How to List Professional References

Norm Vogele  | 

You may be asked to provide a list of professional references at some point in the job application process. Be prepared to present this document to potential employers, whether you’re on the hunt for your first job after college or you’re re-entering the workforce after long-term unemployment. First, take a moment to identify past professional colleagues who will provide resounding reviews of your performance and experience. Then, look at examples and review how to list references so you prepare this document correctly.

The references you list on your document should be helpful and relevant, but it’s just as important to know how to format references so you can present this information in an easy-to-read format. Turning in your professional references with missing information or in an informal document may immediately disqualify you for job candidacy. Learn how to list these details properly by reviewing the information and example provided below.

Do You Put References on a Resume?

Generally speaking, references should be listed separately, not on the resume. Your resume is one of the most important job-seeking resources you can submit to potential employers, so you should craft your resume carefully. It’s a common misconception that your references should simply be added to the bottom of your resume. However, you should not put references on your resume since they will simply take up precious space that you can instead use to show off your skills and experience.

It’s also not advised to include this information on your resume since it could throw off the Application Tracking System (ATS). If you know how an ATS works, you’ll understand that reference information may just confuse the computer system and kick you out as a potential candidate before human eyes have even seen your resume.

Creating a separate document that lists your reference information is more convenient for the potential employer and for you. You can provide this document upon request instead of submitting too much information that’s not needed early on in the application process. As a bonus, the reference document you create can also be used for other purposes that require references, such as renting without credit history.

What Information to Include in a Reference List

Reviewing reference page examples can help you to understand what information to include with the references you list. It’s important to provide thorough and accurate information for each reference, and to include more than a name and phone number. When creating your reference document, be sure to provide each reference’s:

  • Name.
  • Current job title.
  • Current organization or employer.
  • Work phone number.
  • Email address.
  • Physical work address.

If your resume or other application materials don’t explicitly show your relationship to the reference listed, include a brief sentence that explains your past working relationship.

How to Format References

When deciding how to format references, it’s important to keep it simple. The document should be easily readable and the fonts, text size, and style should all match your resume as closely as possible.

At the top of the page, list your own information, including your:

  • Name.
  • Address.
  • Phone number.
  • Email address.

After a line break, you can begin listing your references’ information, in the following order:

  • Name.
  • Position.
  • Company.
  • Work address.
  • Work phone number.
  • Work email address.

Place each piece of information on a separate line so the document is easily legible. If needed, add a sentence that explains your relationship to the reference after you’ve provided that reference’s information. Separate each of your reference with an additional line break. Then, name the document itself with a title that’s easily identifiable for you and the hiring manager, such as “YourName-References.”

Reference Page Examples

John Smith
123 72nd Avenue
New York, NY 12345

References for John Smith

Donna Jenkins
Marketing Manager
ABC Marketing Team
123 Highland Ave
New York, NY 12345
DJenkins@abcmarketing.com
(321) 123-4567
Donna Jenkins is my current manager at ABC Marketing.

Michael Small
Manager
Littleton Industries
456 Industrial Road, Warehouse 25
New York, NY 12345
MichaelSmall@littletonindustries.com
(321) 234-5678
Michael Small was my manager at Littleton Industries.

Robin Clark
Marketing Coordinator
Big Things Marketing Company
106 101st Ave
New York, NY 12345
RClark@bigthings.com
(321) 456-7890
Robin Clark was my colleague while working at Big Things Marketing Company.


Image Source: https://depositphotos.com/

This post was updated August 13, 2019. It was originally published August 16, 2019.