What Is A 30-60-90 Day Plan And How To Amaze Interviewers By Presenting One

I hear stories about 30-60-90 day plans from PhDs interviewing for industry positions everyday.

These stories have all sorts of outcomes. PhDs moving to the next stage of the interview process. Or getting the job of their dreams. Or being cut in the first interview rounds.

There is one outcome, however, that always bothers me, and that is when a PhD makes it all the way to the final video interview or the site visit and doesn’t get a job offer.

It’s devastating when a PhD goes through all the effort to prepare for each interview round just to get cut at the finish line. 

If you make it to the last stages of the interview, you should do everything in your power to get that job offer. No excuses.

One of your members recently shared the following story about the importance of preparing for the last rounds of the interview process and the 30-60-90 day plan.
After 3 months of my first position out of academia I have started my new job as a Robotics Account Representative. I was contacted by HR from  over LinkedIn. I had a screening interview with HR, a Modern Hire recorded interview, a round of zoom interviews with the senior representative in my area and the sales director, and a final round interview with the hiring manager. At the beginning of every interview, the interviewer asked me to describe the position to them. I made sure to study the job description and add to it as I learned more each interview. Each person commented and said it was impressive my understanding of the role and that most people don’t do a good job of truly showing the understanding of what the role entails. The hiring manager asked about my 30/60/90 day plan. Luckily I have seen a lot of examples of these in this group, so I was able to work my way around it and provide general examples for each. I should have been a little more prepared with this one, so if you’re reading this: don’t forget about this question! This position is exactly what I wanted and the modules from CSA, as well as the pointers in these groups, certainly helped me get to this point! I’m happy to answer any questions you may have.

How To Blow Away Employers During The Final Interview

If you understand the hiring funnel, you know that if you make it to the first round of interviews. Employers are seriously considering you for the open position. That your chances increase considerably every time you make it into a new round.

However, this doesn’t mean that you get to relax once you reach the last stages.

Just because you are being invited to a site visit, it doesn’t mean that you’re the only job candidate there is. 

At this stage, there is at least another candidate in the run for the position. And this candidate is tough competition. They are probably just as qualified as you are or they wouldn’t have made it as far as you.

If you don’t prepare for the last interview rounds, or you don’t go the extra mile to show you are the best candidate for the position, you will get rejected.

30-60-90 day plan

So, how do you separate yourself from other job candidates?

Of course, you need to prepare for the last interview rounds as you have for all other interviews: highlight your transferable skills, do mock interviews, research the company and the interviewers, and come with a list of questions to ask.

But how can you go above and beyond to make sure employers are ready to extend an offer once you leave your site visit?

You need to give employers certainty. The number one reason employers decide not to extend a job offer is that they are uncertain about whether or not you are serious about the role, about working at their company.

Hiring a new employee for a top-level position is expensive. An employer invests between 1 and 1.5 yearly salaries to interview and hire a new employee.

At the same time, 22% of new hires leave the company in the first 45 days. This means that they leave the company before they can even start to generate revenue for the company. So, the company ends up losing money. 

This is why employers are always looking to hire candidates who give them certainty. Those who can show them that they are in for the long run and want to be productive and generate revenue.

A great way to give certainty to employers is by showing them that you understand what your position entails from the company’s point of view. You will achieve this by presenting a 30-60-90 plan at the last stage of the interview. 

What Is A 30-60-90 Day Plan And How To Create One

A 30-60-90 plan is a concise document that maps out your goals for each of the first three months you will spend in a new role.

This document is powerful because it allows employers to picture you in the position and it shows them that you understand what is expected of you once you get hired.

If you have spent all your life in academia, you probably think that once you get hired into an industry position, you will hit the ground running and take on big projects from day one.

But this is not how things work in industry. Instead, you will first go through something called the onboarding process.

The onboarding process is in place to help you understand how things work at the company. 

Companies with good onboarding processes also have higher retention rates. So, it is in their best interest to have good onboarding processes in place and to hire candidates who understand the importance of onboarding.

The onboarding process starts the moment you accept the job and in general lasts for the three first months of your new position.

For each of those months, your employer will have some milestones they would like to hit in order to show that you are incorporating in the right way to the company.

As you can see, during your onboarding, you will execute a 30-60-90 day plan.

So, showing an employer that you understand this whole process and have gone the extra mile to put together a plan on paper – even if it’s different from the plan the company has in place for the position – will make you stand out.

