References Available Upon Request on a Resume

References Available Upon Request on a Resume

During the process of writing or updating your resume, maybe you’ve been looking over examples to see if they include references.

Naturally, you’re likely concerned about adding something to a resume incorrectly. This is why using a free online resume builder can help you include every section the right way . That includes references, but remember, only if it’s necessary.

Even the best resume examples can leave some questions unanswered, such as: should I write references available upon request on my resume?

Therefore, it’s vital to understand the benefits and drawbacks of including “references available upon request” so that you are prepared to make the optimal decision in terms of your resume.

In this post, you will find:

In most instances, references available upon request is an unnecessary phrase to include on your resume because the idea and action are implicit . Potential employers typically understand and assume that you will have references available for them if they make such a request.

Some job candidates may want to make this intention clear regarding their references , and indeed you can say references available upon request. The decision is up to the individual.

The information provided in this article will help you make the best decision regarding references, and consulting how to write a resume will provide you with an even better edge in the competitive job market.

What Does It Mean—“References Available Upon Request”?

Before deciding whether references available upon request is an acceptable phrase to put on your resume, it’s best to clarify what this means.

By including this statement, you are indicating to your resume reader that you have people they can contact for questions about your:

  • Professionalism
  • Previous experience
  • Relevant skills
  • Work habits and ethics

Yet you are not providing the contact information for these references until asked. You prefer to make your references available “upon request.”

Is it ok to say references available upon request? Unfortunately, this phrase may carry negative connotations for employers. The assumption may be that you need to know if or when they decide to contact your references.

Another implication to employers may be that you, as an applicant, need to forewarn and/or prepare your references in terms of being contacted.

Since the goal of your resume is to demonstrate your professional abilities and value to your prospective employer, updating your resume with anything that may take away from highlighting your excellence is unwise.

Should You Include “References Available Upon Request” on Your Resume?

Employers expect that applicants will present a clear and concise resume that fits on a single page . This allows those in hiring positions to quickly review whether the potential employee meets their qualifications and has the requisite experience and professional skills.

Therefore, when writing a resume, you should only include the most relevant and important information . Any other material will detract from your professionalism.

This is why, in nearly all cases, applicants should not include “references available upon request” on their resume. Here are just a few reasons to omit this phrase:

  • Unnecessary: those in charge of hiring are aware that they can request references
  • Takes up space: resumes should only include essential wording to highlight the applicant
  • Cliché: employers may feel this sentiment is trite, redundant, and/or archaic
  • Undermines process: this extraneous phrase may create the impression that you are unaware of the employer’s experience and expertise

Ultimately, your resume serves as your first and most important reference—you. By streamlining your document and avoiding the statement that your references are available upon request, you will stand out to potential employers as a savvy, current, and considerate applicant.

Who Should You List as a Reference?

If the hiring employer has mentioned adding referees to your application, then the question becomes who should you list as your reference?  

When choosing resume references, it is essential to consider individuals who can provide a positive and insightful perspective on your work abilities and character. Ideally, you should list professional contacts who are familiar with your recent work history and can vouch for your skills and accomplishments. 

These individuals may include: 

  • Former supervisors
  • Managers 
  • Long-standing clients 

However, make sure that you avoid making the common mistakes in resume references. This can include listing family members or close friends who lack professional knowledge of your capabilities. 

Also remember that if your employer has asked you to add contacts, there will likely be a resume references verification at some point. Don’t invent any false information about the individuals you list on your application.

If your potential employer does not specifically request references in the job description, it’s best to omit them. Occasionally, employees may want to include the names of significant or well-known references as a means of impressing a prospective employer.

This may seem like a good strategy in terms of standing out among others, but it’s wise to be careful in case it appears pretentious.

Where Do You Put References on a Resume?

If you decide to include references on your resume, it’s essential to know where to put them. The best strategy is to place your references on an additional sheet that is separate from your resume.

This means adding a page exclusively for your references and making it the last page of your resume in total.

It’s important to maintain the same format for your reference page as you have for your resume, including:

  • the same clear and legible font
  • the same margins and blance of white space
  • a consistent color scheme

This helps to maintain clarity and consistency. Any resume format changes can be jarring for the hiring personnel and may undermine the professional look of your resume as a whole.

Your reference page should have:

  • Your name, address, and phone number at the top (just as you would for your resume page)
  • This information should be followed by the current date
  • This should be followed by your prospective employer’s information, including name, job position, company name, and company address

Once you have this initial information in place, you can use “References” or “Professional References” as the title for the page.

How to List References on a Resume

In addition to knowing where to put references on a resume , it’s essential to know the full contact information to provide for each reference:

  • Your potential employer will need to know the full name of your reference in addition to an email address and phone number to reach them
  • Their professional title, name of their business, and their business address should be included as well

If you have to add a few recommendation contacts to your resume, it’s critical to do it right and add all the necessary details. 

Here is the proper information to include for a reference on a resume:

  • First name and last name of reference
  • Title and/or professional position
  • Name of reference’s business, company, or association
  • Street address of business
  • City, state, and zip code of business
  • Reference’s email address
  • Reference’s phone number

Examples of How To Include References on Your Resume

For an entry on your resume reference list, here is an example of how it should be presented :

Reference Available

  • Alex Smith – Regional Manager – Southwest Paperclip Inc.
  • 111 2nd Street Tucson, Arizona 12345 – [email protected] – (111) 222-1122

If you’d like to add colleague references ,  you should present them in the following way:

Colleague Reference

  • Jordan Perez – Senior Software Engineer – Colleague at Northwest Tech Solutions Inc.
  • 345 6th Avenue Seattle, Washington 98101 – [email protected] – (206) 555-6789

You can also add a long-time client , especially if they are a respected and successful individual , like in the example below:

Client Reference

  • Patricia Johnson – Owner of Johnson Family Restaurants
  • 789 Main Street, Dallas, Texas 75201 – [email protected] – (214) 555-4321

To Conclude

In today’s job market, those in hiring positions must sift through numerous resumes in search for a capable, professional, and valuable employee.

You can stand out among the many by not including the obvious “references available upon request” on your resume. Avoiding this phrase indicates to your prospective employer that you are concise, savvy, efficient, and have a history of working well with others .

If you decide to include references on your resume, be sure to structure the list properly and position it effectively.

ResumeGiants is an excellent source as a resume builder to assist you in creating an optimal resume for employers. This free service is available so that you can create a strong, detailed foundation to highlight your experience, professionalism, and value as an employee.

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What to Include in Resumes: Core Competencies Definition and Importance Including core competencies on your resume is important to get employers to notice you. Find out more about the key capabilities to include. Updated on March 30, 2023 What to Include in Resumes: Core Competencies Definition and Importance

How to Explain Employment Gaps on your Resume Here’s an article that helps you tackle resume gaps in employment with practical methods, thereby raising your chances of getting employed. Updated on January 5, 2024 How to Explain Employment Gaps on your Resume

How Long a Resume Should Be? One-page resume? Several pages? The resume’s length can vary based on one’s unique needs. Read on to discover how long your resume should be. Updated on February 20, 2024 How Long a Resume Should Be?

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  • Resume Help

When and How to List References on a Resume [+Examples]

Christian Eilers, CPRW

Our customers have been hired by:

Should you include references on your resume? If so, then how to list references on a resume? And is there a template for a references page for a resume?

These are some tricky questions that need to be answered before you reach out to your previous colleagues for a good word. Professional references on resumes might be what's required in your situation. But they can also be a miss. So let's find out which one is it!

This resume references guide will teach you:  

  • Should you put references on a resume or not.
  • How to put references on a resume the best way possible.
  • How to make a reference page for resumes and job applications.
  • What a good references on resume example looks like and how to choose the right format for references on a resume.

Want to save time and have your resume ready in 5 minutes? Try our resume builder. It’s fast and easy to use. Plus, you’ll get ready-made content to add with one click. See 20+ resume templates and create your resume here .

resume and reference page with green sidebar

Resume & References Example— See more resume examples here .

Do References Go on a Resume?

Career consultants and hiring managers all but agree that references should not be put on a resume .

Back when I got my first job, references on a resume were commonplace. My advisor in high school even told me to do it. But, just like with most peer-pressured decisions in high school, it is not what I would do now.

Is that a solid no, though? Well, there are special circumstances when you can include resume references, but you’ll know them when you see them. Generally, if the job listing or hiring manager specifically asks for a references page, then, by all means, include one!

For most of you, this should have answered your question, and you can continue on to learn how to tailor your resume , picking the best resume font ,  what to include on a cover letter , or how to email your resume .

If your mind’s made up, and you’ll be listing references on your resume, let’s continue.

Pro Tip : If you can’t decide whether to put references on the resume, then don’t include them. Stick with a resume without references.

Want to  make a resume  that will hook every recruiter and get you that interview? Get our free checklist and learn what makes a job-winning resume: 50 Things You Need to Do Before You Send Your Resume

How to Put References on a Resume

If you’ve decided that listing references on a resume can’t be avoided in your situation, it’s necessary to know how to add references to a resume the right way.

Here’s how to list references on a resume:

1. Put your name and "References" on top of a separate page.

2. Format all references the same way: list full names, job titles, companies, and contact info.

3. Add at least 3 professional references.

4. Inform your references before you submit a job application with their contact info!

See this pratical example of resume reference page list entry:

How to format each reference?

That’s how you format each entry of a resume reference list. Include as much of it as you can, and don’t add more than these items, unless requested. How many references on resumes? Don’t worry, we’ll get to that in just a moment.

Pro Tip : Use LinkedIn as a resource to verify that you are stating the correct job titles .

Should resume references be on a separate page?

Definitely.   Avoid the ubiquitous “Resume references available upon request” statement of the past . If you’re going to create a resume references section, use a dedicated resume references page, which you can add as the last page of your application.

Should I put “references available upon request” on my resume?

No. Putting "references available upon request"  at the end of your resume is one of the big resume mistakes. Not only are you wasting your resume’s valuable real estate, but they know that your references are available upon request .

Hold Your Endorses

Even if you’ve concluded that you will be listing references on a resume, hold off for now. In the earliest stages of the hiring process, there isn’t a need to provide your chosen references for job applications just yet. Plus, you’ll be able to tailor your resume references sheet to the hiring manager’s and company’s needs as you learn more about them during the initial phases of the hiring process and interviews.

Pro Tip : When writing your list of references, make sure to keep them consistent. Locate and include the same info for each (e.g., phone number), and don’t include an entry otherwise.

How to list professional references on a resume

Ugh! So many resume rules! Don’t worry, we’ve simplified them here: Resume Dos and Don'ts

When making a resume in our builder, drag & drop bullet points, skills, and auto-fill the boring stuff. Spell check? Check . Start building a  professional resume template here for free .

A view from the Zety resume builder outlining the process of populating the work experience section and a variety of pre-written resume descriptions recommended for the specific occupation.

