68. The power of the first 90 days: How to start a successful role even before you get the job, featuring Sue Zablud.

career advancement career change career planning job hunting leadership Feb 08, 2021
The Job Hunting Podcast Episode 68

Employment probation period - The first 90 days.

Why are the first 90 days into a new job so crucial in the corporate world? Well, often, it's the typical length of the probationary period, but more than that, it can set the tone for the rest of your tenure in the organization.

Consultant, Coach, and coach trainer Sue Zablud was the first to introduce me to the concept and book by the same name, written by Michael D. Watkins. In this podcast episode, we discuss this concept in detail in light of recent post-pandemic changes in our corporate world.

Take control of your career.

Are you old enough to remember when one would get a job and expect to be in that organization forever? In the 90s, we found out that this was not going to happen anymore. Since then, it has become apparent that it is up to corporate professionals to plan their careers. 

So, how do we take control of our careers? Sue Zablud shared in this interview four qualities that helped her transition jobs, sectors, and careers: 

  1. Strategy: seeing connections, being analytical, looking at issues, breaking them down, and seeing the big picture.
  2. Communication: written, verbal, and being good at presentations.
  3. Input: continual learning and adding value.
  4. Empathy: being able to put yourself in other people's shoes to understand and lead your team.

Before the first 90 days: Sue's advice for job hunters.

  1. Take a good look at yourself and understand who you are and what you offer. Find out what your transferrable skills are. Even though different sectors require different expertise, they need common essential skills, such as communication, analytical skills, people skills, etc. Please write down your transferrable skills and include them in your job search materials, whether an interview, your resume or your profile. 
  2. Ask yourself is, what industry do you want to work in? One of the best ways to find out is by talking to a wide range of professionals. Draw on your network. For example, you can tap into your university's Alumni, former colleagues, and friends. Think outside the box, talk to people from different areas and sectors. 
  3. Once you identify your preferred industry, find out what hiring managers value what knowledge, qualifications, experience, and skills. Sue recommends a government website called Course Seeker in Australia, where short courses are available for specific industries. Doing them lets you get a feel of the work and find out the language (i.e., jargon) typically used in that industry. You need to be able to speak the language of the sector you're going into. 
  4. Find a mentor in the particular industry that you want to be in. It is not easy to shift sectors, and having a mentor can help access information to support the transition.
  5. Know your values. What sort of culture and what kind of organization brings out the best in you? Don't just take the first thing that rolls up along the aisle because it could be a disaster. Start to think about what's a good climate for you? Do you work better in an organization where there is a lot of autonomy? Or do you work better in an organization where you're part of a team? Values alignment will make a difference in how long you stay in that organization. 

The power of the first 90 days: It's not just a probation period.

Above and beyond the probationary nature of the first 90 days in a new job, there is also a lot more at stake that can determine your new role's success. Just because you were great in your last job does not mean you will be great in a new one. 

A few things to consider when you are preparing for your first days in your new role:

  • What is the impression that you want to make? 
  • What are your new manager's expectations of what you should do in your first few days? 
  • What are your KPIs?
  • What do you need to do to ensure you will "fit" in the organization?

You have to get on with your team, be accepted by clients, and win your peers' respect. You have to be ready and have a plan. You can do this with a career coach to understand what you should do to prepare for this period. 

Critical goals to aim for in the first 90 days - probation period.

  1. Achieve the outcome that you have promised. Do it well, and do it in a way that looks good for the organization instead of making you look good. 
  2. Build good relationships. It's not just customer relationships, and it's also managing up and demonstrating that you're a good member of the team. 

Episode timestamps:

  • 06:11 - Sue's career journey
  • 10:46 - Taking control of your career
  • 12:26 - Sue's key strengths that helped her in career transitions
  • 15:12 - Advice for professionals looking for work in 2021
  • 19:06 - Using industry-specific jargon in your application
  • 21:52 - Finding commonalities between sectors
  • 23:35 - 'Do you know somebody else I can talk to?'
  • 25:16 - What are your values?
  • 26:52 - The first 90 days
  • 35:45 - Goals to aim for in the first 90 days

Links mentioned in this episode:

Are you new to The Job Hunting Podcast? 

Hello, I’m Renata Bernarde, the Host of The Job Hunting Podcast. I’m also an executive coach, job hunting expert, and career strategist. I teach corporate, non-profit, and public professionals the steps and frameworks to help them find great jobs, change, and advance their careers with confidence and less stress. 

If you are 1) an ambitious professional who is keen to develop a robust career plan, 2) looking to find your next job or promotion, or 3) you want to keep a finger on the pulse of the job market so that when you are ready, and an opportunity arises, you can hit the ground running – then this podcast is for you. In addition to The Job Hunting Podcast, I have developed a range of courses and services for professionals in career or job transition. And, of course, I also coach private clients. 

So there is no excuse – I’m determined to help you! I want you to feel empowered, nail your next job, and have the career you want.

Enjoy the episode, and ciao for now!


Renata Bernarde | Job Hunting Expert

[email protected]


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To my friends and colleagues who are currently job hunting, this podcast is for you. Renata Bernarde and her stellar line up of guests very generously share their perspective, advice, behind-the-scene secrets, tips, and anecdotes. "It's called The Job Hunting Podcast (it is what it says on the tin!) Guests include Anita Ziemer, Michelle Redfern, Mohit Bhargava. I cannot recommend it highly enough. Run. Don't Walk." - LinkedIn post shared by Amber Knight.

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