Listing References on a Resume (Examples and Template)

a picture of business person and how to list references on a resume

Listing reference on a resume can be very powerful. Whether your hiring manager or recruiter is in need of references for your application is a moot point. It's great to list them. And it shows you're willing to put support behind your name to validate your work history and experience.

References can act as wonderful validators. Whether hiring managers decide to contact reference is entirely up to them. Though, the act of having references and listing references is usually enough to show your worth.

Learn about how references play a vital role in job applications. And how to list a professional reference on a resume.

Should you include references?

Yes! Including references in a job application is a great idea.

how to list references on a resume

In some cases, a job application portal might not have the field to input references. In which case, you should include your references inside your resume attachment (ideally, a PDF).

Whether the hiring manager asked for references isn't important, include them!

What if you don't want to list references for your job application? You don't have to do that. Unless specifically requested, references are not a requirement to most job applications. And by listing them in advance, you're simply being proactive.

Who should you ask to be a reference

When thinking about people to add as part of your references, it's important to consider who your reference should be.

references on resume

The person you pick should be someone who can speak to the following:

  • Your prior job performance.
  • Someone who can validate your employment history.
  • A professional who can tell stories that speak to your characteristics, competencies, soft skills, technical skills, and hard skills.

Try not to include personal contacts as part of this list.

Personal vs professional references

Personal references are family friends. Or professional family friends. Personal references are more frequently used in real estate/mortgage applications.

Professional references are previous supervisors, employers, and managers.

Always include professional references on your resume. Unless applying for an internship position, where you have no prior work experience.

In that case, it's acceptable to list personal references on your resume.

Who makes the best references:

  • A prior direct manager.
  • Former colleagues.
  • A direct supervisor.
  • Most employers.

Try to choose a reference who is going to have the ability to speak to relevant skills that accompany your job hunt. You can determine this by reading the job description/job posting. And scouring through the requirements/responsibilities/duties of the job.

Look for keywords. For example, "requires collaboration with the marketing team."

Learn more about professional references.

Should you put references on a resume?

Should you put the references on the actual resume itself?

No.

Your references should not be a resume section. A resume section is related to your career objective, work history, education, and more.

It's not uncommon for a job seeker to put their references on the resume itself. Don't do this.

Instead, make a new sheet, a reference sheet, and list your references on that sheet.

Most employers won't reach out to references until they are amongst the final candidates for the open position. Meaning, they don't require references in order to submit a job application.

It's a good idea to get ahead of this, though, and include the reference sheet early in the hiring process.

references on resume

Remember, your resume should only be one-page. Meaning, you want to use this valuable space to list work history and a strong career objective. Rather than contact information for references.

Key takeaway:

It's a best practice to leave references off your resume itself. Make a new sheet that includes your reference list for the hiring manager.

How to list references on a resume

Here's how to list references on your resume. Sometimes referred to as "resume references."

Create a reference list

Scour through the job description. Learn about the company you're applying for. And create a matrix of who you can list on your references that could assist you.

For example, does the company pride itself on innovation? If so, listing a reference who can speak to your capabilities as an executor.

Or if the role is a management position, is there a reference who can speak to your leadership skills?

Decipher who is going to be the best professional contact to list.

Your contact information on the list

Start the reference sheet with your contact information.

This should include the following:

  • Your full name.
  • Phone number.
  • Email address.
  • LinkedIn profile (optional).
  • Professional website (optional).

The result should look like this (resume reference example):

John Smith

637-884-8376

[email protected]

linkedin.com/j.smith

jsmith.com

Use consistent formatting with the references

Consistent formatting of the references can assist hiring mangers. It makes it easier to comprehend the list. And makes it easier to contact references.

references on resume

Reminder: The manager isn't going to contact references until they're ready to speak with them. In that circumstance, they could request references from you. Even if you already provided them. If that happens, the manager is ensuring that the list you provided is accurate. And the one you want to use.

