Who To Ask For References
As you are creating your list of potential references to contact, there are a number of different types of people you can consider including.
It is important to keep in consideration how a reference can relate back to the job you are applying for, and whether their testimony of your work ethic and skills will be relevant enough for the desired position.
Here are some common examples of who to include as references:
- Former employer or manager
- Coworker, colleague, or team member
- College professor
- Internship supervisor
- Community member
- Business partners
How To Make A Separate Resume References List
A separate reference list is a smart alternative to adding references directly to your resume.
In addition to being prepared easily in advance to ensure that you have a reference list handy for any interested employers, they can also be unobtrusively added to your resume should a job posting request them.
Follow Reference Request Etiquette
If youve decided to include someone on your reference list, be sure to ask their permission first. You can find details on asking people to be a reference for you with email templates and examples in How to Ask Someone to Be Your Reference. Additionally, let them know they may be contacted by your potential employer. This is another reason to avoid placing the reference on your resume: If youre sending out resumes for several jobs, you may not have the opportunity to give your references ample warning.
Provide your contacts with details on the job youre applying for and an up-to-date resume to help them prepare. If they decline, be sure to thank them and gracefully move on to your next option.
While references are valuable for employers, you should follow their lead when deciding how and when to send them. Whether listed on the job description or asked by a hiring manager, follow directions carefully.
If a list of contacts isnt specifically required, simply send your resume without references and any other requested documents like applications or cover letters. If you are asked to send references, develop a separate document instead of placing them directly on your resume.
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How To Ask For References
Youve got your wish list. What to do now?
Of course, sometimes you dont have a choice. If sending your prospective reference an email is the only option, be sure to briefly remind them of who you are. Describe the projects you worked on together and explain where youre heading with your career.
Also, send them a copy of your resume as an attachment. This will help them recall the times when you were working with them and remind them of your achievements and personality.
Give your potential references enough details about the jobs youre applying for. Be specific in what skills and qualities youd like to emphasize. Furthermore, you can even send them the job description. This will help them talk to the employer and endorse your key qualifications.
When it comes to formulating your request, try to be a bit diplomatic. Allow people to refuse gracefully. Here are a few ideas on how to frame your question:
- Would you feel comfortable being my reference in my upcoming job search?
- Would you find some time in the next few weeks to meet and talk about being my reference during my job hunt?
If you get a positive reply, youre almost finished. Take a moment to get your references current titles and contact information right. Also, ask how theyd prefer to be contacted by the recruiter usually either by phone or email.
Heres an example of e-mail request that you can use.
Subject: Larry Brown Reference Request
Dear Mr. Clark,
Alternative Ideas For Utilising References
If youve gathered some great references, you will want to show them off. But if youre not including them on your CV, what is the best way to get them seen by recruiters? Here are a couple of suggestions:
1. Reference list – Create a reference list in a separate, professional document. This way, once you are asked by a potential employer for references, you can send them across quickly in a clear, easy to understand document. Dont forget to ask permission of anyone you plan to include first.
2. Use LinkedIn – Dont forget to ensure your LinkedIn profile is as up-to-date as possible and ask for endorsements and recommendations. As the world’s largest professional network, you can guarantee that a hiring manager will review your profile, so while not adding references on your CV at the application stage may be the correct etiquette to follow, having an active LinkedIn profile full of testimonials is the most up-to-date way to showcase your work experience.
Proceed with caution if you do decide to use references available upon request. Ultimately, you want to make every word in your CV count and ensure you have relevant and up-to-date references available when required.
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What Information To Include On Your Reference Sheet
On your reference sheet, you should list each reference with the following information:
- Phone Number
- Email Address
- Reference Description: Write one sentence explaining how you know or have worked with this person, where, when, and for how long.
Theres no need to include your references home or work addresscompanies arent going to be mailing them anything. And if a reference expresses a strong preference for a certain method of contact, its OK to put next to that line on your reference list.
To keep things easy for the hiring manager, its also a good idea to include your own name, phone number, and email at the top of the sheet .
