How To Include References On A Resume
This article was co-authored by Adrian Klaphaak, CPCC. Adrian Klaphaak is a career coach and founder of A Path That Fits, a mindfulness-based boutique career and life coaching company in the San Francisco Bay Area. He is also is an accredited Co-Active Professional Coach . Klaphaak has used his training with the Coaches Training Institute, Hakomi Somatic Psychology and Internal Family Systems Therapy to help thousands of people build successful careers and live more purposeful lives. This article has been viewed 3,550,062 times.
Many potential employers ask for a list of references in a job application or at the end of a job interview. Thats why its a good idea to have a list of references handy when youre applying for a new job.
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.
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?
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When To Put References On A Resume
So, if it is typically not expected to have references included on an initial resume, when is the best time to include references on a resume?
Creating a reference section or page can be necessary depending on a number of situations, including:
- If the employer has specifically requested for references to be included in the job description
- If you have progressed further down the hiring process and have been asked to provide references before or after an interview
- If you are applying to governmental or institutional position, such as a federal job, that will require strong references and a background check
Quick Tip: If you have impressive references, such as a company CEO or another recognizable figure, be sure to make these the most noticeable references and the first ones you list in your reference section.
Overall, the golden rule is to wait to provide references until they are requested.
How Can You Prepare A Reference For The Employer’s Contact
Contact the person to ask if they are willing to be your reference, before you give their name to a potential employer.
- Find out how the reference would prefer to be contacted.
- Get permission to give out his or her contact information: name and phone number or e-mail address.
- Find out the best times to reach her or him.
- Discuss your job search goals and the specific employers who may be calling. Many references prefer to see the job description and your resume so they can answer specific questions.
An employer may also ask for your references occupation, how long youve known each other, and the nature of your relationship.
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Should I Say References Available Upon Request
The general consensus is: no, you shouldnt. Unless you have absolutely no experience, employers will assume that references are available upon request. In todays job market, the phrase References available upon request has become the equivalent of junk ink. Just leave it out, this type of professional reference fishing will just raise eyebrows.
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?
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How Employers Use References
References are more commonly called after your interviews have gone well and the employer is in the final stages of deciding whether or not to offer you the job. For many employers, references are used to confirm many of the positive attributes they observed during the interview and to verify details of your work history that you may have shared. For this reason, they arent typically a part of the application or early interview process.
Who To Ask For References If Youre A Seasoned Professional
- 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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Know Who To Ask For Job References
You should have a list of references ready when you apply for a position.
Some job applications only require your past employers’ contact details, while others might ask for a letter of recommendation.
That’s a basic tip, but it’s never too much to highlight:
Only mention those people as references who you know will say good things about you.
Forego that person with the impressive title, who barely knows you, in favor of the relatively junior person, who knows you and wants to see you succeed.
If youre still fresh on the job market with nobody to call upon for professional references, use a personal recommendation from the place you volunteer at or a professor from college or high school.
There may be instances where the hiring manager would like to talk to your current employer. Speak to your boss about why youve applied for another job and if they would agree to be a reference.
If you are not comfortable doing so, let the hiring company know and give your reasons.
You dont need to list your current employer as a reference.
In case you have just passed out of college and have little or no work experience, somebody from the college administration or your professor also counts as a professional reference.
There are multiple ways to get a reference across to potential employers.
Before that, you need to find out if the person you intend to use as a reference has good opinions about you or not.
Boost Your Linkedin Profile With References
Networking sites like have become a hot spot for employers. They often search for LinkedIn profiles that suit their needs.
This is relatively new, but the trend points towards an optimized chance of getting employed if your profile is filled with references.
Besides that, if you have a public recommendation in your LinkedIn profile given by your former boss or the former HR Director of your company, they will probably keep their opinion not to contradict themselves or simply because they liked your job performance.
While looking for references on LinkedIn, it is necessary to know how to get recommendations on the website and who you can ask for references. Sufficient research on how to manage the received recommendations is also required.
The old-school ways of getting references still retain the same importance. But the professional networking sites are gaining prominence as more and more employers are looking towards them to scout for employees.
