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Should You Include References On Your Resume

Most Employers Do Not Require References Up Front

Should You Include References on Your Resume? | Resume Tips

Employers and recruiters are sorting and sifting through hundreds of resumes to determine which candidates make the first cut and get an interview. During this first pass, they are not likely to contact any references. It would not be efficient to contact references during this stage. They would only waste time. They will want to talk to you first before putting in the effort to reach out to anyone on your behalf. If after the interview the recruiter or hiring manager would like to contact any references, they will ask for them. At this time , it is appropriate to give a reference page.

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.

How Many References Should You Have

Most job seekers should have between three and four references on their reference page.

However, if youre applying for a position that requires extensive vetting like a senior-level role, you should include between five and seven professional references.

But remember that all of your references should be high quality. Each reference should be able to meaningfully attest to your professional strengths and character. Dont include more references just to hit a higher number.

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Who Is A Good Reference For Your Resume

Its important that all the references in your resume are all deliberately selected individuals.

Everyones aunt thinks that they are special, but what does your previous manager think about your work ethic?

To figure out whos a good reference for you, you should take personal experience into consideration: that means what stage in your career youre currently in.


Because youd list different people at different points in your career.

If you are a student or recent graduate with little to no work practice, you would want to get references from:

  • Guidance tutors or counselors
  • Course teachers and professors

Any of these people can speak positively about your best skills, qualities, and experiences.

When you have some professional background, however, even at an entry-level position, you have more variety in selecting a good reference.

You could use former colleagues or managers as well as project, master, doctorate supervisors from your most current studies.

If you are a professional candidate, this process becomes simpler as your preferred references will be more acquainted with giving and requesting references.

Pro tips

  • If you dont have a lot of professional references to count on, you can reach out to just about anyone that can provide you with a valuable character reference.
  • If a friend works in the company you are applying to, you could also use them as a reference.

Other important things you should consider:

Employers Will Search For References

Resume references

Potential employers get in touch with past employers, teachers, and personal contacts to verify your character, abilities, and qualifications.

They have already built up an assessment of their own from your resume and interview. But, they need to attest your job references on your resume with the mentioned names.

When youre interested in making a big purchase, like a car or a house, you ask other people whove purchased something similar for their opinion. You talk to the past owners to get an honest personal review of the product, which goes beyond specification digits and all the fabulous things the salesperson told you.

Similarly, when an organization is looking to hire a new employee, they run a reference check to understand how they perform.

Almost all job applications require you to put a list of references they can get in contact with on a resume.

In theory, job references are entirely out of your control. You cannot force your last boss to sing praises of your work, nor should you!

However, there are still ways to avoid a negative reference and get one to secure the job. Here we point out some of them.

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Cover Letters And References

Cover letters are the employer’s first impression of you as a potential candidate therefore, it is quite important to spend time on this document. This letter allows you to express skills and characteristics that you cannot express in your resume. Cover letters provide a venue for you to discuss your technical and transferrable skills illustrated by solid examples. Follow the standard cover letter outline to assist you with your first draft.

You must sound confident in your letter, emphasizing your positive qualities and how you will be an excellent fit for the position.

When employers request references, they will be interested in people who can provide information on your performance as a student, on the job, or in extracurricular activities. Carefully select references who know you well enough to offer concrete examples of your strengths. Always contact references before you share their contact information with employers. It is helpful to bring your reference list with you to interviews your interviewer may request it!

Make sure you provide your references with a copy of your resume. You may also want to include a brief abstract detailing the position you are seeking, what has led you to this goal, and any major accomplishments or experiences that have influenced your career path.

For an example of what a reference list should look like, .

When Should You Include References On A Resume

You should never include references on a resume or a cover letter. Your references should be a .

The only time you should include a reference page with your resume is if the listing specifically asks for one. You will find that most jobs donât however, always double-check the instructions as to what the employer wants you to submit. Usually if an employer is asking for references on a job application, you should submit the information as a separate document.

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Be Prepared For A Thorough Background Check

Preparing a short list of references for yourself is a good idea.

Firstly, it is essential to know what kind of questions can be asked about you from your referrals.

In general, they are related to your previous job performance and the skills the job requires.

Different questions merit different answers. Also, you should avoid putting a name on the job reference list for whom you are ambiguous.

There are also certain limitations about what a reference can say about you. Hence, choose professionals who have admired your work and know you better in a professional sense.

If you doubt what a particular reference might say, it is better to get that name off the list.

Try to keep it professional as people who are very close to you might end up saying something intricate about you that can harm your chances with the job.

Create A Specific Reference Page Instead

Should You Include References On Your Resume?

Now that you have had the interview and obviously made it to the final two or three candidates , the hiring manager may request references. You will want to be prepared so that you can immediately give them what they need to make the hiring decision. If you make them wait a day or two while you scramble to get something together, you may lose your opportunity. Time is precious.

Before you begin a job hunt, gather your references and list them on a Professional Reference Page rather than directly on your resume. Choose professional references such as previous managers, professors, or former colleagues. A hiring manager does not want to hear how great you are from a friend or family member. Remember to include the references name, position title, phone number, and email address. Make sure to get permission from each reference prior to handing over their information.

Whether youre new to the workforce or an experienced professional, JobHero is here to help you make the most of your career. Come to us for thousands of resume samples, job-specific cover letter samples and many more helpful career resources.

