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In this guide, you’ll learn:

        • The answer to the all-important question, “Should you put references on a resume?”
        • How to format references on a resume.
        • The secrets to creating a strong references section and separate references page, with resume references examples for guidance.
        • Tips for choosing and listing professional references.

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How to List References on a Resume (With Examples)

There are two different routes you can take when adding professional references to your application:

    • List them in a references section on your resume.
    • Create a separate references page for your resume.

Sometimes the hiring manager will dictate which route you should take. Generally, though, it’s a good idea to create a standalone page as this saves space in your resume and ensures that you’re ready to supply references separately if this is what the employer prefers.

An example of how to list references on a resume can help you decide what you need to do. Here, we have a few different scenarios for you to consider.

How to format a resume references section.

If you are adding a dedicated references section to the bottom of your resume, here’s the resume format you should follow:

[Name of individual]
[Current job title of individual]
[Institution or company where the individual works]
[Mailing address of the company]
[Phone number of individual]
[Email address of individual]
[Reference’s relationship to you]

Take a look at this resume references example to get an idea of what this would look like in practice:

Alison Tennant
Operations Manager
ABC Logistics
1435 Elm Street
Anytown, USA 56987
(555) 721 8459
alison.tennant@abclogistics.com
Manager for four years at ABC Logistics

How to make a reference page for your resume.

If you’re compiling a separate references sheet, start by using the same contact information header from your resume. This consistency is not only aesthetically appealing but establishes your brand identity as an applicant.

Title your document “Professional References”, then list three to four references using the same information as described above:

Scott Hemingway – (555) 555 5555 – s.hemingway@fakeemail.com – Chicago, IL

Professional References

Alison Tennant
Operations Manager
ABC Logistics
1435 Elm Street
Anytown, USA 56987
(555) 721 8459
alison.tennant@abclogistics.com
Manager for four years at ABC Logistics

Robert Jordan
Bridge Engineer
Trout Fishing Inc.
123 Fake Street
Anytown, USA 56987
(555) 555 55555
robert.jordan@fakeemail.com
Supervisor for two years at Trout Fishing Inc.

Brett Ashley
Food & Event Coordinator
Pamplona Industries
6789 Party Ave
Anytown, USA 56987
(555) 555 55555
b.ashley@fakeemail.com
Supervisor for one year at Pamplona Industries

Tips for Adding References to Your Resume

There are a few best practices to adhere to when it comes to navigating professional references. Keep the following advice in mind to get resume references right:

  • Include a maximum of five references on your application. While it might be tempting to list all your former colleagues and managers, it’s best to select between three and five of your strongest references to include on your resume or references page.

  • Match the formatting of your references page to your resume. The design and aesthetic of your references sheet should be the same as that of your resume and cover letter. This ensures continuity and shows professionalism.

  • Choose the right people. Select references who can speak positively about your work ethic, skills, accomplishments, and past performance. Ideally, you want to pick the most influential and relevant individuals – they should be able to comment on capabilities and strengths that are directly related to the job.

  • Ask for permission first. Always make sure that people are comfortable with being listed as a reference and happy to recommend you before you share their contact information with potential employers. It’s the polite thing to do.

  • Double-check contact details. Don’t assume that the phone number and email address that you have on file for someone are still correct. Always confirm this information with the relevant person before adding it to your resume. You don’t want a prospective employer to have their email bounce back.

  • Prep your references. Once you have their permission, send your references your resume so that they’re familiar with its content and ready for questions from a hiring manager. Also let them know if you’re progressing through the hiring process and they should expect a call or email. It can be helpful to brief them about the jobs you’ve applied for and the skills or accomplishments you want them to focus on.

If you are still unsure about how to use references with your resume, check out our large collection of free and premium resume templates or resume examples for inspiration.

Should You Include References on Your Resume?

The short answer to this question is, in fact, “no”. It’s no longer considered necessary or common practice to include references on a resume. There are two reasons for this:

  • Inefficiency. Hiring managers aren’t going to contact references until a later stage in the hiring process, and they’ll ask you to provide them separately if and when they need them. So listing references on your resume when you’re first applying for a job simply takes up valuable space that could be better used to showcase your skills and accomplishments.
  • Privacy. Sharing the personal contact information of your references on your resume can carry risks. It’s better to share these details only when you know that the prospective employer is genuinely interested in contacting these people.

All this said, there might be times when employers explicitly ask you to put references on your resume. In this case, it’s essential that you do so. For these instances, we cover how to format your references below.

Key Takeaways

    • Don’t include references on your resume unless they’re explicitly requested.
    • If you are asked for references, it’s generally better to create a separate references page than to add a references section to your resume.
    • Each reference entry should include the following information: name, job title, company name, company address, phone number, email address, and relationship to you.
    • Looking at a resume references example can help ensure you format your references page correctly.
Pro Tip:

It’s important to seek permission from your references before sharing their information and prepare them for a call or email.

Resume References FAQ

Updated: December 15, 2023

Professional references are individuals who can vouch for your qualifications, skills, work ethic, and overall suitability for a job. Employers often ask for references so that they can verify the information provided in your application and gain insights into your past work performance.

Although references are an important part of the application process, hiring managers typically only contact them after you’ve been shortlisted and are being seriously considered for the role. So there’s no need to include references on your resume when applying for a job. It is no longer expected or customary. Prospective employers will request references from you when they need them.

It’s best practice to include between three and five individuals on your references sheet. It’s unlikely that hiring managers will contact all of them, but it’s good to offer options. That said, you don’t want to overwhelm an employer with an excessive number of contacts to reach out to – too many can also dilute the impact of each recommendation.

If you’ve held several different positions that draw on distinct skills over your career timeline, you might want to include a reference from each (without exceeding five).

The people you choose to list as references must have worked closely with you and be able and willing to speak positively about your work ethic and character. Ideally, you want to select people who are very familiar with your line of work and able to comment on your ability to perform particular job tasks.

Examples of people you could list as references include former managers, supervisors, colleagues, clients, customers, and mentors.

If you’re just beginning your career and don’t have former managers or colleagues to list, you can include contacts for college professors, academic advisors, mentors, volunteer organizers, guidance counselors, and project supevisors. These are all perfectly acceptable references for an entry-level candidate.

Your relationship to a reference is an explanation of how you know the person and in what capacity you worked with them. You would write something like “Former colleague in the sales department at XYZ company” or “Manager responsible for supervising my performance at ABC organization”.

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Conor McMahon, CPRW

Conor McMahon, CPRW

Content Writer

Conor is a Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW) for Hloom.com. He has over three years of professional writing experience as well as experience in professional development training. As a member of the Professional Association of Resume Writers & Career Coaches (PARWCC) Conor has written on career development topics ranging from resume and cover letter best practices, employer/employee communication, job seeking help, and more. He received his degree in Music Industry at Northeastern University and plays guitar in his free time.

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