Kaiser Permanente, the largest managed-care organization in the U.S., has been at the forefront of implementation of electronic medical records as well as research and data-driven quality-improvement efforts.
Based in Oakland, it comprises regional health plan subsidiaries, hospitals and medical groups across nine states and the District of Columbia. Among the people it seeks are experts in service-oriented architecture, Epic, risk and security, and program/project managers. “We run an incredible number of applications and services,” says Steve Silver, director of information technology recruitment and national university relations. “We run a laundry list of projects all the time that require a pretty constant stream of highly skilled program/project managers.” (In Epic, you might see those positions called application coordinators.)
Kaiser also hires what it calls solution design consultants, positions combining aspects of business analyst, programmer analyst and program manager. These people need to to understand the technology in question, understand user requirements and have the ability to keep projects moving.
“Big Data is a huge focus for us,” says Silver. “The recruiting that we’re doing is focused on architecture and design. You’ll see ads for SAS and other tools, but we have a tremendous talent pool in-house because we’ve been working on that for a long time. But working with the data–architecting for availability, access, accuracy, integrity—tend to be the focus points for us.”
Kaiser Permanente’s culture, according to Silver, is a “really exciting balance of innovation in a higher-purpose-driven environment. Take someone who is profoundly passionate about technology and says, ‘We can do work that could save someone’s life.’” The organization’s health-centered mission is as inspiring to many on the tech team as is the technology itself. It drives a passion, he says, “that’s hard to rival.”
Getting Their Attention
To stand out, you should understand and demonstrate an affinity not just for Kaiser’s technology, but for its mission, Silver says. Candidates without previous healthcare experience — a barrier in many organizations — should learn all they can about its EMR and other technology.
This year, Kaiser will focus on helping its hiring managers to select candidates based on potential, rather than what Silver calls “the acronym exchange,” an alphabet soup of credentials. “We will be hiring people from other industries and helping to translate their experience to our needs,” he says. They’ll also be hiring at the university level.
With Epic talent in particular, Kaiser wants to grow its bench in-house. Few professionals experienced with its solutions are available, and those who are come at a premium.
How to Stand Out
In resumes, talk not just about what you’ve done in past jobs, but the impact and innovation that resulted from it. Simply listing your skills and competencies isn’t going to get you much attention. Silver’s looking for a description of “the impact or the innovation that was applied to the standard work to yield a better result…. Those individuals who can make a connection between their work on the business being performed and the impact, that’s a differentiator.” For Kaiser, he notes, the impact is better healthcare.
About Kaiser’s Job Descriptions
When reading one of the organization’s job descriptions, tease out the deliverables it describes. Kaiser often has job descriptions that are pages long. If you get to the end of the first page and meet more than 50 percent of its desired skills or deliverables, you’ve found a position to apply for. One thing not to do, says Silver, is apply for positions for which you’re not qualified.
When you apply, use the experience and education sections of your resume to demonstrate how you meet the description’s requirements. Bullet points are fine.
Advice for Seasoned Pros
Experienced professionals should make sure their resumes make the connection between their previous experience and how that fits the organization’s current needs. He also pays attention to social media, so developing a presence online can help you show off the same credentials you described in your resume and cover letter.
“Your profile and how you articulate yourself to a market is very important,” Silver observes. He sees social media becoming “a great place to become educated about challenges facing organizations on topics like Epic implementations.”
Advice for New Graduates
While not many years ago, Health IT didn’t attract much attention, the passage of the Affordable Care Act has put a spotlight on its possibilities as a long-term career path.
To attract students, Kaiser maintains a dedicated website and works with hiring managers to offer positions appropriate to lower experience levels. Candidates can help themselves by showing the connection between available jobs and their attributes such as passion, innovation and compassion. These aren’t small things, either, Silver says. “In some cases, these are far more important than any of the skills.”
“If you’ve decided to knock on the door of Health IT as a career, don’t stop knocking,” he says to students. “Many organizations are trying to get better at figuring out how to leverage that talent, and we’re no different, but I think we’ve got some good initiatives under way.”