Getting That Coding Job: Persistence Can Pay Off

Getting That Coding Job: Persistence Can Pay Off

by Rebecca Harmon, MPM, RHIA, CCA

Searching for your first Coding job can be frustrating. As the transition to ICD-10 looms in front of us, coding supervisors and managers are scrambling to stack the deck with as much experience as possible.

Like that insurance commercial, you’re probably thinking “everybody knows that.”

It’s vexing to keep looking for a job in your profession when the phone remains silent and the email rejections keep piling up. I have received emails from several new coders in smaller towns and rural areas who find the difficult job market especially perplexing, but today I want to share some insights that the job seeker rarely sees.

When I taught Supervision and Management in an HIM program we often discussed how to deal with job rejection. I used simple shapes to depict different skill sets and qualities of each person in the organization and explained that sometimes the rejection has nothing to do with you other than the fact that you’re a triangle and the company is already overloaded with triangles and is looking to hire some squares.

It was simplistic but my point was that most of us never find out why we didn’t get a call back and many of us go on to assume that this means that we were deficient in some manner; not good enough. If we don’t stop this thinking we can soon talk ourselves into a pretty depressed state. My goal with the exercise was to illustrate that more often than not, the unproductive job interview has less to do with us than we think, so we should not take the rejection personally.

The rejection takes on even more baffling dimensions when we don’t get the job, but see the same employer advertising for the same position a month or so later.

“Should I apply again?” you may ask. My advice is a resounding YES!

Timing is absolutely everything, but it is also the great unknown for those applying to an open position. When staffing is short, fewer experienced coders are available to mentor and train new people. If an ad is placed in the midst of significant shortages, new coders will often be passed over for veteran coders. However, once staffing levels begin to stabilize, the department has more flexibility to take on less experienced staff and to “build the bench” which will be important for the transition to ICD-10 and beyond – especially as many long-time coders near retirement age.

An adage often shared with kids as they experience life’s growing pains seems appropriate to quote: if at first you don’t succeed, try – try again!

You may get rejected a few more times, but the answer is always NO if you give up.

Good luck, and keep me posted! I’d love to hear from anyone who’s interviewed at the same place more than once and finally got the job!

About the Author

Rebecca Harmon, MPM, RHIA, CCA
Rebecca Harmon returned to HIM practice in a leadership role after spending many years as an HIM educator. Tapping her broad history of diverse healthcare experience that began with a tour of duty in the US Navy, Rebecca writes regularly and speaks on education, workforce issues, management and life. An energetic and engaging speaker, Ms. Harmon enjoys sharing her unique perspective with student, faculty, professional and community groups.

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