Do you put references
on a resume?

No, listing references on your resume is not standard.

When an employer requests resume references, including them in a separate document is better. This document is sometimes titled “Resume References” or “Professional References.”

Putting references on a resume may hurt your chances of getting a job because it shrinks space to advertise your skills and work experience! Since hiring managers scan each resume for a few seconds, you’ll lessen your resume’s impact by including references.

Even skip the phrase “references available upon request” on your resume to save space.

If this has answered your resume references question, you can now explore how to write your resume, determine what to include in your cover letter, or learn how to add keywords to make your accomplishments pop.

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How to list
resume references?

It’s best to list references in a document separate from your resume if they’re requested.

You’ll need to include these details about your reference(s):

  • Their name
  • Their address
  • A phone number
  • Their professional email address
  • A summary of your relationship

Here’s a diagrammed how to list your resume reference example: Reference Resume

  1. Name: List your reference’s full name. Also, it’s optional to include their professional title, like “General Manager” or “Professor.”
  2. Address: Add their full professional mailing address so that they may be contacted or verified. Include their business name, if applicable.
  3. Phone number: Include the best number to reach your reference. Cell phones are acceptable if your reference consents.
  4. Professional email address: Include an email that reflects the person’s name. If your reference has a funny personal email address like “pizzalover111,” an employer may not take their word seriously.
  5. Relationship summary: Write a brief sentence explaining how you know your reference and include the number of years you worked together or how long you’ve known each other.

When should you include references on a resume?

Only provide references when the employer requests them or if the job post explicitly directs you to do so.

There are five essential parts to a resume:

References are an optional section!

See more: Resume examples

Resume reference list
format template

Here’s a copy/paste template to list your resume references:

[Your First/Last Name]
[Your phone #]
[Your email address]

Professional References

[Reference First/Last Name]
[Optional: Reference Job Title, “Store Manager”]
[Optional: Reference Company, e.g., “Leff Lighting”]
[Reference Address]
[Reference phone #]
[Reference email address]

[Reference description: Include a single sentence summary of your relationship to this person, like where you worked together and for how long.]

Remember that it’s standard to include two or three references in total. Usually, this is specified in the job post.

To list multiple references, do so reverse chronologically. That means starting with whom you worked with most recently at the top. Then, list your older references below.

How to put references on a resume examples

 

READOUT:

It’s better to leave references off your resume whenever possible. Including references on a resume will not benefit you; list them separately.

However, there may be two special cases when you should include references on a resume. They are:

 

  1. If the employer explicitly says to “include references on your resume.”
  2. You can only upload one document when references are requested for an online application.

 

Only include a “References” section on your resume in these rare scenarios.

 

If you put a references section at the end of your resume. Make it its page following the rest of the document. Title the page “Professional References.”

References on a resume example:

Professional References

Tamara Jones
Head Librarian
Peyton Community Library
23 Acacia St
Peyton, OH 98717
(555) 555-5555
t.jones@———.com

I have worked under Tamara for four years, where I was employed as a resident archivist.

Coreen Hubert
Librarian
Riverdale Public Library
45 Oak Street, Riverdale, NY 10583
(555) 555-5555
C.Hubert@––––––.com

Coreen supervised my work for three years at the Riverdale Public Library, where I was employed as a library assistant.

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Who should you include
as resume references?

Ideally, your references should be people you know from a professional work or academic setting. Friends and family should be a last resort.

They should be people who’ve seen your hard work or can vouch for your skills!

The best references are people who will speak positively about your work and attitude with concrete examples. Strong references are managers or supervisors, coworkers, professors, business partners, clients or mentors.

It’s standard to select two to three people in total.

If you want to list someone as your reference, it’s essential to ask first!

That way, you’re sure they’re up for the task and have time to prepare what they would say about you! Otherwise, they may be surprised by an employer’s call and not have the best words and examples.

Should I add references to my cover letter?

It’s generally not necessary to include references in your cover letter. A cover letter introduces you, highlights your qualifications and explains why you are a good fit for the position. Check out our cover letter examples, templates and Cover Letter Builder to write a great cover letter to complement your resume or CV.

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Key takeaways

To recap some of the main points about references for resumes:

  • Avoid references on resumes: Keep references off your resume, placing them on a separate “Professional References” document instead.
  • Provide necessary reference details: Include your reference’s full name, title, company, contact information, and a brief relationship summary.
  • Include references only when an employer asks: Only add references to your resume if specifically requested by the employer.
  • Strategically select references: Choose two to three professional or academic references.
  • Get permission from references: Request the help of a potential reference so you’re sure they’re ready to provide honest and positive feedback about you.
  • Opt for professional over personal references: Prioritize professional acquaintances who can attest to your work abilities and ethics.

Now, if you’re ready to start writing your resume, use our most powerful tool, our Resume Builder.

Our career experts created the builder to walk you through creating a resume step-by-step. This way, you’ll nail all the necessary resume sections and get expert text suggestions.

Plus, it features cutting-edge designs that save you time formatting your document. You can have a solid resume ready in just 15 minutes!

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Resume references FAQ

Do resumes need references?

No, references are not a standard part of a resume format. Only in rare cases — when the employer has asked — should references go on a resume.

Including references on a resume is like showing up to a first date with an engagement ring; it shows you’re serious, but it’s probably too soon.

Timing is everything. Employers will tell you when they want references. In most cases, that’s after they’ve viewed your resume and want to get more serious.

However, if the job post or ad directs you to add them to your resume, you should do so! That’s the only time it’s appropriate.

Can I list friends and family as references?

If you’ve worked with those friends or you two became acquainted at a job, yes, absolutely list them! That will help you.

It’s not as convincing if it’s your friend from childhood or school because that person has not worked alongside you. Friends and family are beneficial to vouch for your character, but they can only describe your work ethic from an outsider’s point of view.

Avoid using family members as references unless they have close ties to the business or hiring manager.

Do references go on a resume for a job?

Only in rare cases should they be included in a resume. It’s much better to list your references in a separate document.

That way, you will keep valuable space on your resume to advertise your skills and work experience.

When an employer needs references, they will ask you to provide them. The request usually happens after they’ve seen your resume and want to narrow the pool of job candidates.

If you have people who want to vouch for you, it’s a good idea to ask them for LinkedIn endorsements or a letter of recommendation. Those are other appropriate job recommendation avenues.

If you have people who want to vouch for you, it’s a good idea to ask them for LinkedIn endorsements or a letter of recommendation.

Is a character reference needed in resumes?

Less than your character, your reference should focus on your work. Providing examples of your workplace successes will make your case stronger!

Character references can help if they spotlight your personal qualities like communication skills, reliability, determination and intelligence.

However, other personal qualities like being funny or a good parent will not be helpful for employers to know. Keep character references professional and work-related.

About the Author

Eric Ciechanowski

Eric Ciechanowski Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW)

Eric Ciechanowski is a Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW), certified by the Professional Association of Resume Writers and Career Coaches (PARWCC). He graduated from Tulane University in New Orleans with a B.A. double major in Creative Writing and Philosophy. His career background includes fields as diverse as education, hospitality, journalism, copywriting, tech and trivia hosting.

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