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Working Identity: Unconventional Strategies for Reinventing Your Career [Paperback]

Herminia Ibarra
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
RRP: 15.99
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Book Description

1 Nov 2003
A powerful model for career reinvention that reverses conventional wisdom

Includes fascinating case studies of personal and professional reinventions—from literature professor to stockbroker, from psychiatrist to Buddhist monk, and from investment banker to fiction writer, among others.

Gives readers a new way to understand change in their lives. Career change is not a step-by-step linear process—it’s crooked and takes much longer than we think. Nor is change the result of one big event. Rather, many small steps add up to a successful change.


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Working Identity: Unconventional Strategies for Reinventing Your Career + What Should I Do With My Life? + How to Find Fulfilling Work (The School of Life)
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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: 21.2 x 14 x 1.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 18,241 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

More About the Author

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Product Description

About the Author

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

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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

4.2 out of 5 stars
4.2 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
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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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
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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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best book on the subject 16 Sep 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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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Wondering how to change careers? buy this book 19 Dec 2004
Format:Paperback
Easy to read, it uses case studies to explain the way to change your career.
The book gives a very practical approach and recommends action rather than reflection as being the bext way forward.
If you're struggling with your current job, then read this book. It may lead you to a new career that's just what you need.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Very practical 26 Feb 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
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 other life events -- as the author points out, the most potentially effective way of changing career is gradually and over time, which is a luxury not everyone will enjoy.
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Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
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. Only through trying out new modes of behaviour do you come to see which routes will work most effectively for you. The book is an antidote to those processes and gurus who advocate deep internal self-reflection and then decisive and single-minded action.

In line with Ibarra's background, the tone is considered and academic rather than breathless and strident like so many business and self-help books. This is refreshing and engaging and made the book so much easier to absorb.

As other reviewers have noted, the book is short on prescriptive actions. The real benefit of the book is going on the journey with the characters she brings out in the case studies. Nevertheless, for those of you who like the key messages bullet point-style, they are teased out at the end in nine "Unconventional Strategies".

If you are a career counsellor or just wondering how to make sense of a mid-career change, I'd definitely recommend this book.
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