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Working Identity: Unconventional Strategies for Reinventing Your Career [Kindle Edition]

Herminia Ibarra
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)

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Book Description

How Successful Career Changers Turn Fantasy into Reality

Whether as a daydream or a spoken desire, nearly all of us have entertained the notion of reinventing ourselves. Feeling unfulfilled, burned out, or just plain unhappy with what we’re doing, we long to make that leap into the unknown. But we also hold on, white-knuckled, to the years of time and effort we’ve invested in our current profession.

In this powerful book, Herminia Ibarra presents a new model for career reinvention that flies in the face of everything we’ve learned from "career experts." While common wisdom holds that we must first know what we want to do before we can act, Ibarra argues that this advice is backward. Knowing, she says, is the result of doing and experimenting. Career transition is not a straight path toward some predetermined identity, but a crooked journey along which we try on a host of "possible selves" we might become.

Based on her in-depth research on professionals and managers in transition, Ibarra outlines an active process of career reinvention that leverages three ways of "working identity": experimenting with new professional activities, interacting in new networks of people, and making sense of what is happening to us in light of emerging possibilities.

Through engrossing stories—from a literature professor turned stockbroker to an investment banker turned novelist—Ibarra reveals a set of guidelines that all successful reinventions share. She explores specific ways that hopeful career changers of any background can:

Explore possible selves
Craft and execute "identity experiments"
Create "small wins" that keep momentum going
Survive the rocky period between career identities
Connect with role models and mentors who can ease the transition
Make time for reflection—without missing out on windows of opportunity
Decide when to abandon the old path in order to follow the new
Arrange new events into a coherent story of who we are becoming.

A call to the dreamer in each of us, Working Identity explores the process for crafting a more fulfilling future. Where we end up may surprise us.

Product Description

About the Author

Herminia Ibarra is Professor of Organizational Behavior at INSEAD in Fontainebleau, France.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 373 KB
  • Print Length: 228 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1591394139
  • Publisher: Harvard Business Review Press (5 Jan. 2004)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004OEIQ7C
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #114,091 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
4.3 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
If you itch to change careers but have made little or no progress, chances are this book will help you understand why .. and what you can do about it.
With it's core "just get out and experiment" message it's a very useful antidote to conventional career advice which holds that the key to making a sucessful change lies in first knowing with as much clarity and certainty what we want to do and then using that knowledge to implement a sound strategy.
It's a powerful message although whether it needed such a long book to present it is debateable. That said, the stories it tells of other career changers are more than just padding - they are illuminating and interesting if a little narrowly focused on professionals.
There is not much in the way of specific tips and advice, but then that is perhaps unsurprising given that the author advises that you go out and find what works for you.
Overall, a very good read for those caught up in the agony of self-analysis that precedes many attempts to change careers.
NB This is a book for career changers rather than job changers.
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
"Working Identity" is a book about making a drastic career change - that is, leaving your unsatisfying profession behind and beginning to do something that's really fulfilling for you.

There must be lots of people who feel vague dissatisfaction with their current lives but can't figure out what's wrong. There are countless books on that subject that tell you to sit down and ponder over what kind of stuff you would like to do, and write it down in minutest detail. I have filled out dozens of slightly different questionnaires over all these years, done all kinds of exercises trying to uncover that knowing that was supposed to be buried somewhere deep inside of me, and ended up none the wiser. In my late thirties, I still don't know what I want to be when I grow up.

"Working Identity" is the first book I've seen that clearly spells out what my long-time first-hand experience has so clearly demonstrated to be true - that you can't find your true calling by self-reflection. On the contrary - you can only find out what would make you happy by trying stuff out and seeing what you enjoy and what you don't.

Well, then, what help does this book offer? The short answer is: apart from moral support, nothing.
I did find it very comforting to learn that I wasn't some kind of a freak unable to achieve ultimate happiness by fast and simple methods everyone else seemingly uses. But other than that, the book contains just anecdotes about people who experimented around and eventually found something they wanted to spend their lives doing. I didn't even read them all.

