The Best Way How to List References on Resume

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A reference list is not a 100% guarantee that you will increase your chances of getting hired. But many employers tend to consider references or look through LinkedIn job connections before scheduling an interview. Still, sometimes it is not clear how to list references on resume.

In case of any doubts concerning resume references, make sure to read this article and learn

  • what is a reference, and how it can increase your interview chances;
  • cases when listing references is indispensable;
  • examples of the best resume references;
  • how to choose a correct format;
  • which template to use for making references.

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What Is a Reference on a Resume?

References, or recommendations, are people who have previously worked with you in a professional environment. Their value lies in telling a potential employer about your abilities and personal qualities. 

Referrals on resume can increase your chances of success in the hiring process. Indeed, the recruiter can use the contacts to get an objective opinion about your skills and find out whether you are a suitable candidate for a particular position. 

Therefore, it is not worth writing recommendations by yourself: the given references resume are often checked. Revealing the truth for any recruiter is a matter of a few minutes, so by lying, you can destroy your reputation.

To find more about resume examples, follow the link.

In What Cases Should I List References on Resume?

Everything depends on the jobs you are applying for. If the agencies emphasize the need of listing references on resumes, you have no other choice. But if the job description doesn’t contain information about the recommendations, do not add them at all. 

Recruiters prefer compact but informative resumes, so the main rule is not to write anything extra. Moreover, you are free to use references as an additional advantage at the next stages of recruiting. Learning how to list references on resume can be useful if you lack experience and need to demonstrate your skills by other means.

Let's dive deep into the topic. Learn more about what is a resume.

How Many References on Resume are Needed?

Again, it depends on the ultimate goal of the job hunt. Most hiring managers consider between three and four references as a perfect quantity. Note that these have to be closely related to the line of work of the target organization. 

If the goal of your job hunt is to get a senior position, then you should stand out when you list references on a resume (put around 5-7). Before picking professional references, make sure to acquaint yourself with a guideline on how to include references on resume. Forget about compiling a huge roll with all people you have ever worked with. Think strategically when making a reference list for the desired position.

A Person to Choose as a Reference on Resume

Any person from the professional team can become a reference. But you need to consider whose opinion would be the most valuable for a potential employer. Of course, if you add your mother as a reference, it won’t be convincing. Personal references on resume may include the following:

  • supervisor of the applicant;
  • CEO of the company where the candidate worked before;
  • department boss;
  • former colleagues;
  • dean, teacher, or principal of an educational institution

Before making a list, you need to think carefully about those who can provide a positive recommendation. Professional references example is always helpful in case you have no idea whose contact information to add.

The Best Way to Request a Reference

Of course, the first thing you need to obtain is the consent of a potential referral. This can be done using different methods, depending on the kind of relationship with them. The best way is to call or talk in person. Explain what job you are interested in and find out what they think of your professional experience and additional perks. 

If a face-to-face meeting is not possible to arrange, you can send an email or other message. As for the number of recommendations, try to find at least three to include in the reference list resume.

Resume References Example

The list of references you provide must have the same style as your resume because it would make your application look more professional. This way, the hiring manager is more likely to believe the testimonial, and you are more likely to land an interview. To protect yourself from unnecessary mistakes, follow the resume reference sample:

Bill Jackson

Head of the Marketing Department

FanTech Company

1001 Louisiana St

Houston, TX 77002


Bill Jackson was the Head of the Marketing Department while I worked as a junior marketing specialist from 2016 to 2018.

If you are a student and lack considerable experience, pay attention to the following resume references sample:

Anna Choi

Professor, Faculty of Law

Chicago State University

9501 S King Dr

Chicago, IL 60628


Anna Choi was my research supervisor during my studies at the Faculty of Law.

The list of references example is non-exhaustive, and it can be different depending on the profession you choose. Therefore, in case of any difficulties, it is better to get expert advice from people who are engaged in this on a daily basis. With professional resume examples, you will be able to compose a reference list for any kind of job.

How to Put References on a Resume and Choose a Correct Format 

Putting references requires you to follow an established set of rules. It is definitely not the case when you can add some creativity. Immediately give up the idea of composing a letter of recommendation by yourself or indicating non-existent job references.

When compiling reference lists for resumes, it is necessary to adhere to these recommendations.