When you’re done, our easy resume builder will score your resume and our resume checker will tell you exactly how to make it better.

How to Choose Professional Resume References & How to Request Them

You’re going to put a few references as a list to be included with your next resume.

But you’ve got to be picky, and you need to ask permission first, even if you’re sure they won’t mind.

How many references should you have on a resume?

Three to five is the ideal number of references for a resume.

If the job description or the company have specifically requested that you include a list of references (and this should really be the only reason that you do), three to five strategically-chosen people are just right. Any more and you’re just wasting people’s time; any less and you’ll look like you don’t have too many people who can afford you a positive endorsement.

Who is a good reference for a resume?

The best references to add are working professionals related to the industry to which you are applying but unrelated to you in a familial sense. Try and get as diverse a group as possible (not all direct supervisors).

Here are types of references to include on your resume references list:

  • Former employer
  • Former boss
  • Supervisor (not necessarily your direct manager)
  • Advisor (including your academic advisors)
  • Business/project partner
  • Friend (only when they currently work at a company you're applying to).

Just make sure to include people who can speak positively about your experience, skills and work ethic. Never list someone who is or was in any type of professional conflict with you.

How to ask someone to be your reference?

Don’t just jot down names on your resume references list as they pop into your thoughts. It is polite to ask first, but this gives you the additional perk of checking to make sure their contact information is correct. Give a call or send an email to be semi-formal.

Personal vs professional references

Personal references are generally not recommended when putting references on a resume. Why? Well, family’s family, so they wouldn’t place much weight if they realize a reference entry is related to you. Plus, it has the secondary disadvantage of making you look like you couldn’t find enough professional references. Stick with professional references if at all possible (unless you are writing a resume with no experience ).

Following up

After you’ve requested your reference, it is a prudent practice to thank them for their help. Also, share with them a copy of the resume you are submitting so that they can be on the same page if and when the hiring manager calls them up. Finally, when you get the job, take them out for a nice dinner to pay them back!

Pro Tip : Be sure to thank your references by sending a quick follow-up email or note. Not only is this the courteous thing to do, but it will also remind them that they can expect a call in the near future from your prospective employer.

How to Format the Resume References Page

If you decided to list job references, do so on a separate reference page attached to your resume. 

example of professional resume references page

Use our cover letter builder to create your own resume reference page that matches your resume and cover letter!

This is how to write a professional resume references page for your resume:

Format your references page the same way you format your cover letter, and possibly your resume, too. If you have slight differences between your resume’s letterhead and the one on your cover letter, copy the cover letter.

Your name and address should go on the very top, and it can be left-, right-, or center-oriented (follow the same style as your other documents). Include your phone number and email address.

Follow that with the date, then the company address, left-aligned above your first reference entry: first the recruiter’s name (if you have it), then the company’s name, and then the company’s address.

Finally, add reference titles/subtitles such as “References” or “Professional References” before listing 3-5 entries of people who can vouch for your qualifications for a job. If you have both professional references and personal references, you can add both subtitles.

When formatting each entry, follow the same format for references on a resume we described in section 2 of this guide.

Want to make a great resume references sheet that matches your CV and cover letter like the resume references examples we have here? Our resume builder’s cover letter generator is just the tool for you. Or, check out our handy list of cover letter tips !

Plus, a great cover letter that matches your resume will give you an advantage over other candidates. You can write it in our cover letter builder here.  Here's what it may look like:

A matching set of professional job application documents, comprising a resume and cover letter, crafted with the Zety resume editor utilizing the Modern resume template that includes a format that includes two columns and stylish rectangles in the header and footer areas.

See more cover letter templates and start writing.

Key Takeaway

Job references should never be included on a resume.

Rarely, however, references may be included with a resume, but always put them on a separate references page.

References on resume: checklist

This is how to write a professional list of references (a references page):

  • Choose wisely - You should pick between 3 to 5 references to include if you’ll include any at all. Pick professional references over personal ones, and select those that are closest to your line of work.
  • Ask first - Be sure to get permission before listing someone as a professional reference. Thank them afterward and remind them to expect a call.
  • Use the right formatting - There’s a right way to format the entries of a reference page, and there is a correct way to structure the reference sheet itself.

Now, just brush up on the STAR method and some interview tips and you'll be all set for your big meeting!

So, now that that’s sorted, do you have any questions on how to list references on a resume? Not sure if you should add a resume references page at all? Get at us in the comments below and we will answer your questions. Thanks for reading!

About Zety’s Editorial Process

This article has been reviewed by our editorial team to make sure it follows Zety's editorial guidelines . We’re committed to sharing our expertise and giving you trustworthy career advice tailored to your needs. High-quality content is what brings over 40 million readers to our site every year. But we don't stop there. Our team conducts original research to understand the job market better, and we pride ourselves on being quoted by top universities and prime media outlets from around the world.

Christian Eilers, CPRW

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Should You Include “References Available Upon Request” on a Resume?

The job application process can be a tricky one to navigate, especially when it comes to crafting the perfect resume.

One question that often arises is whether or not to include the phrase “references available upon request.”

While this may seem like a no-brainer, there are actually some potential downsides to including this statement on your resume.

In this article, we’ll explore the pros and cons of including “references available upon request,” and provide some tips on how to handle references in a way that best serves your job search.

Should You Include “References Available Upon Request” on a Resume?

Table of Contents

Should You Put “References Available Upon Request” On a Resume?

When it comes to including “references available upon request” on a resume, the consensus among career experts is clear: don’t do it. Many experts consider this phrase to be a pointless addition, with one describing it as a “waste of space” that adds no value.

Here are some reasons why you may want to avoid adding “References Available Upon Request” on a resume:

  • It’s considered unnecessary: Hiring managers typically assume that applicants will provide references if and when they are requested. Including this phrase on a resume is therefore viewed as redundant and may not add any value to your application.
  • It takes up space: In today’s job market, resumes are expected to be concise and to the point. Including unnecessary phrases like “References Available Upon Request” can take up valuable space that could be used to showcase your skills, experience, and achievements.
  • It may appear unprofessional: Including this phrase on a resume may make you seem inexperienced or unaware of the job search process. It can also suggest that you haven’t taken the time to tailor your resume for each individual job application.
  • It’s just not required: Unless specifically asked to provide references in a job posting or during an interview, you don’t need to include this statement on your resume. By leaving it off, you can save space and avoid stating the obvious.

“References Available Upon Request” – What Does It Actually Mean?

“References Available Upon Request” is a statement that indicates you have references available to vouch for you, but it is not a necessary or particularly useful addition to a resume.

Essentially, this statement is a way of signaling to employers that you have professional and personal contacts who are willing to speak positively about you and your work. It can be seen as a way of providing reassurance to employers that you have a strong track record and are a credible candidate.

“References Available Upon Request” vs List of References

“References Available Upon Request” is a statement that is sometimes included on a resume or cover letter. It means that you have references who are willing to vouch for you if and when a potential employer requests them. This statement is generally considered unnecessary because employers assume that you have references available and will ask for them if needed.

A “List of References,” on the other hand, is an actual list of people who can serve as references. This list typically includes the names, job titles, and contact information of several individuals who have worked with you in the past and can speak to your skills and experience. This list is usually submitted after an interview or upon request from the employer.

In general, it’s better to provide a list of references rather than including the statement “References Available Upon Request” on your resume or cover letter. A list of references provides more detailed information about your professional contacts, and can help you stand out as a serious candidate.

Where Do You Put “References Available Upon Request” On a Resume?

If you choose to include the phrase “References Available Upon Request” on your resume, it’s generally recommended to place it at the end of your document. This ensures that it doesn’t take up too much valuable space that could be used to highlight your skills and experience.

Here are some tips for where to place “References Available Upon Request” on your resume:

  • Put it at the bottom: The most common place to put this phrase is at the very end of your resume, below your education and work experience sections. This ensures that it doesn’t take up space that could be used to showcase your qualifications.
  • Keep it short: If you choose to include the phrase, make sure to keep it short and sweet. One line is sufficient – you don’t need to provide any additional information or context.
  • Be consistent: If you include the phrase on your resume, make sure to use the same wording and formatting throughout your application materials. This can help to create a professional and cohesive impression.

How to List References on a Separate Page?

If you are asked to provide a list of references for a job application, it’s important to present the information in a clear and organized manner. Here’s how to list references on a separate page:

Create a new document: Start by creating a new document that is separate from your resume and cover letter. This can be a Word document or a Google Doc.

Use a professional format: When listing your references, use a professional format that includes the person’s name, job title, company name, email address, and phone number. You can also include a brief description of your relationship with the person (e.g., former supervisor, colleague, etc.).

Include a header: At the top of the page, include a header that includes your name and contact information, as well as the phrase “References” or “List of References.”

Provide enough references: Provide at least three references, and ensure that they are relevant to the job you are applying for. If possible, include references from different stages of your career (e.g., a former supervisor, a coworker, and a client).

Format the page: Make sure that the page is formatted in a professional manner , with clear headings and consistent spacing. You can use bullet points or numbered lists to make the information easier to read.

Check for accuracy: Double-check all of the information on the page to ensure that it is accurate and up-to-date. You don’t want to provide incorrect contact information for your references.

Example of References on a Resume/Separate Page

It’s generally not recommended to include references directly on your resume. Instead, it’s better to provide a separate list of references when requested by a potential employer.

Here’s an example of what a reference list might look like:

Jane Smith Senior Manager, ABC Company [email protected] 555-555-5555 John Doe Former Supervisor, XYZ Corporation [email protected] 444-444-4444 Sarah Jones Colleague, DEF Industries [email protected] 333-333-3333

Be sure to ask for permission before including someone as a reference, and provide them with information about the job you’re applying for so they can tailor their comments accordingly. Keep your reference list updated and ensure that the contact information is accurate.

Bonus Content: Other Phrases to Leave Off Your Resume

Avoid using common phrases on your resume, such as

  • “hard worker,”
  • “go-getter,”
  • and “out-of-the-box.”

These phrases lack creativity and originality, and are often overused by job applicants. Instead, try to use more interesting adjectives to describe yourself, such as “committed,” “determined,” “diligent,” or “passionate.”

Also, avoid using idioms and buzzwords that may not translate well to application materials. Instead, focus on using professional and polished language that showcases your unique skills and experiences. Using original and creative language can help your resume stand out to hiring managers.

What Can I Say Instead of “References Available Upon Request”?

Instead of using the overused phrase “References Available Upon Request” on your resume, you could simply omit it altogether, include a separate list of references, use a more proactive statement that highlights your willingness to provide references, or customize your statement for each job application to highlight specific relevant references or relationships.

What Should I Do If I Don’t Have Any References?

If you don’t have any references, you can start building your professional network, consider non-traditional references, offer alternative contact information, or be honest with potential employers about your situation. It’s important to focus on building your skills and experience over time and establishing relationships with people who can vouch for your abilities.

