You did it. You got the job.
Your start date is just around the corner and it is time to relax, right?
Yes and No. I do want you to relax and celebrate your victory but but I also want you to come up with a strategy for your first 90 days in your new role.
These next 90 days are critical. Critical for your success in this new job and critical for your career success. It is your first impression and it sets the tone for the rest of your duration there.
When building your 90 day transition plan there are 6 things that I want you to review, think about and strategize.
1. Take Initiative
This is easy, simply ask for any materials for review prior to start. This shows your future manager that you are one to step up, that you love to be prepared and that you are focused on setting yourself up for success. A great message to send.
Once you start, be open to learning new things. Take the initiative to get to know the whole business and how your role/team/department supports it on its own path to success.
2. Build Relationships
Get to know people. Your team, your department, key people throughout the organization. A crucial part of success is to always surround yourself with a support system. We know this when we are going after a goal but we forget about it when starting a new job.
This is especially scary for introverts or people who are shy. So find a way around it. One thing I always did was to bring pictures and set them up on my desk. There was one of my husband and me from our backpacking days of us on an elephant. I would set that up so that anyone walking by or pausing at my office door or cubicle would see it and they would stop to ask about it. It was a great way for me to build relationships while dealing with the fear of meeting new people.
These relationships are key for your success, they will be the people you go to when you need to vent, ask questions, a shoulder to lean on and keep you accountable.
3. Ask Questions
As you are building relationships you are asking questions. Lots and lots of questions. Gather as much information you can about what people do, what they like about their roles, what they find challenging, how they all work together and support each other. Just keep on asking questions!
Whenever a client and I are discussing their 90 day transition plan and I bring up asking questions when you need help, I get a “well, of course” look. The thing is that yes it is easy to ask questions when you don’t know the answer. At first. But usually 2-4 weeks into our new roles the act of asking for help becomes harder. We feel like we should know it already, or that we are a burden. So then we stumble and struggle our way through it. We go down the path of setting ourselves up for failure instead of the one that sets us up for success.
That is why building relationships is key as it helps deal with this very issue. If we have created a relationship with someone who we know wants us to succeed we feel less like a burden.
I hate to ask for help, I always want to figure it out on my own. I have learned the hard way why this is such a problem. So when starting new jobs I had a system. I would first do everything in my power to find the answer myself. Then I would go to my most trusted peer. And then if they couldn’t help me I would go to my boss. And I made sure to communicate my attempts at solving the problem first.
Prepare yourself to ask questions the WHOLE time you are in the job!
4. Live and Breathe the Culture
Every company is different. It has its own culture and its own personality. So while you are asking all those questions and building those relationships and getting to know the business inside and out, get to know the culture too. What is important to management? What is their definition of hard work, success and collaboration? What is their communication style (emails, memos, meetings)?
Think about how you can integrate this information into how you work such as how you prioritize how to get work done, how you display your own hard work and talk about your successes and how you write emails.
5. Begin with the end in mind
This is a habit of highly successful people. And I always talk about incorporating it into your 90 day transition plan.
For example, say you are moving jobs because you want a better work/life balance and you want to avoid 10-12 hour days. I know when we are first starting out in a new role and we are doing all of the above plus learning how to do the job that it is easy to get in the habit of long work days. But then that habit is really hard to break. On top of that, you are setting expectations. Everyone will get used to you working those long hours so if you do try and break the habit it becomes noticeable and then you may get a bad reputation.
Now I’m not saying to phone it in. If you need that time to get properly on boarded then take it. BUT when it comes to after hours work – try your best to take it home and stay off of email. You are doing the work of learning the role and the company but you are doing it without people knowing you are doing it. That way once you are on boarded and start focusing on that work/life balance no one else will notice. And they’ll be so impressed by your learning capabilities too!
6. Anticipate Challenges
I love anticipating challenges. Figuring out what can derail me or upset me. I love it because I hate surprises and I get anxious not knowing how I will handle certain situations. By anticipating challenges and then coming up with solutions I am more equipped to overcome them with ease. Because let’s face it, challenges are inevitable. It isn’t a matter of if but a matter of when. And to set yourself up for success you will think about what those challenges can look like and then you will picture yourself overcoming them and come up with a plan of action from there!
The first 90 days are some of the most important days that you will have in a new role. It creates your foundation of success. So use these 6 tips to build your own transition plan.
I shared some challenges that I have faced in the past above, I’m curious what are some of the ones you have faced?
You just finished an interview. It went really well, you are super excited and can’t wait to hear whether you move on to the next steps or, better yet, get the job offer.
So what do you do? Do you go home and wait? Maybe apply to some other jobs just in case?
Do you send a thank you email to your interviewers?
Probably not. How do I know? I spent 15 years recruiting, and I know that the majority of the people I interviewed did not email me. I also know from Hiring Managers that they don’t receive too many.
Which shocks me. This is job search 101, isn’t it? But I think most people think it is a worthless exercise.
But it isn’t.
What it does is shows you want this job. It acts as a reminder of why you are a great fit for the job, how you connected with your interviewer and keeps you in their mind.
And it only takes a minute or two of your time. So well worth it!
Another reason why people don’t do it, is they just don’t know how. What should they write, when should they send it and who should they send it to?
Well I’m here to break all that down for you, to make it even easier and to arm you all the answers to these questions.
What Should I Write?
So I'm going to make this really easy for you, I'm going to give you the perfect thank you email template that you can customize:
Opening Paragraph – thank them for taking the time to meet with you. Throw in a compliment or reference some shared hobby/experience/person.
2nd paragraph – how you are the best fit for the role with an outline of 3 skills/experience that you bring to the table, if you can tie it into a current problem or challenge that they are facing, then even better! You can also throw in a quick example of how your skill set, knowledge and experience will help you exceed their expectations.
