Monday, January 30, 2012

Shrunken Terminology ~ Know Your Acronyms

Most of us have heard the story of the woman that sent a text to family members informing them of the death of a loved one and then ended the text with "LOL"... assuming that acronym meant "Lots Of Love".  (for those of you that are still 20 years behind on tech/abbreviated communication, LOL = laughing out loud)  I question her method of choice when informing others of a relatives passing more than her lack of knowledge when it comes to text-speak, but lets move on.  When reviewing a teenager's text history one can become boggled by the new shorthand that has been created since texting and twitter became the #1 form of communication.  Here are just a few examples:
BABY = Being Annoyed By You
WTH = What the Hell?!
CBB = Can't Be Bothered
G2G = Good To Go
IDK = I Don't Know
The acronym trend is growing and some people, mostly age 30 & under are actually starting to speak this way.  Is it due to laziness?  Are we so bombarded by information that we must shorten terms to absorb it all?  Are we in such a hurry that typing or speaking the entire term would be too time consuming?
When it comes to large corporations, using acronyms to shorten terminology has been around for a very long time, the same can be said for government/military terms as well.  Here are a few examples:
CTG = Computer Task Group
HIT or HCIT = Healthcare Information Technology
COB = Close of Business
CEO = Chief Executive Officer
POV = Privately Owned Vehicle
POW = Prisoner Of War
BDU = Battle Dress Uniform

The list goes on and on and on.  The use of acronyms is also abundant in the Healthcare Technology Industry.  Most EMR (there is one example) systems have multiple acronyms that describe specific technology or specific job titles, not to mention the various healthcare acronyms for various areas such as the "OR" (Operating Room) or "ER" (Emergency Room).  When creating a resume or creating an online profile on a social networking site like linkedin it is important to spell out the terminology along with the acronym, or eliminate the acronym all together.  Spell check will not catch incorrect acronyms and often will auto-correct them instead.  For instance, EHR (Electronic Health Record) is often auto-corrected to HER. 
HIMSS (The Health Information & Management Systems Society) has created a booklet with over 2700 Healthcare IT related acronyms and terms which is available for purchase.
In addition, there are many web sites that offer a shortlist, such as: or . 
The rule of thumb should be when in doubt, spell it out!
IOH.  This was JM2C but UGTP, so I'm going to get  a *$ and GB2W!
(I'm out of here,. This was just my two cents but you get the point, so I'm going to get  a starbucks and get back to work)

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Monday, January 23, 2012

On-Boarding Paperwork ~ A Necessary Evil

Whether you are consulting as a salaried full time employee or a W2 contractor or a 1099 contractor there will always be necessary paperwork you must complete as you begin work with a new employer.
The on-boarding paperwork for a 1099 contractor is normally more minimal since you are representing yourself as your own business.  For the purpose of this post, we will only be covering the expected on-boarding paperwork for W2 contractors and salaried FTE. 

Each employer will have specific paperwork that MUST be completed.  Below is a list of the standard documents that must be filled out / signed etc and a brief explanation of their purpose.

Required forms by all employers:

Offer Letter:  Your potential employer should send you a written document (usually via email) that will lay out your pay, responsibilities and job title.  This document will be signed, scanned and emailed back and normally the hard copy will need to be mailed in as well.

I-9 Form:  The I-9 form is a legal document that is required by the government.  It's purpose is to provide employment eligibility verification.  It is used to verify identity and make sure you are eligible to work in the US.  The I-9 form requires you to fill in information and also provide 2 forms of identification (drivers license, SS card, Passport etc) to a 3rd party who will also have to sign the form verifying they reviewed your ID.  Depending on the method in which you will be working, this form might be completed on site and signed by another company representative, or if you are working remotely it may be signed by a notary and then your ID will be copied and emailed or faxed to the employer along with the I-9 form. In some states notaries cannot legally sign the I-9 form, in those cases a separate form will be provided for their signature. The original form and a copy of your ID will also have to be sent via email to the employer.

Various Tax Employee Withholding Forms:  these documents will require an ink signature and the hard copy must be provided to the employer.

Application: The application is used to verify previous employment, to provide references, to specify which position you are applying for (and being hired for) and it is a way of formally showing your intention and interest in employment.  The application is usually completed electronically.

Benefits Form:  (may not apply to all W2 hourly contractors) The standard benefits forms will normally require you to select which benefits are of interest to you and also require your signature.  The variety of benefits available will depend on the employer.  Normally an electronic signature is required for these forms. If you opt out of benefits there will be an "opt out" form to sign.  The benefits forms will also include a 401K form if the company provides one.

Employee Handbook: When beginning new employment you will receive an Employee Handbook that outlines the guidelines that company has in place.  You will be expected to return a signed hard- copy form stating you have received the handbook.  (it is ALWAYS a good idea to read through the handbook)

Additional forms that may be required:

Approval for automated payroll:  Many employers now pay by automatic deposit as opposed to a paper check.  In order for you to receive automated deposits you must fill out a form providing your banking information and also provide a voided check.  The employer will require the hard copies of these documents.

