Does your new hire have the right stuff? How their personality has a long-term impact on your organization’s bottom line.

In healthcare, how often have you heard this, he/she is a great clinician, but has no personality. Or, take me to hospital A, but if I’m really sick take me to hospital B, this assumes hospital A is the “Nice” hospital but Hospital B is where all the best clinicians work. So, the obvious question is, can’t you have both? Yes, if you select the right people.

In Jim Collins book, “From Good to Great”, he writes, “People are your most important asset,” or rather the right people are. In today’s healthcare market many organizations are making the move from Volume to Value, with Quality being a primary focus, but how do our patients define quality? Sure, having the best possible outcome is right up there, with no medical mistakes or errors please. However, most patients come to our organizations assuming great quality, and value the interaction with their caregivers as high if not higher than any other part of the patient/caregiver interaction. Read Full Article

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Are you holding your team back? Why task-oriented leaders should build their relationship skills to accomplish goals

Task oriented leaders, those using just workplans, measurements, goals, dashboards, etc.… sometimes may be left scratching their heads when their teams do not accomplish their goals, or performance begins to decline without any clear reason as to why.

To motivate your teams, and accomplish your goals, perhaps you would be better served to examine your leadership relationship competencies.

WHAT IS RELATIONSHIP LEADING?

WHAT IS TASK-ORIENTED LEADING?

When determining what leadership style works best for your team, consider the make-up of the team, today’s workforce is motivated much more by team achievement but still values individual recognition. Workers today want to achieve the goal, but want much more flexibility than past generations when it comes to how to achieve that goal. Read Full Article

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New Year’s Resolution: Become A Better Leader!

In all the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, it’s easy to forget that in just a few weeks most of us will be looking at the New Year and a list of resolutions or promises that we have made to ourselves that we hope to accomplish. Some of our old favorites are bound to make the list, lose some weight, exercise, give more to charity, get back in touch with family or old friends.

But what about including in this year’s list the commitment to be a better leader next year?

Research tells us that when we write our goals down, we are far more likely to achieve them, so begin the year by taking a good hard look at what is means to be a leader, remember, you may have the title but being the leader of people requires these fundamental building blocks, can you complete these? Read Full Article

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Congrats you got the job! Read before you sign.

A physician who I greatly admire and respect once took a job as a hospitalist in a small town. She was told that she would have a guaranteed salary. But she did not read the fine print in her employment contract. The guarantee was actually an advance against future production, or collections. She was required to meet a certain level of collections to support her salary. If she did not meet that level of collections, she had to pay back the deficit. There was a hospitalist outside of and competing with her group. One of the emergency department physicians really liked this hospitalist. If he determined that the patient had good insurance, he called the outside hospitalist to do the admission. If he determined that the patient did not have good insurance, he called my friend’s hospitalist group. They were providing a tremendous amount of care to the patients in the hospital. They were just not getting paid. The longer she worked there, the deeper in debt she was getting. One of her partners did the math and simply left. My friend stayed out of a sense of integrity and fairness to give them time to find her replacement. She was not repaid in kind. And who was going to come and take over for such a terrible deal? She ended up in court and had to pay everything that the hospital was demanding of her. The judge said that it was a terrible contract, but a legally binding one and that she was a big girl and should have read the contract. Her partner who left early made the right decision in that she paid much less to the hospital.

When I was in medical school, we had a medical legal course which consisted of about 10 hours of lectures. One of the things that we were told was to read very carefully anything that we put our signature to. We were particularly cautioned to read employment contracts. I have followed this advice, and it has served me very well. I know of some stories where physicians were badly injured for not having read their employment contracts.

The first question is, “Will I be paid as an employee or as a contractor?” If an employee, then the employer pays half of the Social Security and Medicare taxes. If a contractor, then you pay all of the Social Security and Medicare taxes. If paid a salary, you will get a set amount of money, usually every two weeks or every month. Most people who are paid a salary are expected to work significantly more than 40 hours per week, because there is no additional cost to the employer for extra hours that you work. Many job offers will sound like salaried positions, but close examination of the contract will reveal that all or a significant portion of the payment offered is contingent upon one or more performance metrics. These metrics may include collections, relative value units (RVU’s), quality & efficiency. These may be based on individual performance, group performance or some combination of both. Collections is how much was actually paid for the care you delivered. Usually, a percentage of your collections is paid to the group or hospital for overhead. RVU payment is based not on collections, but on billing. This system is often used by organizations that serve the underserved as it encourages physicians to deliver care regardless of an individual’s ability to pay. Increasingly large portions of physicians’ compensation packages are only paid if the individual and/or group meet certain quality and efficiency metrics. Whether you are actually in control of a metric, the manner in which the metric is tracked & calculated and the thresholds to qualify for the metric all can have significant impact on your actual compensation. Benefit packages can also have significant impact.

In such a short article, I cannot tell you everything to look for. I would advise you to look closely at the exit clauses. When you go to work for a new employer, you have great hopes and even expectations that things are going to go very well. But they may not. I heard of a physician who, within two months of joining a new group, learned that his partners were engaged in and engaging him in activity of questionable legality. The exit clauses in his contract were onerous, and it was very costly for him to leave so early. Issues that may hit you with early separation can include repayment of sign-on bonuses, repayment of moving stipends and noncompete clauses. I was once invited to sign a contract that said I could not work for two years in any hospital anywhere in the United States owned by any company or organization that had a contract with this large physician staffing company (which had hospital contracts in many states).

So how do you go about reading an employment contract? Of course, you are not going to receive a copy of the contract until after you have been given an offer of employment. The contract is usually sent as a PDF. You can either print it out and use a highlighter and an ink pen or, if you can get it into an editable format on your computer, you can go through the document using track changes. You are now going to sit down and read every single word of the document: slowly, carefully and thoughtfully. You will go online and look up the definitions of any legal terms that you do not understand. You can write those definitions in the margins. You can make notes about things that you understand and want addressed and about things that you do not understand. After fully digesting the document, you will either decide to walk away from this job or you will think that this might be doable if the potential employer is agreeable to reasonable changes.

