Use Your Influence To Get A Job

So often we talk about the people we know and the influence we have. We just like to feel important. Well, why not use that supposed influence for good? Or at least help yourself.

Social media has become a key factor in most aspects of our daily lives. One aspect that I think too many people overlook (yes, even the “connected” generation) is how to utilize your online presence to find a job or build professional connections. Obviously, this is the point of LinkedIn but there are a lot of avenues to start and build those relationships. Just make sure you have something to offer in return.

Recently I was contacted about my thoughts on this subject based off of a post I wrote in summer 2011 after my most recent job search. I was shown an interesting info graphic, which I think is worth sharing:

 

Social Score Infographic
From OnlineClasses.org

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Starting Up

Wow! – It has been a really long time since I have posted anything. Not really sure why I haven’t been active and blogging, but I kind of miss it. I’ll have to start blogging, at least somewhat more frequently.

It’s been a great month – family, friends, travel, weddings, work, etc. I’ve been to weddings in Milwaukee and rural Indiana. I’ve been with my family to Niagara Falls and Detroit. I have started working on a new health plan in New Hampshire. All of it has been great- and I am constantly amazed at how time flies by.

I am feeling good about life right now. I have some big plans. And a lot of ideas. I’ll try to start doing a better job of sharing my thoughts on here.

Flying Home From Louisiana

I am sitting on the plane flying home from New Orleans for the last time (for work), listening to Valse de Opelousas and reflecting on the past 11 months. I haven’t done as good of a job of chronicling my time in Louisiana as I should have, but I can simply say that it has been a fantastic experience.

For the past eleven months, I have been traveling to Louisiana weekly (with very few exceptions) to build the provider network for a new Medicaid health plan, Louisiana Healthcare Connections (LHC), a subsidiary of Centene Corporation. When I started, there were five of us in Baton Rouge developing strategy and starting to do outreach for contracting. Now, LHC has 140 employees and provides health insurance to ~168,000 individuals in Louisiana generating estimated annual revenue in the hundreds of millions of dollars. We were key players in essentially building a start-up into a major contributor to its Fortune 500 parent. I am very proud of the work we have done.

When I started this job eleven months ago, I essentially knew nothing about what I was to be doing. While I still have a lot to learn, I have helped train several people on contracting/network development and have been a point person for escalated issues. I appreciate all of the people who have taken time to train me, share with me, support me, and trust me. I am excited to keep growing in this position.

I have been to every corner of Louisiana and many places in between. I’ve seen some places that I would love to visit again – and some that I hope to never visit again. I’ve met some great people and have heard some very interesting stories. I’ve sampled local culture and cuisine. Louisiana is a great state with so much to offer, I highly recommend it to everyone. Just be sure to get off the beaten path and explore a little bit. You never know what you might find. That is certainly a lesson I am taking forward myself.

Importantly, I have worked with some amazing people and made some great new friends. These people really made my time in Louisiana enjoyable – and are making leaving Louisiana much harder than I had anticipated. I hope to visit soon.

I do not yet know what the next state is in which I will work. I should be finding out soon. Regardless of where it is, I am looking forward to applying the skills I have learned in a new market, continuing to learn and grow, and see what the future holds!


Update Upon Arrival in St. Louis:

I found out upon landing that I will be helping with our Missouri health plan, Home State Health Plan, for a few weeks. Likely working on provider data and accuracy/usability. After that I am on to the next plan. That is still up in the air.

Over the Past Year…

Wow, how fast a year goes! I have now been a college graduate (with two degrees: BA & MBA) for just over a year! How crazy. I can’t believe it has been a year. I miss college a great deal, but I think I have done a good job transitioning out of the DU mode, which as some of you know, I was quite worried about after having been so involved.

I moved back to St. Louis after graduation and spent a lot of time applying for jobs, interviewing, catching up with friends, and worrying about my future. The summer went by very quickly and I enjoyed my time off while looking forward to what was next. Then very quickly I ended up with three job offers around the same time. All were great opportunities – and it was a very difficult decision.

I ended up taking a position as a Contract Negotiator with Centene Corporation, a Fortune 500 managed care company in St. Louis. I am part of the New Business Contracting & Network Development team. When Centene is exploring/wins a contract for a new health plan, we develop the outreach strategy and develop our network of health care providers. We negotiate contracts and provide training. As the plan goes live, the local health plan hires staff to do what we do and then the corporate team gets deployed to a new market. I am always learning new things and enjoy the challenges that come with working in healthcare and Medicaid, specifically. I have great coworkers and enjoy the support of my supervisors.

My position requires me to travel 4-5 days a week so I’ve become a frequent traveler and while that can be tiring and difficult at times, I really like it. I’ve been working in Louisiana since I’ve started and have explored the whole state, while getting to know Baton Rouge and New Orleans pretty well. Soon, I expect to be moving to a new state and I’m excited to apply what I’ve learned to a new market and observe the similarities and differences that come with the territory.

Because of my frequent traveling, I have been able to take advantage of the perks and have been to Denver several times, Las Vegas, Albuquerque, Tampa/St. Petersburg, San Diego, and Los Angeles. I have a trip planned to Chicago and have plenty of other ideas.

Otherwise, I have enjoyed staying in touch with Denver friends, reconnecting with old friends, spending time with family, and meeting new people. I struggled with meeting new people for a little while as I was trying to figure out if I’d be staying in St. Louis and as I was starting the new job, but I’ve gained traction and have met some great new people. I’ve also been trying to figure out what all St. Louis actually has to offer and have been pleasantly surprised.

