The Recruiter Scoop: How to Explain a Work Gap or Lost Job in an Interview

April 20, 2017 | Express Scripts

Tamla is a Senior Recruiter for Accredo, Express Scripts’ specialty pharmacy.  She identifies passionate nurses across the country to assist our patients in their homes by educating them about their ongoing chronic illnesses.

The Recruiter Scoop: How to Explain a Work Gap or Lost Job in an Interview

Most of the time, when I tell someone what I do, I’m met with a plethora of questions. You see, as a recruiter, I’m sometimes seen as the interview expert – with the “inside scoop” on the right way to answer any interview question.

While I’ve received lots of questions over the years, there are two I get most frequently: how to explain a gap in your resume and how to explain being let go from a position. And sometimes, these two go hand in hand.

When candidates have been let go or have a long gap in their work history, they think they will automatically be put in the ‘no’ category. However, in my opinion, that’s a large misconception. I think sometimes candidates forget that recruiters are people too. We understand that life happens unexpectedly and things change.

So, when the question comes up – which it undoubtedly will – here is my advice:

Be Prepared

Make sure you’re prepared to answer. If you had to take time away for personal reasons, just say so. Recruiters don’t necessarily need to know every little detail surrounding what kept you from your work; they just need to be able to tell the hiring manager when he or she asks.

Follow Up With a Positive

If you’ve been let go, simply explain the situation and follow it up by saying something like, “I’m ready to move on and pursue other endeavors.” This keeps the conversation light, avoids painting you in a negative light and refrains from bashing your previous employer.

Be Honest

The most important thing to remember in both of these scenarios is to be honest. Being let go or having a long gap in your work history isn’t going to blacklist you from getting your next position. Some company cultures or positions are not always a perfect fit for everyone, which sometimes isn’t discovered until after the candidate accepts. Just because you weren’t a perfect fit at one company doesn’t mean you won’t be at another.

Remember, being prepared, positive and honest during the interview will help you make the best impression and will display positive characteristics the interviewer will recognize.

Ready to rock your next interview? Check out our career site for a full list of open positions.

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Finding Opportunity Outside of Your Comfort Zone

April 3, 2017 | Express Scripts

Katie is an HR Business Partner supporting the Sales and Account Management client group.

Have you ever felt the inkling to try something new at work, but don’t because you’re scared you’re not experienced enough or are worried about failing? Yeah, me too. However, about a year ago I decided to take a leap of faith and try out an entirely new role and you know what I found? Sometimes growing your career means stepping out of your comfort zone.

I started my career at Express Scripts in December 2010 as a recruiter. My passion for people ignited my drive to grow in the Talent space. As years passed, I found myself transitioning from an individual contributor into a leadership role; ultimately ending up in a senior manager position within Talent Acquisition. As my leadership career continued to grow, I was learning every day, but I felt a pull to try something new.

Taking the First Step

When I was approached about taking an HR Business Partner (HRBP) role, I was a bit uncertain. The role was not only new to our company, but completely new to me as well. After many conversations with trusted leaders, I began to get excited about pursuing the position and bringing my previous experiences to the new team and the business groups I would support. I knew I would miss leading a team and, although the HRBP role warranted leadership skills, I continued to question how smoothly my skills would transfer over.

I also wondered how the move would be perceived by my peers – ‘Will it be seen as a step down?’, ‘As a step up?’, ‘Will I look as if I wasn’t a good fit anymore?’… These questions and more played a feedback loop in my mind. But then I took a step back and realized that my career journey was just that – mine. I became fueled by the opportunity to learn in this new space and realized this was a development opportunity I was ready and willing to take.

The Right Fit

Upon accepting the position, I was aligned to support the Sales and Account Management (SAM) client group, which was growing tremendously. Therefore, there was a high focus on the full talent spectrum; from attracting and developing talent, to succession planning and building our talent bench. My experience in talent acquisition lent itself well to these discussions. I found myself bringing thought leadership to the table and in return receiving great feedback from the business groups I supported.

To say I have learned a lot in my new role wouldn’t do the experience justice. I can’t stress enough the importance of putting an investment in your own personal development – and that’s not possible without open dialogue with leadership and the confidence to make a move. There is value in seizing the opportunities that make you feel uncomfortable and reaping the rewards of doing so successfully in the end. My message to you is, take the chance to step out of your comfort zone and own your development – had I not, I wouldn’t be where I am today.

Ready to take your leap of faith? Visit our career site for a full list of our open positions.

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New Sales: Charting a New Path Forward at Express Scripts

March 27, 2017 | Express Scripts

Bill S. is the President of Sales, working to create a word-class selling organization at Express Scripts.

When Bill Spehr first took a meeting with Express Scripts in August 2016, you could say he was a bit skeptical. With 30 years of sales and marketing experience within the healthcare sector, he isn’t easily sold. However, as the role was described to him, Bill couldn’t help but be tempted to learn a little more.

