How to Write References On Resume

Employee references heading

Writing references on a resume is a nuanced process that involves strategic selection, effective formatting, and a clear understanding of when and how to include them. This article will guide you through the essential steps and considerations for incorporating references into your resume, offering insights into best practices and common pitfalls to avoid. By the end, you should have a comprehensive understanding of how to present your references effectively, bolstering your job application and increasing your chances of securing your desired position.

Understanding the Role of References

References serve as a testament to your professional and personal competencies, providing potential employers with insight into your work ethic, skills, and character from those who have directly interacted with you in professional settings. Typically, employers request references after a successful interview as a final step before making a job offer, ensuring they have made the right choice.

When to Include References

Traditionally, it’s advised not to include references on a resume unless specifically requested by the employer. This is due to space constraints and the preliminary nature of a resume review. Instead, prepare a separate document for your references that you can submit upon request. This approach keeps your resume concise, focusing on your achievements and qualifications.

Selecting Your References

The selection of references is critical. Choose individuals who can vouch for your qualifications, work ethic, and character. Ideal references are former managers, colleagues, professors, or mentors who have directly observed your work. It’s essential to ask for their permission before listing them as a reference to ensure they are willing and prepared to provide a positive endorsement.

How to List References

If an employer asks for references to be included on your resume or you’re preparing a separate references document, follow these guidelines for each reference entry:

  • Full Name: Start with the reference’s full name.
  • Position Title: Include the reference’s current job title.
  • Company Name: Mention the company or organization where your reference currently works or where you worked together.
  • Phone Number: Provide a contact number, specifying if it’s a work or personal number.
  • Email Address: Include a professional email address.
  • Relationship: Briefly explain your professional relationship with the reference (e.g., “Former Manager”).

Formatting Your References

When formatting your references on a separate document, ensure the header matches your resume for consistency. List each reference using the same format, maintaining a professional and easy-to-read layout. Typically, three to five references are sufficient.

Best Practices

  • Prioritize Relevance: Select references relevant to the position you’re applying for, ensuring they can speak to the skills and experiences that make you a strong candidate.
  • Keep It Professional: While friends or family members might be eager to provide glowing reviews, professional references hold more weight with employers.
  • Stay Updated: Regularly confirm your references’ contact information and availability to ensure they can still provide positive feedback.
  • Prepare Your References: Brief your references about the job you’re applying for and remind them of your relevant projects or achievements so they can provide specific examples.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

  • Listing References Without Consent: Always get permission before listing someone as a reference.
  • Using Outdated Information: Ensure all reference information is current to avoid delays in the hiring process.
  • Including References on the Resume: Unless specifically requested, keep your references on a separate document.
  • Providing Too Few or Too Many References: Aim for a balanced number of references, typically three to five.

Utilizing Online Tools

For those looking to enhance their resume and references presentation, online tools like CV2You offer user-friendly platforms to create professional-looking documents. CV2You provides templates and guidelines for resumes and reference lists, ensuring your application stands out. For more information and to access these resources, visit CV2You.


Crafting an effective reference list is a crucial component of your job application process. By carefully selecting who to include, ensuring their information is up-to-date, and following the best practices for formatting and submission, you can significantly enhance your candidacy. Remember, a well-prepared reference list can be the final nudge an employer needs to offer you the job. Use the insights and strategies discussed in this article to present your references in the best light, and consider leveraging online tools like CV2You to ensure your application materials are polished and professional.


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