If you wish to go forward, you will now hire an experienced physician employment attorney and will send him or her a copy of your highlighted document with all its notations. You will discuss your concerns. Your attorney will review your document and schedule a follow-up discussion. Your attorney may advise you simply to walk away. Or he may give you a list of items that need clarification or correction. Some issues you identify and some of your attorney’s recommendations will be deal breakers meaning either these changes are made, or you refuse the offer of employment. Others may be that it would be nice if you could get them, but are not that important. With the help of your attorney and your spouse or significant other, if there is one, you will formulate a plan for seeking necessary and desired changes in your employment contract that are reasonable and fair to both parties. Your attorney will help you express your concerns in a language that resonates with the attorney working for your potential employer who will have to give the final approval on any changes to the employment contract.

I will walk you through how I approach these negotiations. I schedule a phone meeting with the individual designated by the potential employer to be their face for the negotiations. My tone is very pleasant and reasonable. I start by saying that my wife and I have carefully read the contract. I have sought the advice of a very competent attorney experienced in physician employment contracts. From these discussions, the following concerns have arisen. If the concern is coming from me, I do not hesitate to say so, but I consider it a good strategy to point out when the concern is coming from my wife or from the advice of my attorney. This is called an appeal to higher authority. It may seem like weakness, but it is a very powerful tool. Used properly, it can tremendously strengthen your position as nothing they say to persuade me will have any impact on how my wife feels about it, especially when it is an issue that is recognized as a reasonable concern for the employee’s wife. When appropriate, I ask for clarification of language in the contract rather than outright changes. Everything that I am asking for needs to be laid out in this first meeting. If you keep coming back with new demands, they may tire very quickly and look for another candidate.

You likely will not get everything you ask for. Just make sure that you get everything you need.

You likely will not get everything you ask for. Just make sure that you get everything you need.

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Flexing your anger muscles at work

Early in my career my father shared with me the following advice: “Leave your emotions at home. Do not take your emotions to work.” He was not talking about positive emotions. He was talking about the negative emotions that get so many of us in trouble at work. Chiefly he was talking about anger.

Many people believe that anger is like a boiling, caustic liquid inside of them that can be purged by expressing the anger. They think that they can blow up and “get it out of their system.” But that is not how anger works at all. Anger is like a muscle. The more we express our anger, the stronger it becomes.

Solomon is revered as an extremely wise king. Here is what he had to say about anger. “The discretion of a man defereth his anger; and it is his glory to pass over a transgression.” * “A soft answer turns away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger.” ** “He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city.” ***

Ambrose Bierce said, “Speak when you are angry and you will make the best speech you will ever regret.” The regret can be for the harm we have done to others and the harm we have done to ourselves. Anger can do great harm to very important relationships. Sometimes we are able to completely restore the relationship. Sometimes we can only patch it. Sometimes we are left with an irreparable breach. Regardless, our efforts at mitigation may require the expenditure of great effort and political capital.

Our anger can decrease our allies and increase our workplace foes. Whether at work or not, we can never have too many friends and even one enemy is a luxury that we can ill afford. In a large and complex work environment, we may find that we cannot always give everyone everything they want. People may choose to be our enemy in spite of our best efforts. It would be foolish indeed to recruit additional enemies with unbridled, unregulated anger.

On the subject of enemies, I will say that over the years I have had a few people who have chosen to be my enemy. I have never accepted their invitation to join the conflict. When I speak of enemies, I speak of those who bear me ill will, but I am determined to be a friend to all, even those who are my most implacable enemies. I may distance myself from them and take steps to prevent them from injuring me further, but I will not move to injure them out of spite or revenge. It has been said that the best way to destroy an enemy is to turn him into a friend.

Often our anger prompts us to tell people what we think. We would be most foolish to reveal our innermost thoughts to people who are truly our enemies. They have no right to know what we think. Stephen Covey said, “Seek first to understand and then to be understood.” Often our anger is prompted by a distortion in our perception rather than an unacceptable reality. Once we began working off the script of our perception, the victim of our anger will often perceive the barrage as a personal attack, whether it is one or is an attempt to resolve a problem. It is a natural, although often not helpful, response to respond in kind in defense.

Conflict is good. Contention is bad. We do need to resolve conflicts. We do not need to do so in a contentious way that disrupts our organization. I highly recommend the book, Crucial Conversations, for learning how to resolve conflict without contention. This book is so jampacked with valuable knowledge that it should be read, reread and studied to fully master its principles. It has the potential to transform our careers and our personal lives.

Conflict is good. Contention is bad. We do need to resolve conflicts. We do not need to do so in a contentious way that disrupts our organization. I highly recommend the book, Crucial Conversations, for learning how to resolve conflict without contention. This book is so jampacked with valuable knowledge that it should be read, reread and studied to fully master its principles. It has the potential to transform our careers and our personal lives.

* Proverbs 19:11
** Proverbs 15:1
*** Proverbs 16:32

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Coding: Inpatient or Outpatient, Risks (and Benefits) Are Increasing E&M, DRG, APC, Risk Adjusted, CDI, and Hospice … It All Matters

“This article originally appeared on www.stout.com.

Ensure accurate coding and billing by reviewing the coding and compliance policies woven into a health system’s revenue cycle.

Because coding can be confusing and laborious it can often be overlooked and potentially not recognized as part of the revenue cycle process. Now more than ever before, coding reviews are an important component of a health system’s overall "value”-based payment continuum, due to continued scrutiny by Medicare/Medicaid and commercial payers. Health system executives are tasked with optimizing performance of and maximizing efficiency of the coding stage in the revenue cycle. Accurate coding leads to clean claims, which results in prompt reimbursement, and that’s why coding has a direct impact on the bottom line.

Coding is a moving target for many providers. Omnipresent and at times inconvenient and confusing, the ever-changing demands coupled with the risk of inaccuracy constantly challenges providers. With severity of care levels and clinical outcomes increasingly tied to “value,” reimbursements will inextricably link with accurate disease-state coding and documentation. Also, with provider compensation woven tightly to provider production (with emerging compensation models embracing quality and efficiency components, as well), accurate coding confirms both proper reimbursement to the system and accurate compensation for those providers on productivity models.

Educating providers mitigates downside risk to health systems and hospitals and offers leadership (the C-suite along with the physician executive team) the prophylactic of ongoing monitoring ensuring that the administrative/physician partnerships are cemented in a compliant manner.