So, life is good. It’s been quite the year and I’m looking forward to the next one.

What I’m Reading & Doing

Ever interested in continuous learning and engaging with others, I subscribe to Fast CompanyFortuneThe EconomistEntertainment Weekly (for a little fun), Harvard Business Review emails and articles, and The Wall Street Journal. I regularly read Time and The New York Times online and on my cell phone. I also follow blogs such as those by Ezra Klein, Nick Kristoff, and Mashable. Further, I regularly use social media such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Foursquare, and Instagram. I also use Google+, Flickr, Stumbleupon, and others, but don’t find them to be incredible relevant.

Five Common Strategy Mistakes

Check out this great article from Harvard Business Review. I particularly find the following paragraph interesting/true:

Don’t confuse strategy with actions (grow, acquire, divest, etc.) or with goals (reach X billion in sales, Y share of market). Porter’s definition: the set of integrated choices that define how you will achieve superior performance in the face of competition. It’s not the goal (e.g., be number one or reach $1 billion in top-line revenue), nor is it a specific action (e.g., make acquisitions). It’s the positioning you choose that will result in achieving the goal; the actions are the path you take to realize the positioning. Moreover, when Porter defines strategy, he is really talking about what constitutes a good strategy — one that will result in a higher ROIC than the industry average. The real problem here is that you will think you have a strategy when you don’t.

Job Description

I now think I’ve had enough experience on my job to write a job description that sums up what I am doing. My title is Contract Negotiator, but I use Network Development Specialist in the field.

The job description I am currently using is:

Responsible for building a Medicaid managed care health plan with estimated annual revenue of $367 million and anticipated membership of 215,000 by developing outreach strategies, building long-term relationships, and negotiating contracts for select categories of providers. Successfully managed projects related to corporate Network Development compliance activities to guarantee conformity with state requirements, creating policies and procedures, collaborating on key measures such as the company’s Network Development and Management Plan, and leading work with numerous internal departments. Created resources to assist in developing new markets and provider training.

Understanding Healthcare Reform

I have not posted anything on here in a long time – my bad. I’ve been surprised at how busy life seems to be. Time is flying by. I’ll try to be better about posting again.

Anyway, Stuart (my brother) shared a video about healthcare reform in the U.S. with me. He had to watch it for a public health class he is taking. It is easy to follow and actually helps makes sense of the complicated healthcare reform policy upon which, just today, the U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear arguments.

This is definitely something people should understand before deciding that they are for or against it. It is also relevant to the work I am doing professionally.

Several Firsts

The past week has included a number of “firsts” for me.  Here are some of them:

  • My first time traveling for 5 days instead of 4
  • My first time initiating a custom contract
  • My first time eating a meal that cost more than $50
  • My first time going to Taste of St. Louis – which was pretty awesome
  • My first time to watch Glee the same week the episode aired  – I’m finally caught up
  • My first time going to IHOP after midnight
  • My first time receiving a new credit card (after the first one I had)
  • My first time going to Castlewood State Park in recent memory – and going hiking
Coming up this week:
  • My first time working in the office for more than one day since my first week of work
  • My first time to (remember) seeing The Lion King in theaters – one of my favorite movies ever
  • My first Rosh HaShanah in St. Louis in five years
Let’s see what else happens…

Highlights of the Week

Well, I’m continuing my tradition of writing a weekly blog post on the plane.  It has been a great week.  There is too much to say and I’ve waited too long into the flight to write much, but here are some highlights:

I am a big fan of Southwest, it’s service, and it’s rewards program.  I plan (hopefully) to continue to fly on Southwest as long as it is convenient.

I do not recommend staying at the Doubletree near the French Quarter in New Orleans.  I do recommend staying at the Hilton in Baton Rouge.  The people there are very friendly.

I spend the week in a mix of shadowing people in meetings with doctors, working out of a hotel room, working out of our Baton Rouge office, sitting in on other meetings, etc.  I am getting much more comfortable with reaching out to providers and actually know answers to questions, though I still have a lot to learn.

Next week it looks like I will be back in Louisiana.  I will probably work out of the Baton Rouge office on Tuesday, visit providers on Wednesday and Thursday, and fly back to St. Louis on Friday.  These will be my first solo visits!  I need to review some things but I hope I’m ready!  I’ll be responsible for outreach to Rural Health Clinics.  I spent some time this week developing a list of providers to visit.  Tomorrow I’ll try to plot out what those visits look like and figure out travel.

I really like my co-workers!  It’s a great group of people working in Louisiana.  We spent several evenings together and most of that time was spent laughing,  I hope that feeling continues and we continue to spend time together outside of the office.  I firmly believe that also helps us in the office.

We went to some regional restaurants and enjoyed the food.

Today, we had a meeting that lasted two hours, but I learned a lot.  I also knew some answers to questions J.  For the first time, I gave out business cards and have follow-up to do – it’s like I’m a real, contributing person now!

This afternoon, we got together at house of one of the few members of our team who is actually from Louisiana.  It was quite nice and we enjoyed lunch together.  I had to leave for a flight, but many of the others stayed to play golf.

Tomorrow I’ll be in the office, but I am leaving early to head to Atlanta for my friend Josh’s wedding.  Josh and I studied abroad in Israel together and I am quite excited!  I know his fiancé, Sarah, as well and they are great together.  The weekend will fly by (and it will be like I was never in St. Louis).  Nevertheless, I’m very excited!