We as a society are very inconsistent with how we feel about reading. On the one hand, we love reading! We encourage kids to read! Just not at the table. And not during class. And not if the book has violence or grown up kissing or too many pictures in it. And certainly not if they want to major in English. So it's no wonder that so many dedicated bookworms feel like their hobby is just not useful. We've been told that being able to analyze Hemingway or Austen or Rowling is not a very helpful career move. But actually, being a voracious reader can give you a secret edge, no matter where you work. Here are just a few ways that being a reader is super useful for your career.
It may seem like most "marketable skills" have more to do with coding or business or finance, and less to do with rereading Jane Eyre during a bout of insomnia. But if you're a lifelong reader, you've secretly been building up skills that will help you climb nearly any career ladder. All those years of sneaking comic books and trading romance novels and writing Harry Potter fiction might actually pay off:
1. Almost every job requires reading skills
Sure, there are a few jobs out there that don't require reading—but reading always helps, even if you're just reading the occasional email. If you're already a pro at making sense of literature, you're several steps ahead of everyone else when it comes to reading and fully grasping that employee handbook (or even when it comes to filling out that job application).
2. Reading helps you handle stress
Careers are stressful. Opening my email every morning is a minor crisis. But reading actually reduces stress, and helps you deal with the daily grind without spinning out into panic. If you can go home after work and slip into a fictional world for a few hours every night, you're far less likely to strangle Debra when she forgets to CC you on the weekly reports again.
3. Reading makes you more empathetic
Reading fiction has been shown to improve empathy in individuals. And, unless you're a businessman in an '80s comedy, being an empathetic person will help your career. Empathy helps you network and build relationships, respond calmly to irrational clients, sense when to shut up in a job interview, and just be an all-around pleasant person to work with.
4. Reading comprehension matters
It may sound basic, but reading comprehension is an actual skill that needs to be honed. So many workplace disasters start with someone misreading an email, or phrasing something poorly, or not proofreading well enough. If you're a seasoned reader with an intuitive grasp of basic grammar, you'll know that your company bio should say, "I love cooking, my dog, and my family," rather than, "I love cooking my dog and my family."
5. There are so many careers out there for readers
I know that your parent/uncle/mean babysitter told you that there are no jobs out there for literary nerds—but they were wrong. There are many jobs out there for readers, editors, and writers of all kinds. We're actually relying much more on reading than ever before, since we conduct so much business online, and being a skillful reader is in high demand.
6. Reading helps your communication skills
A good vocabulary is vital when it comes to job interviews and sounding professional at business luncheons. And the best way to beef up your list of SAT words is to read. Reading exposes you to new words and ideas, which can be incredibly helpful when you need to sound intelligent over the phone.
7. Reading improves your writing
You can get by at a lot of jobs without being the world's greatest writer, but sooner or later you're going to have to compose an email, a report, or a cover letter. And that's where all those years of absorbing great writing will kick in. Being a reader makes you a better writer, and writing is an invaluable skill in the workplace.
8. Reading teaches us to persevere
If you've ever sat down and read an 800 page novel from cover to cover, then you can definitely nail that big presentation. Or that job interview. Or stick it out at your crappy office for another two months until you find something better. Ambition is necessary if you want to move up in your chosen field, but patience and perseverance are vital if you want to get through Thursday without screaming.
9. Reading boosts your analytical thinking
Reading helps you train your brain to spot complex patterns and problem solve. And, no matter what field you're in, you'll have to do some problem solving eventually. Even for math-heavy careers like computer programing, a little recreational reading goes a long way towards keeping your mind in good shape.
10. Books are full of great role models
We've all channeled Hermione Granger once or twice after a hard day of dealing with incompetent men. Or maybe you draw your strength from Jane Eyre, or Lizzie Bennet, or Tyrion Lannister. Whoever you identify with, books are full of kick ass characters who can inspire us to work hard, trust ourselves, and fight against evil fascist wizards when the time comes.
11. Readers just get better jobs
An Oxford study found that people who read as teenagers ended up with better jobs later in life. Even if you were a late blooming book lover, reading more can only help you in the long run. So pick up a book and get to work!