Coding Compliance

A successful coding review and compliance plan should be crafted to define the hospital or health system’s investment and belief in coding compliance. A memorialization of the processes and procedures undertaken in a coding review enshrines that all constituents clearly understand the goals, objectives, and expectations of the hospital/system. Coding/compliance plans cannot be one-dimensional relying solely on documentation of services or an information technology solution. For instance, in a vacuum a provider can “pass” a coding assessment with proper documentation which generates work relative value units (wRVU). However, sometimes that productivity can be overly, and erroneously, robust given clinic hours, patient facing time, provider schedules, etc. Since most employed providers have a component of their compensation driven, at least in part, from a wRVU model, ensuring precise claim level of billing (e.g. a level 3 versus a level 5) offers physicians and health system leadership peace in the knowledge that claims, charges, and subsequent revenue are accurate.

Additionally, until block chain, “machine learning,” and other IT initiatives like artificial intelligence (AI) have firmly taken hold to “solve” coding and compliance issues, human-intervention will be required to certify that coding documentation aligns with patient facing time, required coding elements, and charting. EHRs can be dangerous when a user simply hap-hazardly “carries forward” a note which can offer a false sense of accuracy. Providers (physicians and APPs) must fully understand the rules and regulations of coding, especially in the critical nature of pay for value initiatives that are evolving over time. Additionally, and tangentially, carrying notes forward has potential med/mal exposure. All of that said, accurate coding is essential relative to severity of disease state, etc.

A Coding and Compliance Program - The "3 F's"

Frequency

Delineate a program of ongoing review and analysis. It should have well-defined expectations. The program should be structured with defined timelines, be diligent, and guarantee random sampling and a rotating sequence of providers (depending on group size) for review. In program development “acceptable” parameters should be constructed indicating varying rates of post-review monitoring and education. The program should be “owned” by a staff member (with backup) to ensure it is perpetual and robust.

Feedback

After reviews are performed, an expedient and concise feedback loop should be deployed displaying to providers deficiencies and providing education. For instance, if a provider “fails” 80% of his or her coding reviews for accuracy, he or she should be placed on a more frequent review process (every quarter?) as defined in the compliance plan to document a remediation process and catalogue improvement in accuracy.

The feedback loop should contain educational opportunities that celebrate successes and elucidate challenges. Providers should be counseled and offered “real time” assistance if coding issues or questions arise during the day.

Follow-up

The coding review should carry with it a robust follow-up plan ensuring that team members (from front desk to providers) understand that the plan is deployed and in force infusing into the culture a sense that the system or hospital takes, and will continue to take, coding compliance seriously. That is not to say that staff members should know that Dr. X failed his or her coding review. Instead, the message to staff should be that the system views coding compliance as a system-wide obligation and focus.

Stout’s coding/compliance leadership ties coding together with one point of contact to manage all aspects of review and education. Our seamless coding and compliance team delivers a variety of solutions based on client need. Stout associates manage outpatient, “pro fee” evaluation and management (E&M) and risk adjusted coding assessments and education, while deftly handling Ambulatory Payment Classification (APC), Diagnosis Resource Group (DRG), and Clinical Documentation Improvement (CDI) coding initiatives for inpatient coding. Additionally, we are adept at hospice and home care coding analyses. Our “borderless” approach empowers our team to rapidly address client needs by removing artificial “silos” that inhibit fluidity on multi-faceted projects running between health system, inpatient work and ambulatory reviews. Stout associates understand the congruency of in and outpatient facilities and can deliver reviews and offer a coding/compliance partner.

* To read more about Stout’s experience and how we provided a 15 to 1 return on a client’s initial investment by helping them improve on their revenuecycle, download our case study now.

Physician Compensation Value-Based Care Initiatives Bring Disruption

a href=http://www.wiederholdassoc.com/blog/2018/10/19/physician-executives-are-you-utilizing-their-talent>Physician Executives – Are You Utilizing Their Talent?

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Physician Executives: Are You Utilizing Their Talent?

“This article originally appeared on www.stout.com.

It is vital to anticipate how revenue cycle reports will be viewed across the organization.

If you are a hospital or health system with disengaged physicians, you are missing the boat (and probably bumping along, operationally and financially). Sound physician executive leadership empowers health systems to deploy curative operational solutions, offers providers input and a stake, and engages the physicians as valued partners versus cogs in the machine.

We recently performed a health system operational turnaround where the system was significantly subsidizing their employed physician network (e.g. losing money per physician). An undergirding issue (among many) was the lack of physician input into the organization. This reality left physicians fragmented, unappreciated, and undervalued. While there existed no discernable ill-will or animus, the physicians simply were not engaged nor asked to provide their input and insight. This chasm lent to chaotic differentiation from clinic to clinic amongst the system’s 16 clinic locations.

As a component of the overall structural rebuild we were engaged to perform, an immediate need was the creation of a physician advisory committee (PAC). As will be discussed, the implementation of a PAC had a direct impact on the health system’s revenue cycle. Within one year, system subsidies were reduced by 75% helping the system claw back toward profitability.

Setting the Table

In the instant situation, the health system was hemorrhaging cash. An operational assessment was performed on each clinic site. As part of the post-assessment implementation and rebuild, a PAC was created. Our team suggested that, out of the gate (and at least as a Band Aid) the system define and immediately select, even if temporarily, physicians who exhibited tendencies toward engagement. The key was identifying physicians engaged in affecting change but who, to this point, had not been asked to. (While building the PAC quickly is not ideal, this build drove the hospital system to immediately draw from the talented physicians who sought to make a difference).

Standards, rules, and measures were delineated vis-à-vis tenure, mission, duties, etc. Each physician on the committee was known to be an “invested” partner who, to this point, had had no voice.

In the newly born committee, the physicians:

  • provided an avenue for physician input and enhanced bi-directional communication
  • provided a litmus for possible changes (e.g. comp plan redesign)
  • created quality initiatives
  • offered peer review and guidance
  • offered emotional buy-in and intellectual contributions
  • became valued partners
  • established key operational standards throughout the physician network
  • advised/consented on issues (the executive office maintained the final say)
  • had meetings that were agenda driven, and
  • assisted with electronic health record (EHR) optimization

While many of these items can be tackled by the C-suite, the reality is that most folks in the administrative offices don’t practice medicine and it is certainly easier to hear a message from a peer who lives the life you lead versus one who has not walked in your shoes.

