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Working Identity: Unconventional Strategies for Reinventing Your Career Paperback – January 1, 2004

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Working Identity: Unconventional Strategies for Reinventing Your Career + The Adult Years: Mastering the Art of Self-Renewal + Coaching Skills: A Handbook
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 199 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard Business School Press (January 1, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1591394139
  • ISBN-13: 978-1591394136
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.5 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (58 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #226,866 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Aimed at mid-career professionals who have invested much in careers that may no longer fully satisfy, Ibarra's book challenges the traditional belief that a meticulous assessment of one's skills and interests will automatically lead one to discover the right job. In reality, she argues, "doing comes first, knowing second." This is not to say that a marketing director should abruptly resign to become a modern dancer; instead, defining the arc of the future is a "never-ending process of putting ourselves through a set of knowable steps that creates and reveals our possible selves." Most people will navigate a career shift at some point in their lives, and in this smart, positive guide, organizational behavior professor Ibarra shares the stories of 23 people who did it successfully. It's no 10-point plan for figuring it all out, Ibarra says, but rather a well-reasoned guide to making the decision of whether or not to stay in a career or move on. Readers who study the stories and their accompanying analyses will take away some valuable lessons on changing their way of thinking and being, going out on a limb, and building in a much-needed "transition period" during a career shift.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Recent changes in the economy have left a large segment of the workforce at odds with their careers, with downsizing and disillusionment causing many to rethink their place in the corporate world or even consider abandoning a profession they no longer find fulfilling. Ibarra believes that, contrary to conventional thought, there is no "one perfect job" for each individual. We each experiment and find our way through trial and error, hopefully on the path of becoming who we really are. This book is designed to help those who are on that path but feel stuck because they feel they should be doing something completely different but don't know what it is yet. Rather than giving glib advice, Ibarra illustrates how to make radical transitions one day at a time through the examples of 23 people who have successfully made the plunge from just a career to a whole new lifestyle. This is about a transition to something more personal, more creative or spiritual, but always liberating. David Siegfried
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

This book is very well written.
Nancy L.
Indeed, there were one or two ideas which I took abroad (repeated throughout the book), but nothing more.
typical expat
Ibarra makes it clear that only through trial and error can one find a more meaningful career.
B. Strong

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

128 of 130 people found the following review helpful By C. Hall on October 16, 2003
Format: Hardcover
I have read the "What Color is you Parachute"- types of career management books and, as Ibarra says in Working Identity, while books such as these provide useful, introspective exercises for inventorying your skillsets and interests, they have never provided me with the magical answer I was looking for in terms of what I want to do with my life. If anything I actually became more frustrated, because I had invested all of this time doing the exercises and still only had a few faint ideas for careers that might interest me.
Working Identity provides a very refreshing perspective, and one that I agree with. That while introspection is good and necessary, it is doubtful that introspection alone will provide us with the answer of what we want to do. Rather, only through new experiences and relationships will we begin to "think out of the box", so to speak, and get a true sense for what we enjoy and for what motivates us.
I highly recommend this book to anybody who feels stuck in a professional rut and is not quite sure how to get out of it. Not only will you be able to empathize with some of the individuals in the case studies, but I believe the book will help you to begin thinking in a new way, in terms of how to initiate change in your life.
However, I do have a few criticisms of the book. At several times I had to ask myself who was Ibarra's intended audience, career changers or her fellow professors? Many times it just sounded unnecessarily "academic" in tone, particularly in the beginning of the book where she uses several pages to form "models" for her particular theories.
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60 of 60 people found the following review helpful By Stacy E. Burrell on March 2, 2003
Format: Hardcover
In a nutshell, this book has helped me immensely in developing possible career paths. The main premise of the book is that the answer to "What should I do with my life?" does not typically come in a flash of insight or by seeking to discover yourself first. Rather, it comes from trying different ideas or alternatives and then reflecting on the experiences.
I have been engaged in the exercise of finding the right career for the past three years. I have did all manners of self-tests, journals, coaching and personality tests to find the answer. This isn't to say that my efforts were wasted because I was able to gain clarity into what I liked and disliked. The problem is that I never took action because I was looking for an "aha!" moment of discovery that never came. By reading "Working Identity" I have discovered that it is normal not to have an "aha!" and that the real value is taking what I have done and put it into action in order to discover what I would like to do.
In addition to the approach described by the author, the book is a short read, is well researched(with the research methods included) and has numerous stories as examples. The writing does get somewhat dry and academic in parts, but that is more than offset by the approach, short length and the stories.
I highly recommend!
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90 of 93 people found the following review helpful By Dr. Cathy Goodwin TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on February 5, 2003
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I recommend this book because it turns the world of career counseling upside down, offering a welcome antidote to the traditional career counselors, outplacement folks and coaches who rely heavily on "assessment" and chirpy philosophies of, "If you dream it, you can do it."
Ibarra's greatest contribution is to emphasize that self-analysis and action must go together. A focus on self-analysis is easier for the client and more lucrative for a counselor or coach. As she says, implementation is more challenging and difficult than diagnosis. Additionally, she goes beyond the typical "Get out and network!" advice, offering a theory-based prescription to network with strangers and distant acquaintances. And she emphasizes that career change is a winding road, not a straight line -- something any experienced career counselor should know. Her examples echo other recent research by career psychologists, focusing on serendipity as a career force.
Mid-career changers have to be especially creative when making career decisions. My only quibble is that her examples come from very well-educated, successful, sophisticated, under-50 career changers. (I detected one 53-year-old male, mentioned briefly.) Those over fifty tend to face additional challenges. However, the principles can be used by anyone at any career stage.
Working Identity has a more serious tone than the typical self-help book, perhaps reflecting the author's research and the Harvard publishing imprint. It is not a fast, entertaining read, like so many self-help books, and the author offers no exercises to the reader.
Ibarra does not discuss social support that might come from friends, family or a paid coach or counselor.
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28 of 28 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 6, 2004
Format: Paperback
Even after completing an MBA and spending 12 years in marketing in various companies, I still had no real sense of what I wanted to do with my life (career-wise). I undertook many so-called career tests (Myer-B, etc) and completed many exercises in loads of books (Parachute, etc), but none seemed to offer any plan or guidance as to what to do next. It was nice to know what I enjoyed doing, what skills are preferred and so on - but that really offered little in practical advice as to what to do next. This book offers practicality, and interesting case studies that I could directly relate to, thus providing a reference map of what to do next. So many of Herminia's people profiled in this book had similar career issues as me, and it was nice to know I wasn't alone. But better still, it was nice to know there was a way out too. I particularly related to the person in the book who had so many interests (like me) but no clear singular passion, so he built a portfolio of jobs and activities to satisfy his interests. It was nice to know that such a choice can be made in today's world, where specialisation in corporate environments appears the only way to get ahead, at least financially and status of position. But sometimes being a generalist can be even more satisfying, as you're doing what you really want to do, not what others think you should do. I highly recommend this book.
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