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Book Review: John Kotter’s A Sense of Urgency

While targeted to organization leaders (and while I would have loved more specific examples), Kotter’s latest book has some excellent points for anyone looking to effect change, including jobseekers:

Bring the outside in.  Kotter talks about bringing awareness of outside market feedback to employees inside the company.  Jobseekers also need to be aware how they are doing on the market.  Don’t just go to interview after interview without getting some sense of how the market receives what you are offering.

Behave with urgency every day.  Kotter points out the danger of leaders who only react in crisis times and not day to day.  Likewise, jobseekers need to realize that what they do each day of their search determines their search overall.  You can’t cram networking.

Find opportunity in crisis.  Kotter encourages leaders to use a crisis as a rallying point.  Jobseekers, use that bad review or that pink slip to rally your energies to finally pursuing your dreams.  Maybe you are pushed into it by chance, but use that chance to the fullest.

Deal with NoNos.  Kotter recommends taking naysayers seriously and dealing with them proactively.  Jobseekers will also be surrounded by pessimists, especially in this tough market.  Focus on positive news.  Hang out with people who lift your spirits up.   Internalize good energy so that is what you reflect outward.

Aside from these four main points, Kotter’s conclusion recommended two key points:  focus on quick and easy; and start now.  For jobseekers in a rush, make one of your targets an industry or area you already know.  Get some quick meetings to get your confidence up.  You can also go for that dream career change but recognize that you can do multiple searches in tandem.  Also start now — enough said.


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