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Resume References - Tips and Examples on How to List Them

Resume references can help you get hired. Learn how to get the right references and create a resume reference page by following our tips.

Maria Correa Profile
By Maria Correa 5 minute read

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Do you put references on a resume?

Professional references are people who have worked with you and can speak about your skills and experience. The best references are those who know you well, can vouch for your abilities and can assure the recruiter or hiring manager that they’re making a good choice in hiring you. But should you include them in your resume?
The short answer is no.

It’s not necessary to put references on your resume or even write “references available upon request” unless the job description explicitly states it. Putting a resume references section on your resume takes up space you could use more effectively to give details on your resume skills or other important information such as certifications.

Instead, create a separate document to list three to five professional references. Have it ready for when the recruiter or hiring manager requests it and send it to them.

Not sure what your references list should look like? We’ll show you how to put it together below.

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How to format references on a resume

  • 1

    Header

    First, create a separate reference page with your name and a header. Include your contact information and make sure it matches the same information in your resume. You should also consider using a similar design to your resume template.

  • 2

    Your reference

    Next, add at least the full name and job title of your job references. Include the company name where you worked with them and the company address, the reference’s phone number and email address. Ensure their contact information is up to date, as the recruiter or hiring manager will use it to contact them.

    Keep your listings consistent across references. If you include LinkedIn or other social media links for one person, you should include them for all references. If you can only find this information for one of your references, omit it.

  • 3

    Your relationship with the reference

    Below your professional reference’s name and company information, write your relationship with that reference (e.g. “Former manager,” “Former coworker” or “Former client.”).

  • 4

    Description

    Provide a brief, two-to-three-sentence description of how your reference knows you and what you accomplished together. Get straight to the point and keep it short; this is just so the potential employer knows who they will call and can prepare adequate questions for them.

    RIGHT

    Martin Garrett
    Accounting Manager,
    Accounting Department
    Pond Studio Snider Street
    Colorado Springs, CO
    719-793-7640
    martin@email.com
    Former manager Martin Garrett oversaw the accounting department during my five years of employment. He can speak on my attention to detail, collaborative nature and professional growth.

    WRONG

    Martin Garrett
    719-793-7640
    martin@email.com
    Martin Garrett was my manager at Pond Studio.

Resume references examples

Here are some additional references resume examples you can use as a base to format yours:

James Harrell
Creative Director, Production Department
Breaking Media
Lover St.
Chicago, IL 44607
555-675-0963
james.harrell@email.com
Former manager

James Harrell was my former manager. He can further discuss my growth within the company and team. Under his supervision, I honed my video production skills and produced creative videos for the company’s biggest clients.

Debra Wilson
Producer, Production Department
Breaking Media
Lover St.
Chicago, IL 44607
555-134-0784
debra.wilson@email.com
Former coworker

Debra Wilson and I worked together on multiple projects. She can attest to my work ethic, creative thinking and ability to find quick solutions to challenges during production.

Margaret McClain
Public Relations Specialist, PR Department
Breaking Media
Lover St.
Chicago, IL 44607
555-268-4582
margaret@email.com
Former colleague

Margaret McClain was a close colleague from the PR Department with whom I shared many brainstorming sessions. She can vouch for my collaborative skills and quickness to help others, even if they’re not part of my team.

Jerold Knight
Content Manager, Marketing Department
Red Ink
450 Hewes Avenue
Camp Hill, Pennsylvania
717-730-8618
jerold.knight@email.com
Former manager

My former manager, Jerold Knight, can attest to my skills and professional growth. Under his guidance, I improved my writing skills and developed articles with high levels of engagement.

Sasha Harris
Writer, Marketing Department
Red Ink
450 Hewes Avenue
Camp Hill, Pennsylvania
717-730-8618
sasha.harris@email.com
Former coworker

Sasha Harris and I collaborated on several assignments. She understands better than anyone my drive and strong work ethic.

Ashley Duncan
Editor, Final Eye Department
Red Ink
450 Hewes Avenue
Camp Hill, Pennsylvania
717-730-8618
ashley.duncan@email.com
Former colleague

Ashley Duncan edited most of my articles. She can speak to my receptiveness to constructive criticism and quickness to deliver work before deadlines.

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How to request resume references

Finding and knowing how to choose professional resume references can feel incredibly daunting. Who can best testify to your work ethic and ability to benefit a company? Here are a few things to consider: 

Who should you list as a reference? 

