Five Steps to Getting a Coding Job

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Five Steps to Getting a Coding Job

Step 1 – The solid training you need to meet your goals

Ideally you’ll be prepared for outpatient and inpatient coding, hospital-based and physician-based, ready for AHIMA’s CCS and AAPC’s CPC credentials.  

Step 2 – The credentials you need to get the job you want

You have solid skills. You’re prepared. Now go pass those certification exams to document that you really do know what you’re doing.  As medical coders know, if it isn’t documented, it didn’t happen. For best results, get your credentials before you move on to Step 3.  

Step 3 – Let Your Resume Speak For You

Before you apply for a medical coding job, make sure your resume represents you well. Most people pack a resume with everything they can think of, not realizing that a simpler format spotlights exactly what you want the employer to see, exactly what they will be looking for.  

How you present your training and your credentials on your resume matters. There are some popular words that people recommend using that can result in your resume being discarded. Do you know what they are?  People often are worried because they have no experience to list on their resumes. Is there a way around that? Did you know that medical coding training programs have track records with many employers, which means if they have tested hundreds of candidates who trained in a 4-month program, for example,  and none of them are able to pass their pre-employment tests, they start discarding resumes from candidates if they mention  those 4-month coding programs or any ‘Introduction to Coding’ or ‘Basics of Medical Coding’ courses mentioned in their resumes. 

We’ve enrolled many students after they’ve taken those courses and some even passed the CPC exam because they were experts at passing multiple choice exams, but the training was heavy on multiple choice gimmicks and very light on solid coding, employers recognize that and discard those resumes. How do you handle that if those courses were part of your medical coding training?   

Whether you are building your resume from scratch or if you are updating an outdated resume, it can be a daunting task, one that we often delay until the last minute and then throw everything in there we can think of, in a hodgepodge of words that we think may sound good. Then we close our eyes, hold our noses, and start sending out those resumes, just because we’re tired of messing with it and need to start sending it out.  That’s not part of a good job search plan though. Consider having your resume professionally written for you.   

Recommendation:  We recommend because they are experts who know what to include and what to avoid in a medical coding resume.  They also have discounts for Andrews graduates and members of our Medical Coding Forum on Facebook.  

Step 4 – Create a Job Search Log

We recommend that you begin immediately to keep a job search template or log so you’ll know when and where you have sent your resume. You can find many free templates online, although you may need to make some edits to make it meet your own needs. It should include these items:

Contact Person
Web site
E-mail address
Phone Number
Date 1st Contact
Job Information

Step 5 - The Job Search

Getting that first job in any new career field takes a smart plan and an aggressive approach. You may need to apply with up to 200-300 different employers before you start getting some responses, invitation to test and interview.   

See the various job searches included here starting with the Hospital Systems. Note the information on AAPC’s Project Xtern and AHIMA’s Apprenticeship program. We’ve included links for your convenience, so you can use your time more effectively in the job search.

Step 6 – Refine Your Job Search

If your job search isn’t going as well as you like, refine your plan.

Identify the problem, attack it and conquer it.  First, let's identify the problem.

When someone has trouble finding a job, I look to see if one of the major components is missing:

  • 1. Solid training.
  • 2. Coding credentials. i.e., AAPC's CPC and/or AHIMA's CCS (preferably they have both).
  • 3. Resume that spotlights the best they have to offer, whether it be experience, education, or credentials. We've found that does that the way that is highly effective.
  • 4. Ability to pass employment coding exams, and that means being able to code 'from scratch' not using gimmicks, because it most likely won't be all multiple choice.
  • 5. Ability to interview without shooting yourself in the foot. Let your credentials and your resume speak for you; don't brag; remember to let them know you'd love to be considered for the job.

What is solid training? Solid training is different from a short or introductory course which teaches gimmicks rather than actual coding. Students are then often able to pass multiple choice exams, but not employment coding exams where you’re actually expected to be able to know how to code. Multiple choice has most of the work done for you - like buying a box of cake mix from the store. Learning to code using scenarios rather than multiple choice is similar to making a cake from scratch, even down to grinding your own flour.

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