Having a list of references is helpful—and often expected—when applying for a new position, as it gives the employer the chance to discuss your qualifications and expertise with people who have already worked with you personally. This applies in healthcare just as it does in any industry. In case you’re a healthcare professional who is looking to make a change in your career, here is a look at how you can effectively put together a list of references.
Choose your references.
You first step, of course, is to determine who your references will be. In any industry—healthcare included—your first choices should be present or former managers. A respected coworker is another excellent option. Shy away from listing family members or friends as your references. Try to keep your selection somewhat diverse, including a variety of references who can each vouch for a different aspect of your skills and work experience as they pertain to the new position.
Aim to have at least three references, but keep in mind that five is better. The reason: some of your references may not respond to the employer right away. Including more references makes it easier for the employer to go down the list until they get in touch with someone who can talk about your experience.
Talk to your references.
The next step is, naturally, to talk with each of your references before including them on your list. Here is what you will need to cover with each reference.
Ask for permission. Before giving away any person’s contact information for a job reference, be sure to ask for their permission first by phone, email, or in person. In addition, be sure to ask if they have any reservations about acting as a reference; if so, you may want to ask someone else about acting as a reference.
Verify contact information. Once someone has agreed to be a reference, make sure that you have their most up-to-date contact information. It is also helpful to ask each of your references which form(s) of communication they prefer so that you can prioritize this information on your list of references.
Discuss the position you are applying for. It will help your reference significantly if you discuss briefly with them the position you are applying for as well. Describe the employer and position and give them an updated version of your resume; that way they will have a better idea of how their work experience with you fits into the big picture. In addition, let them know whom they can expect to receive a call from and when.
See if anyone you know is in your employer’s network.
Even before an employer asks for a list of references from you, be sure to check and see if anyone you know happens to be in their network. (Tip: Having an established LinkedIn profile with many, many connections makes this very easy.) The reason you should do this is some employers end up digging into your past history themselves and would rather contact people in their own network to get the scoop on you. So if you notice that someone in your network is connected to an employer you are looking into, reach out to them and let them know that you are applying for a position with that employer.
List your references in the order in which you would like them to be contacted.
Most employers will simply run down your list of references, contacting them in the order they are in on your list of references. For this reason, you should place your strongest references at the top of the list.
Include the right information.
As you write out your list of references, you will need the following information for each reference: name, present title and employer, preferred phone number, email address, and relationship to you. If any references have preferences on how and when they would like to be contacted, it is a good idea to include this information as well.
Format it to match your CV.
Style-wise, your list of references should match your CV. Include your name and contact information at the top of your references list, just as you would at the top of your CV. Use the same type of paper, heading format, and typefaces as well.
Follow up with your references.
Finally, it is good etiquette to follow up with your references after the job search is completed. Let them know the outcome of your job search and send them a brief note of thanks for helping you.