The Five Books That Inform My Work


By Stephanie Clark.

Book One: Résumé Magic: Trade Secrets of a Professional Résumé Writer

Author: Susan Britton Whitcomb

When I first began studying Career Professionals of Canada’s primer, The Canadian Résumé Strategist, I started to grasp the concept of how to communicate solid value. And while integrating the lessons I found in this excellent resource, I also looked into the additional educational sources named in the CPC résumé strategist guide. One of these was Résumé Magic.

If the CPC guide is a cookbook of Canadian regional dishes, Résumé Magic is “The Joy of Cooking.” Its lessons stimulate flavour to make your résumés rich and tasty.

Although I no longer own this book as it has served its role, I still dive into the CPC guide when I need to quote from a reputable, respected Canadian association to prove to a client that my strategies are endorsed by a significant source.

Book Two: The Job Search Solution

Author: Tony Beshara

This book came to me by way of the Dr. Phil Show. (I will save face by adding that I have not caught this show for many years now as I think, judging from highlights, that it has devolved from educational to something rather sensationalistic.)

Periodically, Dr. Phil hosted a parent with an adult child still residing in the basement, claiming that even with a degree/advanced degree/college courses/university post-grad studies/whatever, he or she simply couldn’t find any work at all. Hmmm. Tony Beshara put them on his “job find” program and presto, like magic, within a few months the basement dweller came into the sun, earned money, moved out of the basement, and was a productive individual. I refer clients to this book regularly.

The magic has more to do with hard work than luck and getting off the couch and following a time-proven “formula,” complete with speaking notes. It’s a gem of a book.

Book(s) Three: Best Canadian Résumés and Best Canadian Cover Letters  

Author: Sharon Graham

Every once in a blue moon, when clouds have obscured the sun for too many days, I am at a loss at how to begin a résumé. This is when I reach for one of these compilations of résumé and letter samples from my colleagues.

In minutes, like the basement dweller mentioned above, I break out of the darkness into the light! Ideas burble and my writer’s block vanishes!

Thank you to colleagues for sharing their work and to Sharon for undertaking the monumental task of herding these samples into a published book! They continue to inspire.

Book Four: Eats Shoots & Leaves

Author: Lynne Truss

Those who know me are aware of my penchant for investigating the peculiarities and discrepancies of grammar. (We all have a nerd factor; grammar is mine.) Sometimes when I’ve been writing far too long or for too many days in a row, words seem silly, grammar rules make no sense, and I begin to splice my commas and dangle my modifiers in wild abandon!

This is when I reach for Lynne Truss’ book on punctuation. I am saved. Between snorts of uncontrolled laughter that draw my husband to my office to check in on me, I find the passage that helps me resolve those spliced danglers and gets me back to productivity. Thank you, Lynne, for making grammar raucously funny – at least to this nerd!

Book Five: StrengthsFinder 2.0

Author: Tom Rath

I love this assessment tool. Informed by mountains of data – I believe that Gallup, the book’s publisher, was the original data aggregator – it provides me with juicy insight into a client’s innate strengths.

I actually built a toy designer’s entire résumé on the five top strengths he presented with – Activator, Futuristic, Ideation, Intellection, Maximizer. Without these – which I cited and proved in his résumé – I would have been lost and he would have been unemployable.

Using his strengths resolved the issue of lack of context. You see, when I asked him questions about his work, he simply answered “I don’t know. I’m just doing my job.” (He was one of those lucky people who found immediate career traction in an occupation that took advantage of – and developed to an incredible level – innate strengths and talents.) The client had no idea how to prove that he was an innovative and valuable toy designer, and neither did I until I connected the dots between his work and his strengths.

There you have it! Five books that have graced my professional library and informed my work. I hope that I’ve inspired you to look one up!

P.S. I once created a wonderful addendum for a client based on exactly this – the top five books that informed her work. She landed her first account manager position directly from the role of retail sales clerk and was immediately entrusted with no less than the Golden Horseshoe, southern Ontario’s “golden” sales district. Ah yes, there is power in the written word.

Photo by Aleksi Tappura on Unsplash



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Who doesn’t love a good book recommendation? Thank you, Stephanie. I have gone to the library to put two of these books on hold so I can read them when they arrive.

I too loved books #1, #3 and #5.

Are you, by chance, on GoodReads? I’d love to swap book recommendations with you there, Stephanie (and any other CPC member). I’m not on it as regularly as I’d like to be, but when a good business / career / positive psychology book comes across my desk, I try to remember to add it here….

If I may be so bold, here are a few of my top recommendations:

1. Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action – Simon Sinek

2. Daring Greatly – Brene Brown

3. Who’s Got your Back – Keith Ferrazzi

4. Good to Great – Jim Collins

5. The Four-Hour Workweek – Tim Ferris

Maureen, I have read Simon Sinek and Brene Brown, but not the others, and serendipitously, I am off to the library today! I will add looking up these books after returning a few, so thank you for sharing your recommendations. I am on Goodreads, but like you, not as often as I would like. Maybe after reading the 4-day work week, I will have more time though!! ????