Whether a network is large or small, some form of physician committee is advised and models are malleable and scalable; there is no one right answer. Two rudimentary (and simple) examples follow.

Figure 1: Small Health System

In a small system, as with the client referenced earlier (75 physicians), the PAC should have a limited number of participants (prorata specialty representation) and a well-defined scope of authority. In this case, the PAC might be constructed of 6 physicians of differing specialties. (In our turnaround situation, due to the urgency of time, the PAC was entirely staffed by internal medicine physicians and the size of the system and specialty medical staff rendered that sound, at least in the emergent near-term).

The PAC receives input and provides feedback to the employed physicians. And, if this is a clinically integrated model (CIM) with outside community physicians involved, they may be included to provide a consultative input role that offers thoughts apropos of care and quality (e.g. population health initiatives, etc.). The PAC then provides input to some sort of nimble (e.g. “small” in size) Executive Committee which may include representation from the PAC, the CEO, COO, CMO, CTO, etc., to work on and resolve the issues.

The feedback then flows back through to clinicians via the PAC.

Figure 2: Large Health System, with diverse subspecialty representation

In a larger health/hospital system, the PAC might have an expanded multi-specialty representation and may be larger in membership/construct. The system may have one physician representing each specialty who serves as a conduit for his or her specialty constituency. For instance, a system might have a cardiologist who is the lead for the other cardiologists to ensure that their specialty-specific needs are addressed. The cardiology lead might then serve on the PAC or report up the concerns of the “cardiology section.” These issues would then be addressed by the PAC. (Remember, this construct does not limit or hinder provider access to the administrative offices and/or the CEO. It simply provides a structured method to obtain and deploy input from clinicians.)

Ideally, representation as either the “section lead” or on the PAC should be voted on by peers. This engenders greater support and commitment from other physicians. That said, the “section lead” should be a leader, not an antagonist. A representative with an axe to grind for some 10-year-old grievance (real or imagined) does no service to the organization and is counterproductive. Only honest brokers out for the betterment of the organization and their constituents need apply.

This model is scalable based on the number of constituencies. As with the small group model, a well-defined scope of authority should be deployed. In this case, the PAC might be constructed of physicians of differing specialties due to the diversity of specialization/sub-specialization within the system. The PAC receives input and provides feedback to the employed physicians. And, as with the small system model, if this is a clinically integrated model (CIM) with outside community physicians involved, they may be included to provide a consultative input role that offers thoughts on care, quality, and continuity of care (e.g. population health initiatives, etc.) throughout the community.

Will creation of a PAC cure all of a health system’s financial and operational woes? Certainly not. But your valued partners can go a long way to flattening the curve and remedying structural deficiencies.

* To read more about Stout’s experience and how we provided a 15 to 1 return on a client’s initial investment by helping them improve on their revenuecycle, download our case study now.

Read other posts by Jeff:

Physician Compensation Value-Based Care Initiatives Bring Disruption

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Spender or Maker. Which kind of healthcare marketer are you?

Photo courtesy of toolstotal.com.

I was recently speaking with a hospital CEO about his views on marketing, and he said “You know, there are two types of marketers – those that spend money and those that make money. I prefer the latter.” Good point, of course. We should all fall into the “maker” category. How can you make sure you do?

Four ways to avoid being categorized as a “spender”:

  • Make data-driven decisions. There’s no better way to position yourself as a maker than using data to determine where and how to best utilize your marketing resources. Data can make the difference between doing what the “loudest voice in the room” blindly dictates and truly pinpointing the way you as a marketer can bring in volume and the best payer mix. Also, use data to set attainable goals—how much volume is realistic to anticipate, and in what timeframe? If stealing market share is necessary, where will it come from and how much? Which leads to my next point.
  • Track everything against goal. Once you’ve used data to identify your best course of action and set goals for your marketing effort, track everything. Everything. In addition to volume and market share (which can take a good bit of time to actually gather), key performance indicators (KPIs) can quickly tell you how well your conversion funnel is performing. Calls, clicks, form fills, online appointments, and other KPIs are absolutely essential to watch closely during the course of your campaign. This also allows you to adjust as needed if the funnel is not converting as well as anticipated.
  • Use a CRM platform. If you’re one of the last marketing leaders out there without a CRM platform, get one. Now. I’m not recommending one over the others; there are several really good CRMs out there. It all comes down to the quality of your account team, in my experience, so demand the best. It can really make a difference in how well you and your team use the technology behind CRM to create vey effective, very efficient campaigns. And, you can show your results from a data-driven perspective. Which again leads to my next point.
  • Report your results. How will others know you’re a maker—not a spender—if you don’t share your results? The key is to make your reporting format as easy to understand as possible. Infographics are always king, but also have the hard data available for those who prefer it. And do this on a regular basis. Share it more frequently with senior leaders and don’t forget to let other levels of the organization know how well their marketing dollars are working for them. Because you’re a maker.
  • I hope these tips are helpful to you in either affirming what you’re already doing or giving you some things to consider working into your marketing program. It can be easy for marketing to be left out of C-suite discussions, and it’s so critical that we’re there so we can provide our best service to the organization. Spenders don’t get a seat at the table. Makers do.

    Read other posts by Janice:

    Process Transformation: a Way to Reduce Cost, Improve Quality, etc. etc. etc.

    Your Healthcare Marketing Plan: What’s Missing?

    Connect with us on LinkedIn, join our Active Network Program and look at the other areas of connection we offer.

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    Your Healthcare Marketing Plan: What’s Missing?

    Everyone knows that the foundation of a good healthcare marketing plan is a focus on where an organization is trying to maintain and grow market share, and where the opportunities lie for expanding reach and volume. And, hopefully, it is based on a solid strategic plan with immediate and long-term goals. But often, there are a number of key sections that are left out—overlooked elements that can move a good marketing plan to excellence, taking advantage of all the layers of outreach in a healthcare marketer’s virtual toolkit. I offer six to consider below.

