Career Reading

By Sharon Naylor

May 9, 2012 5 min read

You've heard the old motto "reading is fundamental." In today's competitive and precarious job market, that's extremely true.

It's important to be well read on trends in your industry, on the top movers and shakers in your field, on the economies of this country and others, and in fields related to yours.

When you read as much quality material as you can, "you're going to be getting ideas from outside of your own company," says Judi Lansky, president of Lansky Career Consultants. Lansky says it's important to get as much information as possible on what's going on in other companies in your field. If all you're ever doing is tending to the tasks handed to you by your bosses, you won't have the scope of knowledge, new inspirations and breaking news that you need to rise in your company and in your career.

Imagine how you'll impress your bosses when a planning meeting veers toward upcoming trends and you can speak about those trends and other related trends, who's originating them, statistics on them and their impact on your industry. When they ask where you found this information, you rise even higher in their esteem when you tell them about your practice of reading industry magazines and blogs. You demonstrate dedication to your job, above and beyond what's expected of you, and your creativity shows when your reading material inspires a new project or potential partnership that can benefit the company. That's exactly what bosses want to see -- and what they reward.

*What Should You Read?

Make efficient use of your available reading time by searching out the best industry magazines and blogs with the most reputable experts and reporters and current content. Save time by researching which ones you should be reading for your career experience level. For instance, if you're a beginner in your field, you'll be best-served reading magazines, blogs and books geared to an introductory focus. If you're well established in your career, you know the basics and just want the trends.

Lansky offers a smart solution: "I always recommend that my clients attend networking events," where beginners and experienced professionals meet and exchange contact information to perhaps partner up on career-catapulting projects. "At a networking event, one of my clients who was a beginner in her field asked a more experienced person in that same industry, 'What should I be reading?' The experienced professional provided her with a list" of the books and magazines that would be best for her level of expertise.

Start with trade magazines geared to your industry, where you'll read reviews on the top books, industry blogs and Twitter accounts to follow. Using the reputable magazine's list delivers you right to top-reviewed sources.

Ask your bosses or managers at work what they'd recommend for your reading list -- and what they read themselves. They'll be impressed with your drive and flattered that you came to them for their recommendations.

Google "top 10 (your field) blogs," and choose from the results the links from reputable websites or magazines. For instance, if you're a chef and want to read the top blogs written by chefs, you'll find great suggestions from the editors of Food & Wine, or another reputable magazine. Click on the RSS feed of those blogs so that entries come right to your inbox or mobile device, saving you searching time.

*Read Before Leaping

If you're thinking about changing careers, Lansky strongly advises reading as much as you can about that career before you put in your notice at your current job, or before you invest in education, supplies or new business cards.

"I have clients who think it would be interesting to be, say, a nurse. They need to read as much as possible about the practice of nursing so that they can get a reality check. By reading nursing magazines, blogs and articles on nursing association websites, they get the true picture of what the hours are like, what's really involved in their jobs, what it's like when patients die. They might, after reading, be more passionate about that field, more convinced than ever that it is the leap they want to make, or they might decide that field is not for them."

With continued reading on related fields, that person who decided against the demanding field of nursing may find themselves connecting to healing careers such as massage therapist or Reiki therapist. It's reading that led them to this new career path.

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