We’ve written and talked in the past about the value of having someone besides you talk about how great you are.
Third-party validation can be done in a couple different ways – the traditional list of references you provide on your resume or “upon request” and what we’ve dubbed a Testimonial Sheet you add to your cover letter and resume. Since we’ve covered Testimonial Sheets, let’s discuss references.
Granted, some employers aren’t calling references anymore. But many still are. And since you never know who will or won’t, you need to line them up.
So here are three things you need to do now if you haven’t already.
Identify and Organize Your References
Have two sets of at least two. More is better and will give you choices when it comes time to give them out.
Set one is for your personality – they speak to your traits in relating to other people (dental assistant; front office).
Set two is for your skills – they speak to your professional skills (dentist; other hygienists).
Yes, some references can be for both – but make sure they are able to cover both
You could even have third set of people who know you outside the dental office – maybe you have other circles of influencers that can talk about specific abilities and personality traits you have. Could be a current or past, non-dental employer, maybe an officiator at your church, or possibly you have volunteered somewhere and have worked with people there.
Get Letters and Reference and Prep Your “Live” References
There are two kinds of references you can provide: letters of reference and “live references” – those you provide names and phone numbers of.
Each year I would make it a practice to ask for a professional letter of reference from someone different. For some employers, a letter of reference is enough and they won’t feel compelled to call someone (especially if you have several). They can also be helpful if your references are hard to get in touch with.
While you are in the job hunt market, though, you need to prep your “live references” on your skills and abilities. Best way to do this is to simply talk about it with them. Ask them what they think overall and then ask them about specific traits and skills you have – this can bring clarity to what you feel is most important (ie your personal brand).
You really can never have too many people talking you up. Over the years, I’ve found myself replacing some of the good ones with particularly great ones! And certainly if you only have one or two total – it’s time to find more.
Getting them is easier than you think. When someone starts talking about something you did that they liked or appreciated, ask them for a letter of reference. The occurrence will be fresh in their head and they will be happy to oblige.
If you aren’t employed in a permanent position, and someone has you back or seems genuinely pleased with your work as a temp, you should ask them for a letter of reference.
Keep networking at conferences or volunteering with your local component/association so you can build professional relationships and eventually ask them to write a letter of reference or serve as a live reference.