You might be tempted only to use managers or supervisors as professional references, but a good rule of thumb is to create a diverse group of references that can give testimonials, such as: 

  • Direct supervisors
  • Former or current coworkers
  • Advisors and mentors (can be your teacher, professor or academic advisor)
  • Colleagues from other departments
  • Business or project partners
  • Suppliers or clients you were in constant contact with 

These types of colleagues and coworkers can be great professional resume references and provide a fully-rounded portrait of your professional background. 

How many references should you have for a professional resume? 

You’ll want to get several references, typically between three and five, that have different relationships with you. Try to list a variety of people; you should avoid only having coworkers as references or only having professors as references, for example. Your reference page should allow a potential employer to see diverse relationships.

How do you get permission to add someone to your resume reference page? 

When you’ve brainstormed a variety of references, it’s time to reach out to each person. You can write an email or call them. It’s typically best to avoid texts, as they seem excessively casual. 

Mention that you’re applying to jobs and looking for people you respect as your references. Then, ask permission to include them as one of your professional references and make sure they provide their updated contact information.

We don’t recommend including people on your reference sheet if you haven’t contacted them. By contacting your references first and giving them details about the job you’re applying for, you show that you care about having a good reference. They’ll be even more likely to provide helpful information about your job performance. 

Additionally, if you don’t have a chat with your references first, they will not know why the recruiter or hiring manager is calling or they might ignore the call. In the end, you’re the one that ends up looking unprofessional.

The big takeaways

Before you start looking for professional references, keep the following tips in mind:

 

  1. Refrain from including references on a resume. Create a separate resume reference page.
  2. Don’t write “References available upon request” on your resume unless the job description states otherwise.
  3. Include at least three professional references.
  4. Reach out to potential references before including them so they’re in the loop.
  5. Choose people who can speak to your skills and help you market yourself.
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More resume tips and examples

Of course, your resume is about more than just references. ResumeHelp has additional articles, resources and guides for writing a solid resume.

  • How to Write a Reference Letter: Read to understand what a reference letter is and how to write one.
  • How to Write a Resume: Present your experience and skills like a true professional with our resume writing guide.
  • Resume Builder: Create a professional resume in minutes with our user-friendly Resume Builder and land that new job.
  • Resume Formats: Learn all there is to know about the three resume formats and choose the best one for you.
  • Resume Examples: Find inspiration in our library of resume examples for different jobs and industries.
  • Resume Summary Examples: Introduce yourself the right way with our professional resume summary guide.
  • Work Experience in Your Resume: Don’t just tell the potential employer where you worked, show them your accomplishments with our expert tips.
  • Education in Your Resume: There’s more to the education section than just listing where and when you graduated.
  • How to Write a Cover Letter: No job search is complete without a cover letter. Be sure to write the best one using our guide and writing tips.

FAQ: References on a resume

Have questions? We’re here to help.

No. Think of your reference sheet as a supplementary document. Keep a document with your list of references ready, so that it can be sent to an employer if directly requested. This way, you make it as easy as possible for the recruiter to scan your resume but you also ensure your references are available if necessary.

Your reference list should contain the following information for each reference:

  • Name of the reference
  • Their contact information
  • Description of their relationship to you (i.e., “current colleague”)
  • A few details about your experiences with them, and the feedback they can provide about you (i.e., “Joe Thompson is my current manager, and can speak to my skills in project and social media management”)

Hiring managers nowadays know that your references are available upon request. They will reach out to you if they need your reference sheet. Adding this line to your resume makes it seem like you’re a bit out of touch with the application process. It also takes up extra space on your resume that you could use for something else.

Do not include that sentence in your cover letter for the same reason.

In general, you can look for references in all areas of your life. However, you should avoid asking anyone you are currently with or have previously had a professional conflict with. They’re unlikely to give a positive review of your work experience, after all. It’s also best to avoid family members, as this is unprofessional.

Yes! Not only is it OK to not include references on a resume but it’s standard practice. References take up valuable space that can be used for more important information, like your work accomplishments or skill set. You should also avoid including the phrase “References available upon request.”

It’s best to create a separate page to list your references.

A professional reference is someone who knows you from work and can share information with a potential employer about your skills, experience and growth within the company (e.g. a manager, co-worker or team leader). A personal reference is someone who you know outside of work who can talk about your character, such as a friend. In general, it’s more useful to go with a professional reference, but personal references can be handy in certain situations, especially if the person giving the reference is well-known in the field.

You should list between three to five professional references in your references sheet. If you’re a manager or a supervisor, it’s OK to list up to seven references that can speak to your leadership skills.

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Maria Correa Profile
WRITTEN BY Maria Correa

Maria Correa is a Puerto Rico-based Content Writer with ample background in digital marketing and copywriting. She graduated from the University of Puerto Rico with a B.A. in English and enjoys making information accessible to others.

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