Do I Have to Give References If the Employer Requests Them?

If a potential employer requests references from you, it’s generally expected that you will provide them. Providing references is a standard part of the job application process, and employers often use them to verify your skills and experience, and to gauge your fit for the job.

It’s important to make sure that the references you provide are relevant to the job you are applying for, and that they can speak positively about your abilities. You should also make sure to ask for permission from your references before sharing their contact information with potential employers.

Overall, providing references is an important part of the job application process, and it’s important to be prepared to provide them if requested.

Can I Add References Without Asking for Permission?

No, you should never add references to your resume or job application without first asking for permission from the individuals you plan to list. It’s important to respect people’s privacy and professional reputations, and adding someone as a reference without their knowledge or consent can damage your relationship with them.

When asking for permission to use someone as a reference, be sure to explain the position you’re applying for, and provide a copy of your resume or cover letter so they can get a sense of your qualifications. It’s also a good idea to ask them what kind of information they are comfortable sharing, and to provide them with information about the job you’re applying for so they can tailor their comments accordingly.

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Should You Add References Available Upon Request to Your Resume or CV?

Don Sjoerdsma, CPRW

by Don Sjoerdsma, CPRW | Career Advice Expert

Last Updated: May 02, 2023

Lead warehouse associate student resume example

Table of contents

What does references available upon request mean?

Should you add references available upon request to a resume, how to write a references list, should you add references available upon request to a cv, where do you put references available upon request on a resume.

You’re putting the finishing touches on your resume when the thought occurs to you — should I add references available upon request?

You’ve heard mixed things about this phrase. Some say it’s old-fashioned and could make you look bad. On the other hand, you’re excited to share your references and — let’s admit it — the line helps you fill out the page until you’ve got more experience.

Well, we’re here to answer your questions with this guide, including:

  • What references available upon request means.
  • How to write a references list.
  • Whether you should add the phrase to your CV or resume.
  • Where to put the phrase (if you decide to add it).

Related Guides & Tips

  • How to List References on a Resume
  • Resume Reference Letter

References available upon request is a phrase commonly found at the bottom of a resume . It is meant to communicate that the candidate has a list of people who can back up their candidacy.

But in 2024, is this phrase effective or simply distracting business jargon? Keep scrolling for the answer.

Choose from 40+ formats and templates to build your resume now.

While the phrase once served an important purpose, you no longer need to say references available upon request on your resume. Recruiters themselves label the extra sentence as “wasteful.”

The term is outdated. Here are three reasons why saying references available upon request doesn’t belong in your resume outline :

  • Most employers already know they can ask you for references if they want them. There’s no need to state the obvious.
  • The phrase may make the employer wonder why you don’t simply provide the references — do you have something to hide?
  • Your resume should be concise, no more than one to two pages. This line is a waste of valuable real estate.

The final point is important. It’s only one sentence, but you can use the extra space to expand your resume profile or objective statement .

How should you deal with your references if you eliminate the line, then? Create a references list. We’ll show you how that’s done.

Since most companies check references only if you’re being considered for the role, save your resume space and instead be prepared with a references list . That way, when you’re asked for references, you’ll be ready to go.

Creating a separate list is much better than trying to jam references into your perfectly constructed resume . And, if your interviewer asks for the list, you can give your references a heads up.

Now, here’s the information you should list with each reference:

  • Company name
  • Phone number
  • Email address

Next, let’s consider whether this advice would be any different when it comes to a CV.

While CVs and resumes are different , they are similar in that you don’t need to say references available upon request on your CV . Although CVs are longer, more exhaustive documents, that doesn’t change the fact that a hiring manager knows how to ask for references if they’re interested.

With that out of the way, let’s consider one more question — where is this sentence supposed to go in the first place?

If you decide to put references available upon request on your resume, there’s really only one place the line should go on most resume layouts : at the bottom.

Whether you’re working in Microsoft Word or Google Docs , the bottom is the perfect location for this line. It can function as a final note for the reader to follow up on after they’ve read your resume.

Speaking of, do you need more help making your resume? Whether you’re just getting started or need to revamp an existing design, a Resume Builder can help. Choose from dozens of professional, field-tested resume designs to edit in the builder, and browse thousands of resume examples for all sorts of jobs. When you’re done writing, use our formatting guide to get the margins, font, spacing and more just right.

Was this information helpful? Let us know!

Don Sjoerdsma, CPRW

Don is a Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW) with more than 10 years’ experience creating digital content, including four years helping job seekers develop their careers. He holds an M.S. in Journalism from Northwestern University.

Read more articles by Don Sjoerdsma, CPRW

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Including References Available Upon Request on a Resume

Having strong references can give you a leg up during the hiring process. Learn whether you need to stick the phrase “references available upon request” on your resume and how to build a list of references you can feel good about.

Including References Available Upon Request on a Resume

If you’re currently on the job hunt, you may be wondering about one of the most commonly asked questions for resume writing – should you include the phrase, “References available upon request,” on your resume?

And although references are a great way to prove yourself in the job market, the short answer is: No, they do not belong on your resume.

Instead, use that space to add as much detail as possible about your hard and soft skills, employment history, and relevant credentials or accomplishments.

To further understand the role that references play when it comes to your job search, keep the following advice in mind.

What is a Reference?

In terms of a resume, references refer to contacts within your professional network that have experience working with you in the past. They can speak to your skills and give recruiters first-hand feedback on your work ethic.

You’ll likely only be asked to provide a list of references if you’ve successfully reached the final rounds of the interview process. After all, potential employers are typically swamped with applicants and simply don’t have the time to spend reviewing every candidate’s references.

So, if you’re lucky enough to have made it through most of the interview process and now approach the final stages, how should you provide your references once they’re requested?

Let’s dive in.

How Should You Approach References Available Upon Request?

Once an employer has requested references from you, begin crafting a document where you can organize your references and their contact information in a neat and organized way. This document should be separate from your resume, and there’s no need to edit your current resume to mention that you have references available upon request.

The new document should be titled, “Professional References,” or something similar, and its style should match the look of both your resume and your cover letter.

Before you list your references, keep in mind you’ll need to identify their relationship with you and how long you’ve known them. Additionally, you’ll need to include other basic information for each reference such as their name, current title, company name, phone number, and professional email address.

Be sure to leave each reference’s personal contact information such as their address off of your references page. Employers simply don’t need that information, and your contacts surely wouldn’t want you to give their personal information out to anyone.

How Many References on a Resume Should I Include?

As you begin brainstorming who to include on your list of professional references, try to keep your final list to no more than three contacts.

Although you may have a dozen references available upon request that would be more than willing to sing your praises, remember to be realistic and respectful of the hiring manager’s time.

Whittling down your references may be challenging, but keep in mind that it’s best to value quality over quantity when it comes to your professional references.

How to Choose Your References

Putting together a list of references requires just as much effort as writing a resume or a cover letter. You must be selective, choose the best contacts you have, and be sure your references are willing and prepared to speak on your behalf.

As you consider which few contacts you should list on your professional references document, make sure you’re taking the proper steps to get the best return on your efforts.

Consider Your Network

For those with workplace experience, do your best to select a past manager, boss, or former colleague. While former coworkers who you became friendly with overtime may seem like a great choice, the best references to provide future employers should have significant working experience with you and be able to speak to your work habits with detail.

If you’re just beginning your professional journey and looking to land your first career, you might consider past teachers, college professors, coaches, or advisors. Even when your professional experience is lacking , don’t underestimate your relationships with educational figures.

As you consider your network, keep in mind that close friends or family members should only be listed if you don’t have any other options. While friends and family can surely speak to your personality, they rarely have the necessary experience to accurately describe your professional skills.

Be Specific

As we discussed, your list of references should be highly-tailored to benefit you most in your job search.

And rather than listing off a slew of your great professional acquaintances, consider the following to help your narrow your list and get the most bang for your buck:

  • Choose references that work within the same industry for which you’re applying
  • If you’re applying for a manager-level role, list a reference who has managerial experience
  • Pick references that can best speak to your skillset
  • Limit your list of references to only those who you’re confident can provide helpful and relevant information for the role you’re applying for

Although the choice is ultimately yours, being specific with your selections is the best way to effectively represent your skillset and work ethic.

Ask for Permission First

Before you hand over your list of references to an interested employer, be sure you’ve done your due diligence and have asked for permission from each of your references.

Listing references without their knowledge is never recommended. Not only is listing a reference without their permission impolite, but it can hinder your chances of getting the job.

Unlike an unprepared reference, a reference who’s expecting a call from your potential employer will have more time to prepare for the conversation, sort out their thoughts, and make note of any great experiences they’ve had working with you that they’d like to bring up.

You’ve spent valuable time building up your professional network! So, when you’re looking to make a career change, your best connections within your network are a fantastic tool to help you impress future employers.

And if your references’ good words helped you land the gig, don’t forget to thank them for their time and contribution. Simple recognition or even a thank you note can go a long way.

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How to List Resume References: A Job Seeker's Guide + Sample

To include or not include? That is the question. Instead of including references on your resume, though, how about creating a resume reference list you can provide to recruiters upon request instead? Here's how to do it.

[Featured image] Woman in a yellow sweater with glasses looking at a resume

Many experts agree that you probably shouldn't put your references directly on your resume. But, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have personal references ready in a separate document for when you start your next round of job applications. 

In this article, you will learn a better approach to listing references than directly putting them on your resume, how to create an effective reference list, and find a reference list template to help you create your own. At the end, you'll also explore flexible, online courses that can help you craft a stand-out resume in just hours.

Do you put references on a resume? 

Generally, you should not put references on your resume. 

While it was once common practice to include references on resumes, experts now suggest that you use the extra space for something more valuable, such as work experience or marketable skills. Similarly, you should forgo adding “references available upon request” to your resume as it is seen as largely unnecessary by prospective employers. 

The reality is that recruiters and hiring managers rarely have the time to reach out to references during the initial screening phase of the hiring process and will usually only ask for references from applicants that interest them. In effect, the only time you should include your professional references with your resume is when the job description explicitly asks for it. 

While you shouldn’t put references on your resume, you should prepare a separate reference list to send potential employers once they have requested them from you.  Read more: Should You List References on a Resume?

How to make a separate resume references list

A separate reference list is a smart alternative to adding references directly to your resume. 

In addition to being prepared easily in advance to ensure that you have a reference list handy for any potential employers, they can also be unobtrusively added to your resume should a job posting request them. 

1. Choose your references and contact them for approval.

The references that you include on your list should be individuals who know you well and will provide positive commentary on your abilities and character.  

While the list should ideally focus on professional references from your current or previous places of employment, you can also include former professors or even personal acquaintances. These last two options might be most helpful to students, first-time jobseekers, or those who have been out of the workforce for some time.

