ATD Blog

The First 90 Days: Give New Hires a Career Road Map

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Employers want new hires to swim, not just tread water, as soon as they dive in. How long do new hires have to prove their performance? They must impress their boss in the first 90 days, according to chief financial officers (CFOs) interviewed for a recent Robert Half Finance & Accounting survey.

One way managers can improve new hires’ productivity and odds of success is to provide them with a career road map shortly after they’ve been hired. This approach will immediately demonstrate that you want them to excel and are invested in their professional development.

Are you a manager who believes that discussing future plans with new hires can be put off until later? Can’t the discussion take place during their annual review, after they’ve had some time on the job? The reality is that waiting 12 months may be too long. Here are some reasons for creating a personalized career road map during the first 90 days on the job: 

  • It can improve retention and morale. Employees who can see a well-charted future are more likely to feel valued and satisfied and to stick around.
  • It can help you avoid losing top talent to the competition. Other companies are on the lookout for job candidates, individuals not actively seeking a new job but open to the right opportunity. A rising star on your team could easily catch their eyes. But once they receive a career road map, they will see that there are opportunities for them at your firm and may be less likely to consider another opportunity.
  • It can strengthen your succession plan. Within the first 90 days, you’ll be able to determine whether your new hires have leadership potential. Their career development, which will require leadership training, is a vital component of succession planning. Such forethought and planning will provide your company with strong, capable leaders for years to come.
  • It can help fill skills gaps. An important part of your employees’ career development is determining the training they’ll need to be successful. Also, determining which employees should earn certifications necessary for advancement or developing new competencies will help you proactively address skills shortages and adjust your organizational structure accordingly.

7 Tips for Developing a Career Road Map 


It’s up to you to initiate the discussion of your employees’ career road map. Give new hires, who might be reluctant to broach the topic so soon, a boost of confidence by suggesting that you work on one together. It’s never too early to show your support for your team members’ career development; the conversation could even occur during the onboarding process. Here are seven tips for developing a career road map for your new hires: 

  1. Ask new hires to create a timeline for their career development. What would they like to achieve in the next 12 months? What position would they like to hold in five or 10 years? Are there courses they would like to take to further their professional development? 
  1. Identify the continuing education new hires need to achieve their goals. For instance, the master of business administration is a prerequisite for many upper-management positions. To fill a specific company need, you’ll want to ensure that new hires pursue the necessary education or certifications.
  1. Outline the company’s tuition reimbursement practices and what that means for new hires as they pursue their career development goals.
  1. Most new hires will benefit from being paired with an in-house mentor. If your company has a formal mentorship program, encourage them to take advantage of the opportunity. If it doesn’t, improvise one.
  1. Explain what positions might be available in the future. Be honest and realistic when discussing their career road map. While some professionals are eager to supervise employees, other workers’ personalities and skill sets are more suited for a nonmanagerial track.
  1. Career goals often evolve, so check in during their annual performance review to reassess and adjust. However, don’t limit this conversation to formal meetings. Talk to staff on an ongoing basis about their progress and additional support you can provide.
  1. Don’t forget to recognize employees for good work. Not only does regular praise and acknowledgment boost morale, it helps you keep track of their strengths and areas where they need to improve. 

The first 90 days are often a make-or-break trial for new hires. One of your roles as a manager is to nurture new hires and help them succeed on the job. By discussing career development and establishing a career road map with workers immediately, you’ll foster company loyalty, improve retention, and build stronger teams for years to come.

About the Author

DeLynn Senna, CPA, is the executive director of Robert Half Finance & Accounting, the world's first and largest specialized financial recruitment service. In her role, she leads Robert Half Finance & Accounting’s global operations, including defining brand positioning, working with executive and field leadership across five continents to develop growth strategies and operating processes, and shaping and promoting the company’s vision internally and externally.

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