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Working Identity: Unconventional Strategies for Reinventing Your Career
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Working Identity: Unconventional Strategies for Reinventing Your Career

3.94 of 5 stars 3.94  ·  rating details  ·  254 ratings  ·  37 reviews
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
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Paperback, 224 pages
Published January 1st 2004 by Harvard Business Review Press (first published 2002)
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(showing 1-30 of 699)
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Roxanne
This book wants to be a self-help book. In actuality it's more of a theory book, with little in the way of practical solutions or strategies.

Ibarra states in the Preface that this book is not for everyone--it's aimed specifically at "the mid-career professional who questions his or her career path after having made a long-term investment of time, energy, and education in that path." Great, right? Actually, probably half the case studies that Ibarra presents describe people who were to my eye qu
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Adam
Rings true, very interesting, slightly academic tone.

Author has interviewed a lot of people who made career changes, mostly around the age of 40. It's basically a critique of the classic "top down" approach, where you start by picking a long term goal, and move from there. She argues that the way career changes happen in the real world is through a series of small steps and experiments, and that people mostly learn through experimentation, not through introspection about "what was I meant to do?
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Marian Deegan
Over a lovely lunch at Palomino early in 2006, Robyn Waters graciously suggested that I pick up Ibarra’s Working Identity.

I was in the thick of my BiUrban explorations at the time, and this was exactly the career-changing compass I needed. Ibarra interviewed dozens of professionals in the States and abroad who’d made startlingly drastic mid-career changes. She discovered that the techniques used to effect successful transitions flew in the face of traditional wisdom regarding career change.

I w
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Lori Grant
A must-read book on career change.
Mary Karpel-Jergic
An interesting and useful book for anyone interested in the dilemmas of changing their career. I value it for two reasons: one, for myself as I undergo yet another personal and professional re-invention; and two, for my work in helping others who wish to create a more meaningful career. This book is not about changing jobs it is about creating a career that encapsulates you, your experience, your values and your lifestyle. The difference between the change of job and the career creation is 'the ...more
Jessie Young
When I first started this book, I didn't think it was for me because it is about changing careers, but then I read "What Color Is Your Parachute?" and realized that I didn't want a book that gave general career advice (like that one).

This book is superior for the person who is looking for ways to figure out what to do with their life. It shows how messy figuring out your career can be and that sitting around and thinking about it is not the way to come to any conclusions. I recommend this book
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Charlice
Research-based insight into the actual paths that people take in reinventing their careers. The book is not long on advice, so I'm not sure to what extent people looking for a roadmap to change careers would find it to be useful. But I imagine that the descriptions of the career changers in the book, along with the author's analysis of their journeys, would provide some reassurance to people who are in the process of changing careers and finding, more likely than not, that it is not a linear pro ...more
Francis Norton
Working Identity uses 39 stories - case studies involving professionals who have made a radical mid-career switch - to advocate an iterative, constructivist approach of feeling your way into a new career by means of new connections, exploratory involvement and experimental projects.

Herminia Ibarra contrasts this approach to the "conventional" approach of introspection and self-classification followed by detailed planning and finally execution - I am happy to take her word on the conventional mod
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Liz
I found this to be a really helpful book as I begin to commit to the career change process. There were so many insights that before returning the book to the library, I took a page of notes to keep with me. The author argues that most professional development/career change frameworks revolve around the idea that we have a single "core identity," and if we spend enough time in self-reflection, we can get in touch with that identity and then quickly select and implement a new path around it. In co ...more
Ingrid Kirkegaard
What I like in this is the way the author, clearly an academic with a rigorous training behind her, has thrown off the self-consciousness of academe. She doesn't sound as though she is justifying herself to an institution any more. Instead she seems to have actually listened to her subjects.