Some of the potential references you might consider reaching out to include: 

Former or current supervisors

Former or current employers

Former or current co-workers

Former or current professors

Non-family personal acquaintances that can vouch for your character and abilities  

Once you have identified those contacts who will provide strong references, you should reach out to them and ask them if they would be willing to be a reference for you. Typically, it is more advisable to ask your contact to be your reference either in person or through a formal email rather than via text message. 

If your contact agrees to be your reference, then you should make sure to check what their preferred mode of contact is (email or phone), the times they are generally free to speak, and what their most up-to-date contact information is. 

How many references should go on your reference list?

The number of references you are required to put on your reference list will depend on the kind of job you are applying for. As a general rule, most employers typically ask that you send them three references. If you are applying for a more senior position, however, they may ask for more. 

You can also always reach out for clarification if you are uncertain. Remember, if an employer is asking you for your references after reviewing your application, then they are likely interested in you and will happily respond to your request for further clarity.

2. Create your reference list. 

Once you have a list of approved references, you can now create your reference list. The proper format for each reference should be as follows:                                        

Company name

Contact information (phone number and email address)

Description of relationship to the reference

Your references should also be listed from top to bottom in order of most to least recent. If you find that not all of your references are equally relevant for the specific position, then you might also consider ordering it from most to least relevant. 

For example, if you are applying to a position that allows you to employ specific technical knowledge that you gained in graduate school a few years ago, then you might put your former thesis advisor at the top of your reference list and your most recent employer after. 

3. Format your reference list. 

Now that you have completed your reference list, you should make sure that it is properly formatted and ready to send out. 

Your reference sheet should visually reflect the design that you used for your resume and cover letter. Providing a reference list that is consistent with the design of your other material will provide a sense of cohesion and professionalism across your application. 

Sample of reference page for resume

The sample below illustrates just one way that a reference list can look. As you are creating your own, remember to make its overall design cohesive with the rest of your resume material. Often, a simpler design is more effective than an elaborate one.

[Sample Resume Reference List] Black text on a white background

Create your own resume reference list using this template .

Get ready for your next job search with Coursera

You can never be too prepared for a new job search. Whether you're a first-time job seeker or an established professional, you might consider taking a cost-effective, online course to help you develop job-relevant skills.

Start learning the skills for a high-demand job like project management or cybersecurity with a Professional Certificate from industry leaders like Google, IBM, or Meta. If you need help with your resume, you might consider taking the State University of New York's project-centered How to Write a Resume course, which will help you craft an eye-catching resume that lets your professional strengths shine in just five hours.

Whatever your next step, though don’t forget to thank your references for taking the time to help you land your next job.

Keep reading

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This content has been made available for informational purposes only. Learners are advised to conduct additional research to ensure that courses and other credentials pursued meet their personal, professional, and financial goals.

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Should I Add References Available Upon Request To My Resume?

  • Interview Confirmation Email
  • Thank You For Your Time
  • Follow Up Email After Career Fair
  • References Available Upon Request

Find a Job You Really Want In

In most cases, you don’t want to put “references available on request” on your resume as it is generally considered outdated. In this article, we’ll look deeper into what belongs on a resume and why you want to leave the standard references line out.

We’ll also look at the reasons you might want to include it. Yes, it’s possible that including a line about references is good for you, and that you’ll want it on your resume.

Key Takeaways:

Including references available on request on your resume is almost always unnecessary and takes up valuable resume space.

There are rare cases where you may want to include references available upon request on your resume, like if your resume contains no work experience or if your references include well-known individuals.

You should also exclude things such as salary information and personal details from your resume.

should I add references available upon request to my resume?

Reasons to Exclude References Available Upon Request

What does references available upon request mean, reasons to include references available upon request on your resume, what’s this about a one-page resume, what else to omit from your resume, final thoughts.

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For the majority of people, the possible reasons to include mentions of references on their resume are far outweighed by the many reasons not to:

Outdated. Having any mention of references in a resume looks outdated and out of touch.

Too long. The standard wisdom is that the length of your resume should be one page . There are exceptions. But if you’re struggling to keep it down to a single page of great reasons to hire you, then this irrelevant line is wasted space that could be better used to sing your praises.

Irrelevant. As we said, it’s irrelevant. Employers know that applicants will provide them with references. Applicants know they should have at least three back pocket references they can go to at a moment’s notice.

Weak closing. It’s the last thing on your resume. Is this really how you want to leave them – with a weak line? Sell them with your superior skills instead.

Extra step. Some automated resume job application forms ask you to give them references. If you don’t do this and tell them that you’ll provide references upon request, you’ve just made the hiring manager jump through an extra, unnecessary hoop.

Better options. There are better ways to connect your next job with your references these days. For instance, keeping an up-to-date LinkedIn profile with referrals and recommendations is easier for everyone. Or having a website with testimonials can totally wow the person in charge of hiring at your dream job. Use technology to your advantage and skip the old-fashioned cliches.

If you’ve never sent out a resume before, then the phrase, “references available upon request” might be unfamiliar to you. It’s an old resume practice. In fact, a few decades ago, it was basically a required part of your resume .

Reaching back, even before that, people used to list their resume references on a separate sheet and include that with their resume. Eventually, long resumes were shortened, and the goal for most professionals was a one-page resume .

When people dropped the entire page of references and the related contact information, they opted to include the line, “references available upon request” at the bottom of their one-page resume. This let potential employers know that you did indeed have references, and you’d be happy to supply their names and contact information if asked.

But even that was a long, long time ago. It became so standard and ubiquitous to have that line at the bottom of a resume that it became superfluous. Employers knew that applicants for a job would provide them with references. If they asked for them and the applicant didn’t or wouldn’t supply them, well then, those applicants’ resumes went right in the trash can.

These days, we’re back to submitting a full separate page of references , but not until a hiring manager asks for it. Some job applications will ask for a list of references alongside your resume and cover letter , but most organizations choose to wait until seriously considering you for a job before asking for your list of references.

If the notation about having references has become outdated, why would you ever want to include it on your resume? There are a few times when you might want to buck modern convention and include the phrase and even list actual references on your resume.

First resume. If you’ve never written a resume before , you’re fresh out of school, and you have no work history , then you’re going to need to pad your resume. While a brief resume is desirable, if you don’t have anything of substance to put on it, you’re going to need references.

Impressive references. If you’ve got some of the biggest names in your industry as references, then including them in the resume can call attention to your credentials.

Leading hiring managers. By including references on your resume, you’re hand-picking three people you’d like the hiring manager to contact. This can bolster your standing.

Requires contact. If you include the line about your references being available upon request, the hiring manager must contact you first. This gives you a heads up that they’re seriously considering you.

Privacy. This is for situations where the line about making a request is more desirable than including the references and their contact information. Sometimes your references don’t want their personal information sent everywhere. Keeping their information private unless you’re specifically asked about it is essential when dealing with A-list references.

Please note that 99.9% of the job seekers should leave the line “references available upon request” or any variation thereof off of their resume. It looks outdated and does nothing to help you beyond taking up space.

It’s been mentioned a few times: the perfect resume is a one-page synopsis of your professional highlights and qualifications. A resume is designed to be the elevator pitch of you as an employee. Quick and to the point.

It’s critical to note that a resume and a CV or curriculum vitae are not the same things. If your profession or your experience deserves more than one page, then a CV might be the best way for you to highlight your amazing qualifications . But if you’re like most people, then your career achievements can be summed up in one page, with a lot of tweaking. And that one page needs to be a real eye-catching masterpiece of professional success. That is, if you want to get the job.

If this is where you’re headed, down the road to a great resume that lands every job you apply for, then there’s no room for superfluous and outdated sections. Even one line like “references available upon request” takes up valuable real estate. Skip that line and skip all of the following unnecessary information, too.

It’s the slimmed-down, new-and-improved, better than ever resume. Don’t fall victim to outdated advice on resume writing. Be fresh and push the limits to make your resume stand out. And, by all means, omit these from your resume .

References. People expect you to give them references (at some point); there’s no reason to include them on a resume that’s all about you.

References available line. Here we go again, but it bears repeating. Leave this line off, it’s assumed.

Career objectives. If you applied for the job, then they know your objective is to land that job. Enough said.

Salary. No mention of salary whatsoever on a resume. It can limit the amount you get paid, it can exclude you from going further in the process, and it’s tacky.

Cliches. You want to stand out, not sound like every other person who applies for the job. Refresh your vocabulary.

I. The word I, me, myself, etc., doesn’t belong on a resume. This is a long-standing rule and makes writing a bit stilted and awkward, but it’s still a resume rule.

Personal details. It’s illegal for interviewers to ask questions about your age, marital status, race, sexual orientation, and religion. They are so aware of this that they stay very far away from these topics to avoid future discrimination lawsuits.

Irrelevant and outdated work. Once upon a time, you were a new hire and only had a couple of jobs to list. Now that you’ve had a few different positions and some professional ones, it’s okay to drop the unrelated and outdated stuff.

Mistakes. It should go without saying that all errors should be omitted, yet the number of people who submit a resume with a typo or grammatical error is astounding.

Lies and opinions. Lies can destroy your career. You can embellish and pump up the importance of some things you’ve done while downplaying other things but never outright lie .

Anything negative. You don’t have to explain why you left a job; you don’t have to tell them you were fired , and you don’t have to draw attention to bad grades or gaps in your employment history.

Hobbies. Listing hobbies used to be common, but now it’s frowned upon unless it applies directly to the position. It rarely will, so it’s probably best left off your resume.

GPA. If you’re a recent graduate , this can be important because it shows your dedication to your studies. People who have been in the work world for a long time no longer need to brag about good grades.

When it comes to writing your resume, sticking to tradition is usually the best option. Professional resume writers all agree that the phrase “references available upon request” no longer belongs on modern resumes.

An effective resume needs to be tailored for the job by emphasizing relevant skills and experiences . Most recruiters and hiring managers prefer the chronological format, lots of action verbs, easy-to-read fonts, and formatting that that sticks to the regular structure and sections you expect to find in a resume.

What a resume doesn’t need at all is superfluous phrases that indicate something the hiring manager already knows or at least assumes: that you, as a candidate, will provide references when asked to.

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Kristin Kizer is an award-winning writer, television and documentary producer, and content specialist who has worked on a wide variety of written, broadcast, and electronic publications. A former writer/producer for The Discovery Channel, she is now a freelance writer and delighted to be sharing her talents and time with the wonderful Zippia audience.

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References Available Upon Request on Your Resume (Examples)

Want to crush your interview.

Learn how to ace your interview with superior confidence.

sample resume with references available upon request

References available upon request! When you're submitting an application for a job, it is important to be fully prepared. This means you need to have your resume complete with contact information,  a cover letter , and your references with their information.

references available upon request

We don't recommend just noting references available upon request on your resume.

For hiring managers, this will most likely be an instant red flag.

In this guide, we'll drill down into what your resume should look like and why references are vital when submitting a resume.

Sample resume for job seekers

Let's start by taking a closer look at a  resume .

