Give First to Receive: Lessons for Coders Seeking their Next Job

Give First to Receive: Lessons for Coders Seeking their Next Job


by Rebecca Harmon, MPM, RHIA, CCA

I regularly get emails from new graduates and job seekers looking for guidance in landing a job, and most of the time their emails are positive and friendly. On rare occasions I get an email that is tense, terse and reflects the irritation they feel in their quest for employment. One of my first thoughts when I read such a message is “I wonder if this anger is coming across to potential employers?

Chances are good that the negativity I am reading in the email is indeed being communicated to employers, and that’s never a good thing.

Don’t get me wrong – I understand how frustrating it is to have invested time, money and tears on an education just to get serial rejection letters, but allowing your irritation to elevate to the point where it is palpable in an email is not the answer!

I live in an older city where 5 lanes of traffic are often trying to squeeze across a 2-lane bridge or into a 2-lane tunnel. It makes for a lot of frustrated drivers before and after the workday. One day I noticed that each time I eased up and allowed people to merge in front of me on a clogged roadway, not only did 4 or 5 cars behind me follow suit, but I found that when I needed to merge left after the tunnel, people waved me over. Not surprisingly, when angry drivers rode up on the bumpers of those ahead of them refusing to let anyone merge, they had some challenges when it came time for them to merge.

You can attribute this to many things, including the nice people living and commuting in Pittsburgh, but I like to think it goes deeper than that: what goes around comes around.

When we’re on our commute and it’s all about us, we’re on our own – like the angry driver who won’t let anyone merge in front of him (or her). When we recognize that there’s a time, place and asphalt space for everyone, our commute just goes more smoothly. I like to think that job seeking is much the same.

If our attitude and energy is all about getting what WE DESERVE, and getting it NOW, we may be repelling those around us who can lend a helping hand. If you’re not getting anywhere in your job search and you feel your frustration mounting, consider taking a different approach: ask yourself, “What can I give?” instead of “Where’s my reward?

When you get a rejection letter, follow up with a note to the hiring manager. Thank them for their time, wish them well and then offer to work as a volunteer in the HIM department or medical office several hours a week. Some will decline your offer, but others may take you up on it. While some of these opportunities may not lead to employment in that organization, you’re establishing business references as well as building context around your book knowledge from within the industry. These are invaluable to your job search and you never know where that experience and a good word from the HIM Director or Office Manager can take you.

If you aren’t finding any takers here, consider lending your skills to a non-profit agency in your community. Coders possess great attention to detail, and are well-versed in medical terminology. You could offer to help at-risk high school students or women in shelters learn medical terminology. You could help senior citizens understand their medical bills or assist the local nursing home with organizing its medical records. I’m sure you can think of even more opportunities to share your gifts with your community (and I hope you’ll let me know!).

I have found that when I am willing to give first – whether in traffic or elsewhere – I always get the breaks or help I need. It may not be on my timetable but it always works out. I’ve never missed an exit, or spent time giving back that was not eventually worth more to me than I could have ever imagined when I began.

So if you’ve reached an impasse in your job search, shift your thinking to “What can I give?” and watch how that simple shift will transform your experience.

Other posts in this series:
Coders and Networking: It Goes Both Ways
Stay in Touch! Build your Network of Contacts to Help your Coding Career
Attn Coders: Make the Most of Attending your first Professional Meeting
Looking for a Coding Job? Try Networking Outside the Profession

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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