Careerminds’ on Goodreads: 5 HR Books You Need to Read

March 05, 2019 by Josh Hrala

Here at Careerminds, everyone is an avid reader. We just can’t stop. And some of our favorite books revolve around the topic we love the most: HR and business in general. 

While business books get a bad wrap a lot of time, some of them are absolutely amazing. You just need to know where to look. The good news is that we’re here to help. We polled our staff and put together a list of our favorite books for HR professionals. You can view the entire list on Goodreads here

To give you a taste, though, here are our type five:

1. Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything  by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner


Freakonomics takes a unique look at some of the world’s most interesting – and sometimes outlandish – questions. Here’s what the publisher says:

“Which is more dangerous, a gun or a swimming pool? What do schoolteachers and sumo wrestlers have in common? Why do drug dealers still live with their moms? How much do parents really matter? What kind of impact did Roe v. Wade have on violent crime? Freakonomics will literally redefine the way we view the modern world.”

Though at first it doesn’t seem super HR related, thinking outside of the box is a great skill to have. And there’s no better book that takes on this type of thinking.

2. Radical Candor: Be a Kickass Boss Without Losing Your Humanity by Kim Malone Scott 

radical candor

 Not only is Kim Scott’s Radical Candor a great book, it can also truly help your workplace by empowering your employees to actually give good feedback (and be able to take feedback as well). Here at Careerminds, we have taken to the idea of ‘radical candor,’ allowing us to all be a bit more open and honest with each other in a way that is still professional.

Radical candor is the sweet spot between managers who are obnoxiously aggressive on one side and ruinously empathetic on the other. It’s about providing guidance, which involves a mix of praise as well as criticism—delivered to produce better results and help employees achieve,” the publisher states.

“Great bosses have strong relationships with their employees, and Scott has identified three simple principles for building better relationships with your employees: make it personal, get (sh)it done, and understand why it matters.”

We highly recommend this book for businesses of all sizes.

3. Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap… and Others Don’t by James C. Collins

good ot great

How do companies go from good to great? This is the fundamental question driving Collins through his heavily-researched book. Inside, he looks at data from a slew of companies and tries to answer this question. It’s an interesting look into how ‘mediocre’ companies can move up to great and what driving forces are at work inside ‘great’ companies. 

“Built to Last, the defining management study of the nineties, showed how great companies triumph over time and how long-term sustained performance can be engineered into the DNA of an enterprise from the very beginning,” the publisher says.

“But what about the company that is not born with great DNA? How can good companies, mediocre companies, even bad companies achieve enduring greatness?”

This book is a great read for those that want to understand the forces behind successful companies in a way that takes data and the scientific method into account instead of just anecdotal evidence and catchy business phrases. 

4. The Lean Startup: How Today’s Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses by Eric Ries

the lean startup

 Ries aims to answer a simple question: why do so many startups fail? In his mind, this can be avoided if startups move to a leaner approach that takes creativity more into account while also trying to cut the fat that can come with a rapidly growing business. 

“The Lean Startup approach fosters companies that are both more capital efficient and that leverage human creativity more effectively. Inspired by lessons from lean manufacturing, it relies on “validated learning,” rapid scientific experimentation, as well as a number of counter-intuitive practices that shorten product development cycles, measure actual progress without resorting to vanity metrics, and learn what customers really want,” the publisher writes.

“It enables a company to shift directions with agility, altering plans inch by inch, minute by minute.”

In short, Ries says that startups should continuously adapt their processes, allowing them to make real-time changes instead of focusing on other tasks that can take away from the core goal.

5. How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie

how to win friends

Carnegie’s book of advice on how to succeed in business and life has been a best-seller for a long, long time. The book was first published back in the 1930s. Since then, millions of people have read it and taken advice from it.

Now, it’s safe to say that a book written in the 1930s may not work as well it did back then in today’s world. However, given that it is so vastly popular, we’d be amiss to not have it on our list for people to explore and make their own judgement.

You can go after the job you want…and get it! You can take the job you have…and improve it! You can take any situation you’re in…and make it work for you!” the publisher says.

“Learn the six ways to make people like you, the twelve ways to win people to your way of thinking, and the nine ways to change people without arousing resentment.”

Check out our full list on Goodreads here. Did we miss one of your favorite HR-related books? Let us know!

Josh Hrala

Josh Hrala

Josh is an HR journalist and ghostwriter who's been covering outplacement and offboarding for over six years. Before pivoting to the HR world, he was a science journalist whose work can be found in Popular Science, ScienceAlert, The Huffington Post, Cracked, Modern Notion, and more.

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