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Assemble The Perfect List Of References

If an employer requests professional references, providing them a strong, tailored references list can maximize your chances of being hired over other final candidates.

And whether you get the job or not, remember to thank your references. They took time out of their schedule to help you convince an employer that youre the right candidate for the position. The least they deserve is a nice thank-you note.

Try To Neutralize Bad Job References On Your Resume

It is also illegal for a past employer to give a negative reference that defames your character, yet it continues to happen.

The founder of Allison & Taylor, a job reference check firm, Jeff Shane, spoke about the employee verification their company does. She said:

“Unfortunately, bad references are far more common than most people realize. About half of the reference checks we perform come back with negative comments.”

While many companies may have the policy to inform only the job title and employment dates, employees frequently violate such policy. Providing a lousy reference may be inevitable for some people.

If youre worried about getting a bad reference, call your former boss and try to understand his opinion about you in advance.

If youre not convinced, try to provide another person as a reference to that company, like the Human Resources Manager.

If you feel that you are repeatedly hitting a dead end after an interview, you might be a victim of a bad reference.

Check up on your listed references and ask them, indirectly, if employers contacted them and what was said. You might be able to identify the person. But if not, change the whole list.

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Create A Reference List

To create a reference list, write down the full name and contact information of your reference. You may also want to include the professional’s job title or relation to you and the company in which they work. After listing this information, use one or two sentences to describe why this reference is relevant. For example, if you’re using your former manager as a reference, you might write:

James GrayJames is my former supervisor at Treasure Chest, where I worked from 2018 to 2020.

On Including References On Resume

How To List Your Resume References [With Formatting Examples]

Despite its worth in boosting your chances for a job, the list of references, however, should not be put on your resume. Career coaches and hirers agree with this. What should you do instead?

Write your references list on a separate page. This is how you should present it. Just like the other application documents, label it with your name, plus the word references at the top portion. For example, Jane Doe References.

With a dedicated reference page, it could serve as the last page of your resumenot a section.

Note: There may be times job interviews tackle references but hirers will ask you to furnish a copy. Further, certain job descriptions and job ads require a list. In such cases, put references on your resume.

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Always Ask For Permission

Quotes are freely given, but they have to be considered private communications unless otherwise specified. Ask permission before you quote someone’s words in your resume. While customer feedback and peer endorsements usually pose no ethical issues, internal documents such as performance reviews or emails may be considered proprietary informationand therefore, confidential. It’s best to ask permission beforehand to prevent any complications.

Why Shouldn’t You Put References Available Upon Request Resume

Your resume is all about you: what you’ve done, what you’re capable of, and how to contact you. It’s not necessary to put information for someone else on your resume.

Adding references on a resume is outdated and unprofessional. An employer expects you to have references, but that comes into play later in the hiring process. Including your references upfront seems presumptuous. Employers will usually ask for references later in the interview stage or right before they make an offer. Keep your list of references ready just keep it off your resume.

Another reason you shouldn’t list references is because most companies use an Applicant Tracking System to scan your resume. Some ATS are programmed to email your references automatically and your application stays invalid until they respond. While this practice doesn’t appear to be common, it’s not a risk worth taking!

Even if your resume doesn’t end up in ATS purgatory, the only contact information that belongs on your resume are the ways to reach you.

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How Do You Include References On A Resume

Use a separate page for your references list. Put your name and the title References on the top of the page, e.g. John Doe References. Use consistent formatting for all your references: list their full names, professional titles, companies, and contact information. Include at least three professional references.

Who To Ask For References If Youre A Seasoned Professional

Should I include references on my resume?
  • Past employers. They can vouch for your work skills, overall performance and describe how you interact with colleagues and supervisors.
  • Direct supervisors. They know you the best and can vouch for you when it comes to your transferable skills and work ethic.
  • Professional mentors. They have a solid understanding of your personality and receptiveness to training and feedback.

Also, think about the relevancy of your reference. How recent is it? Does it come close to the nature of the job youre applying for today?

Rrecent references should naturally be your first choice. Using someone you worked with years ago as a reference may look like youre trying to hide something.

But if an older reference is more relevant to the job youre applying for now, dont hesitate to put it on your resume regardless of age.

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Who To Ask For A Reference

Short answer, anyone respectable who can vouch for your ability and character. As a rule of thumb, try to obtain 34 professional references and 12 personal references.

Professional references attest your professional ability. Ask your past superiors and partners to put in a good word for you. It goes without saying that you should never ask for a reference someone less experienced than you.

Personal references can vouch for your character. It can be any esteemed person from your personal life: past teachers, non-profit leaders, instructors, etc. Just make sure you dont include anyone from your family.

But before you even start to contact them, remember that you have to know your references well and be sure that they can give a good feedback.

Think about the people you worked for and worked with. Which of them could speak well of your qualifications, accomplishments and character?

Any Place Youve Volunteered

People you volunteer for can be excellent references. Plus, volunteering can impress the hiring manager! It can demonstrate your willingness to go beyond what is expected of you and even increase your chances of being hired by 27 percent, according to the Corporation of National and Community Service!

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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:

  • Name
  • 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 .

Why Are References On A Resume No Longer Used


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.

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First Let Your References Know That Youre Applying For Jobs

You should always make contact with the person youd like to use as a reference before you list them as a reference. This helps them know what to expect when the employer calls them. Provide them with as much information as you can about the job and let them know about any key skills or achievements they might include when speaking with the hiring manager.


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