Final paragraph – talk about how excited you are to join their team and finish with a call to action (scheduling next steps or offer).
When Do you Send it?
There are a lot of opinions out there on when. I recommend sending it 24-48 hours later (unless you have some other intel that would change that up).
And I have some very specific reasons for this and it all has to do with psychology! I’m going to lay it all out here from the interviewer’s perspective (a perspective I know well since I’ve interviewed SO MANY candidates!)
As an interviewer, when you have a great interview you leave it on a high note and you feel so excited. So while it wouldn’t hurt to receive a thank you letter shortly after the interview, the significance of the value added isn’t maximized.
The next day that excitement has waned, it has nothing to do with the candidate and more to do with just normal human emotions. And each day that goes on it decreases. But getting a well crafted thank you email will remind you of the great connection you had and bring back those feelings of excitement maximizing the significance of the thank you email value.
Now when I talk about other intel – I'm thinking about the timing of your interview and other interviews.
If you interview on a Friday and it went amazing, send the Thank You email on Monday afternoon or Tuesday morning. So 24-48 business hours after and ensuring it doesn’t get lost in a bunch of email if the hiring manager doesn’t check over the weekend.
If they mention the timing of other candidate interviews then be very strategic in when you email them that thanks. Say you interview on a Thursday and they mention that it may be a week or two for you to get feedback as they are interviewing candidates the end of next week then I would send the Thank You email the Wednesday. That way you are reminding them of how wonderful you are right before they are going in to more interviews.
Who do you send it to?
Every single person that interviewed you. And you would create a personalized email for each (don’t send 1 thank you email to 2-3 interviewers).
If you don’t have their email addresses, you have a few options. The first would be to email the person who coordinated the interviews (typically a recruiter) to ask them to forward the email on. If you know of anyone’s email addresses within the organization, you can use the same format to email directly. Or you could hit up LinkedIn and send a connection request!
A thank you email is such a small thing and only takes a few minutes of your time. The benefit it adds to your job search is tremendous. It increases the likelihood of you getting hired. But it also opens up a dialogue meaning that it increases the likelihood that if you don’t get the job that you can receive feedback and even maybe convert the relationship into a networking one!
Everyone wants to succeed. Their definition of success may be different, but that desire is the same.
The journey to success used to be simple. You worked hard, you made the right connections, and you put your hand up. And what made it even easier was that you did it within the hours of 9-5pm at the physical office you worked at.
Our world isn’t like that anymore, it has changed. People work all hours of the day, flexible work arrangements are on the rise and we work with teams and individuals virtually more than ever.
So we can’t lean on the old way of finding success as the only way anymore, we have to implement some new strategies and think about our path differently.
Being a committed employee who exceeds expectations is still vital to any definition of success, but how you share that message is different. And that is where it gets more challenging.
We need to think of ourselves not as an employee but as a product.
This is so hard for us. It is one of the biggest reasons why people come to me to rewrite their resume and LinkedIn profiles and to provide interview coaching. We are so immersed in our careers that it is so hard to only focus on what matters.
We forget that we aren’t creating a chapter book but instead a marketing plan. I love to use the analogy of a magazine. What is it about you that will grab someone’s attention to stop at your ad within the magazine? You don’t need to tell them everything you just need to tell them what about you fits their needs.
The foundation of every marketing plan is a branding message, and in the case of your career, a personal brand. The personal brand is your messaging that shows the world your personality, your goals and your differentiating factor aka the value you bring to the table.
Your brand sends a message and creates an impression. One that extends beyond your work, your LinkedIn page or your interactions with your colleagues.
You may think that creating a personal brand just isn’t for you, especially if you are not even in marketing! But it is a super simple exercise.
Here are six questions for you to ask yourself that will result in a personal brand that lets everyone know how amazing you are.
1. What does success mean to me?
You need to get clear on your goals. On your own definition for success. Remember to clear the noise of societal pressures and messages. You don’t have to want something just because society or family makes you feel like you should want it.
2. What matters most to me?
This is a hard question to answer because it requires some digging. I want you to think about what you value most – in your work, in others (colleagues, management), in yourself. When you think of your definition of success, what type of impact does that lead you to? Think back on your performance reviews, what feedback mattered most to you (made you really happy or upset).
3. What is my story?
This is a quick story, a 1-2 sentence story. One that is cohesive and quickly shows off who you are, what you have done and where you want to go. Don’t forget to show off you, the authentic you not the cookie cutter you. So make sure you are genuine when crafting your story.
4. Where am I going?
Now it is time to focus on your future. How do your goals lines up with your definition of success? Are you looking at a promotion, a career pivot or a complete career change? Maybe your goals have nothing to do with the actual job but more the type of workplace – one where you can work from home, or set up a new business. Be clear on your destination.
5. What matters to my target audience?
When you know what you want, then you can have a clearer picture of who will be a decision maker on your future. Think about what matters to them. What skills, knowledge and experience do they want?
6. How can I tie it all together?
You know what you offer. And you know what your audience wants. So now you need to craft a message that reflects what they want. Your message should hopefully convince them that you are the person to give them what they need.
These six questions leave you knowing your value in a nutshell! This is the message you will weave throughout your marketing plan, including your LinkedIn profile, your elevator pitch, your resume and cover letter or a talent profile.
You will also weave it throughout your networking with your current network and with new contacts. When speaking with key decision makers, make sure you include some of these talking points casually into the conversation.
This foundation will allow you to build a successful career, one that will stand the test of time.
Do you want to talk through your personal brand? Set up a complimentary strategy call with me to go over it.
Sara Curto, Career Management Specialist. Working with you towards Career and Job Search Success.
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