Sunday, September 28, 2014

References Are Key To Your Career!

When you're applying for a job as a nurse or healthcare professional, having a pool of stellar references from which to draw is key. However, you also need to nurture and maintain that list of references so that it's up to date and ready to work for you!

Always Ask

Have you ever received a call out of the blue asking you to provide a professional reference for a nurse you used to work with? What was it like to be surprised by that call? Were you taken off guard? If you haven't been on the receiving end of such a call, don't you think it would be better to know the call is coming before it happens?

Many professionals ask colleagues their general permission to use them as a reference, but then fail to notify the people on their list that an actual call may be in the offing.

If you're actively applying for positions, call or email your references, remind them that you asked in the past (if you indeed had!), and make sure it's okay if a potential employer contacts them. If they say that they're too busy, be gracious, say thank you, let them know you appreciate them considering helping you, and ask if you could call on them in the future.

Update Your List

A list of potential professional references is only as good as the information on it. Nursing and healthcare are fickle industries, and people frequently move, change jobs, change their contact information, or otherwise fade into the proverbial woodwork.

If you have a list of former colleagues from which to choose potential references during an active job search, it behooves you to remain in contact with these professionals individuals and have their current contact information on file.

Keep In Touch

Aside from keeping the contact information for your references current, it's crucial to nurture positive professional and/or personal relationships with your reference list. These individuals are important to your career development and the acquisition of new positions along the trajectory of your career, therefore maintaining contact and nurturing those relationships is an advisable practice.

By maintaining contact with former colleagues who can serve as stellar references for you, many functions are served. First, you keep the lines of communication open, and that's crucial. Next, you make sure that you always have their most recent contact information. Meanwhile, that ongoing communication also keeps your references abreast of new developments in your career, new certifications that you've acquired, and ways in which you've grown as a healthcare professional. If one of your references worked with you ten years ago, it's important that they know how you've changed and grown since you worked together in the past.

Give Back

Asking someone to be a reference for you is a normal aspect of being a professional, and there are many ways in which you can give back in order to demonstrate appreciation for their efforts on your behalf.

When someone provides you a positive reference for a position for which you're applying, keep them informed of the outcome of your application. It's great for them to know, especially if their reference played a part in you getting the job!

Additionally, always be sure to send a thank you note when someone provides a reference for you, preferably via the regular mail. There's nothing like a hand-written note to convey sincerity.

Lastly, if you're hired for a position you're excited about, you're likely a very happy camper. Thus, taking your reference out to breakfast or sending them a gift card is a very apropos way of expressing gratitude for their kindness. This is a rare thing for a job searcher to do, but it speaks volumes about you as a person if you follow up and say thanks.

Relationships Are Key

Professionally, the nurturing of relationships could not be more crucial to your career as a nurse and healthcare professional. Always ask permission to use someone as a reference (even if you've asked in the past), maintain contact, give back and express your thanks, and otherwise nurture those relationships so that they feel positive and symbiotic.

Searching classified ads and applying for jobs is great, but without those stellar references, your job search may be potentially thwarted, or at least less powerful.

Keep those relationships positively nurtured, and you will reap the benefits throughout your career!
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