How To List References On Your Resume

How To List References On Your Resume

Including resume references in a job application is a traditional part of the hiring process. It’s usually a list of three or four people who can personally vouch for your skills and achievements. Knowing how to put references on a resume used to be standard for any job seeker, but are they still relevant in the modern working world? Let’s take a look at how to list resume references in 2024.

The Importance of References on a Resume

How many references should you have on a resume? Are they even still used?

Professional references on resumes used to be common practice, but the short answer is that they aren’t really used anymore. References are now put into a separate list and given to an employer upon request.

Most experts advise against putting references on your resume for two main reasons.

First, listing your references on your resumes takes up valuable space that could be used to detail your professional accomplishments and skills a little more deeply.

Second, hiring managers receive such a large volume of applications nowadays. There’s no way for them to call the references on hundreds of applications.

Usually, recruiters won’t need your references right away. If they’re interested in proceeding to the next steps, they may request references from you after the initial phone screening.

This means that we also recommend that you refrain from putting “References available upon request” on your resume. If they want them, they’ll ask you.

How to list references

Back in the day, it was standard practice to list references on a resume.

But they’re simply not common anymore. Most resume templates don’t even have a section for them.

Instead of listing references on resumes, we’re going to build a separate reference page. This document should be separate from your resume and be ready to send to an employer upon their request.

Start by placing your information at the top of the page. This is helpful to the hiring managers or recruiters using it, so they have quick access to your personal details.

Your details should look something like this:

  • Full Name
  • Phone Number
  • Email address

After this, you can list your references. We recommend three references as the golden number – two is too few and four is usually a bit too many.

Each reference should include the person’s full name, job title, company name, phone number, and email address. Directly after this information, be sure to write a quick sentence of how this person knows you.

Here’s a quick example:

  • Full name
  • Job title
  • Company
  • Phone number
  • Email address
  • [First name] was my colleague at [Company name] from [Date] to [Date]

Next, make sure your references are in the right order. It’s best to put your most recent colleague or manager at the top because they have the most recent experience with you.

Alternatively, you can put the most relevant reference at the top. For example, your most recent position might not exactly align with the job you’re currently applying for. In this instance, put your most relevant reference at the top, even if the role is from a few years ago.

It’s also a good idea to note if any of your references have a preferred method of contact. You can place this directly after their email address or phone number.

Here’s a completed reference list example, including your own details at the top:

Brian Johnson
555-5555
brianj@email.com

Karen Lundgren
Senior Manager
Bright Solutions
555-5555
klundgren@email.com (preferred method of contact)
Karen was my direct manager from 2018 to 2021 when I worked as a UX designer for Bright Solutions

Examples of references

Anyone who can vouch for your professional achievements and talents is a potential reference, from employers to colleagues.

Which references should you choose? It depends on the job you’re applying for and who you believe has the most relevant information about you.

Here are some of the most common types of job references and examples of when to use them:

  • Former employers: The people who hired you can relay your overall performance and achievements.
  • Supervisors: The people who oversaw your tasks and provided you with direction can attest to your dedication and adaptability.
  • Colleagues: Colleagues you worked closely with would be able to vouch for your skills and work ethic.
  • Teachers: Professors who taught you in college are a useful reference for recent graduates.
  • Mentors and career coaches: Professionals who provided guidance and watched you grow can tell potential employers about your openness to feedback and quick learning ability.
"We recommend three references as the golden number – two is too few and four is usually a bit too many."

Dos and don'ts of listing references

Now let’s go over the dos and don’ts of listing references. Think of this as a quick cheat sheet for you to glance at whenever you’re collecting references.

Do:

  • Provide the full name of each reference 
  • Include the reference’s job title and company name
  • Provide the reference’s contact details and specify if they have a preferred method of contact
  • Get permission from each person while collecting references
  • Build a references list that’s separate from your resume
  • List references chronologically unless another reference holds more relevance

Don’t:

  • Include references who are not familiar with your work
  • Include references who are not willing to provide a positive reference
  • List references who are not available to be contacted
  • List personal references, such as friends and family
  • List references on resumes, especially if it would expand your resume into two or three pages (we always recommend one- to two-page resumes)

Expert Tip:

Just like a resume should be relevant to different job applications, so should your reference list. If possible, it’s highly beneficial to update your reference list depending on the job. For example, you might usually list an employer, a supervisor, and a mentor in your references. But when you apply for roles that require collaboration and teamwork, you always list a colleague.

Final Thoughts: The Role and Relevance of References on Your Resume

References are still valuable for jobseekers, although how we deliver them to employers is changing.

Take the time to build a thorough reference list and have it ready to send to employers who ask for it. Don’t forget to ask for the permission of each person you list.

If you’re looking for help building a resume, however, give CVWizard a try for a professional, simple resume.

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