Great Career Books

Great Career Books
Posted on March 30, 2009 at 5:39 p.m.

This is a very partial list of career books that pertain to public affairs careers, with a brief book report on each. If you have been looking for career information and want something to jump start your research, here’s a quick place to start.

How to Land a Top-Paying Federal Job: Your Complete Guide to Opportunities, Internships, Resumes and Cover Letters, Application Essays (KSAs), Interviews, Salaries, Promotions and More! by Lily Whiteman

This is a great overview of the federal job application process, with a lot of insider tips and information that is hard to find elsewhere. It comes with a great CD of different opportunities and programs for graduate students. It’s also one of the few such books that cover how to find legislative policy work and political appointments. Last but not least, it includes some great cartoons illustrating the job search process!
The Nonprofit Career Guide: How to Land a Job That Makes a Difference by Shelly Cryer

A great overview of the sector, especially focusing on the type of careers available as well as the main issue areas covered in the sector. In addition, there are some nice career snapshot profiles of different professionals in the field.
Ten Steps to a Federal Job: Navigating the Federal Job System, Writing Federal Resumes, KSAs and Cover Letters with a Mission by Kathryn K. Troutman.

This book, along with the shorter version (the Student’s Federal Career Guide), help walk applicants through the federal job application process. A great overview.
The Savvy Networker by Ron Krannich.

This short and easy to read book helps clarify all the advice we give on networking– and it even comes with specific sample scripts to use when doing a “cold call” to prospect for a networking contact. If you read nothing else on this list, this is the book for you.
Negotiating your Salary: How to Earn $1000 a Minute by Jack Chapman.

This book also is a quick read, and Jack’s 5 simple steps for salary negotiation are logical and clear. If you are anxious about how to negotiate your salary, this book (and Jack’s website) are for you.
The Idealist Guide to Nonprofit Careers (for Sector Switchers and for First-time Job Seekers) is available as a free download from

This book is a great introduction to the sector and gives specific and measureable job search tips.
An Insider’s Guide to Political Jobs in Washington by William T. Endicott.

This is the only book I’ve found so far about that type of job that is not civil service, is not actually an elected official, but is the legislative affairs, policy, lobbying and think tank related work in Washington, D.C. While it covers mainly DC, I think many of the tips about how to work with an elected official and how different offices are structured are reflected on the state and even local levels as well. It also includes tremendous lists of web resources and organizations to research further into.
International Jobs: Where they are, How to Get Them by Eric Kocher and Nina Segal

I admit, I read the fifth edition, which is pretty old (so some of the terms they use, like “Presidential Management Intern” vs. “Presidential Management Fellow” are outdated), but it still gives a great view of the types of organizations where students can look for jobs in the NGOs, federal government, and multilateral and intergovernmental organizations that deal with international issues.
The Everything Guide to Government Jobs by James Mannion

Another super-easy read, and when he says “everything” he really means it. This is a great overview of all (and I mean all) the different careers available in local, state, and federal government, arranged by issue area (including some of the hands-on jobs in the postal service for example). It’s a worthwhile overview of the different issues government works on and how to start your career.
How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie

OK, this book has been on the best seller list since the 1930’s for a reason. If you feel a little awkward in professional settings or maybe have had trouble getting your viewpoint heard, this book is for you.

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