12 Books Every Recruiter Needs to Read in 2014

LinkedIn recently released a list of the top 10 books for professionals they considered to be “life-changing” in a business sense. The list included such enterprise-related classics as “Les Miserablés” and “The Bible”… what? And although the list did include some good business books including “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” and “How to Win Friends and Influence People”, we felt the selection was somewhat lacking and so decided to produce our own. Here are the top 12 books we think all great recruiters should be reading in 2014:

1. Rework: Change The Way You Work Forever – Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson

Rework, by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson

The leading quote by Seth Godin, that sits above the title of this book, is the truest sentence you will hear all year; “Ignore this book at your peril”.

Jason and David, the founders of the trailblazing software company 37signals, have written a very different kind of business book that will quickly get you thinking very differently about business and the way you work.

The premise is that today, anyone can be in business. Tools that used to be out of reach are now easily accessible, technology that used to cost thousands is now much cheaper (or free) and things that were impossible just a few years ago are now simple. The result of all this means that anyone can now start a business and you can do so without working crazy hours or depleting your life savings!

So forget about business plans, meetings and office space – you don’t need them. Rework, with its straightforward language and easy-is-better approach, is the perfect go-to handbook for anyone who’s ever dreamed of going it alone and anyone who wants to take a fresh look at how they do business in 2014. Thinking of assessing your sourcing efforts in 2014? Do it with a copy of Rework and our Black Belt in Internet Recruitment training course!

2. To Sell Is Human – Daniel Pink

To Sell Is Human, by Daniel Pink

We referred to this book in numerous blogs and webinars in 2013 and with good reason. Dan Pink, the author of five notable business, work and management books and Al-Gore’s former chief speechwriter, has quite rightly recognised that we’re all in Sales now, regardless of what we do, recruiting or otherwise.

Everyday millions of people earn their living by convincing someone else to buy something; a car, oil shares, ideas. Hey, parents even sell their kids on eating their vegetables! The list items we sell every day is literally endless.

Yep, each and every one of us spends some time trying to persuade others to part with their resources, whether that be money, time or attention, without even realising we’re doing it. The same can be said for recruiters. You may not think of it this way but what you’re really trying to do is sell your jobs to potential candidates.

In only 272 pages, Pink explores the ways in which we can all improve our sales skills, in every area of our lives and identifies the three personal qualities and four essential skills necessary to move people. Pink relies on science rather than platitudes and analysis instead of exhortation in this literary effort, and builds on his own sales experience and on the profiles of some of the world’s best salespeople to demonstrate his point. Your sourcing efforts (and job ads in particular) can only improve after reading this book.

3. Thinking Fast and Slow – Daniel Kahneman

Thinking Fast and Slow, by Daniel Kahneman

This book has won more awards than any other on our list, including the title of “New York Times bestseller”, The National Academy of Sciences Best Book Award 2012, one of “The Economist”‘s 2011 Books of the Year and one of “The Wall Street Journal”‘s Best Nonfiction Books of the Year 2011.

Nobel prizewinning author, Daniel Kahneman, uses “Thinking Fast and Slow” to take us on a groundbreaking tour of the mind and explains the two systems that drive the way we think. According to his work, System 1 is fast, intuitive, and emotional, while System 2 is slower, more deliberative, and more logical. Kahneman argues that by knowing how the two systems shape our judgements and decisions we can better understand the effect our cognitive biases have on every decision we make and that includes the candidates we choose to hire and how we decide to hire them.

Through a series of lively conversations, Kahneman reveals where we can and cannot trust our intuitions and how we can tap into the benefits of slow thinking. He offers practical and enlightening insights into how choices are made in both our business and our personal lives and how we can use different techniques to guard against the mental glitches that often get us into trouble!

4. Decoded: The Science Behind Why We Buy – Phil Barden

Decoded: The Science Behind Why We Buy, by Phil Barden

Don’t be fooled by the distinct lean towards marketing/advertising personnel in this book, every recruiter will benefit from a read of Phil Barden’s revealing look into the science of people’s decision making. After all, to convince a candidate to make the leap and take one of our jobs, we need to understand what’s going on in their heads at the time of the decision.

Barden shares the latest research on the motivations behind consumers’ choices and what happens in the human brain as buyers make their decisions. He deciphers the ‘secret codes’ of products, services and brands to explain why people buy them and, most importantly, he shows how to apply this knowledge in your day to day work by dramatically improving key factors such as relevance, differentiation and credibility. And he does so from strategy to implementation and New Product Development with a myriad of useful case studies and practical examples.

Interestingly, this is also the first book to apply Daniel Kahneman’s Nobel Prize-winning work to marketing and advertising and is a great companion read to “Thinking Fast and Slow”.

5. Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion – Robert Cialdini

Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, by Robert Cialdini

Sticking along the lines of selling and marketing to your potential candidates, this book (traditionally used as an educational textbook) explains the psychology of why people say “yes”–and how to apply these understandings to your work. A doctor by trade, Robert Cialdini is the seminal expert in the rapidly expanding field of influence and persuasion with thirty-five years of rigorous, evidence-based research and a three-year program of study on what moves people to change behaviour behind him. And all of this extensive knowledge has been packed into this highly acclaimed book.

