A few weeks ago at my desk I popped in on Twitter. I'm so frustrated with my job search I'm ready to give it up, was the tweet that grabbed my curiosity. Like when people say they're going to jump off a bridge - you can't know if it is a threat or a promise.

Give up a job search? I sent a DM (private message) to call me. The phone rang almost immediately and I answered it with three little words...

Hi, what's wrong?

I listened patiently to the story of someone desiring to be successful and unique, not just another digit in unemployment statistics, month after month. Downsizing, advice and rewrites by career coaches and resume writers, experimentation with self-branding and video, job search and failed interviews. There was pain in the voice, a sense of defeat, kind of like someone being at the bottom of the proverbial well, trying the same way over and over again to get out and not getting anywhere except more wet and exhausted.

So you get called to interviews?


And what happens?

I go, I think I do well and then I don't get the job.

What's missing?

I don't know.

It was a classic case of someone who had aggregated all the advice she could wrap her mind around, had all her ducks in a row so neatly like in a textbook she blended in with everyone else and didn't stand out at all. She could get face-to-face but not an invitation to fill out a W-4.

I offered to review the resume but not to critique it, because I knew I would only be able to offer style preference advice from my own perspective. After all, it was getting her in the door. So were her phone screens. She had experience, her tone was pleasant, not monotone, she was well spoken, had good pacing, didn't talk over me, she was responsive and I could see why she would be invited to interview in person. I wanted to see how the resume matched the image I was getting over the phone.

She was a stable, responsible steady-eddy, wouldn't let you down, would give a gazillion percent, work extra hours without complaining, never violate a company policy, treat others with respect and you could trust her with your life...So, the Queen could give her the keys to the palace and when she came back the crown jewels would still be there... But, the objective was sales not security.

Sales is about being noticed, people wanting to take a risk based on your relationship and word, being persuasive through more than your gilded tongue.. It's about the 'takeaway". That was it, that's what was missing. She was selling herself too hard in the interview, just like every other candidate. There was relationship building but no takeaway...

What do you take to the interview?

My portfolio.

What's in it?

Work samples.

You need a 90 day plan.

What's that?

Good question.

Here's what I sent her:

Like with any new job, there are a lot of things to learn when you walk in the door. But, when it comes to a sales job that needs to be balanced with the almost immediate results they are looking for.

Some Ideas for a 90 day plan in your case might be (in no particular order and these are just off the top of my head, clearly there is more to think about):

  • Learn CRM system
  • Order business cards
  • Plan to attend all networking events on the organization's calendar
  • Connect with the company's social media and review Facebook/Twitter testimonials and active members. Reach out to them and ask for referrals of friends that have businesses (I just checked and they have some great ones). Also they have LinkedIn groups, join and start to network with members and send all your LinkedIn contacts a message that you have joined the organization.
  • Press release to media and spotlight on organization website with your photo and a message how happy you are to be on board.
  • Get involved in some non-company focused networking groups so you can introduce people to the benefits of the organization. Be strategic, these should be groups that small business owners and CEO's belong to. NAWBO, Rotary, Toastmasters, etc.

For your first 50 calls, be sure you look at the member's directory on their website when making your list, you don't want to call someone who is already a member. Look in your newspaper and anywhere else (because I don't know your area) new businesses are announced to find prospects for the list. Try to find out who the new restaurants are - they generally always become members and new ones open daily. Does your city hall have to give occupancy permits to new businesses and is that public record?

Just some ideas I hope you'll find helpful as you plan your strategy!

The 90 day plan is something 99% of candidates don't have and will set you apart 100% of the time. It's your personal vision of your first 90 days, your personal on-boarding plan for success. It gives your interviewers an idea of your analytical process driven creative mind. It shows you're comfortable with proposals, have done your research, how you establish goals for yourself and leaves something very meaningful and unique with them when you walk out the door for them to remember you by and reflect on. It demonstrates you are mentally invested, that you have already stepped into the position and started to work. And in sales, especially in sales... that you have assumed the sale.

A 90 day plan cannot be a template, it is unique to every job you prepare to interview for. It is possible to create one for any job, any level of responsibility, any company. It's how to distinguish yourself from other candidates to give you the interview edge.

The result in this case has been a series of call backs and interviews with the same employer. I fully expect to get an email about a job offer this coming week.

Do you have experience with creating or presenting a 90 day plan you can share?


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