As a job seeker, there are multiple parts to the hiring process. Not only do you need to start by finding a position that best fits your education and work experience but you also need to find one that ticks off all your personal boxes. This could mean finding a position that is in the perfect location, has the right compensation, has ample opportunity for growth and provides you with the best possible benefits.
Upon finding this dream role, there are multiple steps to follow throughout the hiring process. Typically, after submitting your resume, you will need to go through an initial phone and/or pre-screen and if the employer believes that you are fit for the role, they will then ask you for references. But why? Because a reference is a hiring manager’s best indicator of a candidate’s past performance and a predictor of future performance. Meaning that gathering candidate references helps employers avoid bad or unfit hires.
While reference checking is important for all industries, healthcare in particular, is where it is essential. The healthcare industry, specifically nurses, has been an in-demand profession for years. In 2019, nurses were ranked as the third-most in-demand job of any profession in the United States. And it is predicted that by 2022, there will be far more registered nurse positions available than any other profession, at more than 100,000 per year. Consequently, the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics projects registered nursing to be one of the top occupations for job growth throughout 2029, expected to grow by over 7% (much faster than average), reporting that 221,900 new RN jobs will be available by 2029.
So what does this mean for nurse job seekers? This means that with the rise in nursing positions comes the rise in competition, thus, it is more important than ever to have high quality references so that you are able to stand out and land your dream role.
To find out more about the importance of reference checking within the healthcare industry, we spoke with healthcare recruiter, Rihanna Deering from Nurses PRN, to discuss some of the most common questions seen about reference checking.
When it comes to healthcare, reference checking isn’t something that can be taken lightly. Employers must ensure that each position is filled with qualified and professional candidates that are able to provide the utmost care to patients and residents.
During the interview process, your recruiter will likely ask you for a list of professional references. Although this may seem like a trivial matter, who you list as your references can have a big impact on your ability to land the job.
Rihanna highlights that your references should ultimately be able to “confirm employment dates, position held and clinical competency.” She adds that these references should typically consist of “Charge Nurses, Supervisors and Managers” and not fellow nurses working at the same level as you, as they will not be able to provide the required information.
If you are a Travel Nurse or work Per Diem, Rihanna states that her company, Nurses PRN, looks for “2 references that are able to confirm recent experience in the certification and specialty the nurse would like to work in. Typically we say references from your two most recent employers in your certification/specialty.”
Before submitting your references, Rihanna notes that in addition to the reference’s contact information (email and mobile phone number) and reference job title, you will need to provide the dates of employment at that specific faculty along with the position and speciality you held.
It is important to note that before a recruiter or potential employer connects with your reference, you must ask for permission. Not only is this courteous but it will also improve your chances of getting positive feedback from the reference. Once permission is granted, make sure you prepare them. This means giving them an overview of the potential role and why you believe you would be a great fit. Once the referee has submitted their reference, follow up. Be sure to send them a thank-you message to show your appreciation.
You know you’re a skilled professional and a diligent worker but prospective employers aren’t always going to take your word for it, that’s why choosing strong professional references should be a key component throughout your job search.
It is important to carefully select relevant job references who are familiar with your work and can attest to your abilities. You need to seek out references who can speak honestly about your skills and can highlight your strengths.
As laid out by Rihanna, you can expect your reference’s form to consist of “questions specific to clinical competency, questions addressing attendance, punctuality and flexibility along with questions addressing candidates communication skills and professionalism.”
Recruiters pay close attention to the references’ responses and look for any unique feedback on the candidate. Is the candidate a team player? Do they go above and beyond? Are they easy to work with? Have they received any unique positive feedback from patients or families? Are all questions that Rihanna suggests, if answered positively, could increase the candidates chances of landing that dream role.
Be careful not to harm your application by listing references that can only provide vague examples of your work. Weak references can be just as damaging as negative ones. After all, if one of the few people you chose to recommend you aren’t able to give detailed responses, employers may think twice about your ability to make an impact.
How To Stand Out
The difference between a good and bad reference is huge. That being said, sometimes it can be difficult to source out the right reference, especially for those in travel nurse roles. That is why it is so important to be proactive and aware during your placements. During or at the end of contracts, build connections and relationships with your superiors and secure them as a reference for the next opportunity.
Additionally, following the 3-step process to retain a good reference (permission, prepare, follow up) will not only ensure a good relationship with that reference, incase of future needs, but will also increase the likelihood of a positive reference response and in turn, will help you land that dream role!
Rihanna concluded our discussion by stating that, “gathering references can sometimes hold up the process for a nurse! And we get it – references are busy! But a reference not getting back to us in a timely manner is out of the control of the recruiter and nurse. Having additional resources besides emailing and calling helps recruiters streamline the process, get references quicker, and get nurses locked into their dream job faster!”