There are several different aspects to a resume but every template is designed to cover the main parts.

These main parts include:

  • Career Objective
  • Work History


We're going to dig deeper into each of these categories and talk about what you should expect to place into each one.

references available upon request

Career objective

The career objective is designed so you can communicate to the hiring manager. Communicate what you want in a career.

This is typically a short statement that starts off your resume. It's meant to draw in hiring managers to read more.

What you need to know is you're taking up valuable space. If you're going to include an objective, don't make it vague and senseless.

Resume experts  recommend having your elevator speech ready for this section. A quick couple of sentences explaining why you fit the position and outlining qualifications.

references available upon request

Remember this is almost an introduction to the rest of your resume out of the box so just keep it short and sweet.

Work history

Your work history is almost like any job application. You're letting potential employers know your experience and what you've done in the workplace.

This will give a hiring manager some idea of the type of experience you have. And whether any of it is relative to the position you're applying for.

Your resume is meant to share your background and set you apart from other candidates.

This job history detail will share previous employers, previous titles, and basically describe your duties and experience.

references available upon request

Work experience will be listed here with employer details. List detail in a professional manner without overusing words and descriptions. Reference your LinkedIn profile, too.

Education will be brief. You don't need to share where you went to elementary school.

If you're at an entry-level point in your career, you most likely will mention a high school diploma or equivalent.

From there, you'll list higher education and degrees. If you've had specific education relevant to the job, you can list this as well.

references available upon request

When it comes to skills, this section is often either overrated or used incorrectly on a resume.

A resume needs to share  skills  related to the job. Don't list characteristics here. Those are not the skills they are looking for.

Typing in "hard worker" is not a skill. Employers expect this and it's an overused term on a resume.

You can share career achievements or career background like customer service or even communication but don't overdo it and be mindful about using mundane or repetitive skills.

Finally, certifications is self-explanatory. You may or may not have any  certifications  to add.

However, if you do, this is the place to put them.

references available upon request

For example, an investment banker might have a  Series 7 license . A teacher might have a teaching certificate.

There are many more examples that can fall into this category. If you're certified or license and it is applicable, list it here!

Why are references important?

A newer resume writer might actually tell you that adding references to a resume is outdated.

We don't really share that opinion. You should provide references and you should make them stellar.

This allows you the chance to set yourself apart. Hiring managers may try to call  references  before they reach out to you for any potential interviewing.

Some jobs require contacting references as part of the normal hiring process/practices before you're an official employee, as well.

Even if you don't  put references on your resume,  you will need to have references available upon request , complete with their contact information.

At some point, you will most likely need to share those references to get the job.

What does "references available upon request" mean?

This term or phrase has typically been used in order to keep a resume to one page. It eliminates that separate document that has the references listed and detailed on it.

Typing "available upon request" onto your resume was always meant to indicate that you do have references but in order to stick to one page or avoid an added page, you will share them when the employer asks.

The phrase listed on resumes is entirely unnecessary. References are an expectation for most jobs. You either list them or you don't.

The companies and hiring personnel can determine when the right time is to get reference detail from you.

Alternatives to references available upon request

There is no alternative phrase. Instead, drop it entirely.

Either add the references or just  leave the line out completely.

As a candidate, recruiters and people who hire will either use what you provide or will simply ask for the contact detail when they need it.

Where do you put the "references available upon request" note?

Now you're probably trying to figure out where to tell the companies that you have professional references available.

If you don't have references prepped and ready to go— you definitely should!  Create a document that you can set aside and provide when it becomes relevant to share.

Save time and space and just keep them handy or provide them separately if the job listing requests references.

Do NOT add this phrase!  It's simply not necessary and it's no longer a valuable note in the process.

Should you put "references available upon request" on a cover letter?

If you want to mention in your cover letter that you have references available—you can. You won't want to dedicate a lot to this phrase, though.

Additionally, we don't recommend that you use this phrase at all. As you introduce yourself in your cover letter, you can say that you have a reference list, but it's not required or necessary.

Should you put "references available upon request" on a resume?

Your resume is really meant to be all about your work experience.

You answer the question about whether or not you make a good professional candidate.

Consider the resume a summary for a future employer or perhaps recruiters to create a picture of your background.

The potential employer will most likely never notice this phrase on your resume.

We recommend not adding the phrase, entirely. Use a separate sheet to share career reference detail or wait until they are requested, and go from there.

Take our advice and use that little bit of word space for putting something more valuable for the potential employer to appreciate.

Benefits of listing it

There really is not much sense in writing out that you have references. When it comes to different jobs, they will assume that you can provide this detail for them.

However, if a job listing requests references, you should go ahead and add them to your resume.

This does not mean you should say they're available when requested.

The only real benefit of placing this word is as more of an "FYI" for the person handling the job placement. However, it's really an extra step that simply isn't needed.

"References available upon request" vs. a reference list

So do you share your personal information right off the bat, tell them it's available, or expand when you're asked?

Keep an up-to-date reference listing available and handy. Many job seekers forget to have this on hand.

Consider this. You're applying for your dream job. Are you going to give it your all or just put minimal effort into the job application and resume process.

Which is better to use

When it comes down to it. Submit your resume either with the references attached separate from the resume or leave this particular term off the resume completely.

We recommend providing references as an attachment to your resume. However, if you choose to wait, rather than include them on the resume, skip writing this phrase entirely.

references available upon request

There are some exceptions

For example, professional women are sometimes held to a higher standard. Showing you have a strong work ethic and you're prepared is always a valuable characteristic for any resume.

If you're a freelance writer or a contract worker of any kind, you might submit a resume that has statement. As this takes a different approach to apply for positions and get interviews.

In this scenario, your profession is writing article content, so your jobs and your references are going to reflect that.

Another resume example might be for a realtor who shows or sells valuable real estate. Your references and resume detail are probably going to look a little different here and your references will most likely be past clients. Meaning, your list could be long. Using this term could indicate that you're ready to share more.

Always double-check with anyone that you plan to use for reference purposes so they can have a head's up and be prepared should they get a call or contact related to your professional application. A quick word of advice is to use people who really know your value in the workplace.

author: patrick algrim

About the author

Patrick Algrim is a Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW), NCDA Certified Career Counselor (CCC), and general career expert. Patrick has completed the NACE Coaching Certification Program (CCP). And has been published as a career expert on Forbes , Glassdoor , American Express , Reader's Digest , LiveCareer , Zety , Yahoo , , SparkHire , , , FairyGodBoss , , St. Edwards University , NC State University , , Thrive Global , , Work It Daily , Workology , Career Guide , MyPerfectResume , College Career Life , The HR Digest , WorkWise , Career Cast , Elite Staffing , Women in HR , All About Careers , Upstart HR , The Street , Monster , The Ladders , Introvert Whisperer , and many more. Find him on LinkedIn .

Fact checked: Our small and dedicated team rigorously evaluates every article, guide, and reference to ensure the information is accurate and factual. Learn more .

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When and How to List References on a Resume

Kellie Hanna, CPRW

Our customers have been hired at: * Foot Note

If you’re reading this, chances are you’re wondering “Should I put references on my resume?” Don’t worry! You’re not alone and we’re here to help.

Is it OK to put references on a resume? The short answer is no (with exceptions), and here’s why:

A resume with references looks outdated to most and takes up valuable space that could be used to highlight your job skills and work experience. Plus, you don’t want to appear too eager. You’ll have your chance to provide a list of job references, but the start of your job application is not the time.

Now you’re probably thinking, “But wait! How do employers take you seriously without a list of qualified people who can vouch for your job qualifications?”

Keep reading! We’ll explain: 

  • Why you shouldn’t put references on a resume (and the exceptions)
  • How to list references on a resume (if needed)
  • How to write a professional list of references (with examples)
  • How to choose the best references for a job application (and how many you need)

When should you put references on a resume?

You should only include a list of job references on a resume if the job description explicitly tells you to — which happens rarely. 

Otherwise, keep your resume clear of any professional references and don’t write the phrase “references available upon request” — that’s a given.

How to list references on a resume?

Job seekers responding to a job ad that asks for resume references upfront are likely wondering how to write references in a resume.

Good question. 

If you have room on your resume (remember, a professional resume should only be one to two pages long!) for three references, place them at the bottom of your document. 

For each reference, include: 

  • Their first and last names.
  • Their professional title. 
  • The name of their workplace.
  • The company’s address, including city, state and ZIP code.
  • Their business phone number.
  • Their email address. 

That’s a lot of information to add three times to your resume! We have another idea for job references to save you precious room on your resume. If you want to save all your valuable resume space for your job qualifications, the next section is for you.

How to create a reference page for a resume

So, if you shouldn’t include references on a resume, what should you do instead?

Create a separate document with your list of references!

Use the following steps to create a strong reference page for a resume filled with people who can speak highly of you and help your job application.

1. Consider your best three professional references.

Look through your contacts and see who can be a professional reference. It’s good to have a wide range of references in your pocket, from past jobs, classes or different departments, ready when needed. 

After searching through your contacts, tailor your list of references to the job. Make sure that they can speak to your skills and how valuable you are. For example, an IT manager as a reference for an IT position or your business professor for a position in a sales company.

2. Create a separate reference page for your resume.

We’ve established that you shouldn’t list references on a resume. Instead, create a document with the same look and feel as your resume template and follow this resume references format:

  • Your contact information at the top of the page.
  • The reference’s name. 
  • The reference’s position in the company.
  • The company’s name and address.
  • The reference’s phone number and email address.
  • A brief description of who the reference is. 

The most valuable reference should be at the top of the list. Remember to keep their information strictly professional. Don’t include personal information, a phone number or email address they didn’t give you permission to use or their home address.

For a clearer picture, take a look at this resume reference page example:

Resume Template Markings

3. Have your resume references template ready to send.

The best way to provide references is to prepare a separate reference page ahead of time and have it ready to send with your resume if required or to the hiring manager when asked. You will likely need to send it via email, so make sure to save it in a universal format like PDF. You can also save it as a Word document.

Remember, there’s no need to send your list of references with your resume unless the job description explicitly requests references with the application, nor should you include references on a resume.

Resume references examples

Use these resume references examples as inspiration to create your list of references. If you’d like to have one cohesive job application, feel free to explore resume templates and resume examples .

Resume references example 1

Carmen Sharp Creative Director POV Agency 3987 Cherry Camp Road Junction City, CA 96048 773-477-2686 909-227-4436 [email protected]

Carmen Sharp was my former supervisor. She can talk about my professional and artistic growth in the company. Under her supervision, I created a unique and creative campaign for one of the agency’s biggest clients.

Darlene R. Callahan Graphic Designer POV Agency 3987 Cherry Camp Road Junction City, CA 96048 909-142-0788 [email protected]

I worked with Darlene on multiple projects and commercial campaigns. She can talk about my work ethic, creative thinking, and time management skills.

