My Secret Sauce: How to Stand Out in a Sea Full of Interns
March 7, 2017 | Express Scripts
After 15 years of recruiting for positions across a wide variety of industries, my all-time favorite candidate pool has always been interns. A few years ago, when management expressed an interest in growing our internship program at Express Scripts and creating a team specific to hiring university talent, I jumped at the opportunity.
I think a lot of college students are clueless about what they want to do when they graduate, except for the tugging feeling to “make a difference”. That’s where I come in. Talking to students and hiring interns allows me to find their true passions and hone in on their strengths. Being able to guide a student to a new area they’ve never tried, but find they excel in – like Operations or Technology – is when I get the most joy from my job.
Although interns are a great and plentiful candidate pool to recruit for, it’s not always easy for candidates to land an internship position. Competition over internships is fierce. Sometimes your resume isn’t always enough – getting noticed is the key. But how exactly do you make yourself standout in a pile full of resumes? Here’s my secret sauce.
LinkedIn is the New Resume
When I meet a student at a career fair that I find interesting, the first thing I do is pull up their LinkedIn page. Though it’s 2017, you would be shocked at how many students aren’t on LinkedIn – or they may have a profile, but it’s extremely outdated. Not having a rock-solid LinkedIn presence is a HUGE missed opportunity.
LinkedIn allows me to see a more complete person versus just a paper resume. I have a chance to read their elevator pitch in the summary section, easily evaluate a presentation or project they’ve worked on using the rich media content section, or understand their interests based on groups they’ve joined.
Take Phone Screens Seriously
While initial phone screens at Express Scripts are quick – about 30 minutes long – they are crucial in determining if a candidate is a potential right fit. My team and I try to make the interviewee feel comfortable and relaxed, but sometimes we’ve had candidates get a little too comfortable and their filters have gone out the window.
Even if a recruiter is taking a casual tone with you, you should still watch the language you use. Now, this doesn’t mean that you can’t be yourself. Just make sure to watch the ‘yeahs’, ‘craps’, ‘uh-huhs’, and ‘shits’. Oh yes, I’ve heard it all.
Do your Homework
In almost every interview I give, I ask candidates to tell me what they know about Express Scripts. While I don’t expect you to rattle off the results of our latest quarterly earnings or drug trend report, I do expect you to give me something – even if it’s as simple as what industry we are in or the name of our current CEO.
With access to the internet on people’s phones and even watches, it’s never acceptable to say ‘I don’t know’. If you don’t understand the business or how the company makes money, you can say something like, “I saw online that Express Scripts makes formulary recommendations, can you tell me a little bit about how this helps members save money”. This shows you made an effort to research the company and are eager to know more.
Make a Personal Connection
While oftentimes, recruiters are seen as the gatekeepers between you and a new job, we are people first and foremost. I LOVE making a personal connection with the candidates I meet and I appreciate when they make an effort to get to know me and not just the job for which I am recruiting.
This can be as simple as seeing me at a career fair and saying, “oh, I saw on your LinkedIn page that you like 80s music, what’s your favorite band,” to start a conversation. At the end of the day, we all have to work together as people and making a personal connection will make it a bit more enjoyable.
Always Follow Up
Following up is great way to let the recruiter know you enjoyed talking to him, or her, and it reiterates your interest in a position. A quick ‘thank you’ email – sent within 24 hours of the interview – is an easy and stress free way of following up. Handwritten notes, however, are my personal favorite. In today’s digital world, we recruiters don’t get many of these anymore, so we remember when we do.
Additionally, I’ve been asked quite frequently if I find it weird when candidates connect with me on LinkedIn after an interview. My answer is no. In fact, I usually expect it. Now, if they asked to be my friend on Facebook, that’s a different story.
When it comes to internships positions, it’s all about staying top-of-mind.
Allison is a Sr. Manager in University Relations – Talent Acquisition. The mission of University Relations is to identify, attract and retain innovative and diverse career entry talent for Express Scripts.
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Man with a Plan: From Working in the Call Center to Running It
February 28, 2017 | Express Scripts
Rich W., site director of our Patient Care Center in St Marys, Georgia, is a prime example of how to move up the career ladder. Over the years, he worked his way up from an entry-level call center position to a director-level leadership position. Now, he hopes his story will encourage others to strive for the same success he’s had.
Thirteen years ago, Rich joined Medco (which was later acquired by Express Scripts, in 2012) as a patient care advocate in the call center, and he came in with a plan. “I based it on showcasing my talent,” he said. “Every two years, I wanted to be promoted, with the ultimate goal of becoming an executive vice president in the company.”