    Six Sections Often Left Out of a Healthcare Marketing Plan

    1. Internal Communications. First off, internal audiences can help reinforce your key messages and themes. But only if you take the time to engage them. Employees, physicians, and volunteers want to “get it” and be included. Include a section that focuses on doing just that.
    2. Media Relations. Why not strategically incorporate earned media into your plan to help reinforce your key themes in an instantly credible way? Take control of your media outreach so that it supports what you’re working to achieve through paid channels.
    3. Community Outreach and Sponsorships. Your organization probably does a lot to give back to the community and support important local initiatives. Some of this can be incorporated into your plan to support service line and program messaging. Think about how to promote your outreach while promoting your key marketing goals, without being too self-serving. It can be very powerful.
    4. Payer Strategy. Healthcare marketers don’t often think about payers, but we should. As the major conduit for reimbursement, you want payers to know your organization has a positive reputation and strong consumer demand. This can be leveraged during contract negotiations. Consider how to target payers with your messaging in ways that are relevant and memorable.
    5. Niche Targeting. Depending on your market, you may have the opportunity to message to a number of cultural niche audiences—Hispanic, African American, Asian, etc. Where appropriate, in-language marketing can be very favorably received. Experiential marketing can be incorporated to engage these audiences in ways that are meaningful to them, bringing them closer to your brand.
    6. Consumer Engagement. Lastly, think of how you can engage consumers when they aren’t in need of your services. Done well, these efforts can actually build your brand much more effectively than a multi-media service line or image campaign. Think of how you can interact with consumers in ways that support your brand and provide value—outside the typical provider-patient relationship.

    Take out your marketing plan and reflect on whether any of these sections are missing, and how you might incorporate them to bring greater value to your organization. As marketers, that’s our responsibility. I’d love to hear from you on how you utilize these ideas, as well as any additional thoughts you might have.

    Read other posts by Janice:

    Process Transformation: a Way to Reduce Cost, Improve Quality, etc. etc. etc.

    Your Healthcare Marketing Plan: What’s Missing?

    Connect with us on LinkedIn, join our Active Network Program and look at the other areas of connection we offer.

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    Process Transformation – A Way to Reduce Cost, Improve Quality, Etc., Etc., Etc.

    “Gary Skarke is an expert in the area of transformation. His company’s success, for the most part, has been outside of healthcare but has touched healthcare on a small scale. As we all know, healthcare is going through a significant transformation and most of what he will share in the article below aligns well with what is happening in the healthcare industry today."

    This is the third article in a series of articles focusing on the many types of transformation his company has helped other organizations navigate successfully and how these same situations are occurring within healthcare today.” – Jim Wiederhold

    Click here to read the first and second article.

    Process transformation focuses on making major changes to the activities and tasks (the how) by which the organization delivers its products and/or services. A core process (i.e., one that adds value to the customer) might be inquiry to order, order to cash, or product line development. Tools used to transform processes frequently includes business process reengineering, process redesign, Six Sigma, Lean or other quality related tools.

    A global software manufacturer reduced the cost to process a customer order from $800 to $125. Sales reps saved an average of two hours a week (7% improvement) contacting customers by phone. The CEO said, “Sales reps tell me the time they used to spend putting together sales forecasts now spend that time on strategies to make that forecast a reality.” Initially, the client was frustrated because they spent several months analyzing the “as is” order process and the team was totally unmotivated. Their over analysis was paralyzing them. They quickly re-energized when they shifted to redesigning the “to be” process.

    In healthcare, organizations are compelled to improve their treatments, eliminate non, value-added tasks, reduce wait time and cost, treat more patients -- while improving quality and patient outcomes. Such dramatic improvements can generally only be achieved and sustained with a rigorous and aggressive process improvement effort.

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    Three Reasons Why Healthcare Marketing is Different

    In this time of ever-intensified focus on consumerism in marketing and the comparative lack of it in healthcare, hiring managers sometimes think of recruiting marketing executives outside of the industry to fill healthcare marketing roles. They want to bring learnings in from other industries, like hospitality, financial institutions, and retail – which is a great idea. However, I would suggest hiring an excellent healthcare marketing leader who understands this notion and can reach out to SMEs in other industries for insights and advice, then bring that intel back to the healthcare system and incorporate it strategically.

    Why? Because healthcare marketing is different. How? Read on.

    1. Physicians. While the marketing programs for most industries focus on either B2B or B2C, and others a combination of both, healthcare includes those plus a couple more: B2P (P=physicians) and P2P. Physicians are the actual conduit for the work. Without them, hospitals, ERs, surgery centers, and even other physicians can’t survive. While healthcare marketers must focus attention on consumers and employers, they must also be savvy in understanding how and when to promote physicians (within regulatory guidelines – which are tangled), as well as how and when to market to them for referral purposes. There are a lot of audiences, layers, and regulations.
    2. Payers. While physicians are the conduits for the work, payers are the conduit for reimbursement, in most cases – not the consumer or the employer. This adds another audience to consider from a reputation and consumer demand perspective. And there are different types of payers – governmental and commercial – with different outlooks and expectations, to some degree. So while we’re targeting consumers, employers, and physicians we must keep in mind that one of our goals is to be on the top of the heap in terms of positive reputation and consumer preference – from a payer’s perspective. There’s a lot more than marketing that makes that happen, but marketers need to message around this – very strategically.
    3. Long tail sales cycle. Patience is a virtue, and it’s absolutely essential in healthcare marketing. While retail marketers know immediately if their latest marketing effort is working, healthcare marketers usually don’t. We can watch KPIs like click throughs, calls, form fills and the like, but the actual medical procedure typically takes weeks or even months to occur. This would frustrate marketers who don’t understand the healthcare sales cycle. It’s important to understand this on the front end of a marketing effort so that appropriate expectations can be set, and accurate forecasting can be done.

    For those reasons, leaders should focus on finding healthcare marketing experts who understand the importance of looking at other industries for ideas, and also deeply understand the nuances of the industry. It is possible to find a marketer who can bridge the gap, but it is rare. More often it becomes a costly experiment that can set the organization back. And no one wants that! Be smart. There are some very talented healthcare marketing leaders out there who get it.

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    A Case of Stinking Thinking?

