How to Write Your CV References Section

References have always been standard on CVs, but those references are now easier for hiring managers to check. What this means is that your CV references section is more essential than ever to increasing your chances of receiving a job offer. Properly writing and formatting your references can mean the difference between receiving an offer for an interview and getting nothing but silence from the company to which you applied. Now is the perfect time to learn how to harness the power of your references with these helpful tips.

Gather References

If you do not even have references to list in your section, now is the time to change that. Think of the people with whom you have had a good professional or personal relationship, and send out a request for those individuals to write you a letter of recommendation. Such individuals may include your teachers or professors, employers, coworkers, deans, clergy members, coaches, fellow athletes and friends or other associates with whom you also have a professional relationship.

When your references write your letters, ask them to be as specific as they can about your accomplishments, skills, personality and character traits. Also, it is best that you ask for more references and recommendation letters than you might need because there is no way of telling who will honor your request.

Know Which Selections to Include in Your CV References Section

Once you have gathered a collection of recommendation letters, it is time to decide which of them to include in your CV references section. As a rule of thumb, it is best to only include three or four references on your CV. When narrowing down your selection, aim for recommendations from individuals in positions of power, such as deans and company leaders. You will also want a variety of references so that potential employers and hiring managers get a well-rounded view of you and what you bring to the table. For instance, you can include a letter from a professor, another from a former employer and a third from someone in your community.

After you have decided which references and letters to include in your CV, it is good practice to call those individuals to thank them and let them know you will be listing them as references. Not only is this good manners, but it also prepares them for a potential phone call or email from a hiring manager who may be interested in hearing more about you. Be sure you get everyone’s preferred email address and phone number in case they need to be contacted.

Use the Correct Formatting

Now that you have references, decided which to include in your CV references section and have informed those individuals of a potential phone call or email, you are ready to add those references to your CV. Generally, it is best to keep your references separate from the rest of your CV. Have your skills, awards and work history on one page and your references on another. It is also best that you put “References List” at the top of the page to let hiring managers and potential employers know what this section of your CV is.

As you go down the list of references, include a name, title, company, address, phone number (making sure you note whether it is a primary or business number) and the person’s email address (again, noting whether it is a personal or business address if it is not readily apparent). If you have letters of recommendations from your references, be sure to note that at the bottom of the page; hiring managers may or may not wish to see these letters.

Know that your references section may not read the same with every job for which you apply. Decide which are best for the position and company. In any case, be sure to use these tips and check out a few examples to see how it is done.


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