Whether you’re preparing for an interview or prepping for a new job, making a 30-60-90 day plan can help you set yourself up for success.
A 30-60-90 day plan is what it sounds like: a document that articulates your intentions for the first 30, 60, and 90 days of a new job. It lists your high-level priorities and actionable goals, as well as the metrics you’ll use to measure success in those first three months. Done well, it will help you make a positive first impression on your new employer—or the hiring manager you hope will be your future boss.
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That may sound like a lot, but luckily we’ve got detailed instructions on how to go about making a 30-60-90 day plan, plus a template to guide you.
When to Make a 30-60-90 Day Plan
Many 30-60-90 day plans follow a similar structure, but the level of detail may vary depending on your situation. There are two main times when you might make one: preparing for an interview or starting a new job.
Note: If you’re a manager who wants to make an onboarding plan to help your new hires hit the ground running (without constantly having to ask you what they should do next), you should consider using our self-onboarding tool, a template for outlining your month-one goals for a new hire, as well as creating a week-by-week plan with a thorough list of meetings, readings, and tasks they should tackle in their first month on the job.
Making a 30-60-90 Day Plan for an Interview
If you’ve made it to a late-stage job interview, you may be asked something along the lines of, “What would your first 30, 60, or 90 days look like in this role?” It’s a good idea to prepare to answer this regardless of what level role you’re interviewing for, but it’s more common for higher-level positions.
With a question like this, the interviewer is likely trying to understand your thought process going into the job more than anything. They want to know: Do you understand the role and what it would require of you? Can you get up to speed quickly and start contributing early on? Do your ideas show that you’re the right candidate to fill this particular position?
Even if you’re not explicitly asked this interview question, coming prepared with a plan can help you wow the hiring manager and stand out among other applicants. “Employers are looking for people who are agile and proactive,” says leadership consultant Michael Watkins, author of The First 90 Days: Proven Strategies for Getting Up to Speed Faster and Smarter. “By talking about how you would approach your first 90 days, you demonstrate agility and proactiveness.”
In other cases—more commonly for higher-level management or executive roles—you may be asked to do an interview presentation. Creating a 30-60-90 day plan to present is a great way to show the hiring manager that you understand the challenges a company or department is facing and you have a clear plan for tackling them.
Be sure to include a few specific ideas in your interview presentation—depending on the role you’re interviewing for, that could be suggestions for ways to cut costs, increase sales, or improve customer satisfaction. You want to convey: “I’ve got five good ideas, and when you hire me, I’ve got 50 more,” says career coach Eliot Kaplan, who spent 18 years as Vice President of Talent Acquisition at Hearst Magazines.
Making a 30-60-90 Day Plan for a New Job
If you’re starting a new job, your new manager may explicitly ask for a 30-60-90 day plan, or you may want to create one for yourself to help ease the transition to your new role. In either case, the goal is to set yourself up to hit the ground running—and to be sure you’re running in the right direction.
“If you come in without a game plan and try to tackle everything, you’re going to get nothing done,” Kaplan says. “Come up with a couple things you can accomplish successfully.”
If you’ve already started the position, you’ll have access to internal resources and your new coworkers, which will make it easier to create a detailed, realistic plan. If there are things you’re unsure about—like goals, expectations, or typical benchmarks—ask! You’ll likely impress your new colleagues with how proactive you are, but more importantly, you’ll gather the information you need to be successful.
Elements of a 30-60-90 Day Plan
Before you’re ready to get down to the details of your 30-60-90 plan, you’ll want to think about the high-level elements it needs to include. As the name suggests, you want to think of your plan in 30-, 60-, and 90-day chunks. For each phase, you’ll need to:
- Determine a specific focus
- Set your top priorities
- Make concrete goals that support those priorities
- Determine how you’ll measure success
Our 30-60-90 day plan template has all these items laid out for you.
Typically, the first month of a new job is about learning, the second is about planning and beginning to contribute, and the third is about execution and—when applicable—initiating changes to the status quo. Your specific monthly focus might change based on your role and the company, however.
