How Many References Should I Include On My Resume
None would be best. But if youre going to do it anyway, three is ideal, two is too few and four is too many. So lets just say three. It all depends on the employers request and the seriousness of the position youre applying for. The rule of thumb is: think long and hard on whether you want to include references on a resume and how many to include, based on your personal circumstances.
Why Not Create A Reference Page For Your Resume Today
Now that you’ve learned some tips about how to make a reference page for a resume, why not get started today? As I’ve shown you above, a resume references template can give you a great head start on a professional-looking document. You can find some eye-catching resume reference page designs on GraphicRiver and Envato Elements.
Editorial Note: This content was originally published on September 7, 2018. We’re sharing it again because our editors have determined that this information is still accurate and relevant.
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!
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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.
List Your Best References At The Top
Not everyone on your references page will be contacted, soit makes sense to arrange your list to prioritize your fans first. Of course, you should make sure that everyone in yourlist can give a positive recommendation but if youre being honest, Im sureyou can pick which one of your references is most likely to give you animpressive recommendation.
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Select Your Resume References
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.
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Should I Include References If My Resume Is Too Short
No, a short resume is not a good enough reason to start listing references on a resume. If youre just starting out in the world, like a high school or college student who hasnt even 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 via references on a resume.
When To Include References
Some job listings include instructions for applicants toinclude references when sending their application. If thats the case, youshould follow their instructions.
In most cases though, references shouldnt be included inyour resume because employers wont need them until theyve narrowed down theselection to two or three candidates. So, youre better off using the extraspace to highlight job-related skills and achievements, as these will be more usefulcompared to a bunch of names and numbers at the preliminary stage of theapplication.
For most readers, this should answer your question on whenits acceptable to include references in a resume. But if youre still notsureor convincedon what course of action to take, below is a list of pros andcons on including references so you can decide for yourself.
Pros of including resumereferences
- A reference from a well-knowncompany or manager in your industry may look impressive to potential employers.
- Providing references upfront shows employers that youre confident of getting a positive recommendation fromyour previous colleagues and managers.
- It gives employers an idea of whoyou were accountable to, which is important for senior and executive levelroles, as this allows them to check whether your previous organizations corporatestructure is similar to theirs.
Disadvantagesof including references on your resume
Prepare Your References For The Call
Prepare your contacts for the background check call as soonas they give you permission to include them as your professional reference.Give them information about the job youre applying for to help them, such asthe jobs duties and the experience required. This will help them come up with stories thatconnect your previous work and skills to those required in your target job.
Heres an example email you can send to your references:
Thank you again for agreeing to be one of myprofessional references for my job search. As you know, Im applying for a at . Here is the link to their job ad: .
Below are the main skills and job responsibilities requiredfor this position:
Ive given your work phone number and email address tothe recruiter, so please expect them to contact you .
I really appreciate your help with my job search. Iftheres anything I can do for you in return, please dont hesitate to ask.
If its been a while since you’ve worked with your reference,you may attach a copy of your resume with the email to remind them of yourwork history.
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Pick Contacts Youve Worked With In Some Capacity
Whether that be a colleague, manager, classmate or professor, you should select references that know how you work. While friends and family may know you well on a personal level, they may not be seen as reliable or relevant as references who can provide testimony to how you work with others, your work style and your strengths. In fact, many employers will explicitly request references who are not family members.
Good options to consider including on your reference list are:
- Current or former manager or direct supervisor
- Current or former coworker
- Current or former employees/direct reports
- Academic advisor
- Professional mentor
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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How To Write A Resume Reference List
A resume reference list is a document that provides contact and background information on professional references. Recruiters and hiring managers may contact people on your reference list during the hiring process to learn more about your professional history, job performance and other details about the kind of employee you are.
While some employers may ask you to submit resume references as part of the application process, others may ask after a phone screening, face-to-face interview or before the final step in the hiring process. No matter when an employer asks for references, its helpful to prepare a list of several reliable contacts who are able to communicate your best professional attributes.