    Are you or anyone you know suffering from an advanced case of “stinking thinking”, as Zig Ziglar would call it? Quick, you must do something about it! Do not get stuck in the vicious cycle of misery motivation as misery loves company. Here are some simple tactics that can help:

    • Research supports that the first significant encounter of the day impacts the rest of the day, more than 4 encounters combined in the rest of the day. Start your day with positive, relaxing or energizing activities and stay away from experiences or people that are negative triggers. You cannot avoid them, but knowing that they sap your energy, you need to ensure that they are not at the beginning of your day.
    • Self-talk is proven to lead to a winning attitude. May feel a little weird but it works! Your brain needs positive stimulation in terms of encouragement and who better to do it than you. The Pygmalion Effect or self-fulfilling prophecy is equally true when applied to yourself.
    • If you do not enjoy self-talk, have a wish box. Write down notes or desires or wishes that you want to come true. Every night or morning take a quick look at them, so you are reiterating them to yourself. The power of repetition cannot be underestimated.
    • Eyes are a window to your soul! You cannot consistently perform in a manner that is inconsistent with how you see yourself. So, work on your self-image. You must be your biggest advocate and promote yourself. Be aware of your strengths, leverage them and work on your areas for improvement. Set simple goals for yourself so you view progress and that enhances your self-confidence.
    • Attitude is a discipline - it teaches you obedience and enhances your leadership abilities. We all look up to role models that inspire us with their attitude as well as actions. Positive thinking has its limitations I agree. You cannot do everything just with an attitude perhaps, but you can surely do everything better than you can with a negative attitude.
    • Change your lens. Do not be a fault finder. Find the good in things or people. Use appreciative inquiry when you interact with others. You cannot control what others do or say but you can choose how to react or be proactive and choose how you let other people in.
    • Get your neurotransmitters to do the work! Dopamine, serotonin, epinephrine and endorphins are known to physiologically boost your “emotions”. Learn more about how you can help yourself release these and build that into your routine. Physical exercise is one easy way, but everyone’s body and life circumstances are different so find what works for you.
    • Attitude of gratitude. The healthiest of all emotions is gratitude. It is very easy to let one negative encounter or one aspect of our life or work that is not working in our favor to influence everything else. Make a gratitude list and look at it often. On better still, think of one thing that you are grateful for at the start of each day. For every reason that you find to be miserable, I guarantee you can find at least 2-3 to celebrate, you just need to look!
    • Give it all you got! I tell students that I mentor, don’t have too many options. Although prudence suggests having a backup plan, it dilutes your efforts and attention. Data supports that immigrants are 4 times more likely to become millionaires in America. Why is that? As an immigrant, it is the unwavering persistence and the commitment to excel and not having many options that has driven me consistently. Now your goal doesn’t have to become a millionaire but regardless push yourself to your limits and see how your destiny unfolds!

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    Your business’ future lies in an abundant strategy – not in scarcity

    In Abundance: The Future is Better Than You Think by Peter H. Diamandis and Steven Kotler, the authors make the point that technological developments and continuing innovation will bring to the world a future of abundance rather than scarcity, of increasing prosperity rather than increasing poverty. I believe that they are right so long as we can maintain freedom in general, free markets in particular, reasonable levels of taxation and relative peace throughout the world. As I pondered on the ideas they presented, it occurred to me that a business leader needs to have an abundance mindset in strategic development. An overall scarcity strategy cannot bring a strong and bright future to an organization. We cannot simply cut and slash our way into growth and prosperity. Nor can we simply spend our way into growth and prosperity. An abundance strategy is one of tremendous value generation.

    My wife and I built a home using a general contractor who builds custom, luxury homes. I commented to him one day that it had occurred to me that there are three types of people who buy a custom home:

    1. Maximum WOW! These buyers do not care how much it cost. They want to upstage everyone else at any cost.
    2. Maximum value. Value is defined as quality divided by cost. These buyers are willing to spend more money if they get a good return on their investment relative to their experience living in the home and to their resale value.
    3. Maximum value. Value is defined as quality divided by cost. These buyers are willing to spend more money if they get a good return on their investment relative to their experience living in the home and to their resale value.

    I told him that I thought that he could build homes for wow buyers and value buyers, but he could not build a home for an economy buyer to which he agreed.

    At first glance we may be tempted to see a maximum wow strategy as an abundance strategy, but maximum wow and maximum economy are both scarcity strategies. Both strategies are low value generation strategies, and low value generation will sooner or later lead to scarcity. In maximum wow the cost is too high relative to the quality generated. In maximum economy the cost is low, but the quality generated is too low relative to that cost. The abundance future is in high value generation that comes in a maximum value strategy.

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    Changes to the Wiederhold & Associates Team

    We wanted to make you aware of some changes to the Wiederhold & Associates team. Please see our announcement below.

    Mitali Paul, MHA, MBA, FACHE, who has been with Wiederhold & Associates almost four years, recently accepted an opportunity to step back into a hospital executive role. As of August 1st, she will be the CEO of a brand new inpatient rehabilitation hospital scheduled to open in Fall 2018. While we will miss her and her contributions to Wiederhold, we are sure you join us in wishing her much success in her new role. Mitali will continue as a trusted advisor to our organization moving forward.

    Chris Ekrem, MBA, FACHE, has come on-board as Vice President of Business Development and Operations for Wiederhold & Associates. Chris brings two decades of hospital administration experience in healthcare operations, management and financial leadership. He led highly successful business development projects during his tenure in operations and administrative leadership roles at community hospitals, academic medical centers and Critical Access Hospitals in Texas and Kansas. Chris began his career as a financial analyst at Florida Hospital in Orlando, Florida, and expanded his skill set through project manager and decision-support positions before advancing to the C-suite in roles as a Chief Operating Officer (Kansas) and a Chief Executive Officer (Texas). Most recently, he was Vice President at Tyler and Company; a retained healthcare executive search firm in Atlanta, Georgia.

    Chris earned his Bachelor of Business Administration in Finance from Baylor University in Waco, Texas and his Master of Business Administration from the University of Redlands in Redlands, California. He holds a board certification in healthcare management as a Fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives (FACHE). In addition to his long-standing membership in ACHE, Chris also has been active in state healthcare leadership as a Texas Hospital Association Leadership Fellows graduate and as a Kansas Hospital Association Leadership Institute graduate.