“I was first drawn to the quality of the leadership team and the direction the company and department were headed. Improving the healthcare delivery system is a big motivator for me so knowing that Express Scripts has the best platform to enable positive change made the move easy,” Bill shared. After learning more about the sales function at Express Scripts, Bill officially accepted the position of president of Sales in December of last year.

Now that he has been in his position a little over 90 days, Bill has his own vision for his role and the department. “The company’s commitment to new business growth came with a realization that we needed a fully dedicated team,” shared Bill. Essentially, various areas of sales focus – like Health Plan, Government, and Employer – are now together under one roof.  “This allows us to work more efficiently and focus more of our attention on selling or, more specifically, on making it easier for prospective customers to buy.”

Bill’s goal over the next few years is to build upon the recent transformation and create a world-class, data-driven selling organization that allows the company to sustain growth. “Making prescription drugs more affordable and accessible is top of mind for the largest payers in the U.S., so it’s an extremely exciting spot to be in, but it’s not for everybody. To be truly successful here you need to understand customers better than they understand themselves, be unafraid to challenge the status quo, and focus intensely on  how our value proposition improves customer business results,” shared Bill.  Recent data shows that customers are overwhelmed by the amount of data and the number of decision makers involved in complex purchases. Buying PBM services is no different.  It’s our job to help customers through this process so that acquiring our services is easy.

When asked for advice he would give anyone currently working in sales – or thinking about sales in the future – he shared, “Know your customer and always bring value to every meeting, call or interaction. And if you’re completely new to sales, find a mentor.”

Express Scripts will be investing substantially in the new sales sector of the organization in upcoming years. “Right now, we’re looking for experienced sales people from all different industries and backgrounds – not just from the PBM space – with the ultimate goal of bringing different thinking and diversity to the team,” Bill commented, “It’s what our customers expect.”

To learn more about Bill, visit his LinkedIn profile.

Think you have what it takes to work in sales? Visit our career site for a list of all open positions.

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Pursuing Passion: Taking a Chance on a Career in Tech

March 23, 2017 | Express Scripts

For Jay, his love for computers started at a very young age. Growing up in China, he fondly remembers writing love letters with Microsoft Word and using computers heavily in school. When it came time for middle school, Jay took a programming class to learn Visual Basic. While he could easily follow what the teacher was doing, he had a difficult time understanding the coding aspect. “I began to get discouraged and thought I was never going to be very good at programming so I sort of gave up,” Jay shares.

Switching it Up  

When it came time for Jay to start college, he came to the United States to attend school at Missouri University of Science and Technology. “Even though I felt a tug to major in something computer related, I ignored it and decided to choose a field that would be easier to get a job in come graduation. I landed in accounting,” he says.

Given the language barrier, Jay had a hard time understanding many of his teachers and the accounting material. However, he admits that his heart just wasn’t in it. “I saw other international students all around me majoring in fields they were passionate about, regardless of the ease of getting a job post-graduation,” he recalls. Jay decided to take a chance and switched his major to Computer Science. “At the time, I had no idea that computer and programming related positions would become such hot jobs,” he shares.

Making a Connection

During a hackathon hosted at his university, Jay met a representative from Express Scripts. “We started talking at the event and I expressed my interest in becoming an iOS developer,” he recalls. “I was impressed by the rep’s passion for the technology industry and how open-minded he was when it came to adopting new practices and programs. After our talk, I knew I wanted to work there after I graduated.”

A week later, Jay sent an email to one of the contacts he met during the hackathon containing links to all relevant projects he worked on during college. The contact forwarded the email to another leader who brought Jay in for an interview. A few weeks later, Jay was extended an offer. “I’m so thankful the contact took an interest in me,” he says. “After all, she’s one of the main reasons I was noticed.”

After graduating in 2016, Jay accepted a position as an associate programmer analyst with Express Scripts in the company’s newly opened Austin office. “The job is never boring. I feel like I learn something new every day and I’m always challenged, which – as a programmer – is crucial,” he shares.

Meaningful Work

Jay and his team recently had the opportunity to work on building the company’s Digital Benefit Guide (DBG). This application allows members to download a digital member ID card to be stored on their mobile devices. Any updates to their health plan or benefits will automatically update the digital card on their phone, eliminating the need to mail members a new card every time there is a change.

While this was a fascinating project for Jay to work on, he was able to experience the advantage it gives patients and members firsthand. “I have allergies that require me to take medication regularly,” he shares. “ When I went to my pharmacy the last time for a refill, I was told the card I presented was expired and unless I could produce one that was updated, I would be unable to get my medication.”

Fortunately, Jay was able to download his member ID card through the DBG, show the updated card and receive his medicine. However, this was a teachable moment. “I realized that without the DBG I helped build, I could have gone without my medication,” he says. While it may not have been a huge issue for Jay, it could have been life-threatening for other people with far more serious conditions. “I was extremely proud to be working at Express Scripts that day because I was able to experience firsthand the impact of the work we do as a company,” he comments.

