Be the Boss Over Cancer

References are a vital part of the job search process that are often overshadowed by resume and interview preparation. It's important not to overlook this piece of the job application and make sure that you have solid references lined up. For cancer patients and survivors, it's also important to be sure your reference doesn't disclose your cancer diagnosis if you don’t want them to, as sometimes they won’t know what you do or don't plan on telling your next employer. Be sure to discuss this with your references before putting their names and contact information down in your application.

A recent article on provided some great tips to make sure that you are thoroughly prepared with your references. The tips include:

  • Ensure that your reference's organization doesn't have strict policies that keep them from speaking on behalf of former colleagues.
  • Make sure that your reference's contact information is up to date and that they are reachable.
  • Consider how your references will come across in a conversation with a potential employer.
  • Be sure your reference is prepared to talk about your capabilities and strengths, and is aware that this call or email may be coming. This is a great time to go over what you'd like for them to highlight and what, as mentioned above, you'd like for them to keep private. 
  • Consider how much of a perfectionist your reference is - if they are too much of a perfectionist than they may focus on your areas to improve more than your strengths.
  • Ensure that your reference is someone who worked directly with you and is not too far removed. Hiring managers want to speak with someone who served as your direct supervisor and worked with you on a daily basis.
  • Have backups available.


Read the full article here. For more job search information, check out our Looking for Work section, which includes articles on job hunting after cancer treatment and how to conduct a successful job search during a recession.


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