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Non Fiction, Reflection

Scouring for “How-to-get-a-job” books

About three months ago, in May, I decided that I should be looking out for job. Not any job, a job that I want to work in and the industry that I am passionate about.

I took books out from the library that are related to networking and career management.

Since 2008, after graduating from business school I have never stopped looking for jobs. Even when I landed a job in 2009, I was looking for better opportunities. Even now, I am still looking.

What this means is two things:

  1. You never stop proactively managing your career.
  2. I personally hate a big room networking event. I am the typical introvert who wants to stand in a corner next to my favourite dessert or snack bar and munch away. I don’t like networking in public, so it is quite a relief that the trend was moving towards online networking! I have tried out more than hundred ways in job hunting, job applications and interviewing. To date, I probably attended 50 to 60 job interviews since 2008. So a networking and career management books that I selected must be really good and insightful for me to find anything useful in it.

There comes the beauty of libraries.

Because no one book could provide you with all the answers and insights, I dip in and out of books to see if I learn anything new. This is my take on the book loans and I will start with the least helpful to the most helpful networking books.

Networking books - JoV

Two Degrees of Separation – creating truly effective network of contacts by Sonia Fernandez, Marshall Cavendish in 2008.

The format of this book wasn’t user friendly. One has to plough through long paragraphs to find nuggets of good advice. There was a lot of name dropping but one name dropping I didn’t mind was the introduction to the various social networking sites and how they work.

Brilliant Networking by Steven D’Souza, Prentice Hall, 2011

In the UK, the Prentice Hall Brilliant self-development books grace many bookshelves in the High Street bookstores. Unfortunately, I find them lack of depth and all advice tends to be elementary. The book is good for beginners who wanted to know where to start with networking.

Successful Networking – How to build new networks for career and company progression by Frances Kay, Kogan Page 2010

This book is similar to Two Degrees of Separation i.e. long paragraphs, the only attractive feature is its “Key Point” feature.

Confident Networking for Career Success by Gael Lindenfield and Stuart Lindenfield, Piatkus Books 2010

This is a simple down-to-earth guide on networking. I find it insightful, with lots of practical advice. I think this is a good beginner’s networking book. Not too much, not too little.

Network Your Way to Success – The Secrets of Successful Business Relationships by John Timperley. Piatkus Books 2010

Publisher Piatkus Books scores again on this one. I thought this book is fabulous. The message is genuine, not trite. The layout is clean and Tips on “Try This” and there are plenty of case studies and networking “in practice” examples. A book that will take you from an amateur to an expert networker.

I only found three career management books that caught my eye (or what is left in the library):

Career mgmt books JoV

Brilliant job hunter’s manual – Your complete guide to getting the job you want by Angela Fagan, Prentice Hall 2003

I find this Brilliant guide, as usual, lacklustre. Advices were elementary and the only part I found most useful was Offer methods and Preparation for resignation. There is this particular interesting point of “Hedging your bets” whereby some people choose to hedge their bets by accepting one job offer while waiting on the outcome of another. The author recommends against it as it gives a wrong impression on ethics and professional conduct but in reality it is easier said than done and I suspect many job hunters caught in similar position would do the same, hedge their bets. Job hunting is hard enough, it is only natural that job hunters want to hedge their bets when they get the first offer and if other offers are still coming through. I do agree with the author though that accepting a counteroffer is tantamount to career suicide. I have worked 6 jobs including the current one and I have 4 counter offers when I put in my resignation letters. I have never look back and accepted them, despite an increase in salary amount.

The author said a counteroffer is very rarely made for the good of the employee. Whenever an employee resigns, bosses may try to persuade you to stay until they can regain control of the situation. You may be flattered but don’t accept a counteroffer! Conditions may be tolerable in the short term but it doesn’t really do you any good in the longer term.

How to Get A Job in a Recession by Harry Freedman, Infinite ideas 2009

This sounds like one of those catchy titles that lure people to buy the book because many are caught in the situation of trying to get a job in a recession. But the reality is the book doesn’t offer much insights except the author has stuck a section in about networking to get the job that is yet to be advertised to the public. These pictures below though do tell thousand words about the ways you can create or apply for job opportunities:

An interaction of proactive versus the reactive and direct vs indirect approach.

Direct-indirect approach

and the untapped and unadvertised job marketunadvertised job market

Get the Career You Want by Karen Mannering, Hodder Education 2011

I very rarely come across a book that teaches you to manage your career while you are employed in the job. This little gem of book teaches you to break that static mindset and look for growth opportunities in the current job. The last section also lay out “Toolkit” containing 25 activities to exercise getting your mojo back at work.

I think I want to get a copy of this and keep working at it.


There you go, a rundown of the networking and career management books. More for my own notes and also for anyone who wants to find a good book in the related subject.  The good news is in the UK, the job market has picked up and unemployment rate has fallen a little. Things seem to be looking up!

