30-60-90 Day Professional Development Planning: Your Approach to Career Success

The other day a professional associate and I were talking about career change and I suggested putting together a 30-60-90 day professional growth plan. I was asked to do this as part of a management assignment during grad school and it was a great exercise. While the initial assignment was to put together a 30-60-90 day professional growth plan for one of your employee’s, I wasn’t supervising any at the time so the professor suggested putting a professional growth plan together for myself. Being at a “professional crossroads,” in my career that exercise couldn’t have come at a better time. One of the keys to the exercise, as I explained to my associate, is to commit to the plan in writing. This is advantageous because it’s “visible to you” vs. something you simply try to keep track of in your head.

Depending on the objective, there are a number of ways that 30-60-90 day professional development or transition action plans work, but in my case absent an employee to do this for the semester assignment involved two parts. First, identify three key things: Where are you right now? Where do you want to be in two years and what will it take to get you there? Secondly, take action to accomplish each of the steps identified in the plan. Here are the basic steps:

Step # 1: Identify the end goal, position or destination.

Step # 2: Brainstorm – what steps will help you get to the end goal, position or destination? (List them) – No evaluation occurs in this phase just create a list of potential steps that you believe will help you meet your defined objective.

Step # 3: Research each step to determine what’s involved in the step and how long it will take you to accomplish. (Filter)

Step # 4: For each action item list what you will do to accomplish each of the tasks in the 30-60-90 day time frame.

Step # 5: Do it!

Step # 6: Keep a running tab of your progress (track it) against your 30-60-90- days goals. Make sure you are doing something every day towards accomplishing the task(s).

Step # 7: When identified goals have been met then simply slide the scale forward adding additional goals/items on the back end, repeating the steps you took within 30-60-90 days to accomplish each goal. E.g. What was initially a 30 day goal has now been accomplished, 60 day goals have been moved up to 30 day goals and 90 day goals have been moved up to 60 day goals with a new day objective put in place on the back end for you to tackle over the next three months.

Aside from using the 30-60-90 day approach for professional development or transition planning, this is a valuable approach to learn for other reasons as well. It’s not uncommon for some companies to ask applicants to prepare a 30-60-90 day sales plan, marketing plan or action plan for the position they’re applying for and bring it with them to the interview! This is another way to evaluate candidates and their vision for the position. Knowing how this approach works for professional development or transition planning easily allows you to apply it to a business task or objective.

According to Ann Deiterich, ehow.com writer, a 30-60-90 day action plan “shows that you’re serious about the position and working for the company. Additionally, it shows that you can plan, work independently and set goals. A prospective employer will be impressed that you’ve already done your homework and will realize you’ll come up to speed in the position more quickly than a candidate without such a plan.”

At Professional Development Strategies, we believe that 30-60-90 day professional development or transition plans are never really complete… they’re like a “work of art in progress” and our advice is to keep working on them until you finish the painting (bettering yourself or accomplishing your professional goals).



Dan Draz