What do you suppose the biggest obstacle for new graduates in a tough job market (or any job market) is? Experience—or, rather, the lack of experience. That’s a significant question for employers. They take a risk when they hire anyone, but it feels like a huge risk if the candidate has no experience. So your biggest task is to take away that risk and answer the question: why should they hire you?
If you’re a more experienced candidate, you’re still likely to be encountering some tough competition in the job market now, and your job is to stand out from the pack and show the employer why he wants to hire you.
One of the best ways I’ve found for candidates to get those messages across to employers is to create a 30-60-90-day plan for the interview.
A 30-60-90-day plan is simply a plan that tells the prospective employer what you plan to do in your first 3 months on the job. As you might have guessed, you have to do quite a bit of research into the job and the company to be able to write one.
Usually, every plan follows the same type of outline: the first 30 days is focused on training, the second 30 days is focused on getting deeper knowledge of the specifics of the job, and the last 30 days is where you show them what you’re going to do on your own to become a functioning, contributing member of the team. The details vary widely, depending on the job and the industry, but the concept is the same. It works for every position in every industry because every job has tasks to accomplish and goals to achieve—and you want to show the hiring manager that you’re the one who can do that.
The key point to remember is that you must specifically tailor those details to the company you’re interviewing with to really be effective.
Do you see what this does?
• You’ve let the employer know that you care enough about getting this job to do some extensive research and planning—so you’ve shown you’re enthusiastic and goal-oriented.
• You’ve shown the employer that you really do understand the job, or you wouldn’t have been able to create a plan. And now he’s got a picture of it—he can “see” you in the job.
• You’ve shown the employer that you are willing to go the extra mile to be successful—and if you’ll do that before you’ve even gotten the offer, how much more can they expect when you’ve come on board?
By creating a 30-60-90-day plan, you’ve answered many doubts the employer might have about hiring someone with little experience, and you’ve also shown him how much of a go-getter you are. Hiring managers are almost always extremely impressed by this effort. I’ve even seen candidates who are having trouble securing the interview actually email their plan to the hiring manager as an attention-grabber. Now that’s a go-getter candidate!
I hope you’ll find out more about 30-60-90-day plans, and start using them in your interviews. It’s made the difference for many of my candidates, and I know it can make the difference for you, too.