Hope you are enjoying your summer so far.


About JoV

A bookaholic that went out of control.... I eat, sleep and breathe books. Well, lately I do other stuff.


17 thoughts on “Scouring for “How-to-get-a-job” books

  1. Good luck with your job hunt

    Posted by winstonsdad | August 15, 2013, 11:19 pm
  2. This is actually really interesting thanks. I am definitely in a rut in my job and have been wondering for the past couple of years what, if anything I might do about it. Unfortunately I live in a small-ish town and there are limited opportunities and I’m not even sure what I want to be when I grow up (stll) but I do like the idea of being more proactive about it. Thanks and good luck with your own hunt

    Posted by Bernadette | August 15, 2013, 11:32 pm
    • Bernadette,
      There is definitely a lot more we can do about our jobs! I think looking for ways to add value is one way. Can you take up project work on top of your day job? Can you offer to help with a piece of work? Can you offer to train other colleagues in your amazing data analysis skills? I think there is so much one can do.

      Thanks for the best wishes, I hope you find your mojo back at work!

      Posted by JoV | August 16, 2013, 8:32 am
      • All good suggestions Jo…I just need to break out of my introvert shell. It’s so easy to do nothing, especially when you’re not miserable just bored. But you have inspired me to think of my rut in a different way. Thanks.

        Posted by bernadetteinoz | August 18, 2013, 3:59 am
        • Bernadette,
          I have no idea my post would inspire but it is so good to hear that what I write would inspire people in a big way. I wish you all the best Bernadette and hope you find work more interesting soon.

          Posted by JoV | August 20, 2013, 1:22 pm
  3. Thank you for this post. I’ve delved into a few career/networking books as well, and found them only semi-useful, unfortunately. It’s nice to have some suggestions. I’m particularly interested in the last one. Good luck with your search.

    Posted by Mona | August 16, 2013, 1:40 am
    • Mona,
      Thanks for your first commen and best wishest.

      I agree it is hard to come across a good book about career management out there. Most of them just sounds so elementary and trite because I am sure employer is looking for something more sophisticated than what is stipulated in most books! I was not impressed but amongst the lot I find here I think there are 1 or 2 gems.

      Posted by JoV | August 16, 2013, 8:35 am
  4. Hey Jo,

    Haven’t talked to you in a long time!

    Your post has just come at the right time. I am looking for books on networking either. I am not thinking of changing my job/ company yet but I am certainly hoping to land a new position within the same company (which is not possible within first 3 years thanks to HR policies). However, it is never too early to start investing (building relations) so that our efforts and contacts can come in handy one day. Like you said, one can never stop proactively managing our career!

    Looking forward to more posts on non-fictions, particularly career management books! Take care and all the best with your job hunting! 🙂

    Posted by Ting Ting | August 17, 2013, 3:20 am
    • Ting Ting
      Hi! Thanks for best wishes. Certainly worth building your network now. When you first out to workplace, it is always good to stick out longer in your first job. Hang in there, you will fly soon . 🙂

      Posted by JoV | August 17, 2013, 9:40 pm
  5. Good luck. I now follow you in Bloglovin

    Posted by Mel u | August 17, 2013, 9:13 am
  6. How weird – that is what I am thinking of right now. Except I don’t know if I even want a job or a break from the job or just a break from a break from a break from…..

    Posted by Soul Muser | August 17, 2013, 12:02 pm
  7. I hope you find that dream job soon! I am like you – an introvert who doesn’t want to go to these big networking events to get a job.

    Posted by Athira | August 17, 2013, 1:47 pm


  1. Pingback: Passed the 5-year milestone and I forgot all about it…. | JoV's Book Pyramid - December 8, 2013

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Ratings Defined

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4.5 = So glad that I read the book, would pester everyone to read it, invaluable, I would want to own it and wouldn't mind a second read (something that I seldom do)

5 = The book is so good that I feel like I am on scale 4 and 4.5, and more, it blew me away and lingers on my head for weeks!

Books Read

JoV's bookshelf: read
Hold Tight
The Fault in Our Stars
The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon
The Thief
Catching Fire
A Tale for the Time Being
Into the Darkest Corner
The Liars' Gospel
Goat Mountain
Strange Weather In Tokyo
Strange Shores
And the Mountains Echoed
Ten White Geese
One Step Too Far
The Innocents
The General: The ordinary man who became one of the bravest prisoners in Guantanamo
White Dog Fell from the Sky
A Virtual Love
The Fall of the Stone City

JoV's favorite books »
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Reading, after a certain age, diverts the mind too much from its creative pursuits. Any man who reads too much and uses his own brain too little falls into lazy habits of thinking. - Albert Einstein (1879 - 1955)

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