Selecting References

Choosing References

Selecting the most appropriate references gives the hiring dentist a few individuals who can verify your skills and experiences. Having individuals who are familiar with you and your professional experience may be the lynchpin that secures an offer for you.

Who Makes a Good Reference?

A good reference is someone who provides thoughtful insights, presents a well-rounded view of you and reinforces the positive points you presented in the interview. Don't include references who my have impressive positions or titles but who really don't know much about you.

A good reference should also have strong communication skills to effectively sell the following aspects of your work and interpersonal skills to hiring dentists:

  • Work quality/quantity
  • Leadership/managerial skills
  • Technical skills
  • Oral/written communication skills
  • Decision-making ability
  • Professional conduct/moral character
  • Strengths and weaknesses
  • Interpersonal relations
  • Budgeting/financial skills
  • Attendance/punctuality/dependability

How to Select and Work with Your References

Here are some suggestions for selecting references and for developing (or strengthening) your working relationship:

  • Make a list. Using the criteria outlined above, compile a list of potential references. It's helpful to select individuals from these categories:
    • Educational references: former professors or clinic supervisors
    • Professional/business references: former or current supervisors
    • Colleagues: co-workers or dentists who know your skills
    • Personal references: people who know firsthand of your abilities and background. They may include community leaders, business or professional acquaintances.
  • Narrow down the list. Although most positions require three to five references, it can be helpful to provide a couple more than requested. That way, if the dentist isn't able to reach one or two of your contacts, he or she may continue trying to reach other contacts on your list, which may speed up an offer for the position.
  • Ask permission. Contact each individual to ask if he or she would be willing to be a reference in your job hunt. If the person is receptive, collect the individual's current title, practice/company name and contact information.
  • Respect their time. Only share your list of references with dentists with whom you sincerely wish to work. You don't need to let your references know every time you inquire about a position, but do contact them when a serious opportunity presents itself.
  • Give your references tools. These tools can be helpful to your references in making an effective recommendation on your behalf:
    • Your CV
    • Your cover letter for the position
    • Position description
    • Summary of your qualifications and why you want the position
  • Keep in touch. Anytime someone provides you with a recommendation, send a thank you note. Keep in touch with your references and let them know what happens. Offer to be a future reference to them. When you land a position, call with the good news! Send your references another thank you note along with your new contact information.

You'll find additional information about references at

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