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How List References On Resume

How To Ask For A Resume Reference

How to List References

Got a shortlist of candidates? Now, its time to let those people know you are using them as your references. Never list someone without a heads-up!

Here are a few quick tips for requesting a reference:

  • Use a bit of flattery, but dont fawn.
  • Explain why youve chosen them.
  • See if they have preferred contact information
  • Ask for one or two references more than you need if someone else doesnt respond.

Heres a brief sample request:

Hi Dr. Johnson,

I hope things are going well for you, and that Westside Medical Clinic is as successful as ever. I am writing to you because I am in consideration for the position of head nurse at Regional hospital. Would it be okay if I used you as a reference?

They are seeking someone with both clinical and supervisory experience for this position, and who can understand the needs of low-income patients. Because we worked together managing the City Free Clinic, I thought you could speak to my abilities in these areas.

If you would be willing to be contacted by my potential employer, please let me know your preferred contact information.


Rhonda Black

Can I Include References Without Their Permission

No way! Youre buying a one-way ticket to unemployment hell if you blindside former employers by listing them as references on a resume without even checking with them first.

A job search is a process, and you cant just skip a bunch of steps. If you used to be Bill and Melinda Gates nanny, you cant just put their private contact info on your resume without getting their permission first.

If you need character references on a resume, reach out to your most promising prospects. How do you ask someone to be your reference? Explain what youre up to, what kind of job youre currently seeking and why you need a reference. If you used to work for Warren Buffett, hes probably busy earning another $1 billion today, but he might have five minutes to dash off a note saying you were a great bookkeeper.

Speaking of which instead of seeking permission to publish their closely guarded contact info, why not ask former employers for a short testimonial about what an awesome employee you used to be? You can probably get far more mileage from a professional reference letter than from a phone number that Elon Musk doesnt answer anyway.

How Many References To Add To A Resume

Assuming you are using a separate, dedicated references page, the ideal number of references to aim for is between 3 to 4.

In some cases, you may include up to 5 to 6 references, though generally you should limit yourself to a lower number unless specifically requested to do otherwise.

When selecting your 3 to 4 references, it is important to keep a few factors in mind:

  • Which references hold the highest prestige in their positions, making their inclusion on a references page notable?
  • Which references can provide the most relevant information about your work ethic and skills for the job you are currently applying for?
  • Which references do you have the strongest relationships with who will go above and beyond to recommend you to a hiring manager?

Also Check: How To Update Your Resume On Linkedin

How To Format A References Section On A Resume

Formatting a reference section will ultimately depend on if it is being created within a larger resume or separately on a different page.

For on-resume reference sections, it is important to keep them as short as possible, potentially even excluding some of the basic information.

If you are including references directly on a resume, you will likely only want to include one or two of your most relevant and impressive ones in order to not take up too much space.

When making a separate page for references, you can simply stack them as you would jobs in a work experience section, placing emphasis on relevance in how the references are ordered.

The Basic Reference Format:

  • Position or Title
  • Company or University of Employment
  • Company or University Address
  • Company or University Phone number
  • Company or University Email Address

It is important when writing out your references that you do not include personal information about the reference, such as a personal cellphone number or email, without their explicit permission.

It is best to just air on the side of caution and only include official and public contact information.

There is, of course, optional additional information you may want or choose to include within a reference.

This can include:

As for formatting the rest of your resume, donât forget to check out our other guides in this series including How to Write the Perfect Resume in 2021 and How to Choose the Correct Resume Format in 2021!

How Many References Should You Include In Your Resume

Resume references

Though there really isnt a written rule anywhere about how many references you should include, the most fitting number would be three to five.

Based on your career level though, there is a general division of two groups:

Regular and/or first-time job seekers, should usually provide 3 to 4.

Whereas people applying for senior roles should include a longer list: about 5 to 7 references.

In that case, its sufficient to list one reference for all the different points in your professional record.

