Working Identity: Unconventional Strategies for Reinventing Your Career

Working Identity: Unconventional Strategies for Reinventing Your Career

by Herminia Ibarra
     
 
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

Overview

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 in our current profession.

In this powerful book, Herminia Ibarra presents a new model for career reinvention that flies in the face of everything we've learned from "career experts." While common wisdom holds that we must first know what we want to do before we can act, Ibarra argues that this advice is backward. Knowing, she says, is the result of doing and experimenting. Career transition is not a straight path toward some predetermined identity, but a crooked journey along which we try on a host of "possible selves" we might become.

Based on her in-depth research on professionals and managers in transition, Ibarra outlines an active process of career reinvention that leverages three ways of "working identity": experimenting with new professional activities, interacting in new networks of people, and making sense of what is happening to us in light of emerging possibilities.

Through engrossing stories-from a literature professor turned stockbroker to an investment banker turned novelist-Ibarra reveals a set of guidelines that all successful reinventions share. She explores specific ways that hopeful career changers of any background can:

  • Explore possible selves
  • Craft and execute "identity experiments"
  • Create "small wins" that keep momentum going
  • Survive the rocky period between career identities
  • Connect with role models and mentors who can ease the transition
  • Make time for reflection-without missing out on windows of opportunity
  • Decide when to abandon the old path in order to follow the new
  • Arrange new events into a coherent story of who we are becoming.
A call to the dreamer in each of us, Working Identity explores the process for crafting a more fulfilling future. Where we end up may surprise us.

Editorial Reviews

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. (Jan. 10) Copyright 2003 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
Ibarra (Making Partner; Principles of Effective Persuasion) makes an important contribution to the career development genre with her intriguing view that "we harbor a whole cast of `possible selves' we might become, and it is by continuously testing these possible futures, not by examining our past, that we learn what and who we want to be." Rather than taking a conventional approach to helping readers find a job they like, she instead lays out a straightforward framework that describes what is really involved in career transitioning and what makes the difference between staying stuck and moving on. Targetting mid-career professionals who have invested a lot of time and money in a career but also know they want something entirely different, she shares results of research with 23 professionals who successfully changed their career. The material is structured around trying out new activities on a small scale, developing new contacts, finding or creating catalysts and triggers for change, and using these tools to rework one's identity. The personal case stories, including a psychiatrist who became a Buddhist monk, provide a pragmatic link to this high-concept material. Ibarra's work nicely supplements Edgar H. Schein's Career Anchors and is recommended for academic and larger public libraries.-Dale Farris, Groves, TX Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781578517787
Publisher:
Harvard Business Review Press
Publication date:
01/28/2003
Pages:
224
Product dimensions:
6.86(w) x 9.04(h) x 0.85(d)

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