Background check approval: Depending on your line of work a background check may be required.  If it is required you will need to sign a release form allowing the company to run the check.

Drug Screen:  In may industries, particularly the Healthcare industry, drug screens are required prior to hire.  You will need to sign a form and have a drug screen conducted during the on-boarding process.  Some Healthcare positions also require a vaccination record.

Vacation Memo: Some companies have various vacation packages and may require you to sign a form stating that you are receiving a specific amount of vacation time.

Comp Plan: If you will be receiving any type of commission over and above your normal income you will likely have to sign a document that provides a break-down of your commission plan proving that you understand how your commission plan works.

Client Agreement: If you are working for a Consulting Firm or Staffing Firm at one of their client sites it may be necessary to sign a document that lays out the expectations of that client, adhering to their regulations etc while you are actively engaged with them. 

Credit Card Form:  If you are expected to travel for work or entertain clients you may be provided with a company credit card.  Depending on the type of credit card you may be expected to fill out a standard application for credit and the company may also run a credit check.

Electronics Agreement:  If your employer will be providing you with any electronics (cell phone, lap top etc) you will be required to sign a form verifying that you received those items and they were in good condition. (same goes for company cars or other company property you may be using during your employment)

Security Clearance:  If the position you have been offered requires Government Security Clearance you will be expected to provide proof of clearance.

Proof of Certifications: If the position you have been offered requires various certifications, you may be required to provide proof of those certifications.

So why, after going through various stages of interview do you now have to go through tons of paperwork?  I call it the CYA mentality. (cover your ass)  You are CYA to make sure you receive the benefits, commission, vacation you are entitled to, and to make sure that legally you are in the clear in case the IRS comes calling.  The companies also have a vested interest in covering their butts in case for any reason you have misrepresented your qualifications or things do not go well with your new position.  Instead of viewing the on-boarding process as a grueling waste of your time, try to view it as a necessary evil that could potentially protect you in the future.  Fortunately most companies have internal employees that are in place to walk you through each step of the hiring process and make it as painless as possible.

Next time you are rolling your eyes in frustration at yet another piece of paperwork, remember the CYA theory and keep in mind you are not only doing this to comply with company regulations, you're doing it for your own best interest.

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Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Interviewing: What are the Industry Standards?

When beginning the interview process with a candidate I often am asked how many interviews they should expect to go through to be considered for hire or placement.  That is a good question and the answer depends greatly on what type of position you are interviewing for and what type of company you are applying to.  Below are some examples of various interview processes that would be considered industry standards.  Of course, there are always exceptions to the rule.

If you are interviewing with a Consulting Firm:
For Permanent Employment (salaried):  You can expect 3 interviews:  1 with a Recruiter, 1 with a Peer, 1 or more with people from the Executive team.  Your Recruiter should be in regular contact with you to assist you through the process.
For Contract Engagements (W2 hourly or 1099): You can expect at least 4 interviews:  1 with a Recruiter, 1 with a Peer, 1 with an Executive team member and 1 with the client you are being submitted to. Again your Recruiter should be in regular contact with you to assist in the process.

If you are interviewing with a Staffing Agency:
For a Permanent Position at a Healthcare Facility (salaried/internal): You can expect at least 2 interviews:  1 with the Staffing Firm Recruiter and at least 1 with the Healthcare Facility.
For Contract Engagements (W2 hourly or 1099): You can expect at least 1 interview with the staffing agency Recruiter.  Some clients will request to interview, others will just expect the agency to send the best qualified candidate.

If you are interviewing directly with a Healthcare Facility:
For a Permanent Position: You can expect at least 3 interviews:  1 with an internal Recruiter, 1 with a peer and possibly a panel interview* with a few people from the team you will be joining if hired.
For a Contract Position (normally 1099): You can anticipate at least 2 interviews: 1 with an internal Recruiter, and 1 with a Supervisor from the department you would be joining if selected.

Normally when being considered for a permanent / salaried role you will be expected to speak to more people, this is due in part because the company will be investing more time, energy and money into your career and they will want to make sure your qualifications and personality are a good fit for the team you will be joining.  Often times people become exasperated by having to go through multiple interviews.  Keep in mind that when a company hires you, whether it is an agency or firm or healthcare provider... you will be a direct reflection of that company, so they want to make sure they are making a smart hiring decision.  Most professionals want to go to work for a company that makes a commitment to their employees, not one that uses the "Spaghetti Theory" and throws people against the wall to see if some will stick.  More interviews (within reason) allow you to gain valuable information about the company, the people you will be working for and with and the responsibilities you will be expected to handle once on-board. 

For more information on what questions to ask during an interview or tips on phone or Skype interviewing please see my previous posts on those subjects.

*panel interview:  when a group of people from a company all interview the candidate at the same time, usually over the phone.