Listing References on a Resume (References Page Format, Examples) [2020]

how to list references on a resume

Resume references are professional references that can speak to a job applicant's previous employment history, skills, qualifications, and experiences while employed at a previous employer. These professional references are often referred to as a job reference or employment reference. They provide a potential employer with the professionals who have confirmed they’re okay being a reference to their former colleague in their job search.

A professional reference is a professional you may have worked alongside in the past. This could be a former colleague, former supervisor, former boss, and manager. You should never list a personal reference on your resume or job application, as these individuals won’t have the ability to speak to your previous employment history for your recruiter or hiring manager who might be inquiring.

References provide your future employer, recruiter, or hiring manager with the ability to inquire more deeply about your work performance and work history. Having anywhere from three to five references in your job application can show a healthy sum of work experience that can assist in the interview process and job offer process for the employer.

Tip: You’ll know when your future employer wants to contact one of your references as they may inform you that they’ll be performing a “reference check”. Once that occurs, you may want to speak with your former colleagues and inform them that they may be contacted. Provide them with your resume, cover letter, and light coaching on what qualities they should bring up that align with your career goals.

Good and Bad References

When thinking of including references on your resume, here are some examples of who to consider.

A good reference is someone who:

A bad reference is someone who:

Resume References

References should never be included on the resume page itself. Job seekers should include a reference list as a separate page in their job application assets. Similar to the cover letter being a separate page, the references page should be the third page (or separate document) in your job application. The reference page is sometimes referred to as a reference sheet. If your prospective employer asks for a resume reference page, reference page, or reference sheet— this is the information they are seeking. They may ask for this page during your job interview or later in the interview process as they prepare to make a job offer.

Job seekers should consider building a references list with at least three to five professional references that are willing to speak about work experiences with them in a positive manner.

Tip: Having your references on a seaport page ensures that an applicant tracking system, which is used by HR professionals, can properly scan your resume and references appropriately.

Reference Information

The information to include in a reference sheet should be the following:

Example Format

John Smith
VP of Product at Apple, Inc.
Former Manager

Determine how many references to list on your sheet based on the length of your employment history and the willingness of your professional colleagues to speak about your work history. Any number of references is considered a good thing to list on your sheet.

Tip: If you aren’t sure which resume template is best for you (chronological, functional, or hybrid) consult a career expert who can guide you in the right direction and assist you with your resume references formatting.

Before resigning from any position, ask managers and supervisors if they are willing to be a potential reference to you, the job seeker. If the manager is willing, it can be useful to ask them to write a reference letter along with the ability to list their contact information.

References Resources

author: patrick algrim
About the author

Patrick Algrim is an experienced executive who has spent a number of years in Silicon Valley hiring and coaching some of the world’s most valuable technology teams. Patrick has been a source for Human Resources and career related insights for Forbes, Glassdoor, Entrepreneur,, SparkHire, and many more.


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