Julian McFadden Art Director We Create, Inc. 8765 Thomas Road Junction City, CA 96048 773-903-6512 909-887-2235 [email protected]

Julian McFadden pushed me to become a better designer, and I learned new Photoshop skills with his guidance. He can vouch for my ability to learn quickly and not buckle under pressure.

Resume references example 2

Paul D. Grimes Director of Sales LMT Company 2877 Grey Road Williamsport, PA 17701 570-327-9954 570-279-0654 [email protected]

Paul Grimes witnessed my negotiation and marketing skills getting better with time. I helped him during meetings with clients and eventually started negotiating independently.

Ruby Moreno Regional Sales Manager LMT Company 2877 Grey Road Williamsport, PA 17701 570-223-0756 [email protected]

Ruby can testify to my great organizational skills and work ethic. With her guidance, I helped the team exceed sales goals in the north region.

Sean Brandt Professor, Patterson School of Business Pennsylvania State University 7898 Oak Avenue Williamsport, PA 17701 570-477-1580 [email protected]

During my MBA, Sean Brandt was my professor on various courses and thesis supervisor. He can testify to my hard work and ability to adapt and learn quickly.

How many references should you include?

A good number of professional references to include is three to five .

If you’re a job seeker with no experience or a couple of years under your belt, we recommend going for three people in your list of references.

If you’re a senior professional or a manager, however, your references list can be longer, with five to seven references that can vouch for your expertise.

How to choose the right references

You know how to create a list of references, so let’s now talk about who to list as references. There’s more to it than just selecting someone you know and worked with.

1. Focus on quality professional references.

Be selective of the references you choose to send to a potential employer like you’re selective when writing a resume .

Remember, these are people the recruiter or hiring manager will be asking directly about you, so don’t choose just anyone.

When considering references for a resume, they should:

  • Be familiar with your abilities and achievements.
  • Enthusiastically advocate for you.
  • Be able to think on their feet and answer questions without missing a beat.
  • Be trustworthy enough not to jeopardize your application.

Professional references shouldn’t:

  • Be people who didn’t work closely with you.
  • Be family members who can’t speak to your abilities.
  • Be someone who fired you.
  • Be made up – recruiters will notice if something doesn’t add up.

2. Choose references based on your career level.

Your list of references should be varied and include people in other positions and departments — don’t just include your manager or supervisor.

If you’re a manager, your professional references should be:

  • Someone in a position higher than yours.
  • Someone at your same career level.
  • A team member in a position below yours.

Each of them will talk about what it’s like having you as a manager. So, for example, you can select your supervisor, another manager and employees from the department you managed.

If you’re a mid-level candidate, your references list should include:

  • Someone in a higher position.
  • Someone at your career level.
  • Someone from another department.

For example, if you’re a copywriter , you can ask your creative director , the graphic designer you worked most with and an account manager you interacted with to be your references.

Recent graduates or candidates with little work experience can go for a professor or a teacher they have built a relationship with — ideally through a specific career-related project. If you volunteered with an organization, you could find a reference there.

3. Search for references outside your current job.

A professional reference may not always be someone from your current or latest job. It can be someone you previously worked with or even vendors you spoke with as part of your job responsibilities. Take into consideration what you’ll be doing at the job you’ve applied for and tailor your references accordingly .

4. Contact your resume references.

You should contact your references and ask for their permission before including them on the reference page for your resume. By having a conversation with them, either in person or by a phone call, they’ll be aware that a recruiter or hiring manager will eventually reach out to them and ask about you, so the chances of them not answering are lower.

When talking to the people you want in your list of references, it’s important to:

  • Inform them of the role and the company you’ve applied for.
  • Ask them if it’s okay to have them as a professional reference.
  • Have an honest conversation with them about your work experience.
  • Ask them to speak to a specific work accomplishment or special project that was important to you.
  • Get their preferred method of contact.

You could begin your conversation with your reference by saying something like: “I’ve applied for a copywriting position in an advertising agency, and I would like to include you in my list of professional references because we worked together closely for many years. Is that OK with you?”

If they’re willing to be your professional reference, discuss your skills and prepare them for a phone call with recruiters or hiring managers.

Key takeaways

Here’s a quick recap of everything we learned about professional references:

  • Should references be included on a resume? No, you shouldn’t include references on a resume.
  • The phrase “references available upon request” isn’t needed and it’s a thing of the past.
  • The only time you should submit a resume with references is if it’s requested in the job description.
  • Create a separate document with your list of references. Be sure to include their updated contact information and a description of who that reference is.
  • Tailor your references to the job and your career level. Choose them carefully.
  • Include three to five references on your list. If you’re a senior professional or a manager, it’s okay to add more references.
  • Reach out to your references and ask for their permission before including them on the reference page for your resume.
  • Use the examples on this page as a resume references template to determine what to write on your page and how to format it.

References on a resume FAQ

How should i format my resume.

When formatting your resume, it is recommended to use a clean and professional layout. Start with your contact information, followed by a summary or objective statement, work experience, education, skills and any additional relevant sections. Use bullet points to highlight your achievements and responsibilities in each job role.

How long should my resume be?

The ideal length for a resume is typically one to two pages. However, this can vary depending on your level of experience and the industry you are applying to. It is important to include relevant information that showcases your skills and qualifications while keeping the document concise and easy to read.

Should I include a cover letter with my resume?

Including a cover letter is generally recommended, as it allows you to introduce yourself, highlight your qualifications and explain why you are interested in the position. A well-written cover letter can help you stand out from other applicants and demonstrate your enthusiasm for the role.

How far back should I go with my work experience on my resume?

It is generally recommended to include the past 10-15 years of work experience on your resume. However, if you have relevant experience from earlier in your career, you can include it as well. Focus on highlighting the most recent and relevant positions that showcase your skills and achievements.

Should I include references on my resume?

It is not necessary to include references on your resume. Instead, you can create a separate document with a list of references and have it ready to provide when requested by the employer. Make sure to choose references who can speak positively about your work ethic, skills and qualifications.

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How to List References on a Resume (Examples + Templates)

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Kellie Hanna, CPRW

Kellie Hanna, CPRW

Career advice expert.

Kellie is a Certified Professional Resume Writer with 20+ years of experience in digital media and is passionate about helping job seekers navigate their careers. She earned a B.A. in English and writing from Temple University.

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How to List References on a Resume [w/ Examples]

Background Image

You’ve applied for an office position. You can’t wait to get an interview with the HR department.

Everything seems good to go, but now, the HR asked you for a list of your references.

So, how do you do this?

Are you supposed to attach it to your resume? Who do you include in your resume references? Is there a custom format style? 

Well, kick back and relax because we’re here to help answer all your uncertainties!

Read on to learn everything you need to know about listing references on a resume.

  • Whether you should or shouldn’t put a reference sheet on your resume.
  • How to properly list references on a resume (with pro-tips).
  • The best way to format a “References” section.
  • Helpful resume references examples.

Should You Include References on a Resume? 

The general common practice that the majority of resume experts agree on is that you should NOT add a list of references to your resume . 

Because, generally, the HR department doesn’t have time to go through every candidate’s list of references. They have a lot more important things to do than reach out to all the references every single candidate ever provided.

That’s why references aren’t requested until after your interview has gone well or right before you are hired.

But here’s the thing: 

That’s not an unshakable no.

If the job description explicitly states that you should include references on your resume, without question, include one! 

This is very straightforward on its own, you’ll know when you see it. 

Some consulting firms, for example, tend to ask for testimonials on your performance from previous employers before they hire you. 

In this case, it's best if you do include the contact information of the people providing you with their positive feedback, so the HR can check how legitimate they are.

Bottom line: 

Every word on your resume should be full of value and quality. References add unnecessary space. Insert them only when required or if you’re asked to submit testimonials.

references on resume

Want to save time? Get your resume done in under 5 minutes, with our resume builder . Quick and simple, ready-made templates that will do all the work for you.  

How to List References on a Resume [+ Example]

Now, let’s say you’re requested to provide a list of references. 

What’s the best way to display it? 

  • Reference's First Name & Last Name - Tim Borden
  • Professional Position / Title - Marketing Coordinator
  • Name of the Reference's Company - Zen Corporation
  • Business Address - Blaine Ave
  • City, State, Zip of Company - Atlantic City, NJ, 07030
  • Phone Number of Reference - (600) 753 9216
  • Email Address of Reference - [email protected]

It’s best to stay ahead of the game. 

Keeping a list of possible references is something that should be done in advance, even when you’re not looking for a job. 

When you’re searching for a new position, you want to have a list of several names to contact. 

You wouldn’t want to struggle coming up with good fits on short notice, would you? 

Here are some more tips to keep in mind: 

You should always start your list with your biggest fan first : your most important and impressive reference. 

And no, this shouldn’t be your mom. Instead, you’d want your previous boss to vouch for you. 

Busy employers may not contact all of your references, but they will likely start at the top of the list. Glowing recommendations shouldn’t be left last!

What’s more, it’s important to clarify your relationship . 

It’s crucial to include what your working relationship to the reference is and how long you’ve known them for. 

But do not overshare . Don’t add more than the items we mentioned on the list unless required. 

And never include the personal mail addresses of your references for two reasons:

They will surely not be contacted via snail mail. 

And they might not want all of their personal information shared. 

Last, but not least:

Choose your references appropriately. 

Always choose the best references for the specific job under consideration. 

Let’s say you want to assert your marketing skills. In this situation, you could seek references from a former boss who can attest to that. Somebody like the Head of Marketing or Chief Marketing Officer . 

How to Format a Resume References Section 

Learning how to arrange a reference section is just as vital as other sections of your resume or cover letter. 

A messy, carelessly formatted reference page will lose your employer's interest. 

So how do you write one that’s eye-catching and professional?

First, put your references on a separate sheet . Add an exclusive reference page, as the last page of your resume. 

Keep the same format for your reference sheet as your resume and cover letter, meaning use the same font, margins, and color scheme. 

  • Start off at the very top with your name, address, and phone number. You should place this information on that side of the page that fits the look of your cover letter and resume. (left, right or in the middle).
  • Next, write the date. Then start with your employer's information in this specific order: name, job position, company name, and company address.
  • Finally, follow up with a preferred title/subtitle: name the section References or Professional References .

If you’ve included personal references as well, you could also add “Personal References” as a subtitle. 

Use the formatting we discussed in the previous section to list your references.

Ditch the common “References available upon request”. 

This is a frequent mistake. Employers formerly know this and it’s an overworked phrase. The general rule of thumb is to keep your resume as brief as possible. Why misuse the space? 

job search masterclass novoresume

How Many References Should You Include in Your Resume? 

Though there really isn’t a written rule anywhere about how many references you should include, the most fitting number would be three to five . 

Based on your career level though, there is a general division of two groups:

Regular and/or first-time job seekers , should usually provide 3 to 4. 

Whereas people applying for senior roles should include a longer list: about 5 to 7 references. 