The first thing Rich did was meet with his supervisor to discuss this plan and start learning the complexities of both the company and the industry. “I read about our competition and where we fit in the market,” he said. “Understanding market realities helped me think at a larger scale and be more strategic in my thinking. I knew I needed to assess the business at all levels. I immersed myself in the business by volunteering to help lead service initiatives in various lines of business across the organization.”
Sticking to his two-year plan, he applied for a call center supervisor role and landed the position. It wasn’t long before he was promoted to senior supervisor, and then manager.
“When I became manager, I came to a crossroads in my career and had to make a decision,” he said. “I could have moved to another department, like the Service Center or Front End Pharmacy, but I chose to stay the course in the call center so I could be an influence for change.”
Rich continued his rise through leadership and was named call center site leader in Las Vegas and site director in Dublin, OH, before assuming his current role as site director in St. Marys.
When asked what advice he has for people who want to follow in his footsteps, he shared three words that are very meaningful to him: Live and learn.
“Everyone has strengths and opportunities, but to be honest, we can’t really do anything on our own,” he said. “We need to gather and use the wisdom and experience from others to help us proceed.”
Additionally, Rich urges others to get out of their comfort zone, be receptive to feedback and be open to new opportunities. “By positioning yourself the best you can, the rest will fall into place,” he shared. “It all starts with a plan.”
Rich is a site director at Express Scripts’ Patient Care Center in St. Marys, GA.
Learn more about opportunities with Express Scripts on our career site.« From Express Scripts to Brazil and Back Again: Creating Opportunity through Meaningful Reporting Relationships| My Secret Sauce: How to Stand Out in a Sea Full of Interns »
From Express Scripts to Brazil and Back Again: Creating Opportunity through Meaningful Reporting Relationships
February 8, 2017 | Express Scripts
My tenure with Express Scripts has been nothing short of eventful. Over the course of nine years, I’ve held positions in four offices in three different cities. While I’ve learned a great deal during my time here, the one lesson that stands out is the need to create meaningful reporting relationships. Without that lesson, I may have never been able to return after leaving the company in 2015.
Saying Goodbye – For Now
After celebrating our first wedding anniversary, my husband and I decided to live out a long nurtured passion and embark on a missionary trip to Manaus, Brazil. It was a journey we both had on our bucket lists before we met and we felt it was time to bring to fruition.
With a heavy heart, I made the tough decision to leave Express Scripts in September of 2015. Although I knew I was making the right decision by choosing Brazil, it didn’t make leaving any easier.
Prior to my departure, I made a personal promise to myself to keep in touch with a few leaders in the Human Resources department in hopes of finding an opportunity to return to Express Scripts at the conclusion of my trip.
While in Brazil, I sent emails back and forth to a few of my past co-workers and leaders. This was just my way of saying hello and keeping in touch. In some I shared pictures I took throughout my trip and in others I shared stories about my experience.
After six months in 115 degree weather and strenuous conditions, my husband and I returned to the States with humble hearts and an immense appreciation for life at home. I discovered that while I was away, I had received an unexpected, but highly anticipated, email from one of my past leaders at Express Scripts. To my surprise, she told me there was an HR Senior Advisor position open within Employee and Labor Relations and she thought I would be a perfect fit. I was overwhelmed she thought of me after all this time – and thankful I kept my promise and managed to maintain relationships through email while I was gone!
Accepting the job was a no-brainer. After all, Employee Relations was my passion. I felt that way when I left for Brazil and, in all honesty, the trip only cultivated my passion even more. Being immersed in a new culture and expected to find ways of building rapport with people in all walks of life was an incredible experience. With the new appreciation and perspective I gained, I knew I was ready for anything.
Appreciation and Compassion
From day one, I have always found Express Scripts to be a place where I can build a life I love. Coming back has only made that feeling stronger. My time here has enabled me the balance of growing personally, as well as professionally.
I returned with a newfound compassion for the people I come across on a daily basis, and that only makes me better at my job when helping employees bring forward their concerns.
My tenure here, albeit full of change, has been extremely rewarding. While I might not encourage everyone to take the path I did, I would advocate doing what you can to educate yourself and have the courage to make the moves that fit your lifestyle. If you do decide to take the leap and make a move, always remember to create meaningful reporting relationships. If you do, I promise it can take you miles.
Karina is a Senior HR Advisor within the Advisor Services Team.
Ready to make a career move, like Karina? Take a look at our open positions and see what may be a fit for you.« My “Aha” Moments: 4 Pieces of Advice I Would Give My Younger Self| Man with a Plan: From Working in the Call Center to Running It »
My “Aha” Moments: 4 Pieces of Advice I Would Give My Younger Self
February 2, 2017 | Express Scripts
Maybe it’s the New Year, or the fact that my daughters are quickly approaching their college years, but lately I’ve been thinking a lot about my career path and how I got to where I am today. More specifically, I’ve tried to identify the crucial “aha moments” I’ve had along the way.