Thinking back to college, Jay is so thankful he decided to follow his passion and trade his major in accounting for computer science. “My problems with programming in middle school disappeared in college. I understood the content perfectly,” shares Jay. “Now, it is my sincere belief that in most cases, people are good at what they are passionate about. My advice to others is to choose a job or a field you love so that you can wake up and say ‘yay, it’s Monday’ rather than ‘yay, it’s Friday’.”

Jay is an associate programmer analyst in Express Scripts’ Austin office, working to document, design, develop, and test web applications and services.

Ready to do what you’re passionate about, like Jay? Check out our career site for a list of our open positions!

« Boot, Scoot and Boogieing into Austin, Texas| New Sales: Charting a New Path Forward at Express Scripts »

Boot, Scoot and Boogieing into Austin, Texas

March 21, 2017 | Express Scripts

Igor Krasnykh, Director of UX and Web Development Strategy – working on building winning teams and a stellar culture.

In December 2015, I sat in an interview listening to how the position I was applying for would help the company evolve in coming years. As I listened, the wheels in my head started turning. You see, the needs and goals being described to me suggested a gap in the company’s technical talent. I shared my vision on how to solve this problem and was given an intriguing offer a few days later: join Express Scripts and help the company build an office in Austin, Texas dedicated to filling the gaps around technology, usability and user experience.

Fast forward about 14 months and Express Scripts’ location in Austin has approximately 30+ employees in design, user experience, usability and research and software engineering.  We are right in the heart of Silicon Hills, Texas at the Domain. While the progress we’ve made has been tremendous, there is still much to accomplish. Over the next few years, we are focused on continuing to move Express Scripts further into the digital space. With our emphasis on technology, we expect to see the Austin footprint grow to about 200 employees. We’re on the lookout for visual designers, UX research experts, UI engineers and architects, technical product owners, scrum masters, content writers and technical writers to help with this digital transformation.

We’re TECHnically Awesome

It’s a really exciting time to be part of the Express Scripts team for a number of reasons.

First and foremost, our senior leadership is counting on us to design and build new software platforms to support our digital products, which make an impact on 85M+ lives regularly. The talent we are in the process of bringing on board, although new to our organization and often our industry, are highly skilled experts from various technology verticals.

The organization has recently adopted common development tools (like JIRA, Confluence, HipChat, Git, Jenkins) and continues to look for areas to further improve legacy processes and overall developer culture.

We are also heavily invested in test and behavior driven development, while leveraging build automation tools, to help improve speed to market velocity and the quality of products we offer our clients and their employees.

Event photos by Live Box Photography.

A Push Towards Digital

As we work to move the company further into the digital space, there are several exciting initiatives we are focusing on in 2017. First, we are looking at things like client communications, which are being sent in letter form today. Over the next few months, we want to put these messages into a digital format that can be received through various digital channels (e.g., email, SMS, etc.).

Additionally, we are implementing a Content Management System (CMS) for various healthcare applications across the company, which will be at the core of our transformation efforts. CMS will enable the company, as well as our clients, to react quickly and deliver health critical and life supporting information to consumers in a rapid fashion.

We did something similar late last year when we created a digital benefits guide, an application which allows members to download a digital member ID card to be stored on their mobile devices. Any updates to their health plan or benefits will automatically update the digital card on their phone, eliminating the need to mail members a new card every time there is a change.

It’s All about Collaboration

When stepping into the Austin site, it doesn’t take long to realize it looks and feels much different than traditional office settings.  Instead of the typical cube farms, we have long tables, writable walls and several TVs throughout the office space. It’s an “open seating concept,” offering a unique start-up feel.

Implementing such a workspace has allowed collaboration between teams to flourish. You can often find people gathered around a TV or a white board wall drawing pictures, graphs or workflows, while discussing a new concept or an idea.

Work Hard Play Hard

As a leader at the Austin site, I live by a work hard, play hard mentality. If my team members are working hard and delivering great work, they’re going to be recognized. There’s a lot of transparency, trust and empowerment going up and down all levels and across different teams.

Office Perks

When employees need some time to reset their minds or are stuck on a problem that needs solving, you might find them taking some time to play Ping Pong, challenging a teammate to a gaming battle on the office Xbox, or simply spending time solving puzzlers from our “brain teaser” wall.

Our goal in Austin is to create an environment where people don’t just clock in, clock out and go home. Instead, we want to create an environment for employees to feel comfortable and challenged to not only do great work, but also be able to recharge when they need a break.

Connect with Us

Over the last few months, we have gotten ourselves equipped to life in Austin and can focus on hiring great talent to take an active part in our technology transformation efforts. Throughout the year, we will be hosting a series of hackathons to network with individuals in Austin. If you would like to be involved in our upcoming hackathons, or if the work we are doing sounds appealing, I’d love to hear from you. Connect with me on LinkedIn or visit our careers site for a complete list of open positions.



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