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Getting Recommendations And Having Reliable References On Your Resume Can Be A Tough Task
Even tougher can be the task of knowing how to make the most of such references. Several factors determine whether the recommendations you get will do you any good or wont.
Ranging from knowing how to get your reference across to the employer to know which of the references are good enough for you, the task is tricky.
However, you can easily manage it given the right research and familiarity with a recommendation’s limitations.
An excellent way to start is by making a list of potential references that have a reasonable opinion of your professional capacity and integrity.
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.
- 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:
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What Is A References List
References lists are an essential component of the job application process, along with cover letters, resumes, and interview follow-up letters. When composing your resume, prepare a solid list of current references.
A references list provides potential employers with professional and personal references that can attest to your work ethic, reliability, capabilities, strengths, professional performance, assets, demeanor, people skills, character, and personality from multiple perspectives. A list of references provides a more candid glimpse of the professional and person behind the resume.
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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How To Send References
When used by employers, references can be a crucial part of the interview process. Employers often call upon references to understand your experience, skills, how you work with others and any other aspects of your work style and history they should be aware of. Unless specifically requested to include your contacts directly on your resume in the job description, lets uncover how you should send a reference list to set your candidacy up for success.
Should I Put References On A Resume
The answer to whether or not to put references on your resume can vary.
The general rule of thumb when is actually to not include references on your resume.
This is because employers are unlikely to reach to references until the interview phase, making the inclusion of them on an initial resume typically unnecessary.
This does not mean that there are never scenarios in which you will need to know how to properly list references.
For specific jobs and in certain situations, you may be asked or required to include a list of references within or alongside your resume.
When you need strong references, it’s important to structure them so that they stand out and impress the hiring manager, landing you the pivotal interview.
In this guide, we will be covering the basics of how listing references on your resumes and when to know itâs time to use references.
Plus, we will discuss alternatives to sending references that can help you in situations where sending a reference may be a difficult task.
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What Are References On A Resume
References include the contact information of professionals within your network who can act as a witness to your abilities, work ethic, and character. Often, individuals ask former employers, managers, teachers, and colleagues or peers to act as their references. Employers may contact these references via email or phone to ask specific questions about your qualities. These questions usually involve credentials and qualities that the employer lists on the job posting. Some professionals include references on their resumes to prepare for the possibility that the hiring manager may need them.
Employers value references because they can get a third-party opinion on the value you may bring to their team. Checking references may be the last step a potential employer takes before offering you a job, so preparing a list of people who can vouch for your work is crucial when looking for new opportunities.
Additional Information And References
Resumes focus on your previous job experiences. However, there may be times when including a skill or accomplishment that was gained outside of your work history could greatly influence a hiring manager. For example, did you win City Volunteer of the Year for your work with a homeless shelter? Or perhaps you have a useful language skill, such as being fluent in Spanish. There is a place for these types of thingsas well as a spot to include references if you chooseon your resume.
In this lesson, you will determine what type of additional information is appropriate to include on your resume.
Watch the video below to learn what to include in the skills section of your resume.
Additional skills and information
Sometimes you may want to include additional information about yourself that comes from outside of your education and work history. For example, you may want to include your fluency in another language, a special community project you coordinated or managed, or maybe even your technology skills outside of what you included in your employment history.
So where do you include additional skills and information on your resume? Here are some options.
In most of the United States, your previous managers and the human resources department can only confirm dates of employment, not talk about your performance, so your references should not include previous supervisors.
To improve your chances of getting a job, choose references who:
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What Is A Resume Reference List
A resume reference list is a document that provides important contact information for your 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.
Dont Forget The Essential Details In The Process When Adding The References On A Resume
Apart from knowing who is possibly a positive reference, it is necessary to understand how to use those references. So don’t forget to consider these critical points as well:
- Be polite and phrase your request carefully not to put the person on the spot. You should ask if he or she would be comfortable being your reference.
- If the person is open to participating, ask for a possible letter of recommendation or a LinkedIn recommendation .
- Follow up and thank your job references after they agree to help you.
- Keep in touch and keep your references up-to-date and think they are an essential part of your network. Consider being their reference as well and let them know about your accomplishments and your career success.
Also, It would take time, but once you put your positive job references on a resume, your chances of attracting an employer online multiply.
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