Of course, it's clear to me that one can't expect to get things from a book that can only be learned by doing. Still, the book could have been much better. In particular, I disliked three things:
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5.0 out of 5 stars Thoughtful and wise words 11 Sept. 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book is very good if you interested in developing your managerial career in a different direction, and want to hear the wisdom of someone with both relevant experience and academic credentials. It can also be useful if you are line managing and developing staff through their careers.

Most of the examples refer to business executives that may have changed managerial roles or set up a new business, so I think it will have most direct relevance for this context. This book may not be for you if you are plunged into change and need to keep money coming in somehow. Nor is it for you if you are after a quick fix and some magical formula that will spout out your ideal career. Indeed, the whole concept behind this book is that successful change takes time and occurs through small iterative steps. She maintains that sitting in a room reflecting on past successes and experiences, or doing personality profiles, will only get you so far: ultimately you have to take a plunge, however small, and try things out so that you feel and experience which doors are right for you to open.

Do you need a book to tell you this? Maybe not but why are you even reading this? Change is a strange thing, and it is easy to get caught up in day-to-day work and not look at the broader picture, no matter how organised or ambitious one is.

I am very cynical about so called "self-help" books: I am sure the answer is never in a book but some might help illuminate paths forward if they are on your wavelength.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best book on the subject 16 Sept. 2009
"Find a job you enjoy and never work a day in your life"

This book shows how other people have made the transition to working at what they enjoy and becoming successful in the terms that satisfy them. If you are looking for direction in your working life, this is a great place to start. It will help you think about what it is that you really want to do and inspire you to realise that doing what you really want to do is the truest and most satisfying way to succeed in your own terms.

If success really is a journey rather than a destination, this book shows you how to choose a journey that you will actually enjoy. (If you can see light at the end of the tunnel, you really need to ask yourself what you are doing in the tunnel in the first place.)

This is an excellent book on this subject and it really helped me gather my direction in working life. Being such a good book, I ended up lending it to a friend so my next move will be to acquire another copy!
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Realisitc & Practical
This is a realistic examination about how people actually go about changing their career identity. It acknowledges the power of identity while avoiding providing overly simplistic... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Daniel Kerkel
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 2 months ago by vicky gaughan
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Great book
Published 3 months ago by andreia
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Insight into the Hidden Practical and Psychological Problems...
As a coach and having changed careers several times, I totally recommend this book as it provides a wide range of mini-bios outlining the rarely-mentioned but natural psychological... Read more
Published 9 months ago by Martina Keens-Betts
4.0 out of 5 stars Very practical
Very sensible and pragmatic advice on how to plan and execute a change of career, though probably of limited usefulness for anyone forced into a rapid change due to redundancy or... Read more
Published 15 months ago by J P Hedges
5.0 out of 5 stars Ideal for those people mid-career who are reflecting on a major change...
The central idea is that a change of this magnitude is a heuristic process. You must act before you are fully ready through a process of small experiments. Read more
Published 16 months ago by Phil Benton
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting
... An interesting read, in Europe or other regions maybe better suited for professionals in the wider HR area. Read more
Published 17 months ago by Evelyne Van Vosselen
5.0 out of 5 stars amazing!!
I highly recommend this book to anyone at an stage of their working life. It helps you to understand how people's identities change and how to then change your working life. Read more
Published 19 months ago by Lauren Way
3.0 out of 5 stars Good book for the right target audience
This book raises a lot of good points (making iterative rather than wholesale change, getting the right support network etc) but the cases studies are mostly office based CEO... Read more
Published on 19 May 2013 by J S Nickless
5.0 out of 5 stars Great approach to exploring your career options
The main concept I took from this book is that when you are thinking about exploring a new career path, the best way to see if it fits is to start taking steps toward the goal;... Read more
Published on 6 Oct. 2011 by Philip McMullen
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