Home » Advice » How to List References on a Resume?

How to List References on a Resume?

Are you struggling with the reference section of your resume?

This list provides contacts and background information of your professional references. If you have limited work experience, it can be tricky to know which references you should include.

how to list references on resume guide

There are two acceptable ways of providing your potential employer with your references. You can either create a references section on your resume or put together a separate references list.

So, let’s find out how to list references on a resume, as well as what you should and shouldn’t include…

When Not To Include References?

Check the job description carefully and find out if references are requested. If there is no mention of references, there is no need to include them on your resume. However, it’s still a good idea to create a separate reference list.

Why not just include them on your resume?

Including references on a resume is an older practice that is going out of fashion. Therefore, if references are not requested, including them on your resume may make you and your resume appear outdated.

However, when you reach the interview stage, it is good to bring your separate reference list with you. Being able to produce your reference list if the interviewer asks will show that you are prepared. If the subject does not come up, you can always ask if the interviewer wants to see your reference list.

When an Employer Requests References?

An employer may request references in the job posting. In some cases, they may state specifically what they are looking for with regards to references. This is likely to be a list of three professional references along with telephone numbers and email addresses.

Top tip…

Make sure that you follow the instructions when you submit your references. If only two references are requested, do not include three or four on your resume or reference list. Rather than making you seem like a valuable employee, this will highlight your inability to follow basic instructions.

how to list references on resume

How to Request a Reference?

Before you submit a person’s name as a reference, make sure you have obtained their permission. The person you choose should be ready and willing to supply a verbal or written reference on demand. Ideally, let the person know when you are about to have an interview in case they are contacted on the spot.

Provide information about the job you have applied for so that the person can connect their reference to the job. You may also want to supply them with your updated resume or a list of your qualifications and skills. Try to select references that can talk about your specific skills and abilities in the working environment.

And remember…

Only select people you are sure will give you a positive reference. If your former employer gives a lukewarm reference, it could ruin your chances of getting the job. Also, make sure that your references are well known and respected in their field if possible.

Personal vs. Professional References

If you have friends or family who are guaranteed to give you a glowing reference, it may be tempting to use them. However, it is a bad idea to include personal references on your resume or reference list. The employer is sure to think these references are biased, and it indicates a lack of professional references.

How to Write a Resume Reference List?

Collecting a list of potential references can be tricky, and surprisingly few people know exactly how to list references on a resume in a way that will serve them best.

Choosing the right people who will present you in the best possible light can also often be nerve-racking. These next steps will help guide your process and allow you to focus on the task at hand more easily.

Find Out How Many References To Include

The employer often specifies the exact number of references you need to provide. Otherwise, you can use your career level to guide you.

If you are just starting out in the job market, three references are likely to be sufficient. However, if you are applying for a more senior role, creating a longer list of references is a good idea. Try to include professional contacts from different stages of your professional career.

how to list references on the resume

Include a selection of reference types…

Having a list of different types of references provides the employer with choices. In some cases, they may be familiar with one or more of the contacts on your list. If not, this selection will allow the employer to obtain a more detailed and informative reference if it is needed.

Choose Your Resume References

When choosing your resume references, you need to select people who can highlight your best qualities. Ideally, they should be able to discuss your talents that are related to the job you are applying for. Therefore, the references you choose should have knowledge about your qualifications and skills.

Keep it current…

It is ideal to choose your current or former manager and a co-worker if possible. If you do not have a lot of work experience, you might want to include your professional advisor. You could also include your professional mentor if appropriate.

Ask Your Contacts To Be a Reference

Once you have selected your ideal references, make sure they are willing to supply a reference. This gives the contact time to prepare for a phone call or email from the employer. You will need to make sure that they are available and have enough time to review your resume.

Worst case scenario…

In some cases, the person you select may not be willing to provide a reference for some reason. It is best to avoid applying too much pressure and creating bad feelings. Instead, keep the situation as light as possible and contact the next person on your list.

Tips on Listing References

It is a good idea to maintain a list of potential references even when you are not searching for a job. This is because it is best to have several possible connections prepared in advance rather than trying to find them on short notice. Here are a couple more suggestions to help you find the perfect references that will impress employers.

Put the references that are most likely to give you an excellent recommendation close to the top of your list. Hiring managers may not have the time to contact every person on your reference list. If the first person gives you a glowing reference, they may decide that this is sufficient.

how to list references on your resume

Most importantly…

Select the best references for the specific job that you are applying for. Each contact you select should have positive things to say about you. However, certain connections may be able to recommend you more strongly in particular situations.

If you are applying for a managerial position, it is best to obtain references from former colleagues. These people can likely speak more authentically about what it is like to work with you. If you have led a team in the past, try to obtain a reference from at least one of your team members.

Listing your current colleagues as references?

While it is best to apply for a new job while you are already working, this can be rather tricky. Keep a separate reference list for confidential job searches. Or make sure that your references can be relied upon to keep the information private until you are ready to resign.

Applying for Your Dream Job?

If so, you may also want to check out my article on what kinds of Hobbies Interests to Put on Resumes.

But we have more than just great resources for writing the perfect resume! We can also assist with all the details involved in the application processes of various US-based companies. Including everything from Popeyes Chicken Application to the ABF Freight System Application process to Cintas Application. Just type your desired employer into our search box; you’ll probably find we have it!

Regardless of what company you’re applying with, it’s best to start preparing yourself right now for potential questions that will come up in almost any interview. Read our comprehensive guides on Answering Tell Me About Yourself in Interview, discussing Strengths and Weaknesses for Job Interviews, and responding to Why Do You Want to Work Here? Plus, answering that dreaded question, Why We Should Hire You in 2021!

Finally, here are some recommended resources for interviewing like a pro if you’re just starting out in the job market: How to Create Positive Impressions and Answering Tough Interview Questions For Dummies.

Back to today’s topic…

Final Thoughts

Employers may not always check your references straight away, but it is best to be prepared. In some cases, you could be offered the job during the interview if everything goes well. If you are hired on probation, your references may be checked after a month or two.

Therefore, it’s vital to ensure your references are accurate and up to date. Your new employer could contact your previous employer and references at any time. So, the people you listed as references should be prepared for this to help make sure that things go smoothly.

Happy job hunting!

Share:

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

About Eugene Casey

Eugene works in a busy employment agency in Chicago and has nearly 20 years of experience in finding clients the perfect job. His philosophy is simple, the right match for the right position is nearly always a win-win for both the employee and the company.

When he isn't working or writing for us, he enjoys cooking and exploring the United States, one state at a time.

He lives with his wife Lisa and their two German Shepherds, Wilber and Gus.

Other Articles of Interest

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top