Your 30-60-90 day plan doesn’t have to be very intricate, it just needs to show that you understand the onboarding process and the company in general.

Here, we will discuss what the goals of onboarding look like for each of the first months you will spend at the company.

Once you understand the general process, you just need to personalize your 30-60-90 day plan based on the information you gathered during your informational interviews and the first steps of the interview process.

30-60-90 day plan

1. 30 days

Your goal for the first month in your new position will be to learn the tools and the systems of the company.

During the first 30 days, the company expects you to get oriented with the facility and the operations, and to understand the difference between the internal and the external or public versions of the company.

The goals you will set for your first 30 days will be related to understanding how everything works in the company, what is the strategy, and what are the intricacies of the product or service you will be working with.

During your first month, you should also aim to get involved with your first project.

To prepare the first part of your plan, put this information in the context of the company. 

Based on what you know, what product will you be working with? What teams are you more likely to interact with? What is the first project you could get involved with?

Once you answer these questions, you will have your goals for the first 30 days ready.

2. 60 days

The main goal for the end of the second month is to fully understand how the teams in the company work together. Who does what and what is the best way to communicate within and among teams.

You will start getting familiar with these dynamics during the first 30 days. But it will take two months to reach a point where you understand everything. And your colleagues can fully rely on you.

From a company’s perspective, this is called the assimilation phase. They expect you to start understanding the unwritten rules of the company in more detail.

In other words, by the end of the first 30 days, you should understand the internal dynamics. And by the first 60 days should be seen as an asset to the team.

At this point, you should also aim to take on a bigger project. You will still need some mentorship, but you will play a more central role.

3. 90 days

The main goal for the end of the onboarding process. At the end of the third month – is to start juggling bigger responsibilities. Take on a big project independently.

This is where you will demonstrate your real value to the company. By showing your ability to get things done with minimal supervision. This is a huge advantage that all PhD have, no matter their background.

By the end of those 90 days, be connected. Both professionally and personally with some of the key players in the company.

This includes your manager, of course. But also your team and the people you will be working with in other departments. Aim to establish connections among your peers and your superiors.

From a company’s point of view, by the end of the third month, you should achieve acculturation. Basically, you are fully integrated into their culture.

Now you know what each of the stages looks like from an onboarding perspective. Ensure to put together some goals for each of them and bring your plan to discuss it during the interview.

Bringing an actual document to the interview. And having a copy for the interviewer will increase the impact of your plan. It is the briefcase technique.

Hand the interviewer their copy and say “I put this together. I’d love to ask you a few questions about it.”

With this in hand you can discuss the product or service you’ll be working on. The initial projects you aim to complete, and the initial relationships you want to foster.

30-60-90 day plan

This will show employers that you understand what they expect from you in the first months on that job. And that you want to start producing as fast as possible. To have a positive balance with the company as fast as possible. In other words, that you are a candidate worth investing in. 

Concluding Remarks

Making it to the last stages of an interview process just to get rejected at the finish line is devastating. As a PhD, you should do everything in your power to avoid this from happening to you. The best way to ensure you get an offer, once you make it to the last interview round is to give the employer certainty. You will achieve this by putting together a 30-60-90 day plan. This will show employers that you understand the onboarding process. And that you want to start being productive as fast as possible. Keep in mind the goals that companies have in place for the first months of a new employee. Personalize them using the information you gathered during your informational interviews and hiring process. Print a document with those goals and discuss them with the interviewer. This will show that you are a candidate worth investing in.

If you’re ready to start your transition into industry, you can apply to book a free Transition Call with our founder Isaiah Hankel, PhD or one of our Transition Specialists. Apply to book a Transition Call here.

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Isaiah Hankel, PhD is the Founder and CEO of the largest career training platform for PhDs in the world - Cheeky Scientist. His articles, podcasts and trainings are consumed annually by 3 million PhDs in 152 different countries. He has helped PhDs transition into top companies like Amazon, Google, Apple, Intel, DOW Chemical, BASF, Merck, Genentech, Home Depot, Nestle, Hilton, SpaceX, Tesla, Syngenta, the CDC, UN and Ford Foundation.

Dr. Isaiah Hankel received his doctorate in Anatomy & Cell Biology with a focus in immunology and is an expert on biotechnology recruitment and career development.

Isaiah has published two bestselling books with Wiley and his methods for getting PhDs hired have been featured in the Harvard Business Review, Nature, Forbes, The Guardian, Fast Company, Entrepreneur Magazine and Success Magazine.

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