job references

With Mental Health Careers – How to Choose and Prepare Job References

If your search is on for mental health careers, at some point you will have a few great interviews and be asked to submit your job references.  It would be a good idea to have already given those some thought and have them prepared and ready to hand over at a moments notice.  One thing you should do is remove the line “References available upon request” from the bottom of your resume if it is there.  It’s unnecessary and assumed.    Aside from that, here are some things to consider as you choose and prepare your job references:

  • Find ones that can talk about you – Some organizations, which may be current or prior employers, have strict policies that prohibit employees from speaking about, or on behalf of, mental health careers former colleagues.  In these cases, the hiring manager may get the military response of: dates of employment.  End of story.  Not much of a reference.
  • Be sure the references are current and available.  These need to be people that you are staying in contact with so that you are privy to changes in phone numbers or email addresses.  Also, it would be great if you knew that they were leaving the country for 2 weeks or were going to be on maternity leave and not returning calls.
  • The enthusiasm meter – Find references who can try to be as enthusiastic about you as you are about your new job opportunities and prospects.  If their response to calls is ho-hum and they are not as enamored with you as you think they are, this could be an issue.
  • Prepare them – This stays in line with keeping in contact with your references.  Keep them in the loop on your job search and let them know when they “might” be getting a call from a prospective employer.  If they have trouble remembering you or your dates of employment when receiving a call, this doesn’t look good.
  • Make them relevant – Unless you worked directly under them, the CEO of your last company probably doesn’t know a lot about you or your specific performance on the job.  Along the same lines, your cousin, unless your last supervisor, probably doesn’t have a lot of insight into how you work with others either.   Your references should be people whose roles are relevant to your previous work and the work you are currently searching for, if possible.
  • Over-Deliver – If three references are requested, consider providing about five so that there are back ups in case one can’t be reached or additional questions need answering.

When you prepare your References page, format it the same way that you did your Resume and simply title it “References”.  Print it on the same paper and have it available when you go for any mental health careers interviews, as this is generally when it will be requested.



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