How to List References on a Resume

If you’re in the market for a job, you likely have a list of references ready. But you may be wondering, “How do I work my references into my resume?”

If so, don’t worry! We’ll discuss how to choose the best references, how to format your references, and when you should and should not include them on your resume.

Check here for more tips on including references in your resume.

How to Choose the Best References

References are people who can offer insight into your skills, work ethic, and personality. They are people you’ve worked with, whether that be on the job, in the education sector, or on other projects.

If you have a lot of work experience, most if not all of your references should be former employers, managers, or supervisors. If your work experience is limited, you might include others in positions of oversight, such as professors, teachers, coaches, or religious instructors.

Knowing How to respond to a reference check email is necessary too so that you can understand what exactly the recruiter is looking for. That way, when it comes time to select your preferences, you know exactly which referees you’re going to choose. A good rule of thumb is to pick ones that you have a good relationship with and avoid employers with whom hostilities developed or from whose companies you were let go. Remember, you want them to highlight your good qualities!

You should also request permission to use an individual as a reference. This serves several purposes. It alerts the reference to the fact that they may receive a call or email. It also ensures that the contact information you have is accurate and up to date.

How to List References on Your Resume

Once upon a time, every resume included a tidy reference list. Today, however, resumes are usually limited to one page in length, and references are omitted.

What about the phrase “References available upon request”? This is unnecessary, as the employer is aware that he can ask you to provide references. Including this section can make you appear unprofessional as if you want to warn or coach your references after the request is made.

Instead of including references right on your resume, create a supplementary document, a stand-alone reference list.

This document should be visually similar to your resume. Use the same colors, fonts, font sizes, margins, and headings. Title the document “References.” For each reference, include the following information when available:

First and last name – professional title – company or organization name

Business address – email address – phone number

This format can also be used if you choose to include references directly on your resume.

When to List References on Your Resume

There are times when you should include your references or supplementary document, and times to refrain. We will discuss those here.

Know When to Skip the References

If you’re running short on space, omit the references. Highlighting your skills and background is more important when it comes to earning your employer’s trust.

When References Are Requested

Sometimes, the job listing may state that references are required. In this case, you may choose whether to include the references directly on your resume or in a supplemental document.

When Applying Online

Some job search websites allow you to construct a digital resume. If space for references is available, you may choose to include them.

Some online job applications also require references. When this is the case, include them.

When Your Resume Doesn’t Fill the Page

If you are a student or new to the workforce, your previous experience may be limited. If you are having trouble filling a one-page resume template, you might choose to include a references section. Carefully chosen references – those that demonstrate an association with relevant organizations or a specific skill set – not only fill empty space but also strengthen your outlook as a potential employee.

Well-Known References Stand Out

Have you ever noticed the references websites include? Here’s an example. Whether they’re listing top clients, awards and recognition, media mentions, or places that sell their product, these references have one thing in common. They don’t list websites or companies you’ve never heard of. Instead, they focus on names and brands that you will immediately recognize.

Why? If you trust Amazon or eBay or the Chicago Tribune, this mention may transfer some of that trust to the web page you’re looking at. It’s a form of the marketing approach known as a celebrity endorsement. Only in this case, the business or news source is the celebrity. And if you trust a website or company, you’re more likely to spend your money with them.

If you are able to list well-known references on your resume, you might choose to include them even if not requested. This can apply to both the individual contact and the company. For example, imagine you previously worked for Tesla and you’re applying to another tech company. A reference from Tesla looks good. If you personally know Elon Musk and can list him as a contact, it looks even better!