Read Also: What Is A Good Typing Speed For Resume

How To Write References On A Cv

Important guidelines to follow when writing your CV references:

  • Your references must include the following details about each of your referees: full name, job title, address, telephone number and email address.
  • Ask permission of your referees before you give their details to recruiters. This will also make them aware that they might receive a phone call about you.
  • State the job title of your references. Without it, they could be just your mates or any Tom, Dick and Harry!
  • Do not disclose personal telephone numbers but instead, use your referees work telephone number .
  • Use your most recent employer as a reference, as is common practice. Otherwise, an employer may wonder Why didnt he/she include his/her most recent employer as a reference? What has this person got to hide?
  • Should You Include A Reference Section On Your Resume

    Some employers may ask you to submit references as part of your resume while others may ask for a reference list after the interview or in the final stages of the hiring process. However, offering a list of references with your resume is generally not the best policy.

    If a job posting does not request references, you should not include them on your resume or with your job application. It has become more common in recent years for companies not to provide references for former employees as a way to avoid potential lawsuits, so more and more employers do not ask for them.

    Also, resume experts agree that a general rule of thumb is not to add any references due to space and time issues. Generally, you will want to keep your resume as short as possible, and adding references that an employer probably won’t use is wasting space that could be used for more important information.

    The recruiter reading your resume also generally does not have a lot of time and will probably not reach out to your references unless you are short-listed for the job. This is usually why prospective employers do not ask for references until after the interview period.

    However, in some job postings, recruiters will request references or testimonials in your resume or as part of your job application and, if so, you should follow the instructions exactly. If references are not explicitly requested here, you may be asked after your interview to submit a reference list.

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    They Are Not Needed At The Early Stages Of A Job Application

    References are simply not needed at the beginning of the job application process because employers do not normally request them until offer stage.

    Although there is no official regulation of reference request timing, its generally understood across the recruitment industry that most employed candidates will be unable to provide references until theyve been offered a job due to the fact most people cannot let their current employer know they are looking elsewhere until they have a concrete offer on the table.

    Very rarely a company might ask for a reference at interview stage, but this doesnt mean that you have to provide one if youre not comfortable doing so.

    Can I Use A Friend Or Family Member As A Reference

    References: Are You Making a Resume Mistake?

    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:

  • Family members
  • People you dont know
  • People who dont know you well.
  • Also Check: How Much Employment History To Put On Resume

    While You’re At It Do This Next

    When it comes to preparing for your job search, there’s plenty to do. It’s as if you already have a full-time job dedicated to finding a job. References are part of the puzzle, but the biggest pieceand the first one you put downis your resume. Thankfully, creating a great resume doesn’t have to be a grueling exercise. Need some resume-writing advice to help you kick off an awesome job hunt? Get a free resume evaluation today from the experts at Monster’s Resume Writing Service. You’ll get detailed feedback in two business days, including a review of your resume’s appearance and content, and a prediction of a recruiter’s first impression. Think of it as a reference check for your resume.

    How To Write A Reference Request Email

    Follow these steps for a great reference request email:

    • Give advanced notice. You cant expect busy professionals to be ready to speak on your behalf at a moments notice. Ask someone to be your reference at least a week before they could potentially be contacted by the hiring manager.

    • Use a professional email format. Make sure your subject line is direct , your contact details are clear, and youve formatted your email using the standard business letter layout.

    • Introduce the situation. After a brief how have you been type catch-up, get straight to the point of your email. Let them know the position youre applying for and ask permission to list them as a reference.

    • Tell them why you chose them. You can play to peoples vanity a bit with compliments or simply let them know theyre a great person to speak to your specfic skills in XYZ whatever the reason, share it so they understand your reasoning.

    • Give them information. You can wait until theyve agreed to get to this part or include it in your initial email. You can give them your resume, cover letter, the job description, and anything else you feel will make their job easier.

    • Thank them. Finally, thank your reference for taking the time to consider your request.

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    How To Format Your References List

    Your resume references should be its own distinct document, not a part of your resume. However, what format you choose for your references list depends on what your resume and cover letter look like. That means sticking to the same heading, color scheme, font, and margins.

    Other than that, simply follow these guidelines to format your list of references:

    • Start with your contact information , using the same format as your resume/cover letter

    • Add a clear title in a slightly larger font than your contact info. Something like Professional References is a safe bet. Just let a reader know what this document is.

    • Start writing references with the following information in the following order:

      • Full name

      • Company/Institution where you reference works

      • Full address of the company/institution

      • Phone Number

      • Email Address

      • A very brief description of your relationship with the reference, including when/how long you worked with them.