    Chris is very passionate about helping people in transition, delivering excellent customer service, and mentoring healthcare executives throughout their journey. In his free time, Chris enjoys teaching high school students about personal finance for Junior Achievement and mentoring early careerists through ACHE in Tennessee/ Georgia. Chris is married to Lindsey, his best friend, a busy mother of two, and a highly skilled nurse. He also tries to keep up with his enthusiastic two-year-old son, Grayson and six-year-old daughter, Brianna.

    Thank you,

    Jim Wiederhold

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    Confidence

    With confidence, you have won before you have started - Marcus Garvey

    As we continue to explore successful attributes, another imperative soft skill is confidence. Confidence is having faith in your own skills and abilities. It is an attribute difficult to measure, but its absence hardly goes unnoticed. Why is confidence so important? Confidence is attractive. Charismatic people tend to exude confidence. Confidence can help you harness your inner potential. Research supports that confident people accomplish more. It has the power to help you overcome challenging situations, take risks, and handle curveballs thrown at you. Confidence helps you establish trust with people and engage them. It makes you appear more competent and helps you win the respect of others. Dr. Ivan Joseph, a professional soccer coach admits that throughout his career he recruited his players not based on their talent – how high they could kick the ball, or how fast they could run or the team spirit they displayed, but on their self-confidence. He believes that everything else is a coachable skill or trait. Tedx Ryerson University

    You can display self-assuredness or lack thereof it in more ways than most people are aware of. How you present yourself, your gait, tone of voice, the words you use, non-verbal cues, interpersonal skills, relationships, even your online or social media presence can paint an image of your confidence level. All these aspects create your “presence”. A limp handshake, lack of eye contact, shifty movements, slouched posture, and excessive use of “I think”, “ums” and “ahs” are some common faux pas to watch for. Non-verbal cues are important expressions of power dominance. It governs how other people think and feel about you. You can influence other people’s reactions by exhibiting confidence. People tend to focus more on the delivery than the message itself. Hence, this can be a powerful tool in controlling how people view and react to you.

    Have you met someone and wondered how they landed that deal or got the job they have? I know I have many times. If it wasn’t relationships or networking that got them that far, it was their confidence and most likely their confidence played a very significant role in their relationships.

    Charisma is not the same as confidence but we all gravitate towards charismatic leaders. Another reason confidence is important is that appearing confident augments your charisma. Have you ever been in a room where one person’s presence dominated the room? They seemed to captivate their audience and drew people in with such ease. John Antonakis, an organizational behavior expert, suggests that charisma can be practiced as a skill utilizing verbal and non-verbal tactic. And once you grow your charisma and connect with more people, your confidence will inevitably be boosted. How to Read and Predict People

    Confidence is like a bank account - you must make deposits to have a balance available for withdrawals. You must draw from various sources so not to deplete your funds. Just like a diverse investment portfolio that minimizes risk, you need to have different buckets that you gain confidence from. Identify your buckets and keep them replenished. Recharge your batteries…success is just around the corner!

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    Strategy Transformation – A New Business Model for a Rapidly Changing Industry

    ‘Gary Skarke is an expert in the area of transformation. His company’s success, for the most part, has been outside of healthcare but has touched healthcare on a small scale. As we all know, healthcare is going through a significant transformation and most of what he will share in the article below aligns well with what is happening in the healthcare industry today.

    This is the second article in a series of articles focusing on the many types of transformation his company has helped other organizations navigate successfully and how these same situations are occurring within healthcare today.” – Jim Wiederhold

    Click here to read the first article.

    Strategy transformation focuses on developing and implementing a new strategy to respond to competitive pressures. One global company needed to grow revenue and profitability and their strategy was to expand their business model to sell not just products but also services. Previously, they sold software products and relied on customers to implement – but customers could not always implement successfully. So, the company made a strategic decision to get into the services business. The company realized they did not have the processes, skills, behaviors, metrics or culture to be successful in that new business model. “We don’t ever interact with the customer and our people do not have the skillsets to successfully interact with customers either.” Typically, such changes require five years. Given the urgency of the situation, the company went on a fast track implementation program. Based on the strategy Playbook for the first year and then three years, the company had a roadmap for making the significant transitions required. At the end of year three, our audit determined the company achieved the business results as well as operational results of doubling revenues and increasing profitability by 30%.

    In the U.S healthcare industry, organizations similarly must have dynamic strategies to determine how to maneuver the changing regulatory and legislative landscape and then quickly and successfully implement that strategy, while ensuring a focus on patient centered care and value. Legislation is changing the way healthcare providers do business but cannot negatively impact delivery of healthcare services to patients. As a result, organizations are trying to merge or acquire other providers in the healthcare chain, such as CVS acquiring a health insurance company, pharmacies (both stand alone and grocery-store based) provide clinic services, and healthcare systems are formed to take advantage of economies of scale and increased market share. Given the short time horizon, it is even more critical to have flexible strategies with expedited implementation to ensure results are achieved before the next wave of changes occur.

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    How to be Intentional every day

    The word intentionality or intentional has become very popular over the last couple of years. Hopefully, the meaning of the word will not be dumbed down to the point of being overused and ineffective.

    Intentional- Done on purpose, deliberate

    Intentionality- The fact of being deliberative and purposive

    I embraced this word almost two years ago and it has become a very important part of my vocabulary and ultimately -- my success.

    I attach intentionality to nearly everything I do. Whether it be choosing what to eat for breakfast or looking at my schedule for the day, in that moment, I am focused on giving the best of me and intentionally becoming hyper-focused and in-the-moment.

    Here are some ideas that apply not just to career transition but also to you in your everyday interactions.

    1. Be focused on your interactions. Any interaction, whether on the personal or business side, I make a conscious effort to bring some level of value to the interaction. I don’t just pull this out of the sky, I think about it before the interaction actually takes place. However, this does not mean I have to control the conversation. Even when all my plans fall by the wayside, I can be a very intentional listener and that will always bring value to the conversation.
    2. Minimize multitasking. Make the most of your day with “zones.” I am intentional about getting the most out of each and every day. I utilize the concept of zones. Setting my calendar up this way allows me to reach proficiency in one task before moving onto the next zone. I relate it to running because in the beginning, you’re not very efficient, but as you proceed you reach the highest level of efficiency in your stride and breathing with the least amount of energy. However, eventually you will start to tire and you will lose that efficiency. It is at this point that I move into the next zone. I do not allow, as much as possible, outside disturbances to distract me while I am in that zone and I do not engage in multitasking. I am very much in the moment.
    3. Find balance in your daily routine. After many years, I’ve come to realize that three things must be in balance in my life in order for me to be at my best. They are sleep, diet, and exercise. When these are not in alignment, I don’t make the best decisions, nor do I ask the best questions. On days when I’m out of balance, I will minimize my contact with people and not make any major decisions. Even this is intentional. We all have off days. Overall, I am very intentional about keeping these in balance. It’s not just being aware of the need for this balance, but taking action and creating the best, most intentional you.