In that case, it’s sufficient to list one reference for all the different points in your professional record. 

Who is a Good Reference For Your Resume? 

It’s important that all the references in your resume are all deliberately selected individuals . 

Everyone’s aunt thinks that they are special, but what does your previous manager think about your work ethic?

To figure out who’s a good reference for you, you should take personal experience into consideration: that means what stage in your career you’re currently in. 

Because you’d list different people at different points in your career. 

If you are a student or recent graduate with little to no work practice, you would want to get references from:

  • Guidance tutors or counselors
  • Course teachers and professors 

Any of these people can speak positively about your best skills, qualities, and experiences. 

When you have some professional background, however, even at an entry-level position , you have more variety in selecting a good reference. 

You could use former colleagues or managers as well as project , master , doctorate supervisors from your most current studies. 

If you are a professional candidate , this process becomes simpler as your preferred references will be more acquainted with giving and requesting references. 

  • If you don’t have a lot of professional references to count on, you can reach out to just about anyone that can provide you with a valuable character reference.
  • If a friend works in the company you are applying to, you could also use them as a reference.

Other important things you should consider:

  • Ask for permission and say thank you. Fill in your references before handing over their contact information to an eventual employer. It’s solely common courtesy. Send them a copy of your resume as well, so that both of you are in harmony for when the manager calls. Don’t forget to be grateful either. If you get the job, take them out on lunch to properly say thank you. Follow up, a little acknowledgment can go a long way! 
  • DO NOT use family members. This is unconventional and discouraged. The people you use as references should be unrelated to you, in a familial sense. Of course, our mothers have countless nice things to say about us, but their opinion isn’t relevant on a resume. It might also appear as though you don’t have enough people to vouch for you. 
  • Avoid people you’ve confronted. Be careful in not adding individuals you are or have once been in professional conflict with. You can never be too sure if they’re still holding a grudge against you. Play it safe. 
  • Make sure they are comfortable. Especially if they’re a person you are currently still working with, confirm they are okay with you searching for a new job. If you’re trying to keep it a secret from your employer though, it’s best not to ask a current coworker at all. You can never know for certain how ethical or pleased with your success one is. 

In the end, the basic point of a reference is for the employers to get a true reflection of your work ethics, background, character, and personality. 

Find people who can properly display all of the above for you.

3+ Good & Bad Resume Reference Sheet Examples

So many rules! 

But don’t worry - we have some great examples for you to help put them into practice: 


professional references on resume good example

MY BEST AND FAVORITE REFERENCE - inappropriate title 

Martha Payne - a family member as a reference 

2809 Candlelight Drive - including home address

870-294-1238 - wrong listing order, the reference phone number should be second to last

Nursing Assistant - unrelated to your industry or position

Newlife Hospital

4164 Fittro Street 

Lurton, AR, 72848

[email protected]

Martha is my auntie. She’s not only a well-respected member of the community but a remarkable nurse. She was the one who raised me and I consider her my mother. She knows me better than anybody else and I couldn’t have chosen a better person to speak of my character. - prolonged and unprofessional description 

References available upon request - overused unnecessary phrase

  • providing them only one reference 

Key Takeaways

Here’s a recap of what we learned in this post:

  • References ARE NOT supposed to be on your resume. So when in doubt, DON’T include a list to your resume. 
  • On rare occasions though, references may be added on a resume. If you decide to do so, put your list on a separate sheet. Don’t forget to match it to the style of your cover letter and resume.
  • Be intelligent with your reference choices. Your number of references should correspond to your career stage. Put your most glowing references on the top. Selected those who are closest to your line of work. Avoid people you’ve ever had professional conflicts with.
  • Be diplomatic. Always ask for permission before listing them as references. Email them a copy so that you’re both on the same page. Don’t forget to thank them afterward. 
  • Use the correct formatting. List your references precisely as we showed you in this guide. There’s a definite, proper way to arrange entries and the structure of the page itself - don’t contradict it. Use the examples we gave you as a guide.

Suggested readings:

  • How to Write a Resume & Land That Job? [21+ Examples]
  • What to Put On a Resume [7+ Job-Winning Sections]
  • CV vs. Resume - What are the Differences & Definitions [+ Examples]

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How To List Your Resume References [With Formatting Examples]

sample resume with references available upon request

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“Hi there! This is Jennifer calling from Google. The team absolutely loved you and we'd like to move forward by contacting your resume references. Can you please send them along?”

SCORE! You  finally  made it, all that work is about to pay off.

You crafted the perfect resume and cover letter . You prepared for and absolutely crushed your interviews . You're SO close you can taste it!

There's only one thing left between you and that sweet, sweet offer — a reference check.

If you're thinking “this is in the bag,” you may want to slow your roll.

While your resume references are usually a formality, choosing the wrong people or presenting them the wrong way can throw up a red flag right as you're about to cross the finish line.

The good news is that if you follow a few simple rules and plan ahead, you'll knock this out of the park and be signing your offer letter in no time.

This post is going to cover everything you need to know about resume references, including:

  • Why resume references can make or break your chances of getting a job offer
  • Where to put your references (should they even be on your resume?)
  • The best way to list and format your references in 2020
  • What types of people make great references (and how to ask them)
  • 10+ examples of awesome resume reference examples you can steal

You may be asking, who is this guy and why is he qualified to talk about this?

I spent two years making the jump from health care into technology, eventually landing offers at Google, Microsoft, & Twitter. All of those companies asked for my references and I used the exact methods I'm about to share with you to seal the deal with all three.

Now I want to share that info with you so you can replicate those results!

What Are Resume References And Why Are They Important?

A resume reference list is essentially a selection of people who can vouch for your professional skills and confirm that you’re an awesome employee this company should be excited about.

References usually come into play just before the company extends an offer. The team loved you in the interview and they just want to confirm that what you said lines up with other people you've worked with.

When it comes to actually checking, there's a pretty broad range.

Some companies don't bother checking references at all, while some might ask you to provide 5 or more.

You'd rather be fully prepared and burn a few extra minutes for nothing rather than be stuck scrambling to find an ex-colleague with a 24 hour turnaround time!

Should You Put Your References On Your Resume?

Nope! Your references should never show up your actual resume, here's why:

First, resume space is precious.

You just spent hours editing your resume and squeezing it down to a single page. You really don’t want to be wasting valuable space on your carefully edited resume by adding reference details.

On top of that, the company doesn’t need or want your references when you submit your resume. They're still trying to decide if you're even qualified to do the job!

A value driven resume bullet about a project you led is going to be way more effective than giving out your old boss's digits.

Plus, think about where you're submitting your resume. If you're sharing it on LinkedIn, on job boards like Indeed or, you're putting up a billboard with people's information for everyone to see!

Your references may have your back now, but that might change if they start getting calls from Nigerian royalty who want to share their fortunes.

“Ok, so should I at least put a line that says ‘References available upon request'?”

Nope! It’s fully expected that you’ll provide references if the company requests them. Again, focus on selling yourself and your experience on your resume. We'll take care of your references in a new doc called your  Reference Sheet.

You're going to want to fire up a new Google Doc for your references, but the key here is to make sure you're staying consistent with your resume.

This means that you want to keep the same color scheme, structure, font, and general format on both documents:

Example of a resume and resume references sheet with matching formats and colors

You want to make sure that your reference sheet includes:

  • Your full name
  • Email address
  • Phone number
  • Link to your LinkedIn profile

You never know who this is going to be passed around to, so you want to make it easy for recruiters and hiring managers to know what candidate these references belong to.

Remember, your goal is to stand out — and paying attention to details on your reference sheet is a surefire way to make that happen.

How To List Your References On A Resume

Should be easy, right? We're just adding some names and contact info here…right?

Not so fast.

If you want to win more job offers, you need to capitalize on every opportunity to add value and control the process.

This means paying attention to detail and creating those opportunities through every step of the process. Listing your references is no different.

How To List And Format Your Resume References

Sure, we're going to drop in some contact information, but we're also going to leverage a tactic to help steer the conversation towards a specific project or result that we want the employer to know and your reference to talk about.

You want to make sure your reference format includes (in order):

  • Company/Organization
  • Phone Number
  • Email Address
  • Relationship + Relevant Context

It should look a little something like this:

Example of how to list resume references on your resume

Now, you probably knew about the contact info stuff, but most job seekers miss out on the relevant context piece.

When listing your references, you want to provide a specific detail about a project/initiative you worked on and  the results it drove.

Results = value, and value is what gets you hired.

This starts when you reach out to a potential reference. I have instructions and an email template you can use to ask people to be your reference below. When they agree, hop on the phone with them and walk through the game plan:

“Hey Jennifer, thank you so much for offering to be a reference. I really appreciate it! This is for an operations role and the company is focused on increasing productivity/efficiency. It would be great if you could talk them through the Axion project we worked on together where we reduced redundancies by 37% in 6 months!”

Guess what happens next? Your reference starts singing your praises and discussing how amazing that Axion project was and what a great job you did to drive those results.

That’s way better than a typical response like this:

“Uhh yea, I worked with Austin for a couple of years. We were on the same team, he's a nice guy and seems to do good work. Yea, sure, I'd recommend him.”

That showcases zero personality and doesn't do anything to boost your credibility. We want to avoid that at all costs!

Finally, you always want to make sure to lead with your best reference. The person who has the most to say should always be at the top of your list.

How Many Resume References Should You Have?

Most of the time, your interviewer/recruiter will tell you how many references you should provide. If that's the case, you're good!

If not, you can always ask to get a number from them. That will most likely be a range and it could be vague like,  “we'd love to talk to a few people who you've worked with.”

If they’re not super clear, it's up to you to decide!

My best recommendation is five people if you can swing it. Five references gives the employer choices while also illustrating that you have a solid range of people who you believe will stand up for you.

That said, not everyone has five references to put on their resume. If we're talking minimums, you need to have at least three references to share. We're about to chat through the types of people that make great references, so if you don't think you can make it to three, stick with me!

Finally, a major exception here is for senior roles. If you're going for C-Level or VP level roles, you'll probably want to provide a more robust set of references. Seven is a good ballpark here.

Everybody else can stick with five!

What Types Of People Make Good References?

woman writing down her resume references

There are a couple of basic questions to ask yourself when considering who to add to your resume references list:

  • Who would be the best reference for this particular job?
  • Who do I know that works in this industry?
  • Who understands the exact skills I have that apply to this position?
  • Who do I know with the most impressive job title?
  • Who do I know at big-name companies?
  • Who am I okay with knowing I’m looking for a new job? (Hint: Probably not your current boss)
  • Who might my potential employer know and respect?

Think about it from the employer’s perspective — everyone wants to hire top talent.

The employer is using your references to validate your story and hear that same story from a 3rd party. In other words, they want to know that you are who you say you are.

They also want to know that your previous employers (and colleagues) liked you. Were you an over achiever? Did your team love you? Were you an awesome cultural fit?

