Little Black Book: The Career Guide for Millennial Women?

My review of the career book that is taking over Instagram feeds across the UK, the Little Black Book: A Toolkit For Working Women by Otegha Uwagba.

I work in the creative industry as a digital marketer and content writer. I’m also a book blogger who is very nosey over others’ TBR lists and book hauls. This involves lots of time on Instagram – it’s all for research purposes, I promise. Scrolling through feeds, one particular book kept cropping up. The cover design alone caught my attention, with its striking pink and black colour scheme and great typography. Definitely flat-lay worthy. Then I started noticing publications adding it to their must-read lists, so I took the plunge and ordered a copy for myself.

The book really is little; at 115 pages I read it in one sitting. It’s taken me much longer to get round to finally writing up my thoughts.

What is it about?

I vaguely recall a ‘careers lesson’ at secondary school, which was sitting in a teacher’s office talking to someone I had never met about what I would like to do when I’m older for all of 10 minutes. I wasn’t really sure then. I liked the idea of going into journalism as I loved writing and most likely talked about that. I still wasn’t sure 8 or 9 years later when I left university. We never spoke about what would happen next when we were at university either. I left the education system with no real career guidance, and I know many of my friends felt the same. (Luckily, since leaving university, I have been able to take part in an invaluable mentorship scheme and take my first steps into the world of copywriting.)

So, picking up Little Black Book was a bit like the overdue careers guidance I never had back at school. Not only that, it’s actually written for the digital age. For us millennials who class being on Facebook all day as a real job.

Uwagba divides the book into 10 chapters, ranging from how to increase your productivity at work, creating your personal brand, to a selection of contributions from successful women.

Essentially, what Little Black Book does is take some of those shady buzzwords and hashtags – think #lifehacks and #workgoals – and turns them into realistic, helpful, achievable tips and tricks to navigating the workplace, which can be an overwhelming place to venture when you’re just starting out. As the simple cover suggests, these tips are presented in a fluff-free way.

Is it worth the hype?

I like to think I have a healthy work-life balance, and more generally a good approach to work so it was comforting to see some of my personal values echoed in tips in the Little Black Book. Tips like:

  • “Done is better than perfect… Resist the urge to endlessly tweak projects or creative work at the expense of ever actually finishing them.” (p. 7)
  • “Keep it simple. No special effects [in your presentations], please.” (p. 28)
  • “Keep it concise… don’t write an essay because it won’t be read.” (p. 68)

While there are a few tips that sound more aspirational than realistic, the quick succession of tips and advice means that this book can be read in one go and be kept on your work desk as a pick-me-up when you need some inspiration.

Final thoughts

Since reading Little Black Book, I too have shared it with my Instagram followers. A friend even let me know that she had bought the book because of my recommendation, which is definitely empowering.

Is it OK that the book is designed for women? I think so. Although I wouldn’t necessarily say the book is just for women. This guide is something that would suit anyone just starting out in the creative industry. The Instagrammable pink and focus on women on the cover is genius marketing to millennials, however.

It’s a book that I would recommend to the national curriculum. A powerful toolkit that has left me feeling more in control over my career, confident over the decisions I make, and inspired to work hard.

Otegha Uwagba is the founder of Women Who.