    Intentionality has a great deal do with preparation. Without preparation, how can we really be intentional? Without preparation, how successful can we be? Let us not fly by the seat of our pants, let us be purposeful about what we do, mindful about how we live and what value we have to offer in each and every moment.


    Join the WIN (Wiederhold Intentional Network)!

    The main purpose of the Wiederhold Intentional Network is to take networking from the typical shotgun approach to the rifle approach.

    1. You will expand your network with little effort on a consistent ongoing basis with individuals at a similar level.
    2. You will gain industry intelligence from these key interactions.
    3. Most important, you will give back to others as a resource and a catalyst.
    4. It's free!

    Contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to join or click here for more information!

    Connect with us on LinkedIn, join our Active Network Program and look at the other areas of connection we offer.

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    Grit = Passion + Persistence

    When we talk about attributes or “soft” skills that play an important role in determining success, grit is somewhat of an unknown. Recently I was introduced to Angela Lee Duckworth’s TED talk about her research on “grit” as a predictor of success in work and life. The dictionary defines grit as “courage and resolve; strength of character”. When you think about successful leaders – having a values-based character, a strong passion for and commitment towards a vision, and the resilience to achieve it, is what stands out. Your professional journey is a marathon and not a race. To be in it for the long haul is success (not just achieving the milestones along the way), and it takes more than just talent or intelligence. Passion can drive you to graduate school or to innovate and start a company, but it is perseverance that will help you succeed and thrive. Can grit alone get you there? Probably not, but lack of grit surely will not!

    It involves staying steadfast on your path, overcoming failures and viewing challenges as opportunities to grow, regardless of the effort involved. It involves risk, sacrifice, sincerity and self-control. It takes deliberate practice and intentional strategy. As Lincoln said “If I had 8 hours to chop down a tree, I would spend 6 of those hours sharpening my axe. “

    Grit is a fascinating word for me personally. I have always appreciated passion and perseverance but to find a word that can articulate both of those significant qualities together is delivering a power packed punch! So, as you take on that next challenge in your personal or professional life, ask yourself if you have the grit to see it through. If you don’t, work on changing your mindset first. And if you do, success should follow…

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    Hard-wiring Your "Soft" Skills

    We all know that the secret sauce to success is having the right ingredients of skills, knowledge and abilities. Skills and knowledge can be gained through educational training, work experience and mastery through practice. The abilities often revolve around the “soft” skills you possess. One definition sums it up for me – “Soft skills are the personal attributes, personality traits, inherent social cues, and communication abilities needed for success on the job. Soft skills characterize how a person interacts in his or her relationships with others.” (Source: The Balance)

    Why are these skills important? Have you met a highly qualified and brilliant person who may be struggling in their career? Well, chances are that their EQ (emotional quotient) may not be as high as their IQ (intelligence quotient). Teamwork, communication, leadership, listening, negotiation, self-promotion, critical thinking, conflict management, innovation, flexibility, emotional regulation, persuasion - the list maybe endless depending upon your professional niche. But these skills help you better utilize your technical skills and be more effective and competent in what you do. Lack of these skills can also be “derailers” to your success. We spend years sharpening our “hard” skills through school and continuing education, certifications etc. But not enough attention is paid to investing in cultivating the soft skills which are much harder to master but can really differentiate you in a highly competitive market. Although some of these abilities maybe innate, most of them can be developed through awareness and deliberate practice.

    Through heightened emotional intelligence, you can learn how to balance the rational and limbic systems in your brain and enhance your personal and social competence. The four core skills of emotional intelligence are – self-awareness, self-management, social awareness and relationship management. As you advance through the various domains, the soft skills become easier to master. The first step is to identify key skills that are necessary for success in your chosen field. You can do this by reviewing “job descriptions” for positions like yours, speaking with role models, mentors, industry stalwarts. The next step is a self- evaluation exercise to help you identify which of these skills you possess and how strong they are and, which skills are areas for opportunity. There are several tools out there that can be used like Myers-Briggs, DiSC, Stengthfinders, Hogan Leadership Assessment, Leadership Circle Profile 360. You can also work with a coach on this and the next step. The final step is reviewing the assessment results and laying out an action plan to address the gaps and strategize on improvement. Behavioral change takes time and baby steps will help you get there.

    Over a series of blogs, we will explore several of these skills that can magnify your success, both personally and professionally. Stay tuned!

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    How to make the hiring manager believe you are the best candidate for the job

    As a job-seeker, one of our biggest pitfalls is failing to align ourselves properly with the position. Simply put, we use our language and not their language, otherwise known as the wording used within the job description. Your accomplishments and job experiences may fulfill all they are asking for and then some, but if you fail to communicate it in the organization’s words, your cover letter and resume are likely to get tossed aside and overlooked.

    How to properly align your cover letter and resume with the job description.

    1. Read it. It may sound basic, but so many people don’t truly read. As you read it, highlight key responsibilities or recurring elements throughout the description. These are “their words” or the phrases that you need to use in your cover letter and resume.
    2. Next, tweak your cover letter and resume to include those critical elements. Use your existing accomplishments to support their words. Often it helps to use their language as headers and even bold them, creating a bulleted list of your accomplishments beneath it. Your goal is to make it as easy as possible for them to see you are aligned perfectly for the position, even if you do not have the typical background.
    3. Also important is to close your cover letter with a short paragraph showing you identify with the mission and culture of the organization. You may or may not be able to glean this from the job description. If you can’t, do further research online and through your own network connections.

    Aligning yourself with the job description may give you the edge you are looking for, effectively separating yourself from the competition. It also sends the message to the hiring manager that you have given their position thoughtful consideration by taking the time to cater to their organization specifically. You can bet this personal touch is noted and appreciated.

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