Everything To Know About References on a Resume

References can be an important part of your job application but many don’t know how to implement. What should you know about listing references on a resume?


References on a Resume

You’ve taken the time to assemble a list of people who can serve as references, vouching for your experience and abilities, but what’s the right way to showcase your references? If you are unsure of the answers, don’t worry. Here’s everything you need to know about making a list of references for your resume.

What Are References on a Resume?

Professional references are people who have worked with you and can speak about your qualifications. The best references are people who know you well, who have sway in the hiring process, and who can give you great testimonials. Prospective employers reach out to these people to make sure you’ll be a good fit for their company.

The most important thing to remember is that your references should be on a separate document that you can include your resume. Putting a reference section on your resume just takes up unnecessary space you could use more effectively to give more details on your skills and experiences, and a resume builder typically won’t include a reference section when you’re building your resume.

Formatting Your References Page

When creating your reference sheet, what should you include?

  • Your name and a header

First, start a separate document that has your name and a header. Include your contact information so it’s easy to connect your resume to your reference page. Include the same information you included on the header of your resume.

  • The name, company and job title of the reference

Next, add at least the full name and job title of your job references. Additionally, include the company name where you worked with them. This may not be where they are right now, but it should be where you had your experiences with them.

  • The same contact information for each reference

Lastly, include contact information, typically including a phone number and email address. Remember that consistency is key. You want your resume reference sheet to look like this:

James Bond (IT Professional at 007)




Jimmy Hendrix (Manager at Msic)



Former employer

Margaret McClain (Professor at The University)



College mentor

This format is easy for a hiring manager to scan, and it reflects well on you as a job seeker. If you include LinkedIn 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.

Finding References To List on Your Resume

Finding and reaching out to potential references can feel incredibly daunting. Who can testify to your work ethic and ability to benefit a company? Here are a few of the best references to consider:

  • Former supervisors
  • Former or current coworkers
  • Advisors and mentors
  • Friends who work at the company you’re applying to

All of these types of people can be great references. You’ll typically want to get a number of references, often five to seven, that have different relationships to you. You should avoid only having coworkers as references or only having professors as references. Your reference page should allow a potential employer to see diverse relationships.

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 these tend to seem excessively casual. Mention that you’re applying to jobs and are looking for people who you respect to be your references. Then, ask permission to include them as one of your references.

It is not advised to include people on your reference sheet if you haven’t reached out to them. By asking, you showcase that you care about having a good reference, and they’ll be even more likely to review your job performance well.

FAQ: References on a Resume

Q: Do I need a reference sheet on my resume?

No, think of references as a supplementary document. Keep a reference sheet that 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.

Q: Should I list “References available upon request” on my resume?

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 on 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.

Q: Who should I avoid asking to be a reference?

In general, you can look for references in all areas of your life. However, you should avoid asking anyone you are currently 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.

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