Attracting Experienced Applicants for Coding Positions

Attracting Experienced Applicants for Coding Positions

Tune in to this monthly online coding column, facilitated by AHIMA’s coding experts, to learn about challenging areas and documentation opportunities for ICD-10-CM/PCS.

By Elena Miller, MPH, RHIA, CCS


Your coding positions have been posted for months. You have been receiving applications, just not very many from experienced coders. Why not? Everyone can’t be happy with their current employer, right?

Here are some ideas on why experienced coders may not be applying for your positions and how to attract them.

They aren’t seeing your job postings.

Many coders that have been in the industry for some time are spoiled when it comes to the job search. Our profession is blessed to have specialized recruiters whose sole purpose is to match qualified HIM candidates with employers. Over the years, companies have cut back on the use of outside recruitment services. Yet, that experienced coder may have been out of job-seeking mode for some time. They may share their resume with a recruiter, then sit back and wait. If your organization is not using an outside recruitment service, then it needs to be very convenient for job seekers to find your job posting. Remember—experienced coding professionals are most likely already employed, so your job posting needs to “come to them.” It needs to be in a place where they can see multiple postings at the same time, such as on LinkedIn, in AHIMA resources, etc. They are not necessarily going out to individual hospital websites and searching for open positions.

Your job posting isn’t clear.

The experienced coder knows what they bring to the table and most likely knows exactly what they are looking for. Say you’re hoping to find a candidate with a coding educator skill set, but you’ve posted a senior coder position. Or maybe you’re looking for an inpatient coder but your job title says coding specialist; and you’ve included both inpatient and outpatient duties in the job description. An experienced coder that wants to be a coding educator is most likely not going to apply for a senior coder position thinking that it may involve production coding and someone that only wants to do inpatient coding may not apply for a job that includes outpatient coding in the job posting. The job posting is all the information that an external candidate has regarding your opportunity. You won’t have the chance to explain the actual duties if the candidate doesn’t apply for the position.

Your application is too long.

This one may be out of your hands, but no one wants to spend 45 minutes uploading information to apply for a job. If there is a way for the candidate to email their resume or click a button to apply and include a resume, then they will be more likely to do that. Once a connection has been made and you both want to proceed with an interview, the candidate wouldn’t mind taking the time to complete the application. Again, remember that an experienced candidate is most likely already employed and may be more tempted to apply if it will only takes a few minutes.

You aren’t selling your company.

Everything is such a secret when it comes to the hiring process. People want to know what you are offering. Do you provide free CEUs and paid professional memberships? Those are things that are important to coders and may give your company an edge over the competition. These benefits should be included in whatever advertising format is used for the job posting.

They don’t know that you hire out of state candidates or that you allow your coders to work remotely.

It’s not a given that companies allow their coders to work remotely. If you allow it, it should be stated in the posting. Is there a probationary period when they need to be onsite, or are they allowed to work remotely from day one? Is the position 100 percent remote? There are a lot of organizations that hire coders from all over the country, but many only hire locally. If you don’t mention that you hire out of state, how would a candidate know? This information also needs to be in the job posting.

Take action.

If any of these situations sound familiar, it might be time to take a look at your job postings and evaluate if there is anything that you can change to make your positions more attractive to experienced candidates.


Elena Miller is the director of coding audit and education at a healthcare system.

Leave a comment


  1. As with any industry, there are an abundance of “horror stories” when it comes to the management and overall support of the coding profession. Given the topic of the article however, we would be better served in speaking to the issue of finding that experienced coder and creating an inviting opportunity in order to enhance the recruitment process. First and foremost, you really must identify the stakeholders in the process. There is obviously HIM Management who have identified the need and gotten the approval to recruit; who else is a stakeholder in the process? – it is always beneficial to get input from other impacted departments/individuals.

    Next comes the task of providing the right information to the internal recruiter which may be more challenging than one would think. Recruiters seek a wide variety of talent – not just coders; therefore it is critical to provide them with the right information. What is the position you are recruiting for? – if it is a specific role, whether production-driven or not, the job description must be specific to the position being posted. Job requisitions tend to be a catch-all document; be sure to identify the top 3-5 things that you are looking for in the right candidate. Be emphatic with the recruiter that these are your “must haves”. Lastly, in this tech-driven world, if you are willing to accept remote workers, make sure this is clearly stated – up front – in your job posting.

