Resume Reference List Tips

Posted December 08, 2021

When writing a resume it is important for a potential employer to know they can trust your references, having access to the contact information for your references will allow them to contact them if need be in regards to your employment. A resume reference list is the document attached to your resume that provides the contact and background information on all of your professional references. Companies that are hiring may ask recruiters and hiring managers to contact the people on your reference list in order to learn more about your professional history during the hiring process. Your references should be able to speak on your job performance and release other details about the kind of employee you are in order to help you move forward with the company.

Resume Reference

During the application process an employer can ask you to submit your resume references or they might wait until after a phone or virtual interview before they make a decision. Even if a resume reference list is not specifically asked for when submitting your application it can be helpful to prepare the list anyway so that if they ask you to send it after the initial interview you will be ready to respond quickly and thoroughly so that your application doesn’t go cold among the other applicants. You will have more success getting hiring offers with a reliable list of references who can communicate your professional attributes well. 

On your reference list you will want to include the following for each reference:

  1. Name
  2. Position
  3. Company
  4. Address
  5. Phone Number
  6. Email Address
  7. Description

Tips for writing a resume reference list

When considering your list of reference for employers to call during the hiring process begin with the following steps:

1. Determine the number of references to include

How many references you decide to list depends on the level you are at in your career. For example, when entering the job market for the first time, you might only need to list three references. However, when you are applying for a more senior role, you will want to consider a longer reference list so that employers can reach out to professionals that have interacted with you at various times throughout your career history. Often, an employer will ask for a specific number of references they’d like to hear from—in this case, do as they suggest so that they don't have to ask you to resubmit with changes made to your resume or reference list.

It’s good to keep in mind that some recruiters may not contact every reference on your list. They might only call one or two, but giving them a selection of different types of references allows them to choose an appropriate reference to call based on the position you are applying for. It also gives them more options in case one reference is unavailable.

2. Choose your resume references

For resume references it is beneficial to consider professionals who can speak to your best qualities and qualifications. Consider choosing people who have witnessed your talents which are specific to the job you are applying for. 

Appropriate references might include:

  • Previous manager or direct supervisors
  • Current or former co-workers
  • Previous employees/direct reports
  • Academic advisors
  • Professional mentors

Make sure that everyone you are listing on your resume references is comfortable talking to potential employers and knows that you are applying to new positions, this is especially true for people you currently work with.

3. Determine when to send your reference list

It is only acceptable to send your reference list attached to your resume if the job posting specifically requests it in your application. In every other case, wait until a recruiter or hiring manager makes the request for the reference list. Double check the application requirements before forwarding the version of you resume with the reference list. Also, there is no need to write “references available upon request” on your resume—  It just adds clutter to your resume and is unnecessary since recruiters know they can and will request this list if and when they need it during the hiring process. 

4. Request your references

Be sure to ask your contacts to be a reference before you provide their names and contact information. This is a common courtesy and it gives them time to prepare for a phone call or email from the employer. With time to prepare your references will be able to recall specific examples that highlight the reasons that you’re the best suited candidate for the role you are applying.

Call, email or ask your prospective references in person if they are comfortable being listed as a reference and potentially being contacted by a recruiter. Most of your references will probably welcome the opportunity if they enjoyed working with you and feel comfortable discussing your talents.

Format template for reference list

List your references in reverse chronological order, starting with the reference you worked with most recently. Here is the template for the format of your resume reference list. 

Be sure to include the following information in this order:

Reference name: First and Last name of your reference

Reference position: What is the current position of your reference

Reference company: Where did the reference work when they interacted with you

Reference company address: Use the company that you worked for together

Reference phone number: Include their work phone number if possible

Reference email address: Again, choose their current email and if possible work email

Reference description: Include where and when you worked together as well as your working relationship.

Resume reference list examples

Luis Martinez

Director of Sales, South America

Global Direct Company

1234 Broadway Blvd.

Dallas, TX 78701


Luis was my most recent direct manager where I have been a regional sales manager for the Global Direct Company from 2017 to 2021.

Joanna Smith

Professor, Everett School of Business

Oregon State University

201 Speedway

Salem, OR 78712


Joanna Smith was my professor for the specialty business courses I completed to earn my Masters of Business Administration.

Your description should not be any longer than one sentence. If you write a paragraph for each reference and you have more than 5 references it can be too much information for a recruiter to need to see, so they will probably skim over it anyway. One sentence for each reference description is plenty long enough to get the information of what their relationship is to you and in what capacity you worked together. 

Be sure to make your resume list look and feel the same as your resume, using the same fonts and colors. This way, if you are asked to submit them together, it looks consistent and professional. Getting distracted from a formatting change can confuse the hiring manager and make you seem less detail oriented. 

Once you are done with the hiring process be sure to thank your reference either in person, via email or in a nice note so they know how grateful you are for their help as a reference. It leaves your references with a good impression of you if you remember to show your gratitude even if it is just a quick call. Your references testimonials can go a long way in helping you get in the door for an interview and landing a new job. 

The Careebliss Team

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