Image from Amazon Title: The Career Toolkit
Author(s): Mark Herschberg
Publisher: Cognosco Media
Networking, negotiating, communicating, leading, career planning—all skills critical to your career success. But did anyone ever teach you these skills?
The Career Toolkit will help you master these vital skills and yield outsized returns for your career and your income. Every chapter is packed with dozens of actionable principles, exercises, and practices that will accelerate your success. It’s a multivitamin for your career!
The Career Toolkit shows you how to design and execute your personal plan to achieve the career you deserve, including:
Negotiating a job offer. (This alone will pay for the book.)
Creating a dynamic career strategy.
Building a high-value network.
Developing the fundamental leadership skills that matter most.
Managing teams effectively, even as an individual contributor.
In just a few hours this book will accelerate your career.
“The Career Toolkit” is a book I wish I had read in college. But better late than never. It's still useful even now, 20 years into my career. Mark suggests spending an hour reading each of the ten chapters. I didn't spend nearly that long on any of them. Maybe I didn't think through the implications as much as he was recommending? Or I'm a fast reader? Regardless, I do like his idea of reading the book with a group and discussing one chapter a week. I think talking about the concepts affect you is very helpful here. There's also a free app where you can get career tips on your phone.
When Mark suggested what to do with the business cards you collect, my first thought was “who has business cards.” A few pages later when he covered the topic for a whole page, I realize that I do and just forget to bring them places. And also that as recently as February 2020, I received business cards. (In March 2020, my city shut down due to COVID-19 so all business card exchanging opportunities were cancelled.)
Mark wrote his books to apply to people in many fields not just technology. He gives examples in fields such as software, sales, accounting and marketing. I found the examples for other fields to be helpful as well. Similarly, he explained how one trained in physics has a different outlook than one trained in finance.
I like that Mark focuses on understanding your own goals early on. Not everyone wants to be a CEO. He provides a framework for understanding and articulating your own goals. This is also helpful as he talks about the roles of management and leadership. Whether you want those roles or not, understanding them is key. It was also nice hearing form an MIT guy that colleges have floors, not ceilings in terms of what you should expect from the students.
There are many good pieces of advice in the book. One of the memorable ones for me is avoiding pronouns. Saying “Carol will” instead of “she will” avoids any possibility for confusion. That's a lesson I learned the hard way - “we should” means nobody is going to do the action item!
There were definitely some things I appreciated seeing as a software developer like the retrospective prime directive. And gorilla/banana story. I also found it interesting why analog watches are set to 10:10 in the store. Which reminds me, I give this book 10 out of 10 horseshoes.
Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for writing this review.