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Career Coach

Employers & References

Published August 6, 2014 1:24 PM by Renee Dahring

References can make or break a job offer so it is important you understand how to choose the right references. 

  • You need to be sure that the persons you name as your references have DIRECT knowledge of your work performance. Choosing folks that think highly of you is not enough if they have never actually worked closely with you. This is because the questions that your reference will be asked will pertain to your work habits and skills. In fact, most reference forms consist of a list of specific procedures or competencies and ask that your reference rate your proficiency for each of them. Obviously, your neighbor, minister or best friend won't be of much help in evaluating your work skills.
  • Keep it current. In addition to having firsthand knowledge of your skills the employer will also expect your references to have RECENT knowledge. The expectations are that your identified references have known you at least a year and have worked with you within the last year. If you dredge up folks from previous positions or that have only known you a few months you will be raising some major red flags.
  • If you are a PA or an NP in a state with a collaborative agreement, the expectation is that you use your collaborating or supervising physician as a reference. Employers really wonder what is wrong if the person you have a legal agreement with in order to practice will not serve as your reference. This is not just a red flag - it's a red flag on fire. In my experience, this can be a deal breaker. If you have a valid reason, such as you are afraid you will get fired if they know you are job hunting then you need to be upfront with your prospective employer. Since employers shouldn't be contacting your references until the offer has been extended to you then I suggest that you can get a commitment from them to move up your start date if contacting your collaborating MD creates any negative consequences for you.
  • If you are a new grad, it is critical you have at least one reference from your program. If none of your professors are willing to act as a reference, then employers are going to see that as a problem.
  • And as a reminder, the general rule of thumb is three references (ideally one supervisor and two peers). It's great that the support staff loves you but that's not likely going to impress a potential employer.

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    Occupation: Nurse Practitioners and NP Recruiters
    Setting: correctional healthcare/career consulting/teaching
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