Within those broad monthly buckets, outline your high-level priorities for each phase. For instance, your priorities for different phases could include learning internal processes, performing your role independently, or proposing solutions to a problem facing the company. Your priorities should be more specific than your focuses, but broader than individual goals.
Setting goals is all about making a plan for how you’ll achieve your overarching priorities. For each phase, set goals that ladder up to your stated focus and priorities. (See our example 30-60-90 day plan below for inspiration.) If it’s helpful, break your goals into categories like learning, performance, and personal goals.
- Learning goals: To set these, ask, “What knowledge and skills do I need to be successful? How can I best absorb and acquire that information and those abilities?”
- Performance goals: These are concrete things you want to accomplish or complete as part of your new role. To set these, ask yourself, “What progress do I hope to make within the first 30/60/90 days?”
- Personal goals: These goals are more about getting to know the people you’ll be working with and finding your place within your new company or team.To set these, ask, “Who are the key people I need and want to build relationships with? How can I establish and foster those relationships, so that I’m seen as trustworthy and credible?”
For each goal, determine at least one metric you’ll use to track your progress. Ask yourself, “What does success look like and how will I measure it?” Not sure how to do that? Keep reading!
6 Tips for Making a 30-60-90 Day Plan
So how do you figure out your focus, priorities, goals, and metrics for a brand new role? You’ll need to gain a deeper understanding of the challenges that the company or department is trying to solve and reflect on how you can make a positive impact within the first 90 days. Here are six tips to make that easier:
1. Think Big Picture
Before you start writing out specific goals and metrics, reflect on your overall priorities. Identify why they hired (or are looking to hire) you, and set priorities that deliver on that purpose. For mid- and high-level roles, you’re likely being brought in to solve a specific problem or lead a particular project. For more junior roles, your priority can be getting up to speed on the basics of your role and how the company works.
“Start with what’s important to you and work out from there,” says Muse career coach Yolanda Owens. “What are the things you’re going to need to know in order to be successful? Use [those] as your compass.”
2. Ask Questions
Whether you’re new to a company or still in the interview stage, asking questions is crucial. In order to set realistic goals and metrics that ladder up to your high-level priorities, you’ll need a baseline understanding of the status quo. Ask things that start with, “What’s the average…” or “What’s typical for…”
You can ask your new coworkers these questions or use early-stage interviews to ask questions that could help you make a 30-60-90 day plan later on. Muse career coach Tamara Ellison suggests asking up front, “What can I tackle in the first 90 days that will allow me to hit the ground running as well as make a significant impact in the organization?”
3. Meet with Key Stakeholders
Establishing healthy working relationships is key to success in any role. If you’ve already started the job, set up meetings with the following people within the first 30 days:
- Your manager
- Other coworkers on your team with whom you’ll work closely
- Other colleagues who are in your role or a similar one
- Any cross-functional partners (on other teams) you’ll work with regularly
- Any external partners (outside of the company) you’ll work with regularly
- Your new direct reports (if you’re a manager)
In each meeting, learn about your coworkers’ roles within the company—and also get to know them as people. Ask lots of questions about the company culture, internal processes, reporting structures, team and company challenges, and other questions that come up as you’re learning the ropes. It’s important to have these conversations before you make plans to change the way things are currently run.
“Too many times, [people] come into the role and say, ‘At my last company, we did it this way,’” Ellison says. “That turns people off. You need to be a student before you become a teacher.”
4. Set SMART Goals
Once you’re clear on your high-level priorities, set specific goals that ladder up to your priorities for the 30-, 60-, and 90-day phases. These goals should be SMART: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-Bound.
For example, instead of “Understand our SEO,” a SMART goal would be, “Within the first 30 days, identify our top 10 target keywords and assess how we’re currently ranking for them.”
5. Determine How You’ll Measure Success
This will likely be different for each of your goals. Metrics are often quantifiable (revenue, page views, etc.), but some goals might have more qualitative metrics, like positive customer feedback. However, try to make even qualitative metrics measurable—for instance, the number of five-star reviews you receive.