    Having had several HIM colleagues in the job hunt over the last two years, these are the recurring themes from potential job seekers:
    1. No one ever gets back to me when I submit an application or my resume.
    2. I spoke to a recruiter but I get the distinct impression that they had no clue about the position and clearly did not understand what my skill set is.
    3. Due to a variety of issues, I am presently only interested in remote positions. The job posting did not say one way or the other if remote work was a possibility.
    4. The recruiter could not speak to any benefits related to payment of annual AHIMA/AAPC dues, continuing education opportunities, ability to attend industry learning/networking events, tuition reimbursement.
    5. I completed a coding assessment test and was told my score but was not given the opportunity to review the test. I am not looking to challenge the grade necessarily but would like to know if there are areas that I need to brush up on.

    Lastly, there is a massive coder grapevine and outsource coding companies especially need to be aware of their industry reputation. When coders look for that new opportunity, they need to feel comfortable making that choice based on their perception that this is a permanent position. Coding companies that go on a massive hiring campaign because they are going to be getting a huge contract need to rethink how they recruit. Advertising for full-time coders only to have a contract issue that impacts either the volume or other aspects of the Scope of Work (SOW) and then putting said coders on the bench and eventually (sometimes as little as 15 days after volume drops off) terminating the coder due to lack of work does nothing to improve your reputation.

    Bottom line is, if you have given your recruiter the right information and your organization has the right reputation, the right coder is out there. You just have to have the right approach to reach them.

  2. I am a retired inpatient coder. When I worked it was insane how the coding department was run. I hired on and was promised to work only with RHIA’s in the inpatient coding setting. But I missed the fact that my boss hated coding and did none of it well. How can inpatient coding succeed with a boss like that? The boss only had a two year degree and HIT credential!!! That is like an LPN running the RNs. Does not work. Next the coding manager had no degree and no coding credentials. Imagine that we had a complex coding problem entailing complex rules. We needed guidance as to how to go about coding it the right way the first time! Where is the leadership in this situation? We didn’t have it with those outsourced managers. Then the place trained a “coder” without a degree in HIM to be over us as a team leader. I am retired now thank goodness.

  3. Companies are determining whether or not to except experience coder by annual salary, which is one of the filing requirement asked by company to list on application.
    What annual salary will you except, which is stated when applying for the job, “what annual salary are you looking for: $30,000-60,000, 60,000-80,000, etc. Coding jobs for experience coders are $25.00 – 32.00 Hourly, because US companies outsource to other countries. Transcription was outsource for 10 years to India, which cause experience transcriptionist to lose their jobs, after 10 years of outsource jobs and very few US experience transcriptionist left in USA. India could not do as well of a job as US experienced transcriptionist, so jobs came back to US. But there were few or none experienced transcriptionist available, so now courses to study Transcription is available, after completing courses, the position will be entry level transcriptionist in US.. The same will play out for experience Coders. Hospitals and physicians should consider there will be a backlash on jobs in America. Now we have CDI, assisting Physician to document Medical Record which will help coders quality and accuracy. When a coder complete a coding Course and pass CCS, this is an entry level coder, this is where experience semi-retired or retired coder can be hired as mentors. The Healthcare companies believes that ICD-9 experience coders are now entry level coder since ICD-10-CM/PCS, We have the coding experience which is something that a new CCS coder doesn’t have and CDI-RN’s with clinical knowledge can be a partnership with an experience coder vs entry level coder. Remote Coding for US coders are very much needed for experience coders. Does companies believe that since transitioning to ICD-10, there are no more experience coders? Instead of an Inpatient Auditor Certification when ICD-10 was implemented, a software was put in place for Facility auditors only and not for experience coders to improve accuracy. AAPC has an outpatient certification(CPMA) which an experience outpatient coder can improve coding accuracy. Coders are overseers for reimbursement for the Hospital and Physician, Physicians and RN’s are Clinical beings, where as the Coder ethics assures that “if it is not documented in the Medical Record, it is not coded. Keep Hospitals (CFO/Directors and Physicians on there toes. There is no cheating. So their solution will be to down grade coders, we had to much power.

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