    Select Your Resume References

    The Best Resume Reference Template

    When selecting resume references, consider people who can speak to your best qualities, skills and qualifications. If possible, choose people who can discuss talents specific to the job youre applying for.

    Generally, the best people to include as references are:

    • Current or former manager or direct supervisor
    • Current or former co-worker
    • Current or former employees/direct reports
    • Academic advisor
    • Professional mentor

    When thinking through who to include on your reference list, make sure you are comfortable with these people knowing you are looking for a new job, especially if they are someone you currently work with.

    Related: How to Request a Business Reference

    Read Also: How To List Gpa On Resume

    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 in the P.S. of your cover letter . But does it belong in your public resume? Most experts would say no, and Barack Obama would probably agree.

    Create A Separate Reference Page

    More often than not, job applicants who have chosen to include references on their resume will do so on an entirely separate page to be included with the resume.

    The second option of listing your references on a separate page is actually the preferred and recommended method.

    This is because references are not generally expected to be included on an initial resume and can take up unnecessary space that may be off-putting to hiring managers.

    Comparatively, a separate page of references gives the hiring manager the opportunity to look more closely at the information in the resume without becoming visually disoriented by too many sections.

    Hint: Not sure how to list other sections of your resume? Check out our Resume Guides to learn more about how to craft each section of your resume.

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    How To List References On A Curriculum Vitae


    When you’re applying for a job, especially in the academic realm, you may be asked to provide a curriculum vitae often just called “vitae” or a “CV” as part of the application process. According to the University of California – Davis, the biggest difference between a curriculum vitae and a resume is its length. While resumes are typically much more brief and confined to one or two pages, a CV format can be much longer and include more detail about your life’s work.

    As such, it’s perfectly acceptable to include a reference sheet with your CV. You’ll want format the sheet for your curriculum vitae references in a professional manner to present the best image possible.

    Why Are References On A Resume No Longer Used

    Intro to Resume Writing: Listing References

    Sort of like video killed the radio star, we can thank the internet for killing the idea of references on a resume. The short answer is: references on a resume are usually sensitive information and should not be widely distributed due to privacy concerns. Theres also the idea of digital etiquette, which dictates you shouldnt mention people will-nilly, opening them up to unexpected calls and messages. Such frivolous use of references on a resume can get you a very bad rep in many professional circles.

    Before the 1990s, when you couldnt send mail without licking a stamp, resumes were relatively private documents that were printed on paper, enclosed in an envelope and dropped in a mailbox. Sure, a resume might be passed around an office, hand to hand, but this didnt make the references names, addresses or phone numbers accessible to millions.

    That all changed with the electronic revolution, which turned resumes into digital documents that actually could be accessible to millions. Today you can post your resume on LinkedIn or any number of other totally public job-search websites. So do you think your old boss would be thrilled to know that youve put his name, title, employer, phone number and email address in front of potentially billions of people? Probably not.

    Read Also: What Your Resume Should Look Like In 2020

    Decide How To Send Your Reference List

    The only time you should send your reference list with your resume is if the job posting explicitly requests references with the application. Otherwise, wait until a recruiter or hiring manager makes the request. Save space on your resume by removing references available upon requestrecruiters will request this list if and when they need it during the hiring process. If youre looking for additional guidance while creating your resume, review Indeeds list of resume samples.

    How To Request References

    All right, so youve got your list of potential references, but youre not done yet! Contact these people to make sure they know youre planning on using them as a reference. This is also your way of checking that the contact information you have is correct and up-to-date.

    Not only is it polite to reach out to your references before including their names on your list, but it has the added advantage of giving them time to prepare. That means when they get a phone call or email from your prospective employer, theyll be ready with the best examples of your professional excellence.

    Depending on how distant your working relationship with the potential reference is, consider sending them a copy of your resume, so they can brush up on what experiences and qualities youre trying to highlight.

    If theyre really invested in your success, consider sending the job description as well. The more information your reference has, the better chance they have to provide you with a top-quality recommendation.

    Always follow up with references who agree to be on your list by sending a thank-you email. Its not just about being nice it also serves as a reminder that they should expect a call or email from your prospective employer soon.

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