6. Be Flexible
Don’t worry if you don’t end up following the plan precisely. Every job is different, so tailor your plan based on what you know about the role and organization, but accept that it will likely change. Ask for feedback throughout your first 90 days (and throughout your tenure at the company). If you have to course-correct as you go, that’s totally fine.
If you’re a team lead or executive, consider adding, “Conduct a SWOT analysis of my project, team, the department or the company as a whole,” to your plan during month two or three. SWOT simply stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. Once you complete this exercise it might help you to adjust the rest of your plan as well as set longer-term goals and strategies.
Also, don’t stress about the length of your written plan—it’s the quality that counts, Kaplan says. “I've gotten [90-day plans] that were two pages long and were perfect, and ones that were 40 pages long and were useless.”
30-60-90 Day Plan Example
Use our 30-60-90 day plan template to start creating your own plan. If you’re stuck on how to fill it in, this example can provide some inspiration.
Priorities: Get up to speed on my role, team, and the company as a whole. Understand the expectations my manager has for me, learn how the internal processes and procedures currently work, and start to explore some of the challenges facing the company and my role.
- Read all of the relevant internal materials available to me on the company wiki or drive and ask my manager for recommendations of articles, reports, and studies I should review. (Metric: Reading completed)
- Get access to the accounts (email, task management software, customer relationship management platform, etc.) I’ll need to do my job. Spend time familiarizing myself with each of them. (Metric: Task completed)
- Listen to five recorded sales calls by seasoned teammates. (Metric: Five sales calls listened to)
- Meet with someone on the account management team to learn about what new clients can expect from the onboarding process. (Metric: Task completed).
- Make my first sales calls to key clients and prospects. (Metric: Three sales calls completed)
- Ask my manager for feedback on my output and performance. Document the feedback so I can incorporate it in my future performance. (Metric: Task completed)
- Meet with my manager and as many other new coworkers as possible. Introduce myself and learn about their roles within the organization. (Metric: Five meetings held)
- Set up recurring meetings with everyone I’ll need to work with on a regular basis—including cross-functional and external partners. (Metric: Regular meetings set and attended)
Priorities: Perform my role at full capacity, with a decreased need for guidance. Start to explore how I can make a unique impact within my role and the company.
- Complete an online training course to learn how to better utilize our customer relationship management platform. (Metric: One course completed)
- Shadow a seasoned member of the team, listen in on at least three of their sales calls, and document what I learn from observing their approach. (Metric: Task completed)
- Make five sales calls a week to key clients and prospects. (Metric: 20 calls completed)
- Ask a seasoned member of the team to observe at least one of my sales calls and give me feedback about how I can improve. (Metric: Task completed)
- Listen to at least four of my own recorded calls and note self-feedback (Metric: Four calls listened to)
- Ask for feedback from my manager and coworkers, and document the feedback so I can incorporate it in the future. (Metric: TBD)
- Schedule coffee or lunch with someone from the company I haven’t gotten to know yet. (Metric: Task completed)
Focus: Taking initiative.
Priorities: Start assuming more autonomy and finding small ways to practice leadership skills. Start to explore goals for the rest of the year.
- Identify and sign up for a conference, webinar, or online course that will aid in my professional development. (Metric: One conference, course, or webinar signed up for)
- Analyze my performance so far and establish key metrics I care about (sales, leads, revenue, etc.). Implement a test to try to improve that metric. (Metric: Task completed)
- Perform my core responsibilities at a higher level based on the metrics I outlined. (Close more sales, increase revenue, etc.) (Metric: TBD)
- Develop an idea for a new project or initiative I can spearhead, and pitch it to my manager. (Metric: Task completed)
- Complete the project or initiative I outlined and get feedback from key stakeholders. (Metric: Project/initiative completed and feedback received from three key stakeholders)
- Get involved extracurricularly within the company by signing up for the corporate volunteer day or a company-sponsored club or sports team. (Metric: One activity signed up for)
With our 30-60-90 day template, examples, and guidelines, you’re well-equipped to land the job you’re after or tackle your first 90 days in your new role. Happy planning!