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How Many References Should You Put On A Resume
The number of references you include in your reference list will depend on your career level, but prospective employers will most likely give you guidance on how many references they want. However, generally, entry-level positions require about three references, while more senior positions may require five to seven references from different times in your professional history.
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When Is It Ok To Include References On A Resume
If an employer specifically asks you to include references on a resume, forget everything weve said and do it! But you will rarely if ever find this request, so this issue will not come up very often.
If an employer is seeking references, thats totally understandable, but be sure that the employer wants the references to be listed on your resume. It might be a better idea to include references in a separate attachment that is not actually part of your resume.
Every resume needs to have five components:
Thats a lot of information to include in a one-page document, and most experts agree that a resume should be only one page. Two pages are sometimes considered OK, especially if your job history is so stellar that you were both an astronaut and a brain surgeon. But for ordinary mortals, no hiring manager has ever complained that a one-page resume is too short.
So references will almost always present two problems: 1) Nobody was expecting them, and 2) References will usually make your resume spill over onto a second page.
Even worse, this second reference page in a resume might be totally blank at the bottom, containing nothing but references, in just a few lines at the top. This is a sure sign that you are a bad resume designer who doesnt know how to trim your text.
How To Organize Your List Of Job References
Always start with your strongest reference first. That is, the person who you believe will be most helpful and most impressive when called should be the first person on your list.
Why list your best reference first?
Employers may not always call all of the people on your list, but they usually start at the top of the list and work down. In order to ensure they call the best person, that person should be at the top of the list.
Also, the first reference who is called will make the first impression and set the tone for the employer – Another good reason why you should put your strongest reference at the top of the list.
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How To Select The Best References For Your Resum
Choosing great references can be key to moving from applicant to interviewee and finally to HIRED.
Just because the references normally go at the end of your resumé doesnt mean theyre not important. If you opt not to include references, at the very least, you should include a References available on request line, or I like to write References gladly furnished upon request.
If a job posting specifically mentions supplying references, make sure you do.
If you choose not to include them on your resumé, or if you dont have room to fit them in, at the very least prepare an additional page with your references. Your references page should follow the same style as your resume in terms of font, layout and colours. Make sure it includes your name, in case it gets separated from your resume.
How To List References
Before you begin your job hunt, gather your references onto a Professional Reference Page. Include each references name, title, organization, phone number, and email address.
List your references starting with your most impressive or important reference.
Dont annotate your application with resume references available upon request. This outdated practice only uses up valuable space and restates something that every hiring manager already knows.
Instead, create a dedicated references page separate from your resume, and attach it to your application.
Next, list each reference like this:
Proper professional references format
Company / University your reference works atFull address of your references company / universityPhone numberEmail address
Never include the personal address of your reference on your reference page, because hiring managers dont contact references via snail mail. Plus your reference may not want you to share their personal information with strangers either.
Underneath each entry on your resumes reference page, you should also make a note clarifying your relationship with the reference, and how long youve known or worked with them.
Finally, if you want to save time formatting your reference page, download our resume references template and fill it in yourself:
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How Many References Should You Include
First, consult the job posting. It may specify an exact number or a minimum number. Always follow instructions in the job posting.
If theres no mention of references or of how many, aim for two of three good references. They should be people who can speak about the things that will be most important to whoever might be calling them. Only listing one might suggest to a hiring manager that you cant find even two people to say nice things about you. And if you list more than three, a potential employer is unlikely to call them all. That means theyll pick two, three or even just one. Choose the best people to represent you.
Does It Mean The One
Thats a no again. A resume should show who you are, detail your experience, and give insight into your potential impact.
If you check all three with a one-pager, why not use it?
Keeping those things in mind, heres how William, Pavel, and Gal crafted the perfect one-page resumes despite their lengthy experience.
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When Do You Need References
Employers will typically check your references just before theyre ready to make an offer, Papadopoulos says. Thats why you dont need to provide them when youre first applying for a job. But its a good idea to have them ready to go before you even land an interview.
If a company is ready to hire you pending a reference check, the last thing you want is to be held up by asking people to be a reference or collecting their contact information. Instead, you should have your references ready and keep them updated during your search, Papadopoulos says.
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.
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