In addition to submitting a CV and/or cover letter, physicians must meet specific professional reference requirements in order to qualify for locum tenens assignments. A professional reference is a person who can provide a recommendation or confirm your qualifications for a position, and they should be able to attest to your work ethic, skills, and achievements in your past roles. By using people who can give specific examples of your work, credentials, and reliability, you are giving your potential new employer great reasons to hire you.
The process for credentialing typically includes three references from your peers that have clinical knowledge of your work as a physician. At least two of these should be in your same specialty. That’s the standard requirement for most medical facilities, though some have more stringent demands.
Selecting others to speak on your behalf is an important decision and deserves careful consideration. Read on to learn how best to obtain appropriate peer references that will help you complete your credentialing process.
Top 10 Tips for Obtaining Peer References
1. Grow your network. Meeting the above-mentioned requirements for numerous locum opportunities can burn out your physician references if you repeatedly ask the same people time and time again. In order to spread the responsibility, it’s important to build the list of people who can act as your references. Continually be on the lookout for opportunities to expand your network by making good impressions, genuinely connecting with people, and staying in touch with them.
2. Choose references that know you well and have firsthand knowledge of your skills. Avoid choosing someone who does not have direct contact with you in a clinical setting, as they wouldn’t be able to speak on your professional and clinical skills. Most reference forms contain a skills checklist where the reference is asked to rate your proficiency in a variety of items. If the reference you have chosen is too distant or does not work in an equivalent role to yours, this may lead to some unfavorable responses or responses that don’t carry much weight with a prospective employer.
3. Always ask for their permission. Even if you think you have a good relationship with who you want to ask, they may not feel comfortable providing you with a reference letter for whatever reason. Asking them instead of just providing the hiring manager with their contact information shows your professionalism and respect. Plus, asking for permission ahead of time helps them prepare, therefore, increasing your chances of a positive referral.
4. Use references that you’ve recently worked with. Hiring managers care most about your current performance, so it would be best to list references you’ve worked with in the last 24 months. Although you may still be in touch with people you worked with many years ago, if all of your references are dated, you may be unintentionally sending the message that your more recent professional relationships aren’t as strong. Plus, if you haven’t had contact with them in years, chances are they won’t remember your great ideas and achievements as clearly as others.
5. Choose references that remain accessible. Be mindful that response time matters when it comes to reference checks. Once you reach the stage where references are being requested, employers often still have a handful of candidates that they are considering. In this fast-paced market, the job offer is likely to go to the applicant whose reference checks come back first. If the person you are considering using as your reference is slow to answer emails, has a mile-high stack of paperwork on their desk, or is always running late, you may want to opt for someone who will be quicker to respond.
6. Be sure that your references will advocate for you. The last thing you need when job searching is a weak reference – or worse, a negative one – so be sure you are clear on how your references will endorse you. Many candidates make the mistake of assuming a former supervisor or colleague will provide a strong recommendation, when in reality their attitude is lukewarm. The best references will write glowing recommendations that highlight your achievements, performance, and personality. Go with someone who will do their best to advocate for you.
7. Don't pre-prepare reference letters. Every client is different when it comes to their reference check processes. Some may require a certain company-specific form to be filled out by your reference, some may request a formal reference letter, while others may have additional requirements. Don’t have your references spend time writing reference letters ahead of time as they will likely end up having to repeat their efforts.
8. Keep your references in the loop. Good references can go bad when they are caught off-guard. If your references are not aware that you are seeking a new assignment, then suddenly receive a batch of new reference requests for you, they might get a bit annoyed. Be sure to notify them so they are expecting a call, especially if you use them as a reference for multiple positions. No one likes surprises, so if a few months have passed and you are now expecting a new round of reference checks, please take a moment to reconnect with your references to verify their willingness to continue to serve as your reference, let them know who might be contacting them, and how much you appreciate them taking the time.
9. Keep track of who you ask, and when. While most colleagues are happy to provide a good word, you do not want to overburden them with request after request. Tracking your references with a detailed log makes it easy to spread requests across your ever-growing network. Plus, all the info you’ll need will all be in one place, making it so you don’t have to scramble to find references and their contact information when you need them.
10. Say thank you! Once your references have been checked, be sure to thank them, regardless of whether you have gotten the job or not. They took time from their busy schedule to help you, so you should take the time to show your appreciation. A simple thank you through an email, phone call or a card can go a long way in maintaining a good relationship if you ever need them for a future reference.
Getting Started with Locum Tenens
References are a critical step in securing a job offer. Choose the right individuals who can speak to your skills and will respond in a timely manner. Once chosen, be sure to treat them with the respect they deserve for stepping up for you when you needed their assistance in your job search.
Ready to learn more about locums? Contact Med X today.