit, and it was easy to identify the types of my spouse and friends. Also surprising: how much information is available at the authors’ website.
Marketing executive Stephanie Gerber is pondering post-maternity leave career plans.