Your potential employer cares about all of those things and the best way to find out is by asking.

If you can’t provide proof that folks enjoyed spending time with you, that you got your stuff done, and that you were a valuable asset, that's going to throw up some major red flags.

You've made it this far! We don't want that to happen.

Who Makes The Best References?

That said, your references don't just have to be former managers or colleagues. There are so many people we can pull from, here are few examples:

  • Former managers
  • Former colleagues (on your team and other teams as well!)
  • People you volunteer with
  • Friends & family friends
  • Professors/teachers
  • Mentees or students

You definitely want to prioritize people who have worked with you in a professional sense, but you can also get a glowing endorsement from people who see you in other aspects of your life. Those can be just as valuable.

It's also important to note that your references don’t need to all be of a “higher rank” than you. If you managed an intern, if you mentor someone, or if you teach in some capacity, you could absolutely have your intern/mentee/student vouch for you.

If you're in a management role, your best bet may be a direct report who can speak to your abilities as a manager!

Once you have your basic list down, try to think about who you know that is doing well for themselves, and whose job might lend a little credibility to your reference list. Especially consider people who are working in the same field as your prospective employer.

Definitely prioritize people who work in the same industry and major bonus points if they work for a potential client or partner — that's always a huge plus!

To recap on great reference options, you want to prioritize like this:

  • People who have amazing things to say about you
  • People who have worked with you professionally
  • People whose position may add some extra credibility to your list

The first is a must, the second two are nice if you can get em.

How To Ask Someone To Be A Reference For You

man asking someone to be his reference for a new job

Please, please, PLEASE don't be the person who just writes down a few people's names and  never tells them.

Even if “you know they'd be fine with it,” they will be totally unprepared to get that call and a flustered reference is a bad reference.

You're giving them no time to prepare, to get their story straight, to think about how to pitch you. You know who that ends up hurting?

On top of giving you a better shot of landing the role, asking people ahead of time is just the polite thing to do.

It also gives you a chance to verify their contact info, current job title, etc. so you can make sure your potential employer gets in touch with them the first time.

The good news is, it's super easy to make the ask. All you have to do is write a quick email asking that person to be a reference for you. Here’s an example of the exact email template that I used to reach out to people:

Resume References Permission Email Template Hi [Reference Name] , Hope you're having an awesome week! I'm reaching out because I'm in the final stages of the interview process for a  [Job Title]  role and I wanted to be prepared with some references. I really enjoyed the work we did on the [Project Name] and I would be super grateful if you would be up to speak with the hiring manager about the work we did there. If you're up for it, let me know! If not, that's totally fine. Either way, have an awesome rest of the week! Best, [Your Name]

Now hit Send!

Even if someone isn't up to be your reference, they'll probably still be flattered that you asked and it's a great way to reconnect.

Once you fire off a few of these and get responses, you’ll have a reference list ready to go!

How To Format Your Resume References

We already touched on formatting a little bit before, but I’ll just rehash the basics.

Rule #1: Match Your Resume & Reference Sheet Styles

Before you begin adding your references, you want to make sure your reference sheet matches the same style and format of your resume .

This means using the same colors, the same font, and the same general layout. If you scroll back near the top of this post, you can see an example of how I did this with an example resume and reference sheet.

Rule #2: Add Your Contact Info At The Very Top

Just like you did on your resume, you want to include your contact info at the very top. This includes:

  • Your Full Name
  • Links to any personal websites or portfolios

We want to make it as easy as possible for the recruiter or hiring manager to know which candidate is in front of them and how to get in touch.

Rule #3: Formatting Your Resume References

Alright, down to business! When it comes to each reference, there's a specific format you should follow.

First, you should list out the info for each reference in this order:

  • Full name of your reference
  • Current company/organization
  • Your relationship + relevant context

I personally like to spice things up with the font . I'll use a heavy font weight for the name and maybe even bump the size up a notch.

Then I'll go with the standard weight for everything in the middle, and close out with an unbolded, light weight version of the font to describe the relationship and the context. Again, you can see this in action in the example I shared earlier in the post.

I would also make sure to find a way to differentiate between references. It may sound obvious, but using numbers before names, or adding an extra line break in between references will make it clear where one reference ends and the other begins.

Finally, make sure you proofread your resume references list before you send it to anyone. Using free tools like Grammarly will ensure you never accidentally send your list off with a spelling mistake or a grammatical error you'll be kicking yourself over.

Examples Of Resume References

Awesome! At this point, you should have a few amazing people in mind to list on your reference sheet.

You know the general rules of formatting, but we want to be absolutely sure that you get this right. Remember, that offer is so close you can taste it! Let's not screw things up now.

To help you get an idea of what to do (and what not to do), I'm going to share a few examples of  bad  resume references and  good  resume references:

Example #1:

Bad resume references (don’t use this).

Bad Example of Resume References

What's wrong with this picture? A lot!

First, how is anyone supposed to know who this reference sheet belongs to? Was it Jenny that interviewed on Wednesday? Tom who came in yesterday? Who knows?

Without any contact information or details about you, your hiring manager is shooting in the dark. That's not great.

On top of that, there's a lot missing from the references themselves.

First, the formatting is entirely the same. It's just a block of text with no real way to easily identify roles, relationships, contact info, etc.

Speaking of info, where's the detail? There are no phone numbers (the primary way people will contact your references). There are no job titles and there is zero context about the relationship beyond “former manager.” Also bad.

Here’s another example of some terrible resume references:

Example #2:

Bad resume references (don’t use this either).

Example of bad format or references on resume

This one looks better, but we've still got some issues.

First, the prioritization is all wacky. This person is leading off with a friend while their current colleague is buried down at the bottom. That's not a great look.

What if they only decide to contact the top three references? They'd get a friend, a teacher, and someone who managed this person when they were an intern. That's not gonna work.

Next, there's little to no context here. What company is Luke Walker a colleague at? Is it a current company? A former company?

What projects did you work on with these people or how did they impact you?

There's nothing to clarify why this person listed them, which leaves the whole conversation up to the person making the call. That can lead to a seriously awkward conversation or, at best, one where they really need to dig to get the info they want.

Your goal is to make it easy for the person calling!

Example #3:

A great example of how you should list your references (definitely do this).

Example of a Great Resume Reference Sheet

Boom! Look how awesome that is.

We've got our full name and all of our contact info right at the top. The reader immediately knows who we are, they can look us up if they need to, and our email/phone is available for any questions or feedback.

Our references are all broken out in a clear and clean fashion. Each person's title, company, and contact info are readily available and we've taken the opportunity to “drive” the conversation here with a few lines of context at the bottom. Note that we defined the relationship at the beginning of that context.

If you're not differentiating yourself at every step of the job search process, you're getting lost in a sea of applicants. Plus, all this extra detail will help you (and your references) build a rapport with your employer.

The example above shows the exact level of detail you need to add to your resume references list. If you use that as a guide and format your own reference sheet in a similar fashion, you'll be ready to go!

All you need to do now is find your people, shoot them a note asking if they'll vouch for you, and get your references sheet set up. You'll want to have it ready to go at that next interview!

Salary Negotiation: Preparing For The Final Offer

What's the last step in the interview process? The final offer letter. If you've made it this far, congratulations! You'll want to be prepared ahead of time by checking out my article on how to negotiate your salary during an interview.

I'll show you 3 simple negotiation tips that you can use to double your offer! While finding the courage to speak up about your salary and negotiating what you’re worth can be tough, it’s an absolute must. If you’re not negotiating your salary properly, you’re leaving tons of money on the table. Don't miss out on the opportunity to get paid what you're really worth!

sample resume with references available upon request

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Austin Belcak

Austin is the founder of Cultivated Culture where he helps people land jobs without connections, without traditional experience, and without applying online. His strategies have been featured in Forbes, Business Insider, & Fast Company and has helped people just like you land jobs at Google, Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Microsoft, Twitter, & more.

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    Provide a separate reference list. Instead of mentioning that references are available upon request, create a separate document for your references. You may send this list immediately or have it ready when they ask. When preparing your list, let your contacts know you're actively applying for jobs, and they can expect a call or email soon.

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    Here's how to list references on a resume: 1. Put your name and "References" on top of a separate page. 2. Format all references the same way: list full names, job titles, companies, and contact info. 3. Add at least 3 professional references. 4.

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    Here are some reasons why you may want to avoid adding "References Available Upon Request" on a resume: It's considered unnecessary: Hiring managers typically assume that applicants will provide references if and when they are requested. Including this phrase on a resume is therefore viewed as redundant and may not add any value to your ...

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    What about writing, "References available upon request," on your resume? Avoid this too. There's "no need to state anything about references on your resume. It is assumed that you'll share the info when requested," Muse career coach Leto Papadopoulos says. Don't waste a resume line to say something that's taken for granted.

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    Additionally, you'll need to include other basic information for each reference such as their name, current title, company name, phone number, and professional email address. Be sure to leave each reference's personal contact information such as their address off of your references page. Employers simply don't need that information, and ...

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    Eventually, long resumes were shortened, and the goal for most professionals was a one-page resume. When people dropped the entire page of references and the related contact information, they opted to include the line, "references available upon request" at the bottom of their one-page resume. This let potential employers know that you did ...

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    Here's the right way to list professional references on a resume: Reference's First Name & Last Name - Tim Borden. Professional Position / Title - Marketing Coordinator. Name of the Reference's Company - Zen Corporation. Business Address - Blaine Ave. City, State, Zip of Company - Atlantic City, NJ, 07030.

  17. Should I include "references available upon request" in my CV?

    Why not to include "references available upon request" in your CV. Whilst including the text "references available upon request" won't damage your application, there are some important things to consider before adding it in: 1. Lengthens the hiring process - While including this phrase can extend more control to you, it's ...

  18. How and When to Include References on a Resume ·

    Build powerful resumes in only 5 minutes with our easy to use Resume Builder and get hired faster. Get Started Now. Cover Letter Templates View all. Simple. ... The phrase "References available upon request" used to be popular but is widely frowned upon today. Employers will assume that references are available upon request, so there's no ...

  19. How To List Your Resume References [With Formatting Examples]

    Rule #1: Match Your Resume & Reference Sheet Styles. Before you begin adding your references, you want to make sure your reference sheet matches the same style and format of your resume. This means using the same colors, the same font, and the same general layout.

  20. "References Available Upon Request" on a Resume

    While it used to be common to put "References available upon request" on your resume, there are several reasons to avoid this phrase. For one, most hiring managers or recruiters expect your references to be included with your resume if they ask for them. So just saying that they are available is unnecessary, and wastes space on your resume ...

  21. Should I Put References Available Upon Request on My Resume?

    No, you should not write "references available upon request" on your CV. Being a founder of a company, I think the phrase is unnecessary. It is regarded as a "one-line space waster.". This phrase is useless because recruiting managers are aware that they can ask for references and expect to receive them.