  • Prepare a separate reference page for resume.
  • Write the full name, position, place of work of the referrer, and brief information on how they relate to you.
  • Provide the phone number, address, and email of the reference.
  • Place references in alphabetical order.
  • Indicate the references taking into account their significance for the vacancy.
  • Do not mention people that you worked with a long time ago, such as your first employer.
  • Include your signature and date of compilation. Do not forget about the company’s letterhead.
  • Always address the guideline on how to list references in a resume to make the process easier and faster.

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Think About the Perfect Quantity

Remember that the references list takes additional space, so it may lead to information overload. It is especially true if you already have considerable professional history to describe. However, in case you lack work experience, listing references on resume may come in handy.

Analyze the importance and significance of the desired position and its relevance with the positions you have filled previously. The perfect number of references may vary from three to five, depending on the gravity of your experience. But do not overload the recruiter with unnecessary instructions and recommendations.

Prepare a Separate Page for the References

Do not overload your resume by putting references on the same page as other statements. A resume reference list is a separate sheet of paper that you provide in case of necessity. 

Since, in most cases, recommendations are provided at the request of the employer, this resume references section is not mandatory in your document. It can be useful if you want to provide an HR specialist with the opportunity to review the references page for resume before inviting you for an interview.

Avoid Common Mistakes

The worst thing you can do to destroy the quality of your resume is to put the phrase “resume references available upon request.” What is the point of writing this? 

If you are requested to provide a resume reference list, make sure to add it as the last resume page. It will definitely play its role for HR in the process of hiring an employee. When such a list is not needed, it is better not to mention anything. You have the opportunity to prepare a separate page with recommendations and show it at the subsequent stage of recruiting.

Choose the Best Resume References Format

References for resume should contain the full name, position title, place of work of the referrer, or the university information, and a statement about how they relate to you. All this information must be placed in column one below the other. Personal information must not be provided if the reference person has not given their consent to this. Email address and phone number may be provided later in case of necessity.

John Smith

CEO of the Company

Railroad Service

169 E 63rd St

Chicago, IL 60637


Preserve Your Recommendations

You should not think that if you don’t provide any references, then you will not be considered for a decent position. Professional experience, personal qualities, and successful interviews are still the decisive factors in the hiring process.

Think about compiling references on resume in advance. By doing that, you will have them at your disposal in case one of the company’s needs is to consult with your previous employers. This will help you avoid the unpleasant situation of seeking how to write references on resume at the last moment.

Additional Recommendations on How to List Professional References on Resume

If you have already found the answer on how to write references on resume, you may think about some additional pieces of advice. To clarify everything and stop asking questions like “how many references should I have on a resume,” make sure to consider these tips.

  • Do not make the list of recommendations too long. Three-five recommendations will suffice for a decent presentation.
  • Do not add people you didn’t get along with, as well as people whose opinions will seem subjective (parents, friends, neighbors).
  • Make sure to mail the people you want to put on the list and warn them of potential calls.
  • It is best to ask permission from the person you want to include in the list of references; otherwise, the result may not meet your expectations.
  • A reference list is a less important section than the description of your skills and personal qualities, so do not put it first.

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Reference List Format Template

To make your list consistent and correct, use resume references templates. In such a way, your resume will convince an employer to get you hired. Consider the following resume references template to present your working connections properly.

Reference first and last name

Reference current position 

Name of the company or university

Full address of that company or educational institution

Work phone number

Work email address

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Summary of the Aforementioned Tips: How to Make a Perfect Reference List

There is no doubt that all the information you provide in the resume must make a good impression on the employer. To make sure your resume is completed, it is recommended to prepare a reference page resume that can increase the chances of getting hired. The brief tips below will help you systematize the information received.

  • References you mention in the resume are people who can provide additional information about your work experience.
  • A list of references is an optional thing that you can compose to reinforce your statements.
  • You should not include more than five references.
  • The list of references must include the name, position, title of the company, and necessary contact information.
  • Compose a list of references on a separate page.
  • It is better to hold your references for the subsequent stage, for example, an interview.

If you haven’t found the answer to some of your questions, do not hesitate to ask for professional assistance. You can either receive some reference templates for resumes or have your list written by the best experts in the field. Keep in mind that our online resume edit services are open to cooperation of any kind. Your resume will definitely stand out from the bunch of other applications.