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most effective 30 60 90 day plan writing tips30-60-90-day plans are fantastic for job interviews—no question. I am a big advocate for using these plans to secure job offers.  But I do sometimes have job seekers tell me, “Hey, I brought a plan to my interview but I didn’t get the job.”

My first question is always (of course), “Did you use a Career Confidential plan?” Regardless of their response, I ask to see the plan they brought to the interview.

I’ve noticed a few common factors in plans that don’t do well in the interview, and so I wanted to share some key tips to remember when you are writing your plan.

How to Write the Best 30-60-90-Day Plan

  1. Know WHY You’re Writing This Plan

If you don’t have a goal, it’s really hard to hit it, right? So what is your goal with a 30-60-90-day plan?

Your goal is not to simply show off everything you know. Your goal is to foster more effective communication with this hiring manager about the job.

  • You do want to show that you understand and have the ability to do this job. This is why it’s so important to incorporate smart action steps and be as specific as you can with the details. This plan is helping you sell yourself for the job by showing them what you can do for them.
  • You want to take the risk factor out of hiring you. When you walk them through your plan and your thoughts about how you will approach this job, they can see what you will do. It makes them more comfortable and enthusiastic about hiring you.
  • You want to make sure you and that hiring manager are on the same page. I’ve seen many a person start a job and realize they made a mistake in taking it. Going over your plan with your future boss ensures that you and they agree on what ‘successful’ means for this role. This will be very important for performance reviews, raises, promotions, and recommendations down the line.

Knowing what you want to accomplish with your plan makes it easier to write and more effective for you.

  1. Make Your Plan an Appropriate Length

I often see bad plans that are way too short (an insult to the job) or too long--10-page plan usually turns out to be more about you than about what you can do for the company.

An effective plan should generally be about 1 page for each section: the 30-day section, the 60-day section, and the 90-day section. (This can also vary depending on the job and the job level.)

  1. Be Thoughtful About Your Timeline

All jobs have things that must happen—tasks that must be completed, actions that must be taken, etc. Tasks must be prioritized and goals must be set. This will vary according to the particular job, but here is a general timeline to help you organize your thoughts:

First 30 Days – Typically, this is a time of learning your way around. You may go through HR training. You’re learning everyone’s names and roles. You learn how to navigate the system. You master product knowledge. You meet vendors or customers.

Yes, these are things that everyone must do—so why write them into a plan? Because you are demonstrating emotional and tactical intelligence, and you are painting a picture for them of what they can expect with you in that role. When you do your research and include specifics, such as the name of the software they use or their top customers, it has a powerful impact. You seem intensely interested in the job—and therefore more attractive to that hiring manager.

Next 30 Days (the 60-day section) – For many jobs, this is a transition time. You may not be operating entirely on your own, but you are stepping out. You’re taking on more responsibility. You’re getting deeper into the details. You’re introducing yourself to a second-tier list of people. You’re actively planning to ask for feedback.

The Last 30 Days (the 90-day section) – This is where you will especially show what you are bringing to this company: Are you tasked with culture change? Are they relying on you to grow the company’s market share? Do they need greater efficiency? What kinds of things will you implement to accomplish these goals?

One question I get from a lot of job seekers is: “How can I possibly create a plan before I’ve talked to them about the job?” Well, that’s kind of the point. This is a big effort that will make you stand out from the competition. You have to research and talk to people to get accurate information for your plan.

You absolutely won’t have everything right. How could you? You haven’t worked for this company before.  As you have your discussion, you get feedback and adjust.

- If they say, “That’s not really where I want to go with this position,” you have just found out something incredibly valuable. Where do they want to go? How are you prepared to get them there?

- If they say, “That looks great, but I need you at the 90-day mark at the end of Month One,” then you can re-evaluate. Is that something you can do? Tell them how. Does it make you think that this company will wreck your work/life balance and you want no part of it? It’s good to know before you accept the offer.

Your plan isn’t THE rulebook that should never be deviated from. It’s a working document that can be adjusted. It enhances clear communication with the hiring manager.

  1. Be Mindful of the Details

The more company-specific details you can incorporate into your plan, the better off you are.

  • What training program do they follow? Incorporate the name of that.
  • Who would you be reporting to? Use that person’s name.
  • What software program or system do they use? Add that name in.

Details like these strongly communicate that you are someone who will absolutely take this job seriously and work hard to be successful.

How do you find out things like this? You may be able to find some with a Google search. Probably you’ll have to search through LinkedIn or Facebook to see what others at that company have included in their information. You may even be able to ask people in your network if they know or if they can connect you to someone who knows.

  1. Look at Sample Plans and/or Get a Proven Template

The more you know about 30-60-90-day plans, the more comfortable and effective you’ll be writing one for yourself.

Here are several articles that will be very helpful for you:

I’ve used these plans myself, and evaluated them as a hiring manager. I helped my candidates create job-winning plans as a recruiter and as a career coach. It’s fair to say that I’ve had experience with thousands of plans.  (See about Peggy McKee here.)

I’ve been asked so many times for help with these plans that I created a template that can be customized (with research) for any white-collar job. Since then, I’ve expanded it to 4 specialties: Action, Sales, Manager, and Executive.

Each plan comes with a personal review of your completed plan (optional) and a 100% money-back guarantee.

Bring a plan for your interview!