Job Search Karma

My name is Danielle Byron.   I am a Health IT project leader who is passionate about using technology to improve patient safety and outcomes.    What lucky signs do I look for in my job search?  A giant statue of Jesus is a little hard to miss. This past week I interviewed for a contract project manager role at one of our local faith based Health Care Organizations.  At the corporate headquarters I was able to snag a visitor parking spot directly in front of a very tall marble statue of Jesus.  I felt like it was 990 feet tall (in reality closer to 25 feet). Having eight years under the tutelage of the good Sisters of Saint Francis (our uniform was burgundy plaid – to this day I can’t wear this color) I took this as an excellent sign of job search karma (at the minimum parking karma).  Fortunately I didn’t have any devotional candles in my car – otherwise the maintenance crew might have had a laugh or two sweeping the front entrance that night.

IRS Form 990

Since we’re on the topic of not-for-profit healthcare organizations, which are a very large portion of the US healthcare sector, I wanted to share one of my research secrets.   One of the resources you should be familiar with in your job search is the IRS Tax form 990.   Form 990 is an annual reporting return that certain federally tax-exempt organizations must file with the IRS.  It provides very valuable tidbits of information information on the filing organization’s mission, programs, and finances.  My two favorite sites are Guidestar and Charity Navigator .

On Guidestar register for access – it is completely free and the only way to get to the detailed data.  Enter the not for profit organization that you are researching and look for the “Forms 990 & Docs” tab.  Click here and you should have links to the last three years’ of 990’s.  On the first page you will find the total revenues, expenses, net (hopefully on the positive side) and net assets or fund balances.  The net assets or fund balances are also frequently referred to as reserves. The “fund balances” is the money in the bank for the lean years.   The past few years many not for profits have had a double whammy of lower revenues and a reduction in reserves due to stock market declines.  Ideally you would like to see a healthy cushion in this fund.  In a reved up economy healthy reserves can also be drawn upon to fund capital improvement projects — such as large investments in Health Information Technology.

Now page further through the document for the section “Officers, Directors…and highest compensated employees.”     When you are asked the dreaded compensation question, you will be armed with these figures and be able to adjust your range appropriately.

Other sections of the 990 that may be of interest is detail on the expense and revenue streams.   How much is coming from the government in Medicaid/Medicaid reimbursements?   If this is a medical professional organization look to see how much money is being collected from the members, conferences and other revenue producing offerings.   After reviewing the current 990 you can then skim through the prior two years to see the financial and staffing trends.

Charity Navigator takes a scorecard benchmarking approach in presenting the data.   Ratings are have beed developed  for the organization in measures such as Organizational Efficiency, Program Expenses, Fundraising Efficiency and Organizational Capacity. There are great graphs that show year over year trends, a recap of key staff and their compensation, and comparisons to charities doing similar work.  Separate tabs give access to some historical data, comments left by other Charity Navigator members as well as news items about the organization.  If you are doing more general research on a specific sector there are some fascinating lists such as 10 Charities Worth Watching and 10 Charities in Deep Financial Trouble.

In addition to job search, both of these sites are fantastic resources for you to use in determining where your donations would be most effectively and efficiently be used (after you get back to paid employment).

My interview at this faith based health care organizations went very well, however the organization decided to go in a different direction with this project. It is another “thank you” to tally on the journey to that ultimate “yes.”  Next time I’m bringing the candles!

Do you have any additional websites to use in evaluating not for profit organizations? Do you have any favorite job search lucky charms?