Here is how each reference should be formatted:

  • [Their full name]
  • [Email address]
  • [Phone number]
  • [Company]
  • [Relationship to you]

And the end result should look like the following:

Bryan Brock

633-487-5874

[email protected]

Apple, Inc.

Prior Supervisor

Include at least three professional references

How many references should be on the list? Three!

Three references is the correct amount of references to list.

Attach the references to your resume

Remember, don't put your references on the resume itself. Instead, attach it as a separate sheet/separate page, part of your resume.

Ideally, the employer opens your resume and has two pages of information inside the PDF file. The first page being your resume. The second page being your references.

Keep in mind, this is a proactive move. And references aren't commonly asked for until the final stages of the hiring process.

references on resume

Including "references available upon request" on the sheet

What about "more references available upon request?"

Should this phrase be used on the reference sheet?

Yes, it should!

Why? Having a healthy amount of reference is a good sign to hiring managers.

And if the hiring manager needs to contact more references, to validate other skill sets, its best to inform them that they have that option.

Simply include the following phrase at the bottom of your page:

More professional references available upon request.

How do I ask someone to be a reference?

When starting to look for a new job, building your list of references is going to be a vital part of the job hunt process.

It's best to ask prior employers/supervisors. Those that can write a glowing recommendation based on your work with them at prior jobs.

Another great person to ask would be anyone who you consult regarding career advice. This is a great method for interns and those with no prior work experience.

references on resume

Here's how to ask for a recommendation:

  • Determine who you're going to ask.
  • Write a short note/email providing the details on the new job you're applying to.
  • List the job/companies you're applying for.
  • Write a short note on what you need from them. For example, mentioning your interpersonal skills or work ethic.
  • Ask if they need any more information.
  • Provide the date that you need the recommendation/reference by.

Learn how to ask for a letter of recommendation.

Reference page example

References

-

John Smith

[email protected]

744-857-3867

VP of Product at Apple, Inc.

Former Manager

-

Tyler Tart

[email protected]

630-775-8476

VP of Product at Adobe Inc

Former Manager

-

Sarah Herrington

[email protected]

334-837-2348

Product Manager at XYZ Company

Former Manager

Reference page template

References

Reference #1

[Colleague/Manager's Name]

[Colleague/Manager's Email Address]

[Colleague/Manager's Phone Number]

[Job Title @ Company Name]

[Colleague/Manager's Relationship to the Job Applicant]

[Optional: Business Mailing Address]

Reference #2

[Colleague/Manager's Name]

[Colleague/Manager's Email Address]

[Colleague/Manager's Phone Number]

[Job Title @ Company Name]

[Colleague/Manager's Relationship to the Job Applicant]

[Optional: Business Mailing Address]

Reference #3

[Colleague/Manager's Name]

[Colleague/Manager's Email Address]

[Colleague/Manager's Phone Number]

[Job Title @ Company Name]

[Colleague/Manager's Relationship to the Job Applicant]

[Optional: Business Mailing Address]

Favorite Resources

Our favorite resources are included below.

Job interview resources

Resume and cover letter resources

Job search resources

free interview question and answer full guide

Interview Question and Answer Guide (PDF)

Get our full interview preparation guide. Complete with common interview questions and example answers. Free. No email required.

Grab the PDF
author: patrick algrim
About the author

Patrick Algrim is a Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW), NCDA Certified Career Counselor (CCC), and general career expert. Patrick has completed the NACE Coaching Certification Program (CCP). And has been published as a career expert on Forbes, Glassdoor, Dice.com, WorkWise, American Express, Reader's Digest, LiveCareer, Zety, Yahoo, Recruiter.com, SparkHire, SHRM.org, Process.st, FairyGodBoss, HRCI.org, St. Edwards University, NC State University, IBTimes.com, Thrive Global, TMCnet.com, Work It Daily, Workology, Career Guide, MyPerfectResume, College Career Life, The HR Digest, WorkWise, Career Cast, Elite Staffing, Women in HR, All About Careers, Upstart HR, The Street, Monster, The Ladders, Introvert Whisperer, and many more. Find him on LinkedIn.

Share

Help us by spreading the word