Career change

3 books to inspire and support your career change

October 26, 2020
3 min read

A lot of what we experience throughout the career change is unfamiliar and even uncomfortable, and books can often help feel more at ease with what is going on. In this post, I'll share how three great books supported my recent successful career change from marketing to product management.

“Working Identity: Unconventional Strategies for Reinventing Your Career” by Herminia Ibarra

The book “Working Identity” gave me permission to take my time when going through my career transition. It explained why career change takes time. And as a result, I started to feel much more confident and content with the progress I was making.

It also sold me on the idea of experimenting, testing the possible futures I could see for myself, rather than trying to analytically figure out “the” future self that would make me happy.

The book also reinforced the importance of networking and creating new connections to support the newly forming career identity.

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“The Start-up of You: Adapt to the Future, Invest in Yourself, and Transform Your Career” by Reid Hoffman and Ben Casnocha

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“The Start-up of You” offers to treat your own self as a start-up and apply entrepreneurial strategies to your career.

It suggests to look for a competitive advantage you can offer — a thought I found extremely useful when talking about myself in CVs and at interviews. It prompted me to identify my unique intersection of what I want, what I can and what the job market is ready to pay for, and capitalise on this competitive edge.

The book also talks about the concept of “permanent beta”. It is embracing being a work in progress — always starting and trying something new. Similar to start-ups, not being “fully ready” with a new career move should not stop you from going out to the market.

“Designing Your Life: How to Build a Well-lived, Joyful Life” by Bill Burnett and Dave Evans

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“Designing Your Life” teaches to think like a designer and use design thinking techniques to build a more fulfilling personal and professional life.

It offers plenty of bite-sized tasks that helped me gather insights about my motivations and values. For example, the book suggested keeping a diary to track which activities were filling me with energy and which were draining. This is how I realised that I am passionate about solving problems and bringing structure to chaos — another sign that product management was right for me.

Similar to the other two books, “Designing Your Life” promotes an iterative approach to figuring out one’s career and suggests test-and-learn as a way to incrementally progress to a happier professional life.

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