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Working Identity: Unconventional Strategies for Reinventing Your Career Paperback – 1 Nov 2003

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Product details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard Business School Press; New Ed edition (1 Nov. 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1591394139
  • ISBN-13: 978-1591394136
  • Product Dimensions: 1.9 x 15.2 x 22.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 57,925 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

About the Author

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

Inside This Book

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First Sentence
"could get a middle management job in a finance department of a company."" Or, ""You could become a trainee in a management program.""" Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

20 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Mr Andrew Ward on 31 July 2003
Format: Hardcover
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 By Printul Noptilor on 3 Jan. 2010
Format: Paperback
"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:
1.
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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 By A. Cowie on 16 Sept. 2009
Format: Paperback
"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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