References should be a deliberate part of the job search process, not an afterthought. Consider all the time you spend preparing for your job interview. You don't want to ace the interview only to find out that the “interview” with one of your references went very wrong.
Your references may be asked to rate your performance in certain areas, such as:
- overall medical knowledge
- professional ethics
- work habits/ambition
- professional appearance
- clinical competence and skill
- ability to work with others
- relationship with patients
- relationship with medical staff
- relationship with nurses/ancillary staff
- oral and written communication
- participation in staff and committee activities
Ready to update your resume? Here are a few tips to consider when providing references:
- Provide more than just the customary three references. Physicians and staff are very busy these days, so providing at least five references may keep the process flowing quickly if one of your references is unable to respond.
- Get references that can speak to different aspects of your skillset. How well you work with nurses or ancillary staff may best be addressed by a nurse, while your ability to be a team player may best be addressed by your program director, someone directly involved in your residency program or even another physician colleague. Questions about your actual job performance may best be answered by the hospital chairperson of your department. Combining references in such a way gives an overall picture of who you are as a physician.
- Speak to your references first and try to ensure they will provide a positive review. If you feel uncomfortable with the potential reference’s enthusiasm for giving you a strong endorsement, find another reference. If you know a reference needs to be listed but feel uncomfortable about the response he or she will give, let your recruiter or whoever will be calling the reference know. Transparency is key.
- Let your references know how important their feedback is. Remind them to respond as quickly as possible to keep the process moving.
- Provide email addresses, along with phone numbers and cell numbers, for each reference, if possible. Note the best means of contact and best time to call as well.
- Consider asking written references be sent directly to your recruiter. This gives the recruiter a chance to gauge if any of the references will be weak on a phone call from a client and whether another reference would be beneficial.
- Each time you update your CV, make sure your references are still viable. If you haven't kept in touch with your references, send them a quick email or make a call to see if their contact information has changed and to catch up.
- Be aware of unsolicited online reviews that can hurt you. You may have “references” floating about in cyberspace that you don’t even know about. Healthcare websites are popping up all over the place, giving patients a voice to rate their physician. It’s always a good idea to google yourself and see what’s out there.
These tips can help you make a positive impression in your next interview. What are your reference best practices?