As I was finishing up graduate school at Towson University, I took a job as a recruiter for a staffing placement agency. I worked on 100% commission with no base pay (an especially tricky task for a newlywed) before moving into a management position. The job taught me a great deal about people – arguably more than my previous job at a psychiatric hospital – and helped me get acclimated to the Human Resources industry.
Over the next 14 years, I held various leadership positions at Asbury Services (healthcare), Citigroup, and Maritz before transitioning back into the healthcare field. In February 2011, I was recruited for an HR leadership role with Express Scripts. Since joining the company, I’ve held the roles of HR Director for IT, VP HR Generalists for Operations and VP HR Shared Services, before assuming my current role as VP HR Strategy and Talent Management.
While on paper this looks like a pretty smooth and straightforward career path, I can tell you it did not always feel that way, as I moved laterally several times. Remember the “aha moments” I mentioned? If I knew in my early years what I know now, I could have saved myself a great deal of stress.
So, here it goes – other than buy Google and Amazon stock early – this is the advice I would give my younger self:
Find Comfort in Ambiguity
Countless times throughout my career, I walked into situations where the goal and path to get there were not always clear. That’s just business! Being willing to move forward with uncertainty and figure out the solution along the way has created countless opportunities.
Be Flexible and Bold
In my career, I have always been flexible, but perhaps not bold enough at times; specifically, when it came to addressing conflicts. There are a few times I wish I would have moved faster. Whether it’s a conflict with a boss, peer, or direct report, it is important to constructively deal with the problem before it gets out of hand.
Learn How Your Boss Thinks
I once had a boss that often explained the reasons behind his decisions. He would walk me through his thought process step- by-step so I could understand how he made decisions. I realized during one of these conversations that if you can figure out how your boss thinks, you both will be more successful in getting the job done and staying aligned. This learning has always stuck with me!
Working hard will help you get where you want to be, but working smart is the key. I learned a lot about continuous improvement early in my career. The mindset of constantly looking to remove wasted energy has helped me get a lot done and in less time. While there have been many long hours in my past, I know I have been more productive by learning how to be efficient instead of just working even more.
Although I can’t go back and reset the clock on my own career, I hope those entering and finishing their college years – like my daughters – can take something away from my experience. Learning from those ‘aha moments’ early on can help you navigate through your career a lot more smoothly.
Mike is VP of HR Strategy and Talent Management, working to align HR to drive value in the business.
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My Disability Won’t Keep Me Down
January 25, 2017 | Express Scripts
As Tom Hanks so famously said in Forrest Gump: “Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna get.” To me, these are important words to remember and live by.
As a child, I was always very active and participated in a wide variety of sports. However, when I was just 19 years old, I began to have problems getting up out of a chair or off the couch. My mother made the trek with me to three different doctors to find out why this was happening. When no one had the answers, she took me to a hospital emergency room. It was there that a specialist discovered I had arthritis and a nerve disease. From that point on, I was required to wear special shoes and start taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDs.
Over the years, I have suffered broken bones and multiple injuries to my Achilles tendon and foot as a direct result of my condition. I have been in a wheelchair eight times – each time for a period of 12 to 18 weeks. After 30 years of treatment with NSAIDs, I developed stage 3 kidney disease. Because of this, for the past decade, I have been unable to take any pain medication, so I rely on over-the-counter creams, essential oils and hot baths to help ease the pain.
Although I was not born with a disability, I have been disabled to some extent all of my adult life. However, I don’t let my disability keep me down. I look at the rest of the world and know there are many people with bigger troubles than my own.
Every day, I make a conscious effort to wake up with a positive attitude and pursue my passion for helping others, solving problems and making the workplace the best it can be. I’ve worked at Express Scripts for 23 years and, in my current role, I get to focus on helping employees live their best lives using the benefits Express Scripts offers. I joined Express PossAbilities, one of our Employee Resource Groups, because I am passionate about what they are doing to promote disability awareness in our workplace. I feel very fortunate to work for a company who proactively and willingly embraces inclusion.
While I make a tremendous effort to pursue my passion at work, I also focus on truly living at home. I have an electric cart and, when I am able, I go shopping and traveling. I plan to have a great time living life to the fullest.
In many ways, my disability has helped shape who I am as a person. It’s influenced my career choice, as well as my outlook on life, in big ways. If you take just one thing away from my story, I hope it’s the realization that not everyone is born with their disability. Disabilities can turn up later in life, sometimes when you least expect it. My message to you is to take care of your body and do the best you can to stay healthy. Do your part to enable your body to its fullest, but if life throws you a curve ball, know you can get through anything with determination and a positive attitude.
Karen is a Sr. Benefit Specialist on the Human Resources team.
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