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

4.05  ·  Rating details ·  849 ratings  ·  91 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
Paperback, 224 pages
Published January 1st 2004 by Harvard Business Review Press (first published 2002)
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Mar 09, 2009 rated it it was ok
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
Jun 16, 2012 rated it really liked it
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?
Jan 11, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A really great and insightful book with a modern approach towards career.
Bogdan Alexa
Mar 06, 2020 rated it really liked it
I've found this book to contain valuable and pertinent ideas/advice, all the more maybe because I'm going through a working-identity crisis and job-frustration.
It gave me some comfort, validating my feelings, reading about the case studies the author pursued and it was just comforting to know the simple fact that these things are normal and that many people are likely to go through them and that it's not the end of the world, as well that there are people with a more complicated personal life th
Kate Arms
Sep 28, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Considering a career change - read this first

One of the best books on career change I have read. Ibarra does not set out a neat and tidy, step-by-step to do list because everybody's path will be different. Instead, the reader is through the process of change with a variety of research subjects and given a theoretical model that explains why some of these subjects were satisfied after the change and why others failed to make a fulfilling shift.

And then, the book ends with a few principles that wi
Jun 04, 2011 rated it really liked it
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.
Lori Grant
Mar 29, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: career-change
A must-read book on career change.
Giovanna D'Esposito
Jun 05, 2017 rated it it was ok
It could have been summarised in half a page in my view and I didn't find any breakthrough-type insight ...more
Mar 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Explore! Try! Action!
These are the key words that shake up the paradigm that I've been taught to thoughtfully, logically and methodologically figure out next career steps.

The author focuses on how to go about acting and trying your plans first and learning oneself that way. She "reverses the conventional 'thinking before doing' logic to successfully change careers".

It's refreshing. Similar to the way the education system is flipping how to learn. Instead of going to class for a lecture and doi
André Henriques
Jan 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing
As the author so clearly mentions, if you are expecting a 10-point plan for career transaction, this might not be the book you want.

However, in what might be missing in practicality, in my view, the author clearly hits the nail in the head with an incredible framework based more in experimentation that introspection, that might help the reader make sense of some of the confusion of the transaction he might be going.

The examples and stories the author showcase in the book, are great and insightfu
Jorg van Gaal
Apr 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: self-improvement
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Farid Azar
Nov 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
If you are like me going through a career/identity phase, you need to read this book. Very unbiased analysis of people who have been going through the career change laying out their doubts and the dilemmas. what I enjoyed about this book was Herminia Ibarra's tone and the use of research and data to prove a point and not just support her point of view. I took notes all through the books and have been going back to my notes again and again, Very useful, very easy to read and not a "pop-psychology ...more
Mar 28, 2020 rated it liked it
Some good nuggets to pick out but too long winded and boring.

Key takeways for me:
- In career transitions, act NOT think your way into a new identity, because you will be a different person at the end.
- Run small experiments with many possible selves to explore new identities in the process of becoming vs looking for your “true” self
- Don’t rush out of the transition stage of contradictions between your current and future selves
- Find people to connect to (these are likely not “strong” connectio
Vitaly Dolgov
Apr 04, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A good book that is both a wake up call and a self-help guide to navigate the process of redefining one's professional identity. The book is built on nine core principles (summarised in chapter eight of the book), and several long-form examples. Herminia provides an actionable roadmap that can be arranged in five macro steps. A good driving tone of the book and call to action are very helpful not to get stuck in the process, yet some of the long-form examples and analysis tend to reiterate the s ...more
Nov 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing
career transition book -- but good for any (middle-life?) transition. Broke the good old formula "find your passion --> have a great nice plan --> follow the plan and everything works just beautifully"... This is more like the coherent after-story we made up for ourselves. The process actually is way more messier; you trip and stumble, run back and forth. It also takes longer than one may have thought. But, let's say, it's hopeful. People have done it. By talking to more people, explore and expe ...more
Fiona Forthe
Oct 17, 2018 rated it liked it
Someone I met recently recommended this book to me. I would have liked more concrete tips, though I do understand the basic message of the book. Rather than spending time figuring ourselves out, we should just start doing things - taking action, and making little experiments. She also talked about portfolio careers, where you have a few different things you work on at the same time. I liked that concept. It's good for those of us who don't know what we want to be when we grow up! ...more
Aug 31, 2019 rated it it was ok
Boring and a little unrelateable. All the examples seemed to be of extremely successful people with an excellent network to exploit. There wasn't much for Joe the Plumber to learn about changing his career. It was occasionally interesting to learn how these kinds of changes usually progress and pick out those behaviors in myself - testing the waters, finding a new network, exploring different identities. Still, it felt like it could have been a HBR article instead of a whole book. ...more
Stephanie Bradshaw
unconventional book about mid-life or career changes, thought provoking

this book give real life examples of transition and provokes one to think about how to apply it to self.... less structure than other similar genres, however a great read to get ideas and also identifying oneself.
Paul Menezes
Dec 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Very well written and based on the premise that finding your "true self" should come at the end of your journey, and not at the very beginning. Finding non-committal opportunities to flirt those different selves will assist in identifying a new desired working identity.

Would have given it 5 stars if the interviewees varied more.
Morgan Leafe
Dec 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I rarely reread books, but I will likely reread this one, it's fantastic. Obviously not for everyone, but if you are a professional considering a career change this is by far the best book I've read on the topic. ...more
Jan 03, 2021 rated it really liked it
Slightly academic in tone but engaging and easy to read. Very helpful if you are the target demographic: mid-career, middle- or upper-middle-class professionals looking to make a radical change in their worklife. Case studies and storytelling make the mix of theory and practical advice seamless.
Giovanna D'Esposito
Jun 05, 2017 rated it it was ok
it could have been summarised in half a page
No particular insight gained
Jun 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
Love her approach to flip conventional career exploration on its head. Instead of constantly reflecting first, we're advised to start acting. Only after periods of experimenting and doing can you look back. It makes total sense-how can you know what you do/don't want if you've never taken actions to test ideas out. ...more
Jul 12, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: lbs, hr-people
A good book for those who like to read stories. It cricles around a few advises all the time that are summarized at the very end.
Dec 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
Very good information if you are considering changing careers.
Anchal Sharma
Jul 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
Very methodical approach to reinventing careers. Definitely recommend to people thinking in the transition phase between careers or jobs.
Aug 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is the first career change book I’ve read that’s resonated with me. And it has the added benefit of being based on actual research.
Aug 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
Not a how-to guide, but very helpful in understanding the long and often confusing period that precedes a career change.
Apr 14, 2020 added it
It updates the method of how we approach changing professions, with a more pragmatic theory of psychological potentiality and definition of work in a new age.
Nigel Rawlins
May 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A good read, well worth it, gave me lots of ideas to add to my body of knowledge.
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