I like the chronicling approach that is taken to the interviews: the stories are instructive precisely because of the twists and turns, not because these have been analysed out. You can't help but feel that
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Tim Williams
Too many personal stories for me. I need to have the new idea presented and then link it to a real-life case. That works well for me. In this book, the author made use of her interviews and filled the book with little practical advice but lots of examples. It is unlikely that anyone will find an example here that matches them exactly, or even close when you consider age, experience, goals and desires, and that being the case - why so many stories?
Katie
A very interesting and worthwhile perspective on making a ‘mid-career’ change. The proposition is that we try out possible roles; investigate ideas that appeal to us – “test and learn” and find out about our new career by trying on for size. This requires that we have a ‘stomach’ for uncertainty and allow ourselves the time to rule in and rule out possibilities. The author outlines her 9 “unconventional strategies”: change what we do to test out alternatives; reflect, but only after testing star ...more
Anna Jones
This is definitely a business book rather than a self help book. It focuses on the "how" of major career transitions, with a bias to professionals and academics - the kind if people you meet in the world of MBAs. What I love about it is that it identifies that people make career changes by actively exploring multiple possible working identities not sitting back and doing lots of thinking and internal analysis to find your "one true path". I coach MBA students and have found this an invaluable in ...more
Beth
It was okay. I was a little disappointed though. I was hoping for some concrete recommendations for experimenting and didn't get them. Hearing of the experiences of others was interesting, just not what I was looking for.
lbzk
A nice and interesting book for those who are reinventing themselves professionally. I enjoyed reading it because I emphasized with all the methods described for finding the working identity and with it's main idea that when you try to find a new job you should act first and right after that think about the plan. This way you're gaining true experience and knowledge about your own skills and about what you want to do or not, than sitting and thinking about what you are and what you should do.
Mary
I thought this book was an excellent guide on how to think about transitioning from a current career to a better fit. She clarifies that it is messy, but do-able.
jeremy
Inspirational book for those looking to make a larger career shift and not just a logical extension from what they were currently doing. As others have mentioned, the authors details a process with practical suggestions and a variety of anecdotes drawn from others who were navigating the difficult change.

Struggling with a career change of my own, I found the book inspiring, yet practical. I would highly recommend this book to my peers who are simultaneously convicted about making a significant
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Evgeny Gaevoi
One of the most dangerous books I've read. Perfect antidote for midlife crisis
Michelle
I'm not rating this book because I had to read it quickly to return it to the library. I took some notes, but I'd rather come back to it in order to read it for the purpose of reviewing it.

I like the mix of guidance and academics. It's not some silly self-help book.

I like the appendix in which Ibarra details her methodology. She's also clear about her audience, and it may not be you (or me).

Even with ideas that I found familiar, I appreciated the way they were framed here. They encouraged me no
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Katleen
Het boek inspireert wel. Al is het soms wel wat droog.

Het gaat erom dat je in je carrière vooral veel verschillende dingen moet "proberen" ipv te lang na te denken en niets te doen.
Eventuele tussenstappen zijn ook goed. Op die manier zal je eindigen met een carrière die het beste bij je persoonlijkheid en competenties ligt.

Dingen die je eigenlijk met je gezondverstand al wel weet, maar toch nog wel leuk om eens te lezen.

Filip
Hugely insightful work for people in their 40's who are switching careers. It consoles, advises, encourages and inspires. Its main lessons are that you 'learn by doing' instead of doing lengthy analyses on oneself, and that any career change is the result of an iterative process. Maybe less practical than Bolles's 'What Colour is My Parachute', but much more incisive. I'll be re-reading its highlights many times.
Anna Ilchuk
Sep 17, 2011 Anna Ilchuk rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Anna by: Bayushkin Dmitry
A good book for those who wants to change one's life by means of getting a new job and starting a new carreer. So it is about how to understand what one needs and can and what one can expect afterwords. It will help one to realize what is the most important factor for you - income, status or the understanding that you are not a slave but the work must bring pleasure to you.
Katherine
Jives with the other career development books I've been reading lately that it's more about trying various small experiments than just sitting around thinking about what's your passion that you want to pursue, but case studies are specifically focused on people in their 30s-50s making career changes.
Julie Fiandt
It provides a helpful reminder that taking small steps toward exploring new careers is the way to go--not overanalyzing how your personality type can provide vague career directions (which is what most career books do).
Dana Fallentine
I enjoyed the stories in this book! It is enjoyable to learn about positive changes people make in their lives, and why and how they do it. I do believe that everyone should have a job that they love!
Joe
Pretty short and dry, but in general a good survey of what people actually go through when changing to a different career. In short, the way to do it is to try different things and iterate.
Jacqueline
This one was recommended to me, indirectly, by a career counselor/coach, and I think it's a good one for people considering or in the midst of a career transition.
Margaret
Recommended by Professor Low at an entrepreneurship I attended last year at Columbia. Great for anyone who is dissatisfied with their career and thinking of a change.
Becky
This book provides a guideline on how to recognize when subtle changes in your thoughts and views on your job signal a deeper need to change career paths.
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“The end of all our exploring,” as T. S. Eliot reminds us, “will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.” 1 likes
“Gary’s seemingly random, circuitous method actually has an underlying logic. But this test-and-learn approach flies in the face of the more traditional method, the” 0 likes
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