If you can look past the more academic language and phrasing, you will learn the six universal principles of influence, how to use them to become a skilled persuader and how to defend yourself against them, making it useful in both your professional recruiting life and your personal life!

6. The Signal and The Noise: Why So Many Predictions Fail, But Some Don’t – Nate Silver

The Signal and The Noise: Why Most Predictions Fail But Some Don't, by Nate Silver

With the ever increasing importance of big data in our sourcing efforts, it is now more important than ever to understand statistical analysis and to know how to find ‘the signal’ from ‘the noise’.

By drawing on his own groundbreaking work, Silver examines the world of prediction, investigating how we can distinguish a true signal from a universe of noisy data. Most predictions fail, often at great cost to society, because most of us have a poor understanding of probability and uncertainty. Both experts and laypeople mistake more confident predictions for more accurate ones. But overconfidence is often the reason for failure. So according to Nate, if our appreciation of uncertainty improves, our predictions can get better too and the more humility we have about our ability to make predictions, the more successful we can be in planning for the future.

By visiting some of the most successful forecasters in a range of areas, including hurricanes and baseball, Nate explains and evaluates how these forecasters think and what bonds they share. What lies behind their success? Are they good or just lucky? What patterns have they unraveled? And are their forecasts really right? He explores unanticipated commonalities and exposes unexpected juxtapositions. And sometimes, it is not so much how good a prediction is in an absolute sense that matters but how good it is relative to the competition – which is important in the highly competitive world of recruitment and assessment.

An essential read for serious recruiters and HR professionals in 2014.

7. The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference – Malcolm Gladwell

The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference, by Malcolm Gladwell

In this wonderful introduction to the ‘Tipping Point’ theory i.e. “the magic moment when ideas, trends and social behaviours cross a threshold, tip and spread like wildfire”, Gladwell explains how minor changes in ideas and products can increase their popularity and how small adjustments in an individual’s immediate environment can alter group behaviour.

Any recruiter using social media to source candidates will appreciate the thoughts and ideas presented in this book and after reading should be able to pinpoint the next big thing for sourcing new candidates before the competition gets there.

8. David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits and the Art of Battling Giants – Malcolm Gladwell

David And Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits and The Art of Battling Giants, by Malcolm Gladwell

In this scintillating and surprising journey to uncover the hidden dynamics that shape the balance of power between the small and the mighty, Gladwell cleverly outlines misconceptions around things like education and why stuff like bad exam results doesn’t necessarily signify future career ruin for a college student!

From the conflicts in Northern Ireland and Vietnam, through the tactics of civil rights leaders and the problem of privilege, Gladwell demonstrates how terribly we misunderstand the true meaning of advantage and disadvantage. And drawing on the stories of remarkable underdogs, history, science, psychology and his unparalleled ability to make the connections others miss, David and Goliath is a smart, illuminating book that overturns conventional thinking, and brings home the incredible leverage of the unexpected.

A throughly refreshing read!

9. The Real Deal: My Story from Brick Lane to Dragon’s Den – James Caan

The Real Deal: My Story from Brick Lane to Dragon's Den, by James Caan

With his business turning over of £130 million annually, James Caan swiftly became one of Britain’s most successful entrepreneurs. From his childhood as a Pakistani immigrant to the phenomenal success of his first company and beyond, “The Real Deal” traces both Caan’s financial and personal achievements and offers a frank account of what success at thirty really signifies. Ultimately, ‘The Real Deal” is a fantastic collection of personal accounts detailing Caan’s real-life experiences (including his experience setting up and running his own recruitment agency) and learning what money is really worth, as told by one Britain’s most insightful businessmen. Well worth the read if you want to find out exactly what goes into running your own agency.

10. Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us – Daniel Pink

Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us

Forget everything you thought you knew about how to motivate people. It’s wrong.

In yet another paradigm-shattering book, Pink explains the secret to high performance and satisfaction in today’s world. Get ready to delve into science behind the deeply human need to direct our own lives, learn and create new things, and to do better by ourselves and the world. With tips and stories from a few companies that are enlisting new approaches to motivation and the scientists and entrepreneurs who are pointing a bold way forward, you’ll be motivating your staff or your team like a real boss in no time.

11. The Snowball: Warren Buffett and the Business of Life – Alice Schroeder

The Snowball - Warren Buffett and the Business of Life, by Alice Schroeder

Although Buffett has never told his full life story through any personal memoirs he did permit one writer, Alice Schroeder, to do so for him through a series of questions, conversations and interviews with those nearest and dearest to him.

Buffett is one of America’s most fascinating and respected businessmen and a genuine nice guy who finished first i.e. became the world’s richest man. This biography details his many successes and failures and his philosophies on life and most importantly in business. If you’re in business, you cannot afford to pass this account by.

12. The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable – Nassim Nicholas Taleb

The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable, by Nassim Nicholas Taleb

Although slightly less relevant in terms of recruitment, Taleb’s “The Black Swan” is a nonetheless extraordinary read that focuses on the impact of highly improbable events that cause massive consequences (“Black Swans”) and how you can prepare for (and exploit) them. Intrigued? Get reading!

So dig out those book vouchers you received from your Auntie May last week and get down to a bookstore or iTunes pronto! Your sourcing career depends on it!

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