Should I Always Include References With My Resume
Its always a good idea to have a list of references ready. However, you may not need to attach the list to your resume if you already listed your references on an application. You may also want to submit your references after your interview. Waiting allows you to tailor your list based on information you gleaned during the interview. For instance, you can use your references to address any concerns that were discussed or to emphasize skills that seemed particularly important to the interviewer.
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Should I Include References If My Resume Is Too Short
No. Do not include references just to pad a short resume. If youre just starting out in the world, like a high school or college student who hasnt graduated yet, pump up your resume with your academic achievements, summary statement, internships, volunteer work and/or job-related skills. Tell your own story, and dont expect someone else to tell it for you.
Should I Ask Before Listing Someone As A Reference
Yes, since you will be providing their contact information to potential employers, you should always ask permission before listing someone as a reference. This gives them time to prepare what to say and lets them know to expect a call or email. Asking also gives them the chance to say no. This is crucial because you dont want to list someone who is unwilling to provide a favorable review or who feels they have nothing to say.
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Reference Sheet Template And Example
You can use our template to make sure you have everything you need for all of your references.
Heres one example of what your reference sheet might look like:
References for Monica Medina
Keeping references off your resume is not only the standard now, its also more thoughtful toward the people youve asked to speak on your behalf. By only submitting their names and contact information when asked directly , youll know when a prospective new employer is actually going to contact themand you can give them a heads up, pass on any important information about the job or company youre applying for, and thank them for their help.
Regina Borsellino is a NYC-based editor at The Muse covering job search and career advice, particularly resume best practices, interviewing, remote work, and personal and professional development. Before joining The Muse, Regina was an editor for InvestorPlace, where she also wrote about topics such as investing and biotech companies. She holds a BA in English language and literature from the University of Maryland and an MFA in creative writing from American University. Find her on and .
When Do I Need Recommendation Letters
Generally, you only need letters of recommendation if an employer asks for them as part of the application process. In some situations, you can include an unsolicited letter of recommendation to help your application stand out.
A letter of recommendation can be especially helpful if one of your references has connections or influence that might help sway an employer. For instance, if one of your references already works for the company youre applying to, a personal recommendation from them could help. A letter of recommendation may also hold more weight if one of your references has a personal or professional relationship with the person who will make the hiring decision.
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Why Do Employers Request References
When employers request references, they typically do so because they want to confirm that candidates have included honest information in their applications and have answered interview questions truthfully. Reference checks also provide employers with the chance to learn more about a candidates skills and past job performance. If employers are checking your references, theres a good chance that youre one of the final candidates. This doesnt mean that youve got the job. It just means that youve made a strong impression and may soon be hired.
Who Should I List As A Reference
Your references can include:
- Friends and other non-relatives who know you well
Avoid listing the following people as references:
- Former or current employees who may feel obligated to give a favorable review
- Relatives, whose opinions are likely to be disregarded as biased
- An employer with whom you had a poor working relationship
- Anyone who is unlikely to provide positive feedback
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Who To Ask For References If Youre A Student Or A Fresh Graduate
- Teachers and professors.They can testify to your class participation, performance in your school projects or how well you can work in a team.
- Coaches and leaders. They can endorse you for your leadership skills or the ability to work with others.
- Contacts from your volunteer work. They can endorse you for your willingness to help the community, motivation and skills. Plus, volunteering is almost always impressive.
- Employer from your part-time job or internship. Even if you stayed in your job only a few months, your previous employer can speak best about your work ethic.
How To Deal With Professional References
Having said all that, great professional references could be the secret sauce that seals the deal. If you were a speechwriter for President Barack Obama, hopefully that would appear somewhere in your employment history, and possibly in your summary. But if your friend Barack has offered to vouch for you to future employers, think twice before you include his private email and personal cellphone on your public resume.
You could include this info in a separate attachment, or even as part of your cover letter. But does it belong in your public resume? Most experts would say no, and Barack Obama would probably agree.
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Tips For Preparing A List Of References
Here are some tips to consider when preparing your list of references:
- Be sure to include your own name and contact information at the top of the page in case your list of references gets separated from your resume
- Your name and contact information can appear either above or below the title Reference List
- The title can also be altered to Professional References,Personal References or Employment References as needed
- You can divide the reference list into two sections for personal and professional references, if you are listing both
- Be sure to include the full name and preferred contact information for each reference
- Note how you know each person so the interviewer will understand what type of information each reference can provide
- References can be numbered or simply separated by a blank space
- If you have several references to list, consider formatting them into two columns so they will all fit on the same page
You can vary the formatting in a few ways, but you should match the style and font of your resume so that both documents are consistent.
Making A Reference List
The Right Way To Provide Your References To An Employer
Once you know who your references will be, you want to make it easy to submit them to employers when asked. So you should compile everything you need into a reference sheet, one handyand well-formatteddocument that can expedite the hiring process in the final stages.
When the time comes, you can attach your reference sheet to an email as a Word document or PDF file, or you can simply copy and paste the information into the body of the email.
Attach A Reference List
Though it’s not always necessary, you can attach a reference list to your resume when submitting your application. You can do this by attaching an additional file to your application. If you decide to do this, label it clearly and keep it separate from your resume. You may also want to save your reference list document as a PDF to ensure its format saves correctly. Attaching your reference list allows you to provide references early in the hiring process and shows you’re prepared and organized.
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Can I Use A Friend Or Family Member As A Reference
We are often asked:
My friend knows me really well, can they be my referee?
The answer is: no. The purpose of providing references is for the employer to get a professional and unbiased opinion about you and your abilities. Having friends or family members as your references creates a conflict of interest and defeats the whole purpose of trying to get an honest and unbiased view from an independent source.
The following are categories of people you cant use as your references:
Examples Of References On Resumes
Letâs take a look at a few examples of references on resumes to learn more about common mistakes made when crafting a reference and how to correct them.
It is highly important to include the necessary information to contact a reference â just a name and company is not enough. You should always include at least an official business number and an official business email in your references.
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What Should A Resume Reference Page Look Like
A reference page for a resume should be an A4 page with the name and contact information of the candidate at the top, with a clear heading or title. To maintain a consistent structure it would be more professional to use the same style and layout as used on the resume for the name and basic details.
When it comes to listing references to present to a potential employer, you must ensure to order your list by descending significance. That means placing the most impressive reference at the top.
For the reference information, make sure you use all of the following:
- Full name with corresponding title where appropriate
- Job title or position
- Name of company or organization
- Contact phone number
- Contact email address
- Relation to you.
It is no longer necessary to include a physical contact address as references will no longer be contacted through traditional mail and it is inappropriate to share this personal information. We do recommend including a city or town name, simply to locate the business or association.
You can take a look at ResumeCoachs helpful guides to how to write a resume objective, work experience or other resume sections.
Also, you can find practical advice and examples on how to write a cover letter or an introduction to different resume templates for all types of jobseekers.
When Should You Put References On A Resume
Including references in your resume used to be more common in the past. Sure, its good to prepare a list of references in advance, but including it in your resume isnt always the best course of action.
But in some specific situations, its still okay to put them on your resume or together with your application. Its not customary but certainly acceptable if:
- The job listing asks for references from the get-go, you should include them without much hesitation.
- Your reference is someone well-known in the company or industry. Sometimes you dont want to wait until the last round of interviews to play your strongest card.
- Youre a fresh graduate. Probably you still dont have enough experience to fill an entire resume. Moreover, as a student, you have no authority yet. Let others do the bragging for you.
- Youre a freelancer. For companies its sometimes hard to find a dependable freelancer. Of course, your portfolio is still the most important of your application, but you should always be ready to provide a list of references from your past clients.
- Theres an employment gap on your resume. Including references on your resume is an effective way to balance out your work gap.
But If none of the above applies to you, dont do it. Its neither customary nor expected. There are several reasons for that:
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