This Is the Secret to Landing a Job at athenahealth

Health IT vendor athenahealth made news earlier this year when it selected Austin, Texas, as the site of its new R&D hub. The company said it would create 600 jobs there over the next 10 years.

athenahealth logoHowever, that’s just one of the locations where athenahealth is hiring in IT. The company will add about 200 tech positions overall this year, according to Technical Recruiting Manager Amber Jackson. She estimates it will bring on more than 100 people in software engineering, 40 to 50 in product innovation and about 20 in user experience. Its hardware group is growing, as well. Overall, the company has about 3,000 employees.

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At its headquarters in Watertown, Mass., athenahealth has a large group in software development, product management and user experience, as well as folks working on hardware and the back end. Its San Mateo, Calif., operation — which will be moving to San Francisco later this year — is focused on software development, particularly for mobile applications. The Austin R&D operation is also about software development, product management and user experience, both design and testing.

The company’s cloud platform, athenaNet, supports doctor’s offices and medical groups with billing, clinical records and patient communication tools. Its mobile offerings include Bugs & Drugs, a reference application that allows physicians to look up disease and prescription information. Though traditionally athenahealth has focused on practices, not hospitals, that’s changing with its latest offering, a care-coordination technology called athenaCoordinator Enterprise.

Its Approach

athenahealth’s user experience group includes both designers and testers. In product innovation, it’s looking for people with a background in software who have an innovative, problem-solving mindset, Jackson says. They might come from different backgrounds, such as computer science, project management or business analysis. In software development, the company likes people who are smart, motivated and passionate about making a difference to an organization.

“We are not a company that will check off a laundry list: OK, you have one year in this scripting language or you have X amount of experience with a Linux system. That is not how we assess whether someone is either a technical or cultural fit,” Jackson tells Dice. “We really are looking for that problem-solving, creative thinking mentality with core skills and experience in software development and computer science as a whole rather than specific languages or systems.”

How to Read a Job Posting

The company’s technology job postings tend to be general. “You’re not going to find a posting that says, ‘this position will work on this product and this is the goal of this team. This is what you’ll do on day one,’” Jackson explains. “We intentionally write our job listings to be fairly high level – to describe the organization, to describe what it means to be a software developer, a product innovator … because athena is the type of company that is constantly changing and doing different things, constantly innovating.”

Indeed, flexibility is key. “We are looking for people who, in addition to having core skills, want to come into an organization that is constantly changing and they may be tapped on the shoulder and told, ‘Hey, we’ve got this new project and you and your team members will be moved onto this project.’ We need people to be flexible and OK with that.”

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Advice for Experienced Professionals

athena is looking for candidates who have demonstrated the ability to take on more complex projects throughout their career. If you’ve been asked to take the lead on new efforts or have been promoted regularly, you may be the kind of person it’s looking for.

“In some companies, promotion is not really available,” Jackson observes. “In that case, demonstrate that, even if you were staying in the same job, you were taking on more complex projects, you were doing more interesting things that you sought out.”

Also, be clear about why the position at athena is the logical next step for you. “If you’re employed and you’